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500. Youthful folly (XI)

I slept with a girl who used to get mad that I left so soon after I finished with her. One time, I finished and felt an intuition that I needed to go straight away. As I walked towards the door she looked at me, perfectly complacent and happy; then she remembered that she was “meant” to be mad at me because I left too soon—and so she started to tick me off and beat her fists against me. You see, the state where she did not mind—where she was satisfied and dreamy—was the real her. It was only when she remembered that she was “meant” to be mad at me for the way I tended to swan off that she became angry and punished me. Yes, it was all a test; she noticed I flinched one time when she complained I was leaving already—so she turned it into a test. Women always test. Life itself is a test.

If only we could live all the time without “remembrance”; it is when we “remember ourselves”, or remember our persona, that we close up to the world—before we were open to the world, and happy; now we remember that we are meant to manipulate, to play the game—or to play a game. It is not just between men and women, it is between men and men too. We force ourselves to remember to play the role we have chosen, to manipulate the other person; yet in the deep core we do not care a bit. The verbalisations and rationalisations are effectively just ways to make ourselves unhappy. We have to say something, we have to do something—so we might as well have a protest about the general situation, or the specific situation.

This is why it is almost impossible to resolve disputes through negotiation and talk. People will wind you in knots for hours with their complaints about each other—actually, they are entirely satisfied with the situation, or will do whatever they were going to do anyway; just like my girl was satisfied really (until she remembered that she was meant to be mad at me for leaving too early).

RD Laing reported a similar case where a client turned up to his consulting room and complained that he was so depressed he wanted to kill himself. Laing made no progress in the session, but five minutes towards the end he asked the man to tell him his favourite joke; he did so—Laing laughed at the joke, so did the man. Laing then said that the session was over and the man left. As he walked out the door, the client remembered that he was “meant” to be suicidally depressed and his whole countenance fell—his shoulders slumped and he became utterly glum.

A great many people talk themselves into certain situations or outlooks, or protest against things they do not really care about—they just think they should. Similarly, many people become habituated to a role—the depressed person, for instance; perhaps it is just their particular protest at certain circumstances. I knew someone who was meant to have “a personality disorder”, yet with people he liked he was alive and vibrant; if he was with people he wanted to play “personality disorder” with he was dull and withdrawn.

The observation has been made by many different groups and the fact remains that each person has their little act and sometimes we are delightfully happy beneath that act, if we would only let ourselves be so. People really do talk themselves into a certain position, usually with reasons and rationality—often to maintain a social pose. Unfortunately, we decide to remember that we are “meant” to be that person and then fall back into the act. This situation accounts for much self-sabotage and self-hatred: I feel happy and content, yet intellectually I know I should be mad with you—so I will pretend to be so mad.


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