Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

Coping With a Slap to Your Face

Ouch!… Where did that come from?…
A slap surprises you, humiliates you, hurts, and makes you wonder. But not all slaps are made equal: Some hurt to tears, some make you angry. In any case, a slap can be identified by the relentless presence of the aggressor in my thoughts for a long time. I repeat: A LONG time… despite all of my efforts not to think about it. And every time the thought comes, it comes accompanied by an unpleasant feeling in my stomach.

The Mortal Slap

Think of that battle scene from “Braveheart” where William Wallace uncovers his enemy to realize it’s Robert the Bruce.

This slap comes from somebody you really care for. Somebody you would’ve never thought would hurt you. The slapper hits you, but he might as well shoot you straight to the heart, because as you take the hit something dies in you. This slap feels like betrayal. The blow is so extreme and unexpected that it makes you question yourself. You wonder: Am I really such a horrible person? Am I seriously wrong here? Because otherwise I can’t understand this reaction so out of proportion.

This slap makes you cry, not only for the pain, but also for the consequences. You know it will be hard to recover from this aggression, and your relationship with the slapper will never be the same — if it manages to survive. From shock, you go to anger, then to sadness, then to mourning as you declare the slapper dead.

One random day, life makes you run into the slapper. As dead person that he is, you feel like you’ve seen a ghost. You have conflicting feelings for him: You still care for the person he used to be, so you let your guard down. But that old friend is dead. The one you’re seeing is the f_cked-up villain who took over a long time ago, and he quickly shows you a display of his evil mind. The ghost makes you relive feelings you had already gone through: shock, anger, sadness, more anger this time. You quickly walk away hoping you’ll never have to see him again. Your friend is truly dead.

The Jackass Slap

This one comes at work, in the middle of a meeting. A jackass slaps your face in front of several people. From shock, you go to humiliation. The meeting goes on, but your mind is far gone. People act like nothing happened and you sort of appreciate it, but you know that they know. Your cheek is still red and has the mark of a big hand drawn on it. As professional as you want to remain, you are no longer an active participant of the meeting. You patiently wait for it to be over, and as soon as you can, you leave the room as you glance over and see that several nice guys are coming to talk to you about it.

“Poor me” feelings start to pile up as you refresh the scene in your mind. You HATE crying at work, but the tears won’t respond to your commands. Your eyes start getting wet as you desperately get inside a bathroom to breathe 10 times. You think you’ve got it together, and you head back to your cube. But one of your friends was conference calling the meeting, and he heard everything. By the time you get to your cube, your friend and somebody else from the meeting are waiting for you to offer their sympathy and support. This is mortal: “Poor me” takes over, and you can’t control the tears as they run down your red cheeks. Damn jackass! He made me cry at work!

Jackass knows what he’s done, and since he’s off site, starts calling your number to apologize. DO NOT answer. Not now. Wait until the crying is under control, next day, and then you can deal with his attempt of apology. Then, you can inform him in a professional way that you accept his half-apology, but all the joky personal teasing he used to do with you will probably not go on. You can forgive, but this one is hard to forget short-term. Communications will now be limited strictly to business matters. Maybe in a few months you will have forgotten, but not for a while.

The Clueless Slap

Slapper has no clue of what he’s done. He didn’t intend to hurt you, but his actions still hurt you personally, and they feel like a slap. From surprise, you go to feeling upset, and the ugly feeling stays with you for some hours, finally it vanishes to simple disappointment.

Avoid talking to slapper until you hit the disappointment phase. If it’s not worth it, it’s probably best not to let the slapper know what he’s truly done. But it’s a slap, and as such, the thought of what just happened won’t let you alone for some time. You feel agitated like you just brewed all the coffee in your kitchen and gulped it like lemonade. Your heart is beating fast and the rest of your day is completely ruined. The aggression wasn’t meant to be personal, but it sure feels like it. You wonder if you’re exaggerating.

You attempt to review the facts, just as a sanity check. Yes… You have some good reasons to be upset at the situation. You feel like you’ve been lied to. The blow makes you lose motivation for what you were doing… and you are confused. The only way to drown the thoughts is to play some loud music. This is no time for you “instrumental”, “classical” or “soft” playlists. No! Go with the “fun” collection and play the songs loud. The more singing the better. Lucky you, “Grey’s Anatomy” will start in a few hours. That should kill it. Sure thing, after plenty of forced distractions you can rest on plain disappointment and face the slapper again.


  1. On , Petie wrote:

    What a juicy story – I was in suspense the whole time…. I wonder what motivated you to write it. Hmmm….

  2. On , Joey wrote:

    What did the five fingers say to the face?


  3. On , Kim Rodriguez wrote:

    Give us his email and we’ll start sending him anonymous spam!!!!;-)

    This is the magic trick to all that……you can’t control others’ ridiculous or offensive behavior…you can only control your reaction to it….easier to say than to do, but…if you don’t allow yourself to be bothered by it, then he hasn’t accomplished anything…… i said WAY easier to say than to do…but it’s true..

    BTW, your writing coninues to amaze me! you have great Spanish or English….

  4. On , Maria wrote:

    Wow, that is high praise Kim… Coming from you, I’m very flattered. Thank you!

  5. On , Marla wrote:

    Do you ever just get to slap them back? No? Dang.

  6. On , Jennifer wrote:

    Interesting stuff. Who was it who gave you the jackass slap? C’MON.. TELL ME ;)