So, what have we learned today? is often the question.
In reflecting on the turmoil created by the little liar, detailed in my last blog here, a couple of realizations came to the fore. Some people have better instincts than others, especially when reading people. Now, writers tend to be vain creatures if that isn't already apparent to you. We fancy ourselves "students of humanly," and to be fair, some of that is true. Many of us write because we look at weird stuff going on all around us and ask, "Why are people doing these damnfool things?" (And some of us fancy ourselves dashing romantic figures, too, but that's another topic for another time). But just because we think of ourselves that way doesn't make it so.
The first love of my life, many years ago accused me of being a little naive. She thought it was charming and kept me open to other people who I might otherwise be closed to; I don't know. I suspect she was/is right, though I rejected the notion lo' those many years ago.
Here's what I do know; when I told my kids, ages 13 and 16, what went down (without the sordid details--they didn't need that) both reacted in a fashion I found surpring. My daughter said, "I didn't like her. There was something phony about her. She just paid attention to you like she was trying to convince us she was in love with you and ignored us. When you talked to us, she just lowered her eyes and stayed silent." Fair enough. I could spin that one to say she was really nervous and wanted the kid's approval and thus and so forth. It was my thirteen year old son who nailed it. He said, "She was fake. The entire time she just looked as if dinner was something she had to get through so she could go back to whatever she was doing before she got there."
See, somehow my kids have a better radar about people than I ever did at their ages, or now it seems. Which is how I would have it. A parent always wants to see his/her kids do better. I think it safe to say that my two are on their way to being happier, better adjusted adults than I was then.
So, now that I've seen this harsh lesson from their point of view, what did I learn today? Well, I learned that it's easy as hell to get involved in an outcome while you're deluding yourself that you're being "objective." There is no objectivity when it comes to excitement, fun, sex, and romance. Sorry, no one "looks at themselves objectively." It flies in the face of the term. If you've ever said that, YOU WERE WRONG!
So how does one tune one's "people radar?" I don't know. I think there may be a few things I need to try. First and foremost, I have to be more in tune with my own bullshit. Here's what happened with the lying little whore; she came at me like a pit bull and I thought it was "cute." But like a Chinese reeducation camp, if you hear the same thing over and over and over long enough, you'll start to believe it. Gobbles and the Nazis got it. "The Big Lie." But here's the thing, when it's just a one-on-one interpersonal relationship, rather than being bombarded by propaganda 24/7, you need one thing: a willingness to believe. It would be really nice if that hot little blonde really was in love with me. Not because I was in love with the hot little blonde, but because it gives an illusion of youth that a lot of guys my age desire, and there's always sex as a drug, and then there's just the almost universal desire to be loved and admired. So without being aware of the process, I go sucked in. Because I wanted to get sucked it. This is what I tell my kids is called "owning your shit." You screw up, you own it. You don't look around for other people to blame. It is the foundation, along with core principles and moral beliefs, of what makes one a principled human being.
This is maybe the hardest aspect of growth: we humans, for the most part, tend to be change adverse. Sure there are adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers among us, but for the most part change is scary, something to be avoided. Internal change, that's maybe the toughest of all. That's why there are "life coaches" and self-help books, because some people know they need to make changes but are at a loss how to go about those changes.
Now that you accept you own your shit and you must be ready to change, what next? In this case, speaking of personal relationships and being blind-sided by the lying little whore, I guess it means getting back to the fundamental axiom: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Sure, there may be some 22 year old hot little blonde who is going to fall over in a faint when I walk into the room, but chances are pretty good there are not a lot of them out there, and the odds of me blundering into one randomly are pretty low. So if that happens, what do to? Reality test.
Reality testing is simply not letting things slide by. She would often dismiss my concerns over the age difference by saying, "Age is just a number." If I persisted, she's smile, kiss me, and say, "Oh, stop it."
It's not very romantic, but I really needed to press on that issue. Because had I, I suspect the truth would have come out far earlier. The best technique is the open ended question, that is one that can't be answered "yes," or "no." Had I simply said, "OK, what does our relationship ten years from now look like to you?" I suspect that might have made her work too hard to come up with a reasonable reply. You can't kiss, smile, and dazzel your way out of that one.
Even if I don't get better at seeing people for what they are, at least I know two things: my kids are already better at it than I am and I must keep trying.
Copyright 21st June 2009 by Raymond E. Feist.
No reproduction without permission.