Sometimes, I think I have a special gift for spotting games, manipulations, and those who’d like to play them at my expense. It’s not a gift that I’m particularly happy about possessing, and I have a feeling that I inherited it (along with my snappy wit, my singing voice, and my love of words) from my dear mama. It’s a tool for survival, absolutely, but there have been several occasions on which I would have been happy to remain oblivious, to let the game play out just as they wanted. I could use more moments in my life wherein I shrug my shoulders, shake my head, and walk away thinking “OK. Whatever.” Certainly, I think that would be preferable to sitting there while the game is unfolding, anticipating every single word, and getting more and more angry with each passing moment.
I try to think the “who cares?” into my heart while I’m sitting there listening to whoever it is. I try to do better always and to fix those defects in my own character that I know are causing me problems. But in this specific case, I’ve run into some issues. For one thing, I don’t much care for liars, and I have a hard time not calling them on their untruths as soon as they start talking. I try to justify their behavior enough that I can find within me some bit of compassion for where they might be coming from, but because their lies and games seem always to be directed at someone else, that’s a hard hurdle to jump. Also–and maybe this plays a bigger part than I’d like to admit–I really hate to be made the fool. I don’t want anyone to walk away from me with a bounce in their step thinking that they got one over on me or made me do something that I wasn’t planning to do before.
The idea that anyone would look at me and think I’m an easy mark…that’s just too much for me to bear. And hell yes I know that’s a character defect. Especially since in almost every other way, I stopped caring about other people’s assessments of me quite a while back. I should let them make me the fool, probably. I’m pretty sure that’s what Jewish tradition would have to say on the subject, particularly since the alternative to that is me making them look the fool when I call them on their bullshit right out there in front of everyone they’re trying to game.
It usually goes something like this: “Do you think I don’t see you? I’m not stupid. I can spot your ridiculous, gamey shit a mile away, and it’d be best if you didn’t try it with me again. The truth would’ve taken a lot less time and made me a lot less angry.”
Unfortunately, it almost always ends with me thinking later that I really, really need to learn to shake my head and walk away.
This post was written in response to a prompt from Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday.