"I'm stunned when people take seriously what I say socially"by Anna Blundy / April 21, 2016 / Leave a comment
A friend of mine once phoned me from work where he’d locked himself into an empty office. “What shall I do?” he asked. “I’ve just found out that she’s been sleeping with Pete this whole time. I thought he was my friend!” I was stunned by this news. “Seriously, I’d chuck a glass of water in her lying face and then go and punch him!” I said. Half an hour later he called me back. “I’ve done it,” he said. And he had. Now he wanted to know how to cope with the office aftermath.
You’d think that would teach me to be a bit more measured with my random advice, but I’m still regularly stunned when people take seriously what I say socially. Since I became entrenched in Freudian/Kleinian theory, I’m often a kind of pseudo-shrink to friends, giving sessions over coffee and drinks and not giving much thought to the impact.
I try not to go into shrink-mode unless someone actually asks me to. A psychoanalyst I know described it as a muscle that you can choose to flex or not and, with friends, I don’t usually think in that way—it’s tiring to really concentrate on someone, on the unsaid, all the things they don’t even know they’re saying—social interactions aren’t like that. Usually.
My sister and I were talking about a mutual friend the other day and she said: “Ali said you told her she was castrating, so now she won’t go on dates because she’s worried about seeming aggressive.” I am sure I never said that. Then I thought about it. Okay, I did say that, but she seems to have got the wrong end of the stick. I phoned Ali. “I asked my ex if he thought I was aggressive and castrating and he said no, but then I kept hounding him about it. Was that castrating?” she asked.
This was bad. “No! God. That’s not what I meant!” I told her. She’d been wondering why she gets such a hostile reception from men she likes. I think she’s scared of being vulnerable and of getting hurt. If she likes someone, she’s not open, but prickly, sarcastic, teasing. (I battle with this all the time myself). Then she’s surprised when they’re not all that warm in return. “What I really meant was that…