The Back Room

With respect to Socrates, my unexamined life is not worth living. The front room is the face we show everyone but we hide our true self in the back room.

My Selfish Self

I am in the fortunate position of having a job, a place to live and a woman who loves me so this frees me to ponder on how to enhance and grow my self.  My self and the role of being selfish.

Recently married, I am learning more about the balance to strike between being individual and being cooperative.  Having been alone in my mind and world for so long I have daily discoveries on how deep my selfish self goes.

My selfish self likes to control things.  Most things in my life.  Not really conducive to cooperation but more for white-knuckle anxiety as in mundane cooperative activities such as listening to music or cleaning.

White-knuckle anxiety is not hyperbole, there are still times when my wife is washing or drying dishes and I stand by, fist clenching to keep from saying something the knuckles turn white.  Something like, “That plate’s not clean.  You just rushed over it and without running my hand over it I can still see small crusty food bumps.”

It wouldn’t be a helpful statement.  As a social worker I am trained to give helpful statements and when there is no personal connection to the helpee I am adept at doing so.  With my wife things are handled more delicately.

I am still getting to know her.  And I want to get to know her.  Listening to her and talking with her are great ways to do so.  After a few episodes of really, ridiculous reasons for being anxious or upset, I am so very lucky to be able to talk to her and be completely honest.

She has lived on her own for longer than me thus having greater leeway when it comes to her selfish self.  Yet another thing I have no right or authority to step in and try to control.

As I tell my patients, we only have control over OUR actions and everyone else’s actions are unknown and out of our control.  In some ways this should be reassuring, that we only have ourselves and our behavior to monitor but for some reason I still struggle in interactions with my wife.

There are times, many times in fact, she shares her day with me and it often includes a problem.  I hear the problem, see the problem in my mind and then logically find a solution to the problem.  It seems so easy.  If she were to do this, then no more problem and she can get on with her day.

My wife does not see it that way.  Most of the times my role is merely to listen and not act, unless a reassuring embrace or kiss seems right, which it often is.  But that doesn’t seem like enough to me.  I could do more.  You see, I found the solution to your problem, isn’t that great?

No.  Apparently, it is not great, for I am overreaching in my role as cooperative member in her life.  She handles her problems thank you very much and you have the benefit of hearing about her day.  Which sometimes is okay and sometimes is not.  Especially if the problem I see so clearly remains a problem after several days or weeks.  There is a perfectly good solution not being used.

This is just one aspect of living cooperatively.  And coming to terms with my selfish self.

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2 comments on “My Selfish Self

  1. hassanizzo
    November 1, 2014

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the things you talk about in the first part of this. It’s been a couple of years since my last relationship and I’ve been thinking recently about how hard I would find it to invest in a relationship right now because of the presence of the selfish-self. In no way am I a selfish person on a day to day basis but I know and realise how much I love being able to walk away from other people at the end of the day and how I have my own routine and way of doing things. And then there’s the part of me that just wants to grow and become more rounded and how it feels more achievable to reach my goals alone. But I also think a productive relationship can add so much as well and I do feel like it must be a great source of happiness and positive energy to be newly married and have that in your life.

    I especially understand the difficulties you express in what role to play as a partner. My last girlfriend had substantial and serious issues that we worked through. It took a helluva long time and sometimes I felt I HAD to overstep boundaries for her long term health. In the end she overcame all of her problems (through my help and through gaining the strength to go to counselling) and I regard it as one of the greatest things I’ve ever achieved. She’s getting married soon and we’re still close. Our relationship broke down due to outside forces (her parents are from a completely different background and didn’t take to my colour or social standing but that my friend, is a story for another day haha.)

    Oh and that white-knuckle anxiety – I always feel ridiculous after the moment has passed and I wonder why I let whatever it was annoy me so much.

    Like

    • Andrew Davis
      November 1, 2014

      Without getting too detailed, my friend, we have a lot in common. I choose to live an examined life and every day I look to improve myself. It is mostly mistakes but I try not to make the same white-knuckled mistake twice.

      Like

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