Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Psychopath Beside Me

Wow, what a title to post the day before Christmas Eve. Please be comforted. Tomorrow I will write about Christmas music. Today, however, I must get down in black and white what transpired yesterday that froze my blood.

An individual and I have shared many pleasant conversations in the past. He has shown me pictures of his trips, notably to the Gay Games in Berlin last year, where he was feted and received an award as a volunteer. I've also seen a side of him which has not been pleasant, a kind of darkness. It has been exposed on occasion when he has had a particularly difficult commute. He's confessed to me that he feels as though he hasn't been taken seriously, that his work hasn't been held in sufficient esteem, nor has he been properly recognized, and success has been elusive. At one point he opined that he might give up his professional altogether and take up male modeling. He has striking features and physique; so it's not a strictly delusional prospect, though he would need to lose the spare tire and get his teeth fixed, IMO.

Just two days ago he showed me a picture of an artwork he had created, drawn and painted. I had no idea he was an artist, but apparently so. As I recall I reacted solicitously.

Yesterday, I happened to open Facebook to see a picture of my sister. I asked him if he would like to see a picture of my sister. I was so delighted with her picture, she is gorgeous in it, and I was so thrilled and wanted to share my excitement. His reaction, "Well that's a strange request but I guess so."

Thereupon I again saw the darkness in his face which I've seen at times before. I regret to say, I ignored it. Standing next to Karen in the picture is her best friend Sue. Sue lost her eldest child to suicide a few years ago, and I said, "That's Sue, she has had a lot of tragedy in her life. She lost a son to suicide a few years back."

His response, I kid you not, was, "Well that's not the WORST thing that could have happened..." Verbatim, just as I have typed it here, with the emphasis on "worst." My immediate response to that was a volcanic rage so intense I could hardly see straight. I said, "I'm going to remember that. I'm going to put that away in my bag of tricks to pull out at a vulnerable moment so that I can completely minimize your feelings too."

He turned his back and spoke not another word.

Then my blood cooled and began to freeze. This guy is completely inappropriate. What's wrong with him? And then I realized--it's a character disorder. A Character Disordered person, according to M. Scott Peck, is a person who blames the world and causes outside himself for his problems. The obverse is a neurotic person, who blames some inner deficiency as the cause of their problems. The character disordered person sees the world as broken; the neurotic sees themselves as broken. Dr. Peck states that the neurotic is easier to treat. I have always seen myself as neurotic, but I've also survived a lot of abuse, so I have very low tolerance to threatening situations, and as a result of that I'm perhaps too defensive.

I'm reminded again of that darkness, not just metaphorical darkness, but a coagulation of blood in the face, a real physiological darkening of the features. I beheld his demon. And the blistering effect of his words. The way he was able to choose the most damaging thing to say that he could possibly have said. Fortunately for both of us he didn't insult my sister, or I might have leapt from my chair to strangle him then and there. Good for both of us. Meanwhile, I continue to detox from my SSRI preparatory to switching to a different medication. I'm fat, I'm single, I've only achieved moderate success, and I'm facing bankruptcy. I wouldn't trade places with this dude for anything.

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