Several times, especially in recent weeks, I have been put in an awkward, discomfiting position when out socially. One minute I will be feeling at ease among friends and then one person will start behaving badly – disparaging and insulting others, being antagonistic, even spiteful, and completely shattering my sense of calm.
This person absolutely refuses to accept that they might be in the wrong, instead reacting angrily to criticism and blaming anyone and everyone around them; the phrase “chip on the shoulder” comes readily to mind. I’m starting to wonder if there’s some psychological problem behind these personality traits – the Wikipedia entry for narcissistic personality disorder includes the following:
Narcissists have such an elevated sense of self-worth that they value themselves as inherently better than others. Yet, they have a fragile self-esteem and cannot handle criticism, and will often try to compensate for this inner fragility by belittling or disparaging others in an attempt to validate their own self-worth. It is this sadistic tendency that is characteristic of narcissism…
But this speculation does not address the issue at hand, namely that this person is causing an increasing amount of ill-feeling and upset. I know that I’m reaching the limit of my patience in dealing with this person’s demands and prima donna antics, and I’m far from the only one feeling this way.
I find that I am dealing with the stress caused by this person’s behavior by switching off from these interactions – I have become increasingly emotionally detached as a form of self-defense. While I still care, I am no longer willing to be subjected to this kind of bullying behavior.
I fear that this Diamond Jubilee weekend just gone has left me sadly out of sorts with the upheaval and disruption to my regular routines. I accompanied a group of friends to London on Saturday, a lads’ day out. I will admit to having reservations in the run up to the day itself – I don’t generally enjoy the crowds and hectic work-day pace of the city – but I had not been there on a Saturday for many years and never in the company of a group of friends. As it turned out I ended up in a smaller group of three or four for most of the day and by focusing on just this group I was able to insulate myself sufficiently from the many thousands of people all around us – it felt to me as if we were in our own protective bubble.
The day passed so quickly and I had a wonderful time – my companions were good company and all the strangers around barely registered in my mind – I was relaxed and happy, and had one of the best days out ever. The next day, Sunday, was quiet and flat by comparison – I have no clear recollection of it – but Monday brought another social gathering. This time it was a barbecue hosted by another friend, and again I started out with some trepidation because of the number attending: over thirty people, but nearly all of them people I know well.
I needn’t have worried. They were welcoming and genuinely pleased that I had come along and my anxious insecurity was soon forgotten as I joined in the fun. I ended up not going home that night, spending the night at the home of yet another friend where I slept on the sofa – I can scarcely believe that people not only appear not to object to having me around, but even invite me over.
That long weekend is over. But despite my lingering tiredness I have memories of some very enjoyable times, thanks in such a large part to my friends. I cannot overstate the importance that such acceptance has to me – it gives me such a sense of support.