Thursday, January 27, 2011
“Consider the source.” – My mom
I got accused this morning of being something I’m not. And it’s not something I really am, deep inside, but just in denial of it – it’s demonstrably false.
This individual has been a thorn in my side for years. Her behavior and attitudes are unbelievably narcissistic – I’ve never known anyone remotely like her. She obsessed with her looks, and what she believes is her intellectual superiority to everyone around her. She is convinced that everyone envies her, and that her beauty and brains (neither of which is that apparent to me) are the reason why most of her family has disowned her, and why she cannot find a job.
When she came into my life as the spouse of a relative and I began to get to know her (mostly through e-mail, as they live far from me), I was first taken aback. Then, for a long time, I was simply amused.
But things kept piling up and piling up, and eventually, I went from amused to irritated to downright offended. I found it impossible not to read her frequent, long e-mails – they had a draw similar to a car accident you happen to be driving by; you can’t help but crane your neck to see. And she went from criticizing my relatives to criticizing my religion, my profession, and finally my very existence.
“Everything goes perfect for you,” she wrote a few weeks ago angrily. “You’ve never had to work at anything in your life.” This from someone who never went to college, who never raised children, and who never held a full-time job or supported a family. (And someone who, at least to my knowledge, has never had to fight the demon of bipolar depression.)
Still, I let it all go, which is just how I am. I finally got an e-mail, cc’d to 50 of her friends, that complained about some particular things near and dear to my heart (and mind). To be honest, I’ve been stressed out lately, for about 20 reasons – so her timing was not great. I responded – respectfully, but firmly. I didn’t “yell,” I didn’t swear, I didn’t namecall. I simply pointed out where she was missing the boat, and requested she not send me any more such e-mails.
Even though I knew what was going to happen, I was still clobbered broadside when it did. In my inbox this morning was a veritable manifesto of my faults. “YOU ARE HARD-HEARTED,” she wrote, suggesting that I: 1) see a doctor and 2) pray to God for mercy – because I am so unloving, so uncaring, and just so downright MEAN. And she made it pretty clear that it will be difficult for me to communicate with my relative in the future – him being the only reason I’d put up with her so long in the first place.
As everyone has, I’ve been criticized in my life, and I don’t like it. But hard-hearted? Unloving? Uncaring? Mean? These are foreign concepts to me. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been accused of any of these things. If anything, it’s been the opposite – I’ve been considered too sensitive, or maybe too clingy, too easily hurt.
So the thing I’m trying to figure out is why her words bother me so. They bothered me so much when I read them this morning that I threw up my breakfast, and cried on the way to work. Her words kept jumbling around in my brain. When I got to the office, I went into the women’s room and stared at myself in the mirror, trying to understand the charges against me – charges brought by someone so insecure that she actually believes she’s too perfect to be hired. Why do I let the rantings of an unbalanced individual unbalance me so?
Because there is a part of me that sucks in the negative like a sponge. Give me a compliment, and I soon forget it; say something nasty to me, and I swallow it whole, like a crockpot full of maggots.
She and I are both under a delusion. Hers is that she is perfect; mine is that I’m deeply flawed. I don’t think she’s willing to look for a happy medium. But I am.