Loving the Alien

Anorexia experts think neither the ego-centrism nor the isolation are very good for us, so we’re always being told (a little sharply, sometimes) that we’re not the only ones.

In fact, I tend to assume the opposite, that my experience, or way of thinking is universally held. I’m nothing special, intellectually, so insights I’ve come by are presumably easily acquired and thus available to all.

This can make me even more rigid. I just can’t understand why people could hold such nonsensical positions. It seems perverse. I have to take myself step by step through their thought processes, if I’m to make sense of them, the way Temple Grandin[1] has to rationally deduce other people’s emotions. So, I might think about believers in aroma-therapy, “haven’t experienced most science first hand. I simply accept the statements of confident authority figures, whose words seem to chime with my general philosophy of life and assume that the mechanisms, themselves, marry up somewhere beyond my understanding. That’s the same for them…”[2] But who has the time for this, day to day?

This attitude can be most damaging to my relationships when I project my sense of inner fraudulence[3] onto other people. I’m afflicted by a strange inner unreality. I feel there’s an insincerity about everything I say. Hence my tendency to say, “apparently I’ve got “anorexia”!”

In the language of the day, I’m “not in touch with my feelings”. I’m the typical bewildered male at the funeral wondering why he’s not crying. I‘m forced to act out my own emotions; I am my own puppet and puppet-master, my own mask with nothing behind it: a walking identity crisis.

This can leave me horribly cynical towards other people. Whenever anyone claims any condition or mental state, the nasty internal goblin-version of me whispers, “Really?” with cynically raised goblin-eyebrows. I hate this about myself. I try to stifle it; I wrestle with it all the time and never admit to it. I explain to myself why they deserve to be believed; point out to myself that I have no grounds to disbelieve them, that trust is an act of grace and courage. Always, I am sympathetic and supportive and hide this alienation from them, which I know comes from a profound alienation from myself.

  • Footnotes:

[1] Dr Mary Temple Grandin, an expert in Animal Behaviour, is also a spokesperson for people with autism and is famed for her ability to communicate the experience of living (and thinking) with that condition.

[2] It’s even more difficult with Trump supporters.

[3] No, not “flatulence”. You misread that.

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