One of the phrases my family attached to my paternal grandmother was “painfully private.” It gained such cache that it was even written in her obituary. I spent years just accepting that at face value. Until I thought, “Wait a minute! Who wrote that? How did they know—how could they know—what she felt.”
I can’t imagine someone with a desire for privacy saying, “My private-ness is so painful.” It seems contra-indicated for a private person. Someone attributed to her an emotion they couldn’t possibly have identified. She might have been joyfully private. Or peacefully private.
She was a private person, keeping much to herself. But we judge by our own standards and project on one another, leading to more judgment. All this due to POV violations, those sly, slippery, sneaky ways of thinking which drive us to nod and say “Oh, yes. Poor dear.”
Then again, maybe she clammed up for political reasons.
Certainly my uncle did. The only Republican at the dinner table of Democrats(as was our tradition—I was really too young to be informed on what that really meant, but certainly understood the “yay for our side” mentality) he was mocked and ridiculed. All in good fun, of course.
There are two ways I personally experience POV violations. One, people assume I agree with them entirely, because, of course, I’m an intelligent person and therefore must agree. Two, people assume I agree with the “other side” entirely because, of course if I’m not of you I am of “them”. This is a more subtle form of the Point of View violation, and possibly it is on the increase as our ability to dialog is waning.
I believe this election season could be an opportunity to speak more candidly with people from "the other side:"
"I can't stand my candidate. You can't stand yours. What are we going to do?"
Let’s use the experience to learn to listen, creating an environment where it is safe to speak. Maybe we’ll figure out how we all got to this point. And no one will have to become painfully private.