Perhaps this is no great insight. Perhaps my assertion will cause you to think, “Uhhhh…yeah! I’ve known that forever.” But…I’d certainly been in the dark until about 10 minutes ago. Sometimes insight is like a dimmer switch, gradually moving from opaque to transparent, and sometimes it’s like a toggle switch, the shift fairly immediate from “off” to “on.” And then, like this time, sometimes it almost takes your breath away with the abruptness and strength of the realization. Walking to the restroom at my favorite coffee shop, I rudely cut between…head down and shoulders square, overcome with bitter sarcasm…the “indiscriminately & perpetually chatty loud-voiced guy” and the employee to which he was giving an unadulterated ear-beating. I walked in the restroom, locked the door, and BAM! It stopped me, literally (no hyperbole, no euphemism), in my tracks.
Okay…so here it is:
The very people I harshly judge, and their personality traits, are the traits that I worry about and harshly judge in myself. Basically, it’s my self-loathing projected onto another human. I cannot view a person who reminds me of myself at my worst with even a modicum of dispassion or, ideally, compassion. It’s zero-to-hate in less than 1 second. For them. And certainly for me.
In the opening paragraph, above, exist several of my largest societal frustrations, call them my social-pet-peeve “Mount Rushmore,” and as my very recent insight would indicate, four of my most prominent character flaws on which I can’t seem to get a good handle.
1. Person who rudely walks between conversations or otherwise blindly forces interruptions without excusing him/herself (MYSELF) or even giving visual regard.
2. Person who chats up anyone, anywhere, at any time, and for entirely too long a period, dominating a one-sided conversation with his/her (MY) pious righteousness.
3. Person who talks entirely too loudly in public spaces, as if the world must be interested in his/her (MY) drivel. “Look at me! Listen to me! Like and accept me!”
4. Person who harshly judges another person without knowing the other person’s back-story, context, experiences, or reasons for breaking whatever unspoken (SELF CREATED) social rule has been broken. *Addendum* Anyone who consistently places people in judgmental, discriminatory, limiting boxes to make sense of the world. (For as much as I despise being categorized, I am generally the Chief Pigeon-Holer in Charge.)
Like Johnny Depp across his multitude of quirky roles, each of those carved faces on my Mount Judgemore (Judge MORE) is simply me with some clever (…now that I think about it, actually not clever at all…) disguise that, apparently until recently, I never saw as me. I’ve been looking at a mirror this entire time, wearing my enamel down with each clench, each grind, each gnash of supreme courtliness.
And here’s the emotional tightrope I now walk. (Warning: I’m going to stretch this tightrope analogy to the point of perhaps breaking, but my brain won’t let go of it. Please stick with me.) Fall off the left side, and I judge you harshly. (This is what I did to the guy as described back in the first paragraph.) So there I was leaning far left, harshly judging another. And the over-compensation? Generally, I feel guilt or get some karmic rebound that forces me to look deeply at myself, my behaviors and thoughts. So I lean far right…and I end up hating myself. (Yes, hating. Again, no hyperbole.) And then, I get caught up in anxiety, worry, and self-doubt and tumble off the wire and into depression. How do I stay on the rope? Better yet, how do I just get off the fucking highwire, because I really don’t love heights and I’ve had a fear of plummeting my entire life. Sure, there’s some amount of excitement being up there. At times, I’m funny as hell. At times, I’m calm and aware and able to toe the line. However, I’m just as often, if not more often, mean as hell. A little shit. A douche of Massengillian proportions. I’m just as often anxious, frenetic, and entirely unaware of my impact on the world and people around me.
So really, finding solid ground makes the most sense. The problem is that I always end up back on that high wire. It’s so difficult to break free of the cognitive and emotional patterns which have controlled my reactions and behaviors across my life. But here I’ll start another journey. I’ll attempt to change the direction of control permanently.
I’m deeply grateful for the insight.
Also…I’m open to suggestions.
(The Scream. Perhaps there’s a deeper reason why this is one of my favorite pieces of art?)