“Oh boy, another juicy turkey this year,” my aunt proclaimed, rolling her eyes as my uncle struggled to carve the dry-as-sawdust bird. Ah yes, the holiday tradition of a dry turkey and a sarcastic comment. Can anyone else relate to this scenario shared by a friend?
As we head into the season when loved ones gather to celebrate, these get-togethers also can usher in conflict. Old family patterns and hurts re-surface, often characterized by a communication style that emerges in these stressful situations and wreaks emotional havoc: sarcasm. Sarcasm’s root word means “to tear flesh, bite the lip in rage, sneer,” and if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of someone’s harsh sarcasm, it does leave a wound.
And, if I’m speaking my truth, I’ve wounded a few in my day, wanting the laugh at someone else’s expense. When brown-eyes (my former hubby of 18 years and dear friend) chose not to be employed for a LONG spell, rather than bite my tongue, I bit. “What does your husband do for a living?” was met with, “Not enough.” An example of speaking your mind, not your truth.
Words are powerful. Words can wound, and words can heal. I had to get honest that my use of sarcasm was a way of elevating myself – showing others that I was creative or clever. I had to get honest that sarcasm was often a way to avoid speaking my truth. Yet, the outcome only created less trust and closeness with those I claimed to love.
Instead, I now ask myself, “Will this comment bring us closer together or further apart?” When a delicate subject needs to be addressed, I speak up rather than use sarcasm to communicate. Even with years of practice, I’m still far from perfect (which my daughters and blue-eyes for the past four years will verify).
What about when sarcasm is served to you? Depending on the situation you might say, “Ouch. That hurt. Perhaps we need to have a deeper conversation about what’s really bothering you regarding my behavior.”
My hope is this season your family and friends will serve a healthier dish – one filled with love, gratitude and compassion. I’m personally looking forward to having both girls home from college and feeling blessed to share Thanksgiving with both blue-eyes and brown-eyes at the table. Hold your sarcasm.