Not even to my face, but behind my back and without my permission.
When I found out, I felt violated. Small.
I had been reduced to less than a sum of all my parts. I had been read and then interpreted by a stranger. The stranger had used a foreign spectrum to analyze me: a spectrum lacking not only color and depth, but also the proper perspective on the history and the situation being shrunk.
As a result of this experience, I spent quite a bit of time pondering the characteristics of shrinkage. Obviously, the verb “to shrink” means to make something smaller, to minimalize it.
Why do we have to make things smaller? We make them smaller so we can make them fit into smaller, more defined spaces.
- We fold paper to fit it into an envelope.
- We crush trash to make it fit into a bag or a bin.
- We break thoughts into bullet points on a piece of paper to help others understand.
- We suck the air out of plastic wrapped objects to fit them under beds and into suitcases.
The Urban Dictionary definition for “shrink” is one we all know well. It is a derogatory term for a psychiatrist. When someone wants to jab you about your sessions with your therapist, or, let’s face it, when you want to jab yourself about those same sessions, you refer to your psychiatrist or your therapist as your “shrink”.
I can accept being shrunk by a pro, even if I have to pay that pro alot of money to shrink me. I prefer a shrink who is either trained in the art and science of shrinking others properly, thus allowing them to retain some dignity. Or someone I know, who I know knows me, who can analyze me or my situation at my request and to my face. Someone who will offer me an option to state my opinion or set them straight when they have shrunk the wrong element in the wrong way.
There is a profound loss of pride when you realize you have been shrunk by a novice. Worse yet, a novice at play…. at play with your heart and your reality.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that everyone shrinks at some point. We shrink things to make them more palatable and understandable. We get this self-righteous attitude that because we are the outsider looking in, we can somehow offer some insight or spark of intuition that the people caught up in the situation might have overlooked. We brim with arrogance that what we see matters and can affect change.
Unfortunately, I have shrunk others. And maybe this realization was payback. Or, at least, God’s way of showing me how it feels, and then smacking my hand and sending me on my way to not do it again.
The shrinker will go on to shrink again. But, I hope that I will not be the shrinkee anymore. I will proceed to take back the pieces and put them back where they belong and move forward to never shrink again.
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