The title refers to me, of course.
For many years, I more or less ignored the concept of respect as it pertained to me. I felt like loosely tied sack of shit (still do, sometimes) so I figured respect is something that I would never have.
You know…. like someone who was sexually attracted to me, or love.
And besides, respect seemed very dull to me. Very staid, and dignified, and dull dull DULL. I would rather have people love me than respect me.
But as I have been going through the process of recovery. my inherent human desire for respect has surfaced and bveen hooked up to the main rig. And now I find I want people to respect me.
At least enough to listen to what I say, anyhow.
A lot of what I am describing as “respect” goes by other names, like “the recoignition of one’s peers” and “a place in the community” and so on.
But it all boils down to one thing : people recognizing and validating one’s worth.
At this point, the knee-jerk pop psychologists would leap to their feet and tell me that you shouldn’t look to others for validation, that you need to look within for validation, and that the only person’s opinion of you that matters is your own.
Yeah, well, I think I suck. I was kind of hoping to get a better opinion somewhere else.
Because I want respect now. Not the staid stuffed shirt “respectable” kind of respect. Or the much worse kind of respectable that haunts the middle class.
That’s the kind of respectability I actively avoid.
No, I am looking for a more basic kind of respect. Essentially, I need validation. Some positive input about my worth that I can use as a defense against the ravenous demons that attack my self-worth on a near-constant basis.
There’s a problem with that, because I don’t expose myself to situations where that might happen very much. I don’t send my writing to potential purchasers. I don’t job hunt and go to interviews. I don’t even go to industry events.
In fact, I have a very strong pattern of fearing and avoiding the exact kinds of situations where I might get my validation due to my fear of rejection.
Hence the writer’s dream version of a literary agent as someone to whom you can send your work and then THEY do all the socially scary work of finding people to buy it.
We writers are an introverted lot. Who else would be willing to invest all those lonely hours that writing takes? Extroverts would be so bored they would fall asleep.
Although the image in my mind of an extroverted writer super excitedly typing the adventure in their heads into text on a page and completely emotionally engaged with the story they are writing, like Jo from Little Women, is a pleasant one.
Where was I? Oh yeah, Respect and stuff.
The thing is, I crave respect and validation, and while the validation is available – I have enough evidence in my memory banks that I am a very funny writer, for example – the respect is hard to come by because basically, I’m a mess.
It’s hard to maintain respect for someone as clumsy, absentminded, and cowardly as myself. At least, that’s how I perceive it. I have a lot of gifts, and so the validation is there, but as a person, there’s not a lot of hooks to hang respect on.
I have done little to prove my worth to the community. I have a tendency to wimp out and look to others to solve the crises caused by my clumsy and absentminded nature. Over and over again I find myself helplessly apologizing for makling yet another stupid mistake that no normal person would make and that I can’t even explain except to say “I guess my brain doesn’t work”.
The learned helplessness from my childhood is still there. My first thought when things go wrong is to look to someone to help me out of it.
And that’s damning for either gender but especially bad for a man. Men are supposed to keep it together and be competent and tough and strong.
I am none of those things.
Oh, I have my areas where I can be all three. Most of them rely on my being inspired by my deep protective urges that mean I absolutely must act to protect people, whether in a physical situation like an altercation or on a more ideological level.
when my sense of injustice is activated, I’m a goddamned lion.
When it comes to my own interests and feelings, I am a particularly feeble lamb,
Sometimes I envision a scenario in which I could be “The Man”, the guy who is in charge of everything and whom appears to be totally awesome and in control and brilliant as fuck.
But it would be a bit of a con game. Essentially, I would be desperately trying to avoid revealing my incomptence, so I would be using my powers of persuation to convince others to do the things I can’t do while I retained my status by being a very good, fair, loving kind of leader who can guide the group (whatever it is) away from danger and into the green pasrures of safety and coimfort and happiness.
It’s that eternal problem of mine : what if you would make a good Chief, but a lousy Indian? What if you are much better at knowing what needs to be done and how than actually doing it?
As the world is set up, you generally have to be a good Indian before they will even consider making you a Chief. In a system like that, I am screwed.
But if being in charge was recognized as just another skill and not some messed up status game which makes it seem like management is a special breed or person as opposed to people will jobs like everybody else,. then people like me might go straight from the aptitude test to the lowest level management position.
Because that’s what I’m good at!
But no, we are sutck with a system where people like me never get to do what we do best. And yet we still sometimes claim it to be a meritocracy.
The only people who actually believe that are the ones who have done well by the system and want to imagine it’s because they are extra magical special.
The rest of us knows that it’s all about who you knoiw.
Well then I’m fucked.
I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.