How Do I Participate/Relate… She Asked
“The destiny of every human being is decided by what goes on inside his skull when confronted by what goes on outside his skull.”
― Eric Berne
How do you participate and relate?
Do you play well with others or do you prefer to play alone?
When faced with another human being, do you feel excited by the prospect of socialising or do you want to run away?
What’s your favourite game?
What’s your most natural people game?
And is the people game that you play your natural one or do you force yourself to play something else when in the company of another?
“Society frowns upon candidness, except in privacy; good sense knows that it can always be abused; and the Child fears it because of the unmasking which it involves. Hence in order to get away from the ennui of pastimes without exposing themselves to the dangers of intimacy, most people compromise for games when they are available, and these fill the major part of the more interesting hours of social intercourse. That is the social significance of games.”
― Eric Berne
Why am I using the word ‘play’… partly because one of my favourite books is Games People Play by Eric Berne. It explained so much to me about interactions and cleared up some of the confusion I felt when dealing with other people. Their side of things as well as my own side of things.
But also because that’s a natural urge which springs up within me when faced with another person. I just want to play with them. Not in a manipulative manner, not that at all, in fact that kind of playing is anathema to me, and I will go out of my way to avoid it even when it would be the easier option.
“When you show yourself to the world and display your talents, you naturally stir all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity… you cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others”
― Robert Greene
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene is also one of my favourite books. It confirmed to me that manipulation is best avoided, as getting stuck into that kind of play is the kind of commitment for which… I just didn’t have the patience or inclination.
It’s too frigging complicated!
However… not wanting to play those games, is a game in and of itself. Damn and blast! It’s soooo complicated! (according to my mother – It’s complicated – was the first sentence I spoke. Please be aware that she made shit up all the time).
As much as I feel the urge to play, have fun, have a laugh, with others… that feeling tends to get killed off pretty quickly. It’s the guy in the red jacket in Star Trek who gets eaten or shot or vaporised within a few minutes of being onscreen. But it’s not a monster or foe of the Sci-Fi kind who ends the fun factor, it’s seriousness, the fear of fun and what it brings with it. Other people are afraid to play, especially when they are playing at being adults.
I can do serious, but I don’t particularly enjoy doing it, which may explain why I get so grumpy. Grumpy is my adult self having to be an adult. Mind you a playful seriousness is a source of fun, but it’s hard to come by and get the formula right.
“Many a serious thinker has been produced in prisons, where we have nothing to do but think.”
― Robert Greene
Where do our relationships tactics and approaches to participating begin?
Are we born with it or does it develop as we do. Is the seed one which we bring with us or is it planted into us from the moment we arrive and the way we are greeted by others when we do?
I spent my formative years in the company of adults, who mostly wanted me to neither be seen nor heard unless they needed the monkey to entertain them because they were bored or seeking to prove some point for their benefit. I was praised for being invisible, and criticised for wanting to remain that way.
I couldn’t figure out why I had to go to adult affairs when I wasn’t an adult. And the adults who were there mostly didn’t want to be there, so when I didn’t want to go, when I could stay at home and play instead… why was that considered such a bad thing. I was being honest, they wanted me to be honest because lying was bad… but then they lied and pretended their lies were honest and my honesty was not honesty but something else, something to be feared and punished.
“You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity.”
― Robert A. Heinlein
If I did what I wanted to do and they did what they wanted to do, and we were all up front about it…
That way we’d all be happy… but somehow everyone was better off unhappy.
I still have trouble figuring this one out.
I rarely encountered other children when I was in early childhood, unless they were on TV… and TV children are freaky (those kids who used to advertise games scared the crap out of me – I WIN! they’d scream and shout… and made me never want to play that game, or play with children because they were worse than adults, or so it seemed based on TV).
I did however get to spend a lot of time with animals. They weren’t animals to me, they were my friends, my peers, my teachers, and I learned many social skills from them… which have proved useful when dealing with animals, but not so much when dealing with people, because what is natural is often the opposite of what you’re supposed to do in human interaction.
“So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”
― Robert Frost
I guess that’s what was the decider in my falling in love with my partner. With him I could be natural, and with him I could play. Time together is often playful (and the playfulness can get very serious). We’re caught up in the world of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt at the moment, taking turns to embody the main character’s role. We both do things differently and have fun (or tear our balls off, as my partner keeps saying) watching the other’s way of playing. I tend to run away from monsters (ugh, not another one!) and prefer solving puzzles, he likes to fight monsters (Yay, another one!) and leaves the puzzles up to me – we make a good team (most of the time).
It’s an intriguing game. There is a lot of socialising in it with other characters, friends, foes, and locals, even though The Witcher is a loner, and you, the player, get to choose how to participate and relate.
The options are usually
- a: Be polite – cater to vanity and maybe end up hating yourself for it. Or get a Witcher contract and make money to buy better weapons and stuff for magic potions.
- b: Be rude – and usually end up killing the other. Which can be very satisfying, especially when the other is a bully (and so many are).
- c: Something in between which is a bit random, but sometimes that’s the appeal – am I going kill this person because they didn’t like my attitude or want to kill myself for being nice to them.
What you choose has consequences and may affect the flow of the story to a certain degree.
“They say silence is golden. Maybe it is, although I’m not sure it’s worth that much. It has its price certainly; you have to pay for it.”
― Andrzej Sapkowski
The Witcher has a ‘magic’ ability to use mind control, but he doesn’t use it as often as he could. He explains this while interacting with another witcher (who is a complete jerk) – using mind control can be addictive, and you can end up using it all the time because it solves so many problems.
Need a discount at a shop, for someone to give you something for nothing – use mind control. Want information, for someone to tell you what you want to hear – use mind control. Want love, and other favours – use mind control. Until you can’t not use mind control because it’s the only thing you know how to do. You’ve come to rely on it, and that reliance has made you its prisoner. Mind control now controls you.
“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”
― George Orwell
It always fascinates me how much games like this one are suffused with wisdom about life and living it. And when playing such a game, you learn a lot about yourself.
One of the reasons I love to play is due to how much I learn while approaching life that way. Learning to me is fun, and I learn more when learning is a game.
But not all games and learning are fun, some are very serious. I grew up with people who taught me how serious games and learning could get. Narcissists are great fun to be around, however that kind of fun is a veneer which hides a rather sinister and painful serious that is a bitch to learn.
Their favourite game is hide and seek. They love to hide, they love to seek. They love to hide and make you seek them out. And while they’re hiding they seek out all your secrets, and those secrets is how they win your love – they love to scream and shout I Win! – but that kind of love comes with a price.
They can never trust it because they used mind control to get it.
Do you really love them or are you just loving them because they made you do it using their magical manipulations. They made you love them… so your love is about as true as a mirage in a desert.
And so now begins the trials and tribulations of the gauntlet which you must run to prove your love is real. Love has become a quest of mythical, romance novel, and fairytale proportions. Will you be the hero/heroine or the villain/villainess?
This includes showing you the worst of them, as they once showed you the best. This worst is designed to test the steadfastness of your love… and if you end up hating them for it, then that will prove they were right all along not to trust your love. It was a fake and a fraud… just as they are, just as what they used to win your love.
However… if you stick with them while you hate them, if you become obsessed with them because of your loathing. Perhaps that is the most real realness of love.
“In secret we met –
In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee? –
With silence and tears.”
― George Gordon Byron
They get confused like that. Thinking hate is love, and love is hate. That grief and pain are tenderness, intimacy. So much so that they can infect you with a similar virus. That’s the curse of the vampire’s bite.
I was raised by vampires, not sure if I was meant to become one too or simply be a human food dispenser for them. I learned their ways, can do them myself, but tend to avoid doing those things at all costs… including the cost of participating and relating to others.
I couldn’t trust myself with others for a very long time, so long a time that I came to enjoy being alone. Solitude was my solace.
“Solitude is indeed dangerous for a working intelligence. We need to have around us people who think and speak. When we are alone for a long time we people the void with phantoms”
― Guy de Maupassant
But you can’t avoid people forever, especially if the reason you are avoiding them is because of your relationship with yourself. At some point you have to face yourself and then face others.
If you don’t do it willingly… it will happen against your will. Because participating and relating is an intrinsic part of life and living and being… being human or otherwise.
Our relationships with others inform us about our relationship with ourselves… and vice versa.
We need each other, to relate and participate… even when we don’t want to because it is fraught with complications.
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
― Kahlil Gibran