Midnight Pub

Seeing Through


I confess. I do it mostly out of self-defense. Though it can come off as good intentioned and helpful, that's rarely the reason I do it. Sometimes setting boundaries is complicated by politics, by a need to keep bosses and allies on one's side. It's not always easy to establish a limit, to make clear to people that some behaviors are simply not acceptable. I find that often when I use my strange little ability in those circumstances, I achieve the same thing.

It's not friendly. It's not nice. It does work.

I don't know when it started. I'm certain that in my early to mid twenties I didn't read people well at all, but over time, I suppose because I made such a point of being a better listener, I've learned to see through people in a way that makes them intensely uncomfortable. I know when people are lying. I know why people cheat on their significant others, why they're in and out of relationships, why they're failing to meet their own goals.

I usually don't say those things to people, even when they're being assholes. I didn't say to my co-worker that her constant assertions that she's stupid or bad at her job are so obviously a thinly veiled attempt to receive outside validation as to be obnoxious or that she should really be working on providing that validation for herself, not even when she was actively sabotaging me. I didn't point out to my new online friend that their anger at their friends for failing to constantly be available to them was simply their way of not being left alone with their thoughts, not even when the constant complaints about their other friends became grating. I didn't tell one of my closest friends that his kinks are all geared toward him being needed and that his new girlfriend will probably be really obnoxious to him once he finds his way to self-worth, even though I really hate his girlfriend. I do have some restraint.

But there are exceptions. It's never just that I'm hearing the same complaint over and over. I can live with that, at least for a while. It's usually that what's being dumped on me is something I absolutely do not need to hear. Details about sex lives is a common one. Talk of pregnancy is another common reason.

So I did tell my boss that she clearly has an anxious attachment style and that the big tell for that is her using infidelity as punishment for both her boyfriend's cheating and his attempt to commit more fully to her. I did point out to a work friend that she constantly picks apart the men she sees and then uses a vague sort of mysticism to say that it's a clear red flag and that it's for the best that she leave him over the most minor of things. I didn't do it because I think it will help them. I did it so they'd stop telling me about their sex lives.

It's not nice. It's not friendly. I'm working on finding better options. But it did work.

The mystic type, the ones who've read The Secret multiple times, tend to believe I have a gift. And I do, but the truth is that gift is rooted in mental illness. I don't correct them when they say I must be minorly clairvoyant. I'm not, but explaining the way my brain works is more information than they need or are likely to understand. I just listen. I don't take what's said as the absolute truth. I lay their words out like a topographical map, layered underneath their patterns, their behaviors, and consideration of any other involved party's viewpoint. I end up closer to the truth than they can get viewing their lives as the hero of their own story. And occasionally, when I feel trapped in a conversation with no good way out, I unroll that map and show it to them.

Generally, they shut up.

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~abacushex wrote (thread):

It may not be nice, or friendly, but if they have a moment's self reflection to receive it, it's also doing them quite a favor.

There are times when nice or friendly is not the metric by which to gauge the best response to a situation.

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