Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The "bless your heart" phenomenon

Posing blowdrying
Maybelle and Nonni engaging in Maybelle's new favorite activity.
I think those of us who live in the south get this one a lot, what I call the "bless your heart" phenomenon.  Let me know what you think.


  1. Love this picture!!!! Both the participants look like they're having a lot of fun playing what our house calls "shampoo shop"!

    Have always hated the phrase "bless your heart". Sets me on edge and gets my teeth grinding. Can I turn of speech be any more condescending?! I'm not from the South. But we hear it in the North, too, though not nearly as often, I'm sure.

    Still, there have been times in my life when someone bestowed that phrase upon me and I replied "thanks" and meant it. When we truly *are* struggling and admittedly "pitiful", a nod toward our plight, pluck, and need of compassion feels pretty comforting. Down-and-dirty vulnerability trumps my dignity and pride, apparently! Sheepish, mumbling, I confess: a little BYH grandmothering can go a long way once-in-a-while.

    Because your kid has an intellectual disability doesn't inherently mean that either of you is struggling or need a wave of the blessing wand. DS isn't an automatic qualifier, though as human beings, you may need heart-blessed for any number of reasons on any given day. LOL.

    Likewise, just because my kid may look "normal" and I may look able-bodied doesn't mean that we actually are. In truth, my heart could probably use an old-fashioned blessing more than not!

    Experience has taught me to treat all people like they're fighting the good fight, whether their effort is visible or not, and whether I, personally, would define their particular situation hard.

    I skip the BYH phrase and go straight for all-purpose, glow-in-the-dark kindness and respect.

  2. I absolutely agree with you that BYH can be a wonderful phrase. Even if it may be meant in a diminishing way, I appreciate the energy, the glow-in-the-dark kindness and respect! In my circles the good energy often comes through imagining someone in a sphere of white light, sending Reiki, sending calming deep breaths my way. And these are different from BYH, because they aren't suggesting "something's wrong with your kid!" They're just suggesting that me--and anybody in the world--needs good vibes from time to time.

  3. From your nuanced description above, I see the difference between BYH and glow-in-the-darking.

    It would hurt my feelings, too, if someone thought my kid or I needed a good, by-default blessing because we are by-design "wrong."

    I tend to interpret the world a little differently than most folks (perhaps due to my own built-in "design flaws"?!). To me, humans--and all creatures, really--stand as individuals, each separate, and "just are." "Wrongness" of being doesn't occur to me. Behavior, action or lack or it, demeanor--these are my guideposts for "reading" those around me. But even these are terribly unreliable, of course, and subject to culture, time, perception, experience.

    Some view me as a bit of a hard ass, which I take as a great compliment, LOL--because I **rarely** "feel sorry" for others. I don't get (design flaw?) "feeling sorry." What many fail to see is: I don't "take pity" on those "misfits" who seem/are different ("wrong"?); I feel empathy for **all** because we are the "same," meaning we're all small creatures in a great big, hard world.

    It's funny--odd-- to me that "wrongness" would warrant a BYH, whether we're defining the trait as "different" or just plain old "wrong" (whatever that could possibly mean?).