Thursday, 10 January 2013

I'm Not Wrong - But I'm Not Convinced I'm Right Either

There was a brief pause after the Cycle of Despair thing, while I meditated on my attitudes to people, and how I was in a Cycle over people. Which I dropped, because it didn't feel right. In the meantime, I carried on with this line of thought.

Every now and then I used to like, or at least get a perverse kick from, rubbishing myself. How bad a person I was, how my life was a waste, how I couldn't have fun, or live in loveful trustingness with the world, or experience joy and happiness, and all that stuff. I used to be able to get a week's self-pity out of that, but the last couple of tries haven't gone past twelve hours. I just don't have the energy to keep it going and it isn't any fun anymore.

It's taken me a while to understand why. Stay with me for a while.

There's a very wide range of tolerated variation in intellectual and physical skills: you can lack the ability to make an omelette with a clear conscience, as you can be incapable of running a marathon in under four hours or rattling off the proof of the Downward Lowenheim-Skolem theorem, and no-one is going to call you out on it. By contrast, there is a very narrow range of tolerated variation in social, inter-personal and emotional "skills". People who don't behave close to the norm are marginalised with varying degrees of pity and politeness, and because most people like hanging out with some group or other of bros and hos, that marginalisation hurts. Literally hurts, as in nasty-hormones-in-the-bloodstream-hurts. It's that hurt which people take into the therapist's office or seek to get rid of through self-help and mood-altering substances. 

The official line is that those people hurt because there is something wrong with them. They need to (insert psychobabble nostrum here) and then they will be able to experience (insert psychobabble benefits here). Employers, partner-hunting women, and ordinary blokes get upset because hurt people aren't available as pliable subordinates, uncomplaining workers, partners, meal tickets,good-natured mates for Saturday football, Friday night drinks, and generally good company at weddings, bar-mitzvahs and funerals.Even in the post-modern economy and society of the 2010's in the UK, if I don't want to marry and have children, I have a choice of being diagnosed or disgraced. Even the diagnosis is only a temporary respite from the disgrace, because I should have "got over it", "moved on", "manned up" and "got on with my life".

So I would rubbish myself because I was "wrong". The proof I was wrong was that I hurt, felt empty, my career was was a mis-managed mess and I couldn't get girls when I wanted them. (Real Men can get another woman and another job tomorrow.) But, uh, like Normal PeopleTM don't have problems with any of those things?

There's supposed to be something good, desirable, pleasant and otherwise attractive about the way Normal PeopleTM live. But you know something? I can't see it. Forty per cent of them can't even choose their marriage partner very well, as they wind up divorced. Divorce is so good for the children, the husband's net wealth and income, and the wife's state of mind - everyone's a winner really (irony alert). Most of them are overweight and unfit - I've never seen a Normal Person stick with the gym - and some of them scarf junk food on the train home in the evening. They feel the need to drive a BMW X5 through the mean streets of Twickenham. They watch junk TV and barely read, can't play a musical instrument, don't like to try new types of food, get into debt buying crap they don't need, can't budget, dress badly and can't take their drink. They cook with microwaves and buy crisps for the kids. Or they are sickeningly smug, have chicken-wing triceps and vegetarian. Their emotional lives seem to me either bland beyond belief, or squalid and chaotic, or again, so smugly perfect that I want to leave before I barf. 

One of the marks of an alkie in early recovery is the perfection of their siblings. The alkie has the problem, but their brothers and sisters are just fine. Later they discover that, in fact, their siblings were as messed-up as them, maybe have the "-ism" or maybe don't. The whole Normal PeopleTM thing is the same: to messed-up people in pain, the Normals look like they are leading wonderful, if understated, lives. It's only a lot later, as the pain recedes and the empty feelings go away, that Normal PeopleTM take on a realistic appearance. And it doesn't look like a pretty sight to me. But if I'm "wrong" because I have the same problems Normal PeopleTM do, then they are "wrong" as well. That can't, by definition, be correct (much as the therapy community would appreciate the extra business).

So, guess what? There's nothing "wrong" with me. "Wrong" is when you need the psychiatric drugs. "Wrong" is when you think it's acceptable to make loans to people with no income, jobs or assets. "Wrong" is when you leave people to die on trolleys in hospitals, and when you put paperwork before people. "Wrong" is when you break your child's bones, and the social worker can't see past their religious beliefs to recognise child abuse. "Wrong" is when you hide medical test data, or ship a thousand jobs to Mumbai. "Wrong" is when you accept a job you are not qualified to do. To do any of those things, or a zillion others like them, argues a systematic flaw in a person's morals and understanding of their duties of care as a citizen. I could no more sell you crap you don't need than I could take a razor to myself - but there millions of people who can excuse themselves as they foist shite on you that you don't need.

And you might think that was a happy, constructive ending, but it wasn't. It was just another step on the journey. Just because I'm not "wrong" doesn't mean I'm "right". I'm clearly not. So what's going on?

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