Monday, September 5, 2016

The Brittle Frailty of Egotism

My father had what I thought of as a broken, crippled ego. He couldn't bear to be disagreed with, or to be proven wrong, or for any flaw or error to be referenced in any way (bear in mind that 1. this sort of thing was way more common among fathers back then, and 2. he had good qualities, too).

Out of kindness, I treaded gently around his many errors, flaws, and cockeyed conclusions, careful not to mirror the non-titanic, non-heroic, normally imperfect human being he quite obviously was. I knew he was too weak to emotionally handle it, and that his rage stemmed from frustrated smallness, rather than fearsome largeness, so I didn't fear him; I pitied him.

In his view, of course, the dynamic was completely different. I was showing "respect"...though, of course, no amount of "respect" could ever have been sufficient.

If my father were blind or confined to a wheel chair, I would have felt less burdened by his weakness. He would have seemed less fragile and limited; more whole. His need to enforce an image of flawlessness was his greatest flaw.

(See this explanation of how we're never so small as when we strive to seem big, and this brief observation of how we often understand ourselves completely backwards.)

Ever since, I've worn my flaws on my sleeve. Nothing would perturb me more than for those around me to feel afraid to acknowledge my imperfections; to assume I couldn't handle truth. I don't want to burden people in that way, so I relieve them by keeping my idiocy abundantly obvious - front and center. 

In so doing - by taking ownership of my flaws - I ensure that my own falsely heroic self-narrative remains utterly bulletproof. I figured at first that I'd broken the cycle, but, no; I'm like the child of abusers who's figured out how to not get caught at it.

(Paradox alert): The best way for a thunderous Wizard of Oz to avoid revealing the helpless little dude behind the curtain is by swapping places with him.

Woops, I just noticed that I already explained much of this, from a different angle, here

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