There’s a lot of advice out there that says we shouldn’t need to seek the opinion of others to determine our sense of self-worth. We should be able to find it within ourselves. We should be healthy enough to know that we are worthy, even if the whole world doesn’t see it.
Then again, someone who truly has that view is a psychopath.
Psychopaths lack empathy. They lack the ability to view themselves the way other people view them because other people’s opinions have no value in their world. They don’t need your opinion or your approval, and they’ll do whatever they have to in order to achieve their goals, be it a corporate takeover or serial killing, with no remorse.
Unless, of course, they have some need for your opinion. I’m thinking of an early episode of Dexter, where, just before he killed a killer couple, he needed to ask them how they could love each other since they were both monsters like him.
I read The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry once, and in it the author asked sort of a similar question after interviewing someone he was fairly certain was a corporate psychopath.
“I wondered what sort of woman loved a man like that.”
― Jon Ronson,
Obviously the author hadn’t watched Dexter!
Of course, it made me ask a few questions of myself and some of my choices.
Just heard from the Boy for the first time in three days. I blew up at him for hurting me again. I knew it was unintentional what he did, and I knew he didn’t understand why it hurt. I tried to explain, again, why certain things hurt. Seems I go over it again and again and again on here. And every time it happens, I think, “This time! This time will be the time it sinks in!”
But what he hears/reads is that I think he’s a horrible person. I reread some of what I’ve written. It certainly doesn’t paint him in a very favorable light. Then again, he has really hurt me in the past.
I guess that’s the key, isn’t it? It’s the past. And we’re both stuck in it.
I keep waiting for him to see that he didn’t treat me very well, and sometimes still doesn’t. Meanwhile he thinks that I’m just bringing up old crap over and over again…
Some mutual friends point out that he’s not really grown up, and some of the comments I’ve gotten from people who read this blog have a similar point. Even though I chose the moniker of the “Boy” to be cute*, people keep telling me that it was an apt nickname for him because he is still a boy.
The thing is, while I end up nagging him because I refuse to be mistreated, I defend him to most of the rest of the world. I see the goodness in him. I see how he helps people when they are really in need. I see how hard he works, and how amazing he is at his job. I see that he’s really an intelligent person, and I’ve never thought he was Bojack, no matter how many times he tries to tell me he feels like he is.
But see, because I care, I try to help him to see where his mistakes are so that he can stop making them. I’ve seen him make them with other people, too, not just me. I think I’m doing a good thing.
He doesn’t see it that way. All he sees is me telling him what a bad guy he is. And he doesn’t want to hear that. Can’t say that I blame him, I guess.
When he shuts down because I’ve hurt his feelings, what it says to me is that my opinion doesn’t matter to him. Subsequently, it means I don’t matter to him. I’m not worth the effort. He’ll tell me that’s not what it means, but it’s the only thing it can mean when he refuses to try.
The alternative is that he is indeed a psychopath who refuses to conform to society’s standard of normal, human behavior.
After all, he likes to tell me that I shouldn’t care what he thinks of me. I realize now that’s because he doesn’t care what I think of him (which is slightly psychopathic), although he’ll tell me that he doesn’t like that I see him in such and such light, but he refuses to change the behavior that gives off that impression.
But I don’t think he’s a psychopath. He does have empathy, and that’s why it hurts him when he hears/reads me say negative things about him.
He’s just trying to be of that mindset that his worth isn’t dependent on how anyone else sees him.
Of course, if he believed it, it wouldn’t bother him when he hears me say what he says are mean things about him. He’s even told me that he doesn’t understand why I want to be his friend if that’s how I see him… I keep telling him that’s not how I see him, but rather, it’s how I perceive how he sees me.
I guess neither are exactly positive.
And both cause problems because it kind of suggests that at least one of us, if not both of us, is broken by society’s standards.
When I told him about my thinking I have Asperger’s, he made a point to tell me I HAD to get tested. When I pushed back at that idea, he made a comment about how I didn’t want to get tested because if I was wrong, then I’d have to actually figure out what was wrong with me. That was cruel.
But, perhaps not too far off. Learning about the Asperger’s has helped me in some ways because I can identify things I’ve struggled with all my life. Things that now there’s an explanation of, and therefor a possible solution for.
“There’s a societal push for conformity in all ways,” he said. “There’s less tolerance of difference. And so maybe for some people having a label is better. It can confer a sense of hope and direction. ‘Previously I was laughed at, I was picked on, no one liked me, but now I can talk to fellow bipolar sufferers on the Internet and no longer feel alone.’”
― Jon Ronson,
So this whole bullshit idea that we shouldn’t care what other people think about us is exactly that: bullshit.
We’re trained from the moment we enter into primary school (and before if you go to Pre-K or daycare) that society has rules that we’re expected to follow. These rules are designed to create a sense of unity, of belonging so that we can function as a group. Humans are social creatures, that cannot function as a single unit.
Even when Thoreau decided to forego normal society and live out on Walden Pond, he still had to come into town to get supplies.
We NEED other people. We NEED to be part of something. Humans were not designed to be singular creatures, islands each unto themselves floating around without any need of one another. If nothing else, we have a biological need to procreate. Otherwise sex wouldn’t feel so good.
And if it doesn’t feel good, you’re doing it wrong.
My point being that you shouldn’t try to be okay completely without anyone else.
One of the things I found while I was looking into what it meant to be an Aspie was a blog post (that I cannot for the life of me find again) where the woman said that if she had any advice for people with Asperger’s, it was to find someone. Be in a relationship.
And let me tell you, that’s HARD. I remember when the Boy was playfully teasing me about not being a Geek, and he told me social skills were hard. Social skills I can fake. Relationships are HARD!
Adapting and adjusting your way of thinking to match someone else, especially when they don’t think the way you do, is challenging. But it’s necessary.
Seems I can fake the social skills, but I can’t fake thinking like other people. When I point out a problem that I see with my relationship with the Boy, I mean it to solve a misconception that I think he’s having that causes him to treat me poorly. Because I think in “if-then” syllogisms, my thought process goes like this:
“He MUST be treating me this way because he thinks I still feel X, and logic says that if I still feel X, then he has to cut that off at the pass by saying/doing Y. Now I have to prove to him that I don’t still feel X by reminding him that what happened before was because of Z.”
“Z” usually is some seemingly malicious thing he did way back when.
What my brain decides is that he’s not over the past because he’s still acting in a way that is trying to prevent a repeat. Meanwhile, what he sees is that I won’t let the past go at all, and instead tell him what a jerk and an asshat he is. He then gets appropriately angry.
Appropriate, that is, if I was just trying to tell him he was a jerk, just to not let go of the past.
Admittedly, I probably make it worse than it was. Things get bigger when I feel like they’re still happening.
It’s like that story my dad tells about when my parents were newlyweds. The way Dad tells it, Mom was butchering a chicken with a big ol’ meat cleaver, and he came in smelly from eating kimchi, and Mom told him to get away before she turned him from a rooster to a hen. Then she threatened him with the meat cleaver when he came to kiss her, and she chased him straight out onto the balcony, where he proceeded to jump from the 6th story .
In reality, she was peeling potatoes with a paring knife, and she shook it at him and told him to brush his teeth first.
My father is a master of hyperbole.
And his version makes for a better story.
And I have a habit of embellishing sometimes as well, in order to make the story better. Especially on here.
So when the Boy and I argue because I think he’s trying to ward off something that won’t happen, I tend to play up the negative because in my head, he still doesn’t understand what he did to cause the problem. Logically (to me), if I play up the hurt, he’ll see that he was a really big douche! And then realize that the problem can’t be repeated because he’s not that douchey guy anymore.
But that’s not the message he hears.
And then as the fight explodes around us, all I see is that he must really hate me if he can’t see how he started it, and instead of fixing it, he’d rather fight with me.
Makes me feel worthless, because I’ve always thought he was worth it to fix what was wrong. My syllogistic brain sees “If he isn’t willing to fix it, then he doesn’t think I’m worth trying for.”
This is where that whole, “you must see your own worth,” crap becomes an issue.
“Worth” is subjective, and usually comparative. We talk about worth in terms of alternatives. Is hitting on the hot chick across the bar worth the possible embarrassment if she says no?
Are those Louboutins worth the cost, even if it means eating Ramen for a month? (Let me tell you now, the answer to that is ALWAYS yes!)
Even the value of money is based on our opinion.
The value of money is completely arbitrary on what the Federal Reserve decides it is worth on any given day. There’s nothing to back it up. It’s not based on anything other than we say it’s worth something. WE,the people, plural, have determined that green paper with a picture of Benjamin Franklin is worth more than the exact same green paper with a picture of Abraham Lincoln.
Of course our worth as people has to somehow relate to other people! Maybe it’s not on whether or not they value us, but perhaps it’s in how we make a difference in the world at large, or whether or not we can help a single student when they are ready to give up. Maybe it has nothing to do with anything that is said, but a way a certain person looks at us, or the way he holds your hand.
Of course, all of that has to do with love languages, and to review, my top three (in almost a perfect three way tie) are “Talk, Touch, and Time.” In other words, tell me you value me, touch me, spend quality time with me.
I don’t know what the Boy’s languages are. It would help if I did know, so I would be able to see it when he does something that he thinks shows that I have value, because that’s the big issue. I hear him say he wants me in his life, but I also see how he doesn’t have time for me in his life.
That little syllogism maker goes off in my head, “If he wanted you in his life, he’d make time for you in it.” To me, it’s a contradiction, and I tend to agree with Ayn Rand’s views on that:
Thus I need the reassurance, and he doesn’t like to repeat himself. He thinks it means I don’t believe him, but the not telling me reinforces the negative conclusion that he doesn’t actually want me in his life.
“If he can’t say it again, then it’s not true.”
I guess I can see why he thinks I am the one holding onto the past. Especially because then, when I feel like he won’t tell me that he values me and wants me in his life, I feel like I have to remind him of how we got to this point of I don’t believe him…
The thing is, he doesn’t see the positive things I say either.
That post a while back where I talk about the Bojack thing (which I don’t think he appreciated me putting on here… oops), I wasn’t saying he was Bojack; only that he thinks of himself like Bojack, and therefor it affects how we interact.
I have told him, more than once (though I only know of once when he acknowledged it), that he is NOT Bojack. That he IS a nice guy. That he DOES deserve good things. That I DO value him in my life. I’ve told him I love him, that he’s sexy, that he’s a good friend, that he’s helped me out when I needed it. I’m very vocal about the good things because it is important to me that he hear them… It’s one of my Love Languages so I try to say good things a lot!
But because I don’t know his love language, I’m stuck trying to hear he cares in the ways I know. And when I don’t, I find myself pointing out to him how I say these things all the time, yet I have to beg him to say a simple compliment.
It tends not to end well…
I’m not sure how to fix it. I want him to know I think he is worth a lot, and not just the hurtful prick that ends up portrayed on here. But to keep it from getting to the point where I don’t feel absolutely worthless, I have to figure out how to tell when he’s telling me I am valuable.
Because, dammit, I am worth a lot!
*Honestly, I use “Boy” because of the Gelflings on the Dark Crystal, where she tells him he can’t have wings because he’s a boy…I really like that, and every time I call him a “Silly Boy,” that’s the voice I hear. Apparently it is somewhat demeaning, which I fully apologize for. It wasn’t meant as a racial comment, or a commentary on his behavior…even if that last part seemingly fits sometimes.