How can a man do what I do, and yet still respect himself, I asked? I wasn’t asking anyone in particular, it was more of a rhetorical question. Or an ironic question, perhaps. I already knew very well that this was not possible. I’d known that for a long time. Life is an adventure, not a protracted exercise in security-seeking, I told myself. I knew that. I know very well that life is supposed to be an adventure, but knowing this doesn’t help me any. It helps me only in one way – it helps me to feel bad about myself.
How can a man do what I do and yet still respect himself, I wonder? Perhaps I would just have to learn to get on without any self-respect, I mused morosely. After all, I’ve been doing pretty well up to now. I’ve been making a rather good job of it, if I say so myself! I’m getting on just fine without any self-respect so where’s the problem? Perhaps I should respect myself for this accomplishment? Perhaps I should respect myself for getting on so well without any self-respect. Perhaps this way I could get to like myself after all! I knew that I couldn’t really learn to like myself like this though. That was just my wry, self depreciating humour showing itself. As it does from time to time.
I am stuck in heavy traffic again. I seem to spend half my life stuck in heavy traffic, it occurs to me. I don’t even have the energy to get angry about it anymore. Twenty years ago I would have been fuming but now I just sit here, resigned to the exhaustion and tedium of it all. You can get used to anything in the end can’t you? Any monstrous perversion of what life ought to be about. Where’s it all going, I wonder? Where is my life headed?
I used to imagine that my life was heading somewhere – the same as most people do, presumably. Do most people imagine that their lives are going somewhere? Presumably they do, I find myself concluding. It’s probably a given. I imagine that it’s a given. A wave of immense weariness washes over me. I hadn’t really been wondering where my life where my life was going – I’d only been ironically wondering. I am far too disconnected from my true feelings to ever genuinely wonder about anything it occurs to me then, momentarily and unaccountably reconnecting with my own disconnection.
I only ever play at having emotions these days, I realise. My so-called ‘emotions’ are only insincere ironic games that I play with myself. My regret and consternation at my own lack of self-respect is an ironic game that I play with myself. This was what Eric Berne would call a ‘one player game’. An intra-personal game rather than interpersonal one.You don’t need anyone else.
I’ve been told that if you don’t respect yourself then one else will respect you. It always makes me laugh when I hear this. That’s all very well if you happen to live in some kind of ludicrous pathetic fantasy world, but it’s no good to me! When you live in a world where everyone is trained from a very young age to reject and betray their emotional core then what sense is there in talking about people who might supposedly respect you if and when you respect yourself? That’s just a sick joke as far as I’m concerned. It’s all one big sick joke. Nobody respects anybody least of all themselves in a sick society. I wonder why we as a culture find it so hard to address this simple psychological fact?