I think I’m going to have to take a vow of silence regarding any issue involving my personal opinions. My fastest mechanism possible for alienating even the people I love and who love me in return seems to be voicing my viewpoint.
The above statement is characteristic of the reasons why the above statement is true. I am a writer. I am not an orator. When I put down prose, I have the time to edit it in successive iterations, refining and improving my language at every pass. The first draft of most of what I write is, by my own view, poorly written. Speech involving another human being is nothing but first drafts.
The best example of this I can give is, I think, the movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. This movie is, in my honest opinion, an exceptionally artistic film. It shows us the world as seen by an eight-year-old, and it accomplishes
this exceptionally well. However, it uses the character of Pee-Wee Herman, as portrayed by Paul Reubens, to do this, and Pee-Wee Herman gives me the itch. I don’t enjoy watching that character, and yet I can think of no other lead role that would have worked anywhere nearly as well, nor could I imagine anyone else in that role. In addition, my eight-year-old world was a painful and uncomfortable place. Thus, while I think the film is brilliant in its execution, it’s one I actively do not enjoy watching and have no desire to ever see again.
All of the above sentiment came out as “That film sucked” when Jessie asked me what I thought of it after I watched it. I could barely sit through the movie, I felt I had been pressured into viewing it, I didn’t enjoy being
brought back to my own childhood by proxy, and I had to fight down my own bile at that buzz-cutted, bow-tied buffoon’s antics on the screen. My initial response was, I hope, understandably visceral, but my method of conveying what I felt came out horribly oversimplified and heavily misleading. The film does not, in fact, suck in my opinion, but the experience of watching it was such that when questioned on my current state of mind, I gave a purely emotional response.
This did not lead to a positive dialogue afterwards. In fact, it led to an argument which didn’t resolve itself for days. In true-to-self fashion, when Jessie responded to my emotional expulsion with frustration and disbelief, I
took it as a sign of invalidation and became defensive, leading me to lash out at my mate, who in turn became cold and isolating. Seeing this, I shut down emotionally realizing I had hurt someone I loved, and only then
was I able to say in clear terms how I truly felt about the film, at which point it became evident to all involved that there had been no conflict from the beginning, if only I could’ve said “this is why I didn’t like it” instead of “this sucked.”
Unfortunately, as I said above, I am a writer, not an orator. I almost never say what I want to say the first time I open my muzzle, and yet I’m expected consistently to be as good with my words in real-time as I am on the page, and when I fail to live up to the standards my written works have set for me, I confuse and upset those around me. I upset and confuse myself, as well, because often I won’t have even been able to sort out what it is that I’m trying to say. I have only an emotion, and I don’t understand it; I have no way of explaining it to other people yet, because I don’t know what’s caused it in myself.
This leads me to my next problem. Not only can I not easily explain what’s wrong when I first have to do so, I’m very defensive of my emotions. I’ve had too often the sense of being told I’m in the wrong for how I think when
I try to voice my specific views on a subject. Much of this, I’m sure, can be blamed on my ex, but that doesn’t mean I should do it. Still, there’s a part of me that feels that if I break down my dislikes or likes into specifics,
someone will pick them apart or tear them down, but if I present only “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it,” there’s nothing to attack.
All of this, I’m sure, could be forgiven if I didn’t feel the need to vent my spleen when I’m upset, as part of the process of working out why I’m upset and getting over things. I bring most of my problems down on my own head, by trying to talk about what bothers me and failing miserably to convey any sort of coherent meaning, leading those around me to look at me in bewilderment because I’m not normally the sort to just go off half-cocked. I have a reason for almost everything I say, but often until I’ve worked through whatever it is
that’s on my mind, I’m incapable of conveying it in a meaningful fashion.
It’s a challenge to myself, sometimes, figuring out what actually bothers me. Often I have to make several iterations through my own head, thinking that one thing is the problem and finding out through analysis that that’s not really what it is, but that something is still bothering me. Usually, once I know why I’m upset, I stop being upset about it. It’s either the worst case of self-delusion or the best case of self-understanding. Either way, the pain goes away.
In the meantime, though, I inflict my particular brand of insanity on those around me, who either have the option of trying to respond to my neurosis and risk upsetting me further, or trying somehow to ignore me while I spin madly like an out-of-control whirligig until I sputter to a halt. In the meantime, I say the craziest things in an attempt to figure out what my true feelings on an issue are, and may irk any number of people in the process. I’m prone to saying things that I don’t truly believe but that at the moment I say them are less painful to accept as true than admitting a mistake. In general, I’m a royal bitch.
This apparently makes me no different from any other woman.
Since I never speak of this sort of thing in the abstract, obviously there must be something that prompted all of this. Of course, there is. One member of my surrogate family made a comment in her LiveJournal about the death of story in modern gaming, which led to a long and involved argument between my mate and I about whether this was a valid statement, whether it was a true statement, and whether it was an important statement. This branched out into what constituted a good game, and ultimately whether or not my view of gaming was meaningful in the scope of the industry as a whole. As I could care less about any “view of the group as a whole” except for how it impacts my own ability to function and enjoy myself, the conversation degenerated rapidly, leading to my state of upset.
I talked with Galen about this lately, but it’s something that weighs heavily on my mind. I suffer from a pair of emotional needs that make engaging in any heavy discussion difficult. On the one hand, I actively fear being manipulated or used by those around me. On the other, I fear being isolated or alienated from my friends and family. This leads me at once to try to condemn what the majority of my friends do—even if it’s something I want or enjoy—and to do my own thing—and to follow the herd—even if I don’t like what they’re doing—in turns. I want to be recognized and accepted as part of my social group, but I hate feeling like I’m doing things because the other members of my group are doing them.
This means that in conversation, adding to all of the above, I often try to stake out my position and stick by it, but it means that I feel the incessant need for my view to be validated by those whose opinions are meaningful to me,
even when they don’t understand me or when I say things in my muddled way. When I don’t get what I need, I get even more frustrated because I feel like I’m being ignored or treated poorly by the people I’m supposed to be able to trust, and that just accelerates the descent into madness.
Some days, it’s a wonder that I have any friends at all any more. That makes the ones who are willing to put up with my insanity that much more precious.