The word of the week is:
- cause (someone) to feel very embarrassed or ashamed
- subdue (the body or its needs and desires) by self-denial or discipline
- (of flesh) be affected by gangrene or necrosis
Here is an example in ‘Second Chances’ by Martina Reilly
“Sorry I’m late.” Lizzie shoved open the door of the small dingy office and a blast of cold air hit Anna, her co-counsellor, in the face. “Tom and I went out for coffee and we had a row in front of a whole café of people. Mortifying.”
Anna laughed. “You and Tom had a row? I thought you never rowed.”
“There’s a first time for everything.” Lizzie dumped her tasselled bag on the desk beside her phone and strode over to the electric heater to flick it on. It was freezing in the office
Practice for 5 minutes using mortify in its different forms. When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section.
Also, extra credit if you use the word of the week in your daily practice!
“What’s your most embarrassing memory?”
The bottle was pointed at me. We were grown ups, forty-somethings and something elses. What were we doing playing the teenage game, ‘Spin the Bottle?’
My husband coughed, already caught up in the delight of me recounting my most mortifying moment. He was maybe thinking of the time I was caught short on the way to town and ended up mooning a group of local boys on a geography field trip. I closed my eyes and scrunched my forehead as if to the waiting group I had to search the recesses of my mind. What was more mortifying? Reliving a banal but awkward moment or acknowledging to my husband that he didn’t actually know me at all. Telling the truth, now that would be a first.
He knew me as this polite, going to church, helping those in need, he didn’t know the me, before. Before I got my act together. Maybe he thinks I am going to tell of the time I answered the door in my nightie to the pastor.
Deep breath. “Long before I knew any of you, I was different, I was angry and lashed out at everyone I met. I got into a lot of trouble, I was expelled from three schools and spent some time in foster care. My parents didn’t know what to do with me. Whilst there I ran with a wild bunch, we’d rob from shops and stuff like that, I was the girl who everyone thought would die young in a blaze of indifference and fizzle out. One day though, Chant, Nick and me, we stole a handbag from this old lady and then they convinced me to cash her pension cheque. Well of course I got caught, I still don’t look eighty so imagine a teenager trying to get away with it. I was in court and ordered to do 100 hours of community service. Still angry, at being caught, at being sentenced, at being alive I left the court building and bumped into this old lady. ‘Lillian,’ she said. I think I grunted. ‘I’m the owner of the handbag, I forgive you, my child, I wish you a long and fruitful life and that you will forgive others.’ She turned and left. I stood rooted to the spot like a petrified tree and in those seconds two routes opened up for me, a road lined with regrets and crimes or the road I chose lined with forgiving and love. I was mortified not because of embarrassment but because someone showed the me I was then love, when they could’ve so easily judged.”
I opened my eyes and instead of the condemnation I was expecting I got hugs. One massive group hug, Bill and I crying, everyone laughing. Sandra, the most proper of ladies, whispered to me, “remind me to tell you about my life, Lily.” Acceptance reigned and we all basked in that glow.