I learned a new word this week and I love it. Well, perhaps “love” isn’t the right word for it. (Wait for it.) But, this ONE word has given me so much comfort, just in knowing that it exists to label a feeling I am well familiar with. It’s not an English word, in fact there is no English equivalent of this word. It’s a word that represents a feeling that we all have, but rarely ever talk about. We don’t like to admit we have it. If you’ve read any of my recent musings, you’ll realize that I love these somewhat forbidden feelings. It’s not a nice feeling, but it is satisfying in an evil sort of way.
I had this feeling recently when I received a hurtful email from a former student. (Not the first, surely not the last.) My initial instinct (a primal instinct), was to send an email back that made them feel just as bad as I felt, because the thought of making them feel bad (and guilty and shameful) for the message they sent me was satisfying.
I composed the message. I wrote a message that would make them cry. And, the envisioning of this scene brought me pure evil pleasure. In fact, it still does. I stewed over this email for days. I wrote it, knowing that I would never send it. I couldn’t send it, despite really, really wanting to. But, the choice not to send the email, and instead send them a small gift like we always do with hard situations, was more in line with my true self. Gratitude is always the higher road.
We often identify ourselves as our feelings and thoughts. Luckily, we are so much more than the surface workings of our brain. We are the observers of those feelings and thoughts, not the feelings and thoughts themselves. And thank fucking goddess for that, or I would be a complete bitch.
Oh… What’s the word, you ask? Schadenfreude. Taking pleasure in the pain of others (leave it to the Germans to have one word for an entire sentence in English). I learned it in The Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown, which I would recommend everyone read. For this and other amazing words.
P.S. The opposite is Schadenfreude is Freudefreude: Feeling joy in other people’s pleasure. And, just so you don’t think I’m too evil, I also have this feeling A LOT…, especially towards our students.
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