Saturday, 16 February 2013

Vignette: Over-interpretation

I just posted about this in a comment thread, but it strikes me that it is worth pulling to the front page.

One of the things I do when I am down is that I start over-interpreting. I start picking up on minute body language or subtextual cues from Susanne or other close friends. And then imbue the cues with monumental significance and upsetting emotional charge.

I'll see Susanne glance at something, or fail to glance at something, or grow distracted because — say —  she remembered something about her work schedule for tomorrow, or whatever. And in my mind, before I am able to do anything about it, this minute gesture. The glance, the distraction, whatever it was, has blossomed out into something hugely significant. In spite of everything she says and does — enthusiastically listening to me or talking about something — this subtle sign tells me her true emotional state: annoyance, anger, boredom; and I am the cause of it. She is angry with me, and I don't know why, but clearly she is — otherwise she wouldn't have given me that glance. No matter that I didn't do anything to anger her, or have any other signs that she might be angry — the subtle sign overrules all the unsubtle signs.

So I'll grow worried. Anxious. Sad. Afraid. Apologetic. Desperate for reassurances, for physical contact, for consolation. At the same time, especially if I am magnifying Susanne's projections, as much as I desperately crave reassurance and affirmation, I grow utterly terrified to articulate the need, to actually seek the contact I want. What if I just would make it worse? What if she gets angrier with me?

These are the times when I feel just as Depression Quest so beautifully put it in one of the character dialogues:
I feel like you forget I love you sometimes. 
These are the times I forget that Susanne loves me.

Nowadays, I am getting more and more tools to deal with it. Luckily, Susanne plays no social games. Ever. She is utterly unsubtle in her communication. And so, I am able to detect when this is happening by realizing that whatever I think requires for her to either be a telepath, or at the very least have some bizarre reason to hide her feelings under a façade, and instead communicate them through very subtle, almost non-existent cues. Since she never does that, whenever I react to a subtle cue, it is in fact my own brain lying to me.

No comments:

Post a comment

Comment policy:
We reserve the right to edit all comments. In particular, we will not tolerate phobic content (race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, mental health status, etc.) nor personal attacks or threats toward another commenter, significantly off-topic, or is an obvious trolling attempt.