Saturday, December 16, 2006

Emotional Dyslexic

I've seen a lot of stuff being written lately about Emotional Intelligence. Apparently, somebody can be brilliant and still be clueless about somebody close to them being mad or sad until they're hit over the head with a 2x4 like a mule.

I don't have that problem. Instead, I'm an Emotional Dyslexic.

A regular dyslexic person can have a high IQ but read the word "saw" for the word "was." An Emotional Dyslexic doesn't have to hold a wet finger up to the wind to note the slightest climate change, but they can wildly misinterpret what they're perceiving.

For instance, I have a friend who's been distant and cold toward me for the past couple of months. And although I'm not given to wild bursts of paranoia, lately I'm actually beginning to suspect that she's been going out of her way to avoid the slightest contact with me.

Now, what my Emotional Dyslexia is telling me is that my friend awakened one morning and finally realized that I'm the biggest loser in the world, and she's quite sensibly fleeing for her life. But that may not be the case. It may also be possible that my friend is experiencing problems of her own, and doesn't want to confide in me because she may perceive me as a talker rather than a listener.

This wouldn't be an illogical assumption. Anyone who's met me can vouch for the fact that I'm not shy about expressing what's on my mind, even if what's on my mind is whatever jerk has the audacity not to recognize how magnificent I am. But also, people who know me well know that this behavior is merely the flip side of feeling that somehow, I screwed up so royally at this business of life that I deserve whatever abuse said jerk is heaping on me, and more.

That's why, although I have a big mouth, when it comes to those I care about I'm all ears. When you share your problems with me, you're taking my ego off mine for a while, and also you're helping me to put my own insecurities in perspective and to realize that I'm only human, and so are you.

I had a conversation with my father a few weeks ago. I always want my parents to think I'm doing well, especially since they always had trepidations that as an artist and an oddball, I would end up on welfare or dead in a ditch. But on that day, I went out to a restaurant with my dad and confided in him about how disappointed I'd felt in myself lately, and how I wouldn't blame him if he were disappointed in me, too.

But it turned out that he wasn't disappointed at all, and thought that I was doing well considering some of the curves life has thrown at me for the past couple of years. And he told me about things in his long life that he didn't feel had worked out the way he'd planned. And this didn't make me think any worse of him, but it made me feel better about myself. Not better like, "Ha ha, somebody else's life sucks," but like, "Maybe I'm not such a screw-up after all, if I'm like this guy who I admire so much."

It may turn out that all my assumptions about my friend are totally off-base. And that the writing on the wall, instead of saying "I saw my friend," will say "She was my friend." Only time will tell, and I hope that when it does, I will be able to read the message.

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