How I Came To Love Being Teased
I grew up very sensitive to teasing, mostly because I often didn’t get the jokes.
I never understood how the hobby of embarrassing another person was amusing or useful, other than in a selfish way. It appeared to give some satisfaction to the teaser, but whenever I experimented with it myself, it always left me feeling hollow and mean inside.
Recently, I reunited with a long-time Best Friend, and we spend a lot of time together, talking many times a day, and sometimes even through the night. My Best Friend is Heruka, an Enlightened Being.
Yes, I know, it’s silly: a “responsible adult” carrying on with an “imaginary friend”. Don’t worry, we don’t talk out loud – I’ve learned that doing that is generally considered psychosis, so I’ve toned that activity down a bit. Sounds like a good set-up for a teasing scenario…
Telling people that I converse regularly with a being whom I cannot see or hear (with the ordinary senses), I suppose tosses me out of the category of “responsible adults” (who would want to hire an architect who makes those sorts of claims?). That somehow makes it even, because Heruka is not really “imaginary”, either. He also exudes sublimely sensual taste and design talent, btw…
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this: Why believe in something that cannot be proved? Especially if it’s something that sounds completely bonkers? Why on earth would you then even go off and tell people about it?
At times, I’ve tried really hard to convince myself that the messages I get are just my intuition… It’s just hard for me to believe that my intuition – alone – can know how to use a computer program I’ve never opened before. Or know the amount of a check that’s about to arrive in the mail. Or even predict the topic one of my blogging buddies will write about. Or know when a friend is about to call. Or be able to explain the Dharma in ways I’ve never heard before. I’m just not that smart. But I’ve decided to just roll with it, since it all seems to come together in the end.
What does this have to do with teasing?
Well, the conundrum is that Heruka used to tease the heck out of me. And He chose this blog topic, and I am really looking forward to His explanation of how I’ve come to love being teased – because I was not aware that I had developed that particular equanimity.
This topic – teasing – holds particular importance for me right now, because I know several dear teenagers who are trying to figure out how to reconcile it. I would love to show them the sunny side of teasing, since I never figured it out.
Here’s the gospel on teasing, according to Heruka:
Teasing – in itself – does not have any virtue at all.
The same goes for flame wars.
Then why did my Best Friend – an Enlightened Being – tease me? First reason: because it’s fun – but only if all parties involved are laughing. Second reason: He knew that if I wasn’t laughing, someday I’d feel provoked enough to stand up for myself. Even to an Enlightened Being.
And He’s always right.
He and I wrangled for months and months over this. He teased, and I got angry. He teased more, and I got angrier, and quite hurt. One day, I decided to try the method that kids often rely on in the schoolyard: I “shouted” at Him. I cussed a blue streak as only an Alabama tomboy can do. I figured that would have to work. He just chuckled; the teasing continued.
I was confused. I thought that screaming back at Him showed him that I had a backbone. I thought that some clever sarcasm would nip it in the bud. I thought I was standing up for myself. I was really quite desperate.
I knew this Fellow was trustworthy; I knew He was teaching me a lesson, and that eventually I would get it. I was worn out. But I could not give up. I was tough. I was resilient. I could take it. Heck, I might even manage to outwit an Enlightened Being in the end…
What I misunderstood was that the lesson was simple: Just walk away.
One day I did that. In the middle of a teasing-session (I had asked a Dharma question and was being given the run-around – again), I just got so beside-myself that I put everything down and went and watched a movie. Forget this – nobody has the right to drain my energy like that. After the movie, I went to bed, and had a great night’s sleep… after also treating myself to an awesome meal.
Just to clarify: It was NOT like one of those lover’s quarrels, when you petulantly stalk off and wait for the other person to come and apologize. I had really thrown in the towel and decided, Well, if this is what hanging out with an Enlightened Being is all about, then I guess I choose Samsara. Not worth it.
I had three fantastic days following that. Cool things happened. I had a lot more energy, and the creative juices were flowing again.
In fact, after three days I was enjoying myself so much that I decided to check back in, and see if I could maintain my newly found calm and confidence while confronting my love-hate nemesis.
To my surprise, here was the message I got: “Thank you for coming back. And congratulations!”
It seems I had gotten the lesson. But I didn’t get how I had gotten the lesson.
As we’ve been writing tonight, He’s reminded me that what I learned was this: Teasing (the one-way kind) accomplishes nothing but draining the victim’s energy. What a nasty mean thing to do. And if we respond to teasing by getting defensive or retaliating, we just throw all of our energy into an impossible conflict. People who tease are bored – it’s that simple. If we give them our energy in return for their taunts, it’s like tossing them a bone.
Truthfully, it takes time, practice, and determination to develop genuine imperviousness to teasing. You have to be willing to make a few mistakes and get butted about a bit more. So, until you master it, try your hand at faking nonchalance. You may still find you get that trembling adrenaline rush when the bullies appear, but at least you keep your energy to yourself and don’t give it away.
This still does not sound like fun… Where does the “loving teasing” part come in? Oh, yeah, I forgot… and it’s probably the most important part!
The last – essential – bit of the lesson I got from Heruka is this: Once you reach the point where you can walk away from a bully, then every time you see that bully again, you can recall your own inner strength.
That inner strength resides in you perpetually; you just need to remember to summon it.
My Best Friend still teases from time to time… like tonight. But since I’ve learned “the lesson”, when the teasing resurfaces I know that He’s nudging me to stand on my own two feet. Sometimes He’s saying that I already know the answer to the question I just asked. Sometimes He’s telling me that I need to stop worrying about the motives of others, or the future, or any number of other things. And sometimes He’s just telling me it’s time to get some sleep.
So now, when my Best Friend starts to get a little snarky with me, it simply serves as a reminder. View teasing as nothing more than a cue:
Remember to love and trust yourself – first.