I know exactly what kind of douche bag I do not want to be.
I don’t want to be a “don’t you know who I am?!” kind of douche, lacking in humility or the ability to give every single new person I meet a fair shake before passing judgments or deciding I don’t like them. I don’t want to be the kind of person who places my needs above the needs of others, and I don’t want to be the kind of person who thinks the world revolves around them and them alone. I don’t want to be blissfully blind to the fact that everyone is fighting a hard battle, or the world around me is full of complex and pressing social, political and environmental issues. Definitely don’t want to be a name-dropping hipster douche, and very keen not to be a backstabbing-false-friend-kind-of-jerk either.
Probably my BIGGEST concern in the personal douche level department is being a deluded douche. You know, the kind of person who has character flaws the size of the Grand Canyon and builds layer after layer of cognitive dissonance padding between them and the reality of the issues that cause them to be their own worst enemy. I’d much rather face the stuff head-on I don’t like about myself or need to work on, and try to be a better person.
As far as I can tell, I am doing a passable job of trying to avoid many of the aforementioned pitfalls, however, it turns out the upshot of that is that I sometimes excel at being another kind of jerk completely. I’m a pushy, steaming hot mess of hard-to-handle, and some people find me absolutely appalling, vulgar, and quite enjoy nursing a healthy dislike for me and voice that quite openly. Not everyone appreciates my honesty or willingness to share my opinions. Some people, even people that I would call my friends, seem to relish pointing out how annoying I am and how lucky I am to have anyone tolerate my deep and varied failings. On the surface this doesn’t seem particularly kind or constructive, but if it makes them feel better, go for it I guess. As long as you season it with some respect, kindness and concern as well.
Being at least moderately aware of the many and ever-evolving ways in which I suck is not absolution from the dumb, hurtful, or destructive things I do and say. It just makes it ever so slightly easier to handle the venom that people spit at me, because I can honestly think or say: “Yes, I know that I suck, and your observation of this is undeniable, but oh my giddy aunt I am working on being a better person!”
Recently, I have had cause to ask Grumpy weekly, if not daily, if we are as deluded as most other people seem to be. He’s pretty confident that due to our entrenched lack of self-esteem, and zero investment in appearing “cool” or keeping up with the Joneses, that we do a pretty good job of dealing with reality most of the time. We are also armed with the Love and respect of some pretty harsh critics and very clever people who don’t suffer fools. Sharing a common need to try and be decent human being ties us all together as our strongest social, and perhaps spiritual bond.
He also pointed out that if you didn’t have a few delusions about your own worth and importance, you’d quickly become suicidal, because the harsh reality of our insignificance and inadequacy would probably cause anyone to get pretty darned depressed… And none of us are actually insignificant or inadequate, as long as we are tied to other people in a positive way – we are significant beyond measure and our actions and influence are infinite and echo through the ages. If, however, we go through life seeking nothing but self gratification or building a false façade, it won’t take long for the cracks in our lives to start showing and things to start crashing down around us.
You know that saying: “The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.” Well, that is the essence of what I am trying to get across today. So many of us battle terrible demons and try and fill a cosmic emptiness with all sorts of distractions, obsessions and messed up priorities. If, like me, you keep running into the same problems over and over again in life – take a step back, and look REALLY look at what it is you are doing and why you do it, and how that keeps affecting you.
I was going to go into a long and convoluted rant about something I struggle with and have since I was very young indeed, but I’ve deleted that and I will give you the short version:
I am a desperately needy and undeniably annoying person. I do not inherently believe that anyone could or would like me just as I am. So for as long as I can remember I have felt compelled to do things for people or “buy friendship” through actions or favours. That makes me a target, and also stops people from wanting to get close to me because it can be mighty awkward indeed, and I eventually snap and freak out and have a “what’s in this relationship for ME!” moment, quite often out of the blue or at inopportune times that actually don’t have a lot to do with the person I am lashing out at.
It is really REALLY hard to admit that.
But I am working on it. And I am building boundaries, and I am learning to say no to people. All of these things are a bit of an uphill battle. I used to make excuses, and convince myself that the cycle of loneliness and disappointment was just terrible luck, or I was a victim. Simply not true. I was sabotaging relationships at every turn, and the only remedy is honesty. My dearest friends are very (nay, gobsmackingly!) honest with me, as I am with them. My husband calls me out when he sees me acting like a total dickhead in an attempt to buy friendship or win people over. One of his least favourite Dee moves is when I get drunk and tell people how much money we have or start giving things away willy-nilly. HE HATES THAT! I think I am getting better though. But acting this way not only makes me a rather sad spectacle, it sabotages relationships in a very real and lasting way.
And you know what. When I stop throwing things at people and smothering them, and just accept that maybe there are people who like me for me, things go a whole lot smoother.
I could go on and on about my own delusions and dissonance – and bring up dozens of examples of seeing other people’s own struggles. Perhaps one of the most common delusion I see people suffer from is being mean. Mean people don’t seem to know that they are totally messing up their lives and the lives of others. They make excuses for bullish and amoral behavior, and justify abhorrent actions to themselves until they don’t know how to deal with people rationally anymore. Perhaps a bit of that power-corrupting adage, but I’ve noticed that bullies don’t seem to get that they’ll be a whole lot happier if they humble the heck up and try collaborating rather than dominating people an situations. True story.
I doubt I’ll get more than a handful of readers with this Friday rant.
For those of you who suffered through reading it, THANK YOU! And I hope it was in some way helpful.