Friday, October 19, 2007

Enemy Mine

Caution: Like the wording on a car’s rear view mirror, the emotions expressed below may appear considerably more intense than they actually are.

I’ve always loved Dorothy Parker’s classic comment on her arch rival, Claire Booth Luce. A friend once observed: “But you know, Claire is her own worst enemy,” to which Dorothy replied: “Not as long as I’m alive.”

I like Dorothy. And perhaps there is, out there, someone who hates me more than I do. But I doubt it. I was contemplating today (and I long ago gave up trying to figure out whence or why these thoughts come) the fact that, as I’ve undoubtedly mentioned before, I frequently do not like myself very much. I never have, and not infrequently frighten myself with the intensity of the rage and self-loathing that consume me whenever I find myself unable to do some task a rhesus monkey could perform with one hand while scratching his butt with the other.

I have also acknowledged that this mild-dislike-to-deep-loathing scale is balanced on the fulcrum of what I expect from myself. If I cannot do something well—and I cannot resist the temptation to say “which is just about everything”—, I do not want to do it at all…even though, again, I fully realize that no human being can possibly attain the level of perfection (no, lets make that “competence”) I set for myself. But it drives me to total distraction to see how much closer most people seem to get than I do.

And therein, I think, lies a key to why I have increasingly compartmentalized myself into Roger and Dorien…to spare one part of me the contempt I frequently heap on the other. At my most logical, I really do understand that Roger is merely human and subject to all the mental and physical frailties and stupidities to which all humans are prone.

Where this perceived unworthiness comes from I have no idea. But it has plagued me all my life.
I was an awkward kid, a klutz and a loner who of course wanted to be popular. I have always been a gigantic sponge for affection, praise, and adulation, as you may already have gathered from reading these blogs. There could never be…can never be…enough. Even my family, who I knew loved me, couldn’t provide enough.

I constantly look around and compare myself to others, and invariably find myself sorely wanting. That nearly everyone I see and envy has their own problems of which I am not the least aware simply does not register. Every time I try to remind myself of that fact, part of me counters with “Yeah, but…”

And another key rests in the fact that my emotional responses never advanced far beyond the two-year-old level. I have not one scintilla of patience. When I want something, I want it NOW and resent any amount of effort that might be needed to get it. If I buy a computer program, I expect to hit “Download” and begin using it immediately with no further ado once it has been downloaded. Do not bother me with reading instruction manuals. I am totally incapable of it and become totally confused within the first sentence, from which I slide quickly into frustration, anger, and a seething fury of self loathing.

Well, enough of the clothes-rending and self-flagellation. I’ll go have my coffee and chocolate covered donut, now, and get on with the day. Despite my bitching and moaning, life is good.

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