Ego vs Love

Photo: Emmanuelle Stathopoulos

Photo: Emmanuelle Stathopoulos

 

I can remember those days. I can also remember that I didn’t feel it to be so. I genuinely felt that it wasn’t true, that I cared in my own way and I probably did. Preoccupied with living my life, exploring, being busy, I didn’t always find the time. The time to stop for a moment and think, ponder, reflect, try to see things from the other person’s point of view, their feelings.

But is it just a characteristic of the youth? As with everything, there are various degrees to which the above quote is true for each of us no matter our age. Some of us grow and mature, evolve, learn and improve. Others remain static in that state of self absorption and selfishness, of our younger years, not giving a second thought for how our actions may affect the people around us, most importantly our families and friends.

Many people spend their whole lives playing a role instead of being their real selves. Pretending to be someone whose characteristics make it unlikely for them to be hurt or affected by anything someone may say or do. They adopt personality traits that serve a legitimate survival purpose at the expense of behaving in ignorant ways and hurting others in the process.

Others are simply too preoccupied with their own selves, wrapped up in their own little world, unable to perceive other people, feel their emotions. They get on with their lives, content with themselves, totally ignoring what is going on around them or how others may be affected by their lack of concern.

It is the artist father who forgets his children’s birthday, the relatives that don’t call on New Year’s day, the son or the sister in law who accept gifts but never acknowledge, appreciate or give any thanks. When finally told off, they never admit they behaved in any kind of selfish or ignorant way but keep coming up with ridiculous excuses and of course never say they’re sorry for anything.

They are the ones who have the nerve to be rude on top of it all and reply in ways that show they instead feel offended themselves and feel they are totally in the right. They lash back with pompous self righteousness clearly stating that they “don’t have time for this”. If pushed harder they may even say they feel misunderstood and criticized, if not wrongly accused!

Is this an age thing? A generation gap? A millennial thing? Divergence of values and perceptions? Or is it a case of narcissistic bullshit and gas-lighting? Well, even though this type of behaviour is known to be quite prevalent and typical of millennials, there are way too many folks of all ages out there exhibiting the same type of behaviour. It takes a specific type of personality to behave in “it is all about me” kind of behaviour.

It is the father, mother, aunt or uncle, brother or sister, daughter or son, nephew or niece, grandchildren or in-laws. All those family members or friends that are too preoccupied with their own person to have the ability or should I say sensitivity and consideration to even think about the people who love and care for them, except at the odd times when they happen to remember them. Forgotten souls, left on standby for the times where they may need them. The times where they might feel the need to ask for help, a shoulder to ‘boohoo’ on and share their drama. Once they’re over it and they don’t need them anymore, they throw them away like squeezed lemons and get on with their self absorbed, wonderful lives.

Oh! Yes! Because that type of person must usually be the best have the best life, know it all, or be always right. When things go bad they must have it the worst, be misunderstood and most importantly have a captive audience for all their ills and misfortunes. They don’t remember a thing from all they have been offered, the love, the care, the help, the support, the gifts, the encouragement, but do take notice of one thing only: perceived criticism.

And so the years go by, hearts get hurt and relationships get shattered. Emotional distance freezes whatever was genuine and good and is now replaced by rigid self righteousness, egos the size of a mountain and swamps of ill feelings. The ones who once tried to reach to them, too afraid of getting hurt again retrieve in their inner place of safety. Seeing their good will and genuine interest being thrown in the dirt of ingratitude, they feel disappointed, disgusted or simply pissed off and shut their heart’s door for good.

Yet life, unpredictable as it is and sometimes assisted by death’s ugly face is not so forgiving. When least expected it delivers a majestic slap in the face, a thunderbolt of unbearable pain and no second chances. No benefits of the doubt, no understanding, no compassion, only ruthless and cruel blows that give birth to torturous feelings of guilt and remorse for those who still have souls or a cold sense of emptiness to those whose hearts have already frozen.

Those whose love they took for granted may silently and suddenly leave this world. The ones who helped and supported them may leave them behind for other lands, other relationships, other lives. The ones who tried to reach them, those who gave them endless benefits of the doubt, who advocated for them, may be unable to be there for them when they will need them bad enough.

Those ungrateful beings may come to realize one day that it is not usually those who praise them and massage their egos that have their best interest at heart but those who take the time to tell them the truth and are brave enough to risk their anger and rejection. That those who smile to their face do so because they’re having some of their own needs met or have their own agenda. That once those needs aren’t met anymore or change, the tables tilt and the smiles become complaints, accusations or criticisms and rejection.

Relationships are complex and living things. They thrive on give and take. You meet my needs, I meet yours kind of thing at whatever level depending on the type of relationship. They change, aren’t static, they grow and evolve. For them to become a beautiful thing they need nurturing from both parts. They need love, care and understanding, generosity of spirit, but most of all honest and open communication. The kind that’s not afraid to step on toes, that’s true and honest. The kind that isn’t passive aggressive nor rude and ignorant, that doesn’t thrive on silent treatment or withholding of affection. The kind that is all about mutual respect and consideration of each other’s feelings and values.