A simple staff room chat at breaktime can be like treading through a verbal minefield. People are rushed and pressured. The intensity of trying to relax for ten minutes can be as tiring as the job itself therefore sometimes we forego a break and keep on going. Just to avoid the tension. You need to be careful what you say. You really need to watch the way you hear things. Mis-hear, misunderstand or listen too carefully- and you might feel jellyfished.

What is the act of Jellyfishing? Remember that scene in Bridget Jones Diary- The Edge of Reason whereby Bridget explains the concept? No? Well, in short it is when someone supposedly being friendly says something to you and you automatically smile back without really taking in their words.


Then boom. A very short time later, you feel the whiplash sting that the comment lashed upon you. Sharp, seering and causing you to seethe. Loaded. Ambiguous. The effect of these comments may depend on your own personal mood that day. This is true. Sometimes we choose to overreact. Mostly they are thoughtless throwaway statements with no underlying intention to create pain. Other times, they are just plain mean.

One time, I was with a car load of friends on the way home from a hen party. Heavy heads and bumpy roads, we were all not feeling our best selves. Spotting a billboard advertising something like Smarties, I mentioned how I would love some sugar right then. My Jellyfisher friend brutally growled at me, asking was I diabetic or just greedy. I mumbled the affirmative to the second and the moment passed. However, the red line stayed on my ‘pinch more than an inch arm’ for quite a long while after.

jellyfish aquarium sealife sea
Photo by Wopke on

The other day, another mother of two smallies and I were having a little bond over the trials of motherhood. My friend is not a complainer- far from it. Sometimes we just need to talk. We were sharing concerns about morning pressure. Getting kids up, out to minders whilst meandering the tiredness. Trying not to escalate the tempers that might ensue. As my friend regretted being frustrated over a temper flare that morning, I was trying to make her feel comforted by explaining mine are the same. A third colleague appeared at our table and we dutifully let her in on the chat, just saying how it is hard to deal with tantrums in kids but how we get past it.

She gave us her two cents.

‘My children never had tantrums’, she announced. ‘I wonder what it is…’ silence. She let the words hang.

On that note I got up and made tea.

I do not think she meant to sting us. Maybe she does not know the effect of Jellyfishing. It was surely not intentional but it definitely stung.

She wasn’t aware the sting stung.

Then again, do the jellyfish?

I heard a rumour that her children were actually nightmares growing up. Just saying.


boy standing in front of jelly fish aquarium with purple light
Photo by Jeswin Thomas on

33 thoughts on “Jellyfish

  1. Oh yes! Sharing a room with a friend on a holiday, I was fixing my auburn hair when she said, “Don´t you wish you had blonde hair like me?” I just said, “No, I like the colour of my hair.” Later I felt the sting and have never got over it. I was jellyfished all right.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. never heard of jellyfishing. We have a large cafeteria where people go – I’m need a break from people by lunch time so I head outside. I do errands, go to a coffee shop alone and love it. Just re-energizing my batteries plus staying away from anything toxic going around the building.

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  3. I also didn’t know what jellyfishing meant! I have a friend who’s an EXCELLENT jellyfish. We were shopping at our favorite store and I needed to pick up laundry detergent. I use the cheap brand as I’m not about to spend double for the same damn thing. When I picked it up, she said, “Purex? I’ve never even heard of it. I use, you know, TIDE?”
    I’m not yet sure she was trying to be rude and insinuating she was better because she buys overpriced laundry detergent, but, regardless, I haven’t forgotten that little comment and it was weeks ago! Is that jellyfishing?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!! Perfect jellyfishing example. I was once gifted a top for my birthday that was a much larger size than I wore and was told non too subtly it had lots of boob room. Cheers for that you cows( I thought but never actually said ) whilst I remembered every outfit I had worn in their company that clearly was too small.

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  4. I learn something new every day! Loved this article, Orla. And, yes, I have experienced jellyfishing. This post makes me wonder if I’ve ever jellyfished anyone else. I’m sure I have even though it was completely unintentional. This post is a great reminder to think about what we say before we say it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Omigoodness. I saw Bridget Jones, but totally forgot about Jellyfishing. (Though yes, I have indeed been stung!) And yes, I have noticed that the Moms with the most swful kids were the Moms who said their kids were the best behaved. Wishful thinking, I’m thinking!

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  6. Last week I was (often am) jellyfished by my Mother, who while she greeted my arrival with the perfunctory double air kiss she said. “You dressed up I see … well you look very … country.” Holding my shoulders at arms length, her eyes drank in my daughterly beauty and she continued, ” Mind you, it is probably a good way to dress, for someone your size.” Jellyfish is new to me but a barb or two has punctured with enough frequency that I have built up an imunity. I would even feel blaz`e about swimming in a cove off Hawaii.


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