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Episode 4: Displacement As A Self Defense Mechanism

 

Defense Mechanism

Self Defense Mechanism

 

Episode Four: Displacement As A Self Defense Mechanism

 

“Mr. Nadir. Thank you for meeting with me. I know you’re a very busy man” I said when I went to question Sameera’s husband the next day. “So can you tell me what happened that night at the dinner party?”

“Nothing abnormal. Mohanad and Amy insisted on having a dinner party for Sameera’s birthday, so we went to their house, ate, talked and left around midnight.” Nadir said, cracking his knuckles before resting both his palms on his big belly.

“I understand you brought dessert. A lemon meringue pie?”

“Of course I did. It’s my wife’s birthday. I couldn’t walk in empty handed.”

“I heard you got into a huge disagreement with the Bakery’s owner a few weeks back, right after your interrogation to be more specific.”

“It was their fault this whole ordeal happened. I told them NO STRAWBERRIES! How hard is it to follow instructions?”

“But the analysis confirmed it wasn’t the Bakery’s fault.”

“Huh? Still” Nadir shrugged, his face completely flushed.

“So what else did you do that day? Before the party I mean.”

“I went to work. Picked up the pie. Went home, showered, got dressed and then Sameera and I went to dinner….”

 

Three months ago….

“I can’t believe you stayed late at the office tonight. It’s my birthday. Seriously, you’ve reached a whole new level of inconsiderate!” Sameera complained as she strapped on her seat belt.

“I told you, I left the office on time, but there was a line up at the bakery! Damn it, what’s wrong with this stupid Radio?” Nadir yelled as he jolted it angrily a couple of times. 

“And now you’d rather listen to the radio than talk to your wife. Nice!” Sameera crossed her arms. “You know, I never asked you to take me to Paris or buy me diamonds every two and a half seconds like Amy’s husband does. I just want you to show me you care. Once a year!”

“Let’s not forget the fact that Mohanad is a millionaire! Not that we could ever forget, he never fails to rub it in all our faces.” Nadir steered the driving wheel, yelling and cursing other drivers on the road.

“You don’t have to be a millionaire to get your wife a decent gift on her birthday.” Sameera protested.

“Am I gonna have to ruin the surprise?”

“Yes, I think you should.”

“Listen, I have a plan, but you gotta keep an open mind okay…?” Nadir smiled wickedly.

 

“Mr. Nadir, you recently bought a lake house, is that correct?” I asked. His wife Sameera tripped when she heard the question, and dropped a glass of the drinks tray she had come to serve. She quickly apologized, cleaned up the mess then hurried out.

“Yes, it was a late birthday gift for Sameera. I’m still paying installment, so I didn’t technically ‘buy’ it yet” Nadir tried to compose himself.

“Well, according to this title in my hand, the amount has been fully paid upfront when you bought the lake house last week.”

Nadir choked on his juice, obviously taken aback by the amount of information I had gathered on his family.

“Back to the dinner party” I continued. “You went to wash your hands in the guest….”

Nadir’s cell rang suddenly, even though he had assured me he put it on mute.

“Sorry, one sec” Nadir raised his index finger. “Hello? What? You locked yourself out? You idiot! I need those documents ASAP! Is it too much to ask for an assistant who ISN’T also a blithering MORON?” Nadir yelled into his phone before hanging up on the poor guy’s face. “I’m sorry, we’re gonna have to postpone this questioning to another time. I gotta go deal with this.”

“That’s okay, I think I got everything I need….”

 

That same evening…

“Lemme guess, he’s using his assistant as a self defense mechanism” Jenna, my eager assisant pointed out over dinner.

“There’s no such thing, hon.” I smiled. “No, he’s using displacement. That’s when some people take out their anger on innocent victims.”

“Like how?”

“Say this husband has had an argument at work with a client. He drives home like a maniac, yelling and cursing and goes all hulk on his helpless wife because the meat loaf is ‘too salty’. Displacement is an unconscious self defense mechanism that shifts frustration on people or objects that are less threatening.”

“Yeah, like my brother. My whole life, I was practically his punching bag. He used to pick a fight with me every time he got detention. It wasn’t my fault his teacher despised him!”

“Probably because expressing his hostile feelings towards his teacher could have gotten him in more trouble. So to protect his inflamed ego, he took it out on you. What are sisters for, ha?” I joked.

“Not this! People who use displacement, they’re just passing the pain on to someone else. Someone who’s innocent and completely clueless. Seriously, how do ‘Displacementers’ sleep at night?”

“Sometimes, as loved ones, it’s our jobs pick up on the ‘not-so-subtle’ clues of displacement and try not to take it personally.” I leveled.

“Or maybe people who ‘displace’ their frustration should stop being so mean and evil!” Jenna crossed her arms.

“Nadir doesn’t seem evil or mean. He takes his anger out on the broken radio or his poor assistant. I think he unconsciously uses displacement because deep down he feels weak and insecure. His wife overpowers him so he needs to overpower someone else.”

“Okay so let’s recap. Amy uses ‘dissociation’ since she lives in La La Land. Her son Hamza acts out in “Angry Bird’ world. Ummm Sameera uses projection to pass her faults onto others and her husband Nadir uses ‘displacement’ as a self defense mechanism, coz he’s a wuss”

“Jenna!” I scolded.

“Sorry but it’s true. And since he obviously feels subdued under Mohanad’s piles of money, perhaps he misplaced his frustration…. Took it out on an innocent object, like I dunno… a diamond necklace?” Jenna’s eyebrows popped up.

“You’re cute.” I laughed. “It does sound plausible. But Nadir isn’t the only frustrated man in this scenario. Someone else is even more intimidated by Mohanad’s wealth.”

“Who?”

“His butler. Alfred….”

 

To be continued

 

 

Author’s Commentary

 

Ahhhhh the prodigy of displacement.

The husband takes his frustration out on the wife (or the other way around I’m sure). The frustrated parent takes it out on the kids. The kids take it out on the timid classmates. And the timid classmates take it out on food. It’s a game called ‘pass the fury ball of rage’; a vicious circle of always hitting on the weakest links, the ones who can’t afford to fight back.

Oh my God you guys, I just realized. We all use displacement somehow and it’s not very nice!

It’s probably the number one reason behind bullying, having unexplained phobias, hundreds of shattered devices, innocent kids in time outs, rebound relationships and even obesity coz of all the binge eating. And you know what, it’s not fair. Defenseless human beings shouldn’t have to pay the price for our personal problems. Especially when they’re the ones keeping us stable. Listen to this Hadith:

Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Seek among your weak ones, for you are given provision and help only because of the weak amongst you.” https://sunnah.com/riyadussaliheen/1/272

I’m not saying you’re not allowed to get frustrated. Of course you are, you’re human. I’m just suggesting instead of using vulnerable targets as punching bags, get an ACTUAL punching bag and you know, knock yourself out. Channel the rage into something more productive like cleaning or running or even screaming into a pillow.

But what if I’m the victim of displacement?’ you ask.

(Oh man! I was secretly hoping you wouldn’t put me in such a predicament by asking that.)

Okay, if you find yourself a target to this specific self defense mechanism, I’m gonna have to ask you to swallow your anger and stay patient. Don’t take it personally because we both know it’s not about you. Try to soothe and understand….

Wouldn’t you want your loved ones to do the same…?

Oh yes, you would!

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

The Amazing Race Of Ramadan: Episode Two

Published on OnIslam.net
On July 2nd, 2015
This is the original version

Episode Two: Joy Is A Six Letter Word

Family

The race has commenced and the clock is ticking.
Tick Tock Tick Tock
We are super excited as the camera zooms in on a random house:

Dad is glued to Twitter
Mom is glued to Facebook
Son is glued to Play Station
Daughter is glued to Instagram

My eyes dart back and forth and I quickly cover the camera lens with my hand.
“Psssstttttt guys! The angels are waiting to record your good deeds, and frankly I think they’re getting a little bored! Come on people, look alive!”

Looks like times have changed. The most we think of family members now is a bunch of people who share our DNA and last name. Most of us live in the same house yet are worlds apart, too occupied with focusing on how, our mentalities are growing in different directions, but forgetting that always and forever, like a beautiful tree, our roots will remain one.

Home is not just a place to eat and sleep guys… Home is a feeling…
Come here and hold your parents’ and siblings’ hands. Together we’ll start a new beginning this Ramadan.

Lost In A Safe Haven? Take The Vertical Road.

I don’t live on Jupiter! I know kids can drive you up the walls, siblings can be annoying and parents are ancient beings who don’t understand that the word ‘sick’ can also mean ‘cool’. But when your friends become more important than your own family then I think we have a problem here. And it’s not fair either, coz we save the ‘sparkle’ for the outer world and dim out the minute we get back home. Our family deserves some of our attention and time and the Holy month is the perfect opportunity to get back in ‘sync’. The best way to start is to pray together. Go to the mosque and learn the Qur’an and Hadiths with your parents, siblings and kids to re-create that special bond again. If you feel like you don’t belong in the safe haven of your home, start by taking the vertical road and worship Allah together as a family.
(Okay I was expecting a little applause here for the brilliant metaphor but whatever LOL)

Frame the Circle Of Trust with Kindness

Anyone you know can become a stranger overnight except for your family members, they’re stuck on you. Your parents will always be your parents. There are no ‘coupons’ to exchange siblings and kids. They’re your ‘Circle of Trust’ coz they’re constant, and deep inside they always want the best for you. So doesn’t it make sense to put the most effort in those ‘for-life’ relationships?

Deposit some ‘positive’ credit in the family bank account. I know life pulls us in all directions like work, school, friends, and obligations, and each pull requires time and effort. But Ramadan is the month of kindness, mercy and forgiveness. Let’s start at home people.

Dads: We know you work hard to provide financial security to the kids. But without taking the time to instill those Islamic ethics and principles, they’ll misuse that money you’re so busy saving. Be a lenient teacher and a loving friend to your kids this Ramadan. And yes, the cliché is truer than ever, the best thing you can do for your children is to love and respect their mom.

Moms: Over here! Hi! This is just a friendly reminder: Your smile makes the world shine bright. So be the cheerful sun in the morning and the serene comforting moon at night. Your kids need to hear that you love them, regardless of their whining and bad grades. Use the Holy month for fun charitable projects and Islamic bedtime stories. We know you need your private worship time, but your kids need your wisdom and love even more. So turn their electronic devices off and switch on the light of faith in their hearts. Use that time to reconnect with your husband and children before Satan is out on the loose again!

Teenage Boys: Seriously guys. I know you think it’s your birthright to be rebellious at this age but for the love of God have some mercy on your parents this month. Remind them why they dreamed of having you by being perfect these 30 days. Help out with the chores (yes including taking out the garbage and babysitting while you’re fasting. Life is unfair that way LOL). Once you gain your parents’ ‘Reda’, everything else will fall in place.

Teenage Girls: You probably think it’s your birthright to be dramatic too. Ummm not this month! So quit rolling your eyes and pretending you didn’t hear your mom calling. Instead, offer a helping hand with a smile. Us moms were 99% sure we were carrying royal princesses in our tummies, so be one this Ramadan. (I’m actually on my knees begging at this point).

And now is the time I remind all Muslims (including myself) of how to cherish their parents, whether you’re 6 or 60 it doesn’t really matter….

“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.” (Holy Qur’an 17:23-24)

The Family Tree: Make Amends With Your Branches.

My son is a soccer fanatic so I happen to know a lot about sports. When you’re one of the players, you don’t complain to the press about the club’s drawbacks; instead you shield them and take one for the team when necessary. Family is the most important group you’ll ever be part of, they’re your roots. But you can’t expect a tree to grow if you don’t water it. Sit by your parents’ feet and kiss their hands every chance you get. Open your homes and hearts for your siblings and relatives. Help the needy and visit the sick ones. Love your family and forgive their mistakes this Ramadan. Please!

“Why is she talking about relationships in the month of Qur’an and spirituality? Did ‘On Islam’ even approve this article for publishing?”

Hey I heard that! Okay I didn’t want to do this but you guys leave me no choice.

Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) said, “Kinship (Rahim) is derived from Allah. If anyone maintains ties of kinship Allah maintains ties with him. If anyone cuts them off, Allah cuts him off.” (Sahih. Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 55)

You wanna win the Race to the highest levels of Paradise, don’t you?

So pick up that phone and make amends with your loved ones today. Call your estranged aunt or your ‘banned’ uncle and tell them whatever happened to drift you guys apart is water under the bridge now. Support your family and mend the cut ropes for Allah’s sake this Ramadan. And then come back and tell us how peaceful and enriched your life has become….

Because Joy is a six-letter word: ‘FAMILY’
May Allah make your homes mini-heavens on Earth….
Please send my Salam to all your loved ones….

Lilly S. Mohsen

Look out for ‘The Magnet’ Episode Three from the ‘Amazing Race’
Coming to a website near you this Ramadan.
Stay tuned….

The Amazing Race Of Ramadan: Episode One

Published on OnIslam.net
On 22nd June, 2015

Episode One: It’s An Inside Job!

heart and brain

Thundering slamming sounds of doors locking.
Roaring noises of steel chains clatter together.

Hearts melt as the smiles fill the skies…
And the golden gates are opened, filling the universe with the sparkling scents of Heaven….
People from all around the world gather together, excited and anxious to be amongst the frontrunners. From every race, age and color, the chosen contestants hold hands in peace; awaiting further reminders before they head off for the big win.

“Listen up people! This is it! The doors of Hell are locked, the devils are chained down and the gates of Paradise are wide open. Tonight we start the 30-day countdown of the Amazing Race! Let’s make EVERY. SECOND. COUNT!”

Millions of Muslims raise their hands to the sky and chant in unity “Allahu Akbar! God Is Great!”

“The more people you help along the way, the more you raise your chances of winning the ultimate reward, so stay close and have each others backs! Now please pick up a copy of your craziest imagination before heading to Conference Room A for a staff meeting with your organs. Good luck!”

Health Benefits Of Fasting: 

All the organs take their seats, giving full attention to the Heart that stands up and speaks first.
“I’d like to welcome you all to this great event. I’ll be your team leader and I hereby make it very clear that my approval is essential before every word and action you make. That means you Mr. Brain!”
“Hey! What did I do?” The Brain looks innocently confused.
“I would rather this meeting be productive so I won’t be pointing fingers! We are one family after all” The heart replies calmly. “If you look at the white board, you’ll see a list a job descriptions and goals for the Holy month. Let’s go through them quickly…”

  • Lungs: Good news! Fasting helps remove built up toxins there. This month is for us to literally take a ‘breather’.
  • Stomach: Will be using the foodless and waterless hours to work on removing any waste matter and allowing for better digestions. Good luck!
  • Blood vessels: Since less blood will flow to the digestive system, more blood will go to other tissues, removing the cholesterol lining in our blood vessels. Well, about time!
  • Intestines: Like the stomach, will finally use this period for detoxification.
  • Kidneys: Will absorb more salt and water, which will help stabilize blood pressure, improve the organ’s functions and avoid kidney stones. Congratulations!
  • Immune System: Fasting reduces free radical damage, regulates inflammatory conditions in the body, reduces stress on the internal system so we can fight infections and starve many types of cancer cells. (Impressive, ha?)
  • Complexion: While fasting, the body has free time to focus on its regenerative energies on other systems like clearing up skin, sweat glands and preventing acne. Yeah that’s why we glow in Ramadan.
  • Liver: Reserved ‘Glycogen’ in the liver will be broken into glucose, which all of us organs can use as extra fuel or energy. Thanks pal! We owe you one.
  • Body Fat: When the supply of glycogen runs out, we turn to stored body fat, breaking it into fatty acids and converting that to useable energy. Let’s lose some of that stubborn weight this summer guys!
  • Brain: Fasting boosts the levels of serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’ that beats depression. It also enhances the production of proteins that activate brain stem cells, promotes brain functions, and protects it from diseases such as Alzheimer’s. We’re all counting on you this month dude!

    “Ummm Mr. Brain? Are you there?”
    “Ouch! Horrible Headache! Ahhhhh this really hurts!” The Brain screams as loud sirens shake the room.

Attention! Brace yourself while system resets. I repeat. All organs brace yourselves. This Is An Automated message.

“What’s happening?” The Kidney twins panic. “Is that an Earthquake? Oh my God we’re getting dizzy!”
“No that’s the Brain going into shock. It’s one of the expected side effects of adjusting to the new system” The Heart replies. “Guys if you’ll excuse us, I need to talk to the Brain privately please.”

Mental Benefits Of Fasting:

The Heart puts its hand on the Brain’s shoulder and speaks softly.

“Listen to me. I know the headache hurts but it will only last a day or two till the body adjusts to the fasting process. I need you to stay strong. This will pass I promise! Just breathe it out”
“I want pain killers, coffee, sweets, anything! Please!” The Brain holds its head.
“A war is raging inside coz you’re physically feeling hunger and thirst to the fullest. But I’m in charge now and I will see you through this. You’ll thank me later and here’s why…”

  • Increased focus, mental clarity and creativity.
  • Fasting is a powerful tool in maintaining a healthy mental state through clearing out suppressed ‘emotional baggage’.
  • Controlling impulsive urges which enhances wisdom.
  • Discontinuing bad habits and overcoming addictions
  • Fasting improves quality of sleep.
  • Ultimate awareness and living the ‘now’ helps you feel the ‘joy’.
  • Strengthening your will and inner power.

“You can do this. That’s the training you need to survive another year in the outside world. Together you and me, we will win this race every single day, because we have the ultimate goal in mind: Pleasing Allah and attaining the highest levels of Paradise inshAllah. You’re not alone pal”

“Oh you’re so sweet. How come we don’t spend more time together? Listening to you is really soothing… You’re so pure and genuine!” The Brain smiles.
“Tell me something I don’t know” The Heart winks back jokingly. “Now let’s catch up with the rest in Conference Room B. The ‘Soul’ will give the final speech.”

Spiritual Benefits Of Fasting

Dressed in a sheer white suit, the ‘Inner Being’ welcomes each organ with a rose. The sound of Qur’an in the background fills the room with tranquility. After the recitation is done, the ‘Soul’ stands up and asks the audience to close their eyes.

“Shhhhhhhh…. Listen to the silence inside of you. Separate from the worldly life for a moment and focus your attention inwards…

  • The body starts to feel lighter, senses are heightened and our beliefs and principles are crystalized. It’s Allah’s pleasure we are seeking.
  • This is the chance to embrace your new beginning. For even those with the worst past can create the best future.
  • The energies of the universe are bright and colorful in Ramadan. Your aura is cleansed and activated. Polish the mirror of your heart to reflect the ‘Divine Light’.
  • Feel the presence of your Lord and the angels around guarding you and recording your deeds. Allow yourself to absorb this month’s blessed glory.

    “Fasting is more than abstaining from food and water; it’s a spiritual journey towards Jannah. Let’s work as one team and promise ourselves to stay on the right path this year folks. Thank you for being here and good luck!”

I overhear the chitchats of millions of contestants on their way out of the auditoriums. Sorry, but I couldn’t help eavesdropping on some random conversations

“Man! That was impressive! It’s like all the organs are one happy family. How come we aren’t as close to our own parents and siblings outside Ramadan?”

“Tell me about it. Like my brother is so annoying I fantasize about punching him in the face sometimes.”

“I don’t remember the last time we all had a meal together!”

“My husband is married to his social media. I think if I disappear, the only way he will notice is if someone posts it on Facebook!”

Hmmmmm…I run quickly to fetch the blueprints for the next phase of the race and I chuckle with amusement!

Episode Two: ‘Joy Is A Six-Letter Word’.
Coming right up…. Stay tuned.

Lilly S. Mohsen