Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fair Play

I woke up this morning thinking about fair play. Well, not really fair play, but empathy and they're kind of alike. I mean, to play fairly, you need to be able to imagine how someone else might feel, right? I know how I might feel if you don't play fairly and I can imagine how you might feel if I don't. The person who refuses to play fair either doesn't know or doesn't care how other people feel. They wouldn't know empathy from Auntie Em.

Oh, they know how they feel, and their needs are so paramount that nothing else matters. Furthermore, they can't imagine we would feel any differently. It's one of those "I'm so weak and you're so strong, so let's take care of me," things. So, we take care of them and take care of them until we can't stand the sight of them. And when we've finally had enough and leave, they end up in therapy trying to figure out why we were so selfish. Duh.

What makes things even worse is when there's a layer of narcissistic entitlement underneath all that neediness. This surprises some people. I wrote the other day how narcissists are extremely image-conscious and endeavor to appear self-confident, successful, and frankly, superior to the rest of us. Well, they can also be dependent and demanding. The man or woman who always seeks approval or affirmation and when it's not forthcoming feels deprived, becomes angry, flies into a rage, gets vindictive. And just as you're contemplating an affair with anyone from the butcher to the baker to the candlestick maker -- anything to retain your sanity -- they become possessive and suspicious and hold onto you like grim death.

You're hesitant about being assertive, though, because you don't want to appear unfeeling -- the last thing you want is to become like them. The problem is, any humanity you show is taken as a sign of weakening resolve. Eventually, you get to the point where, like Kevin Costner's Wyatt Earp confronting his female partner's laudanum abuse, you tell yourself, "I don't care anymore." I know, that's cold, but the alternative seems more like another season in hell and you're fresh out of sunscreen.










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