This blog, and my Facebook page, function as my public journal where I can share what is on my mind and what I feel might be beneficial to my friends and readers. Occasionally in both formats, I strike a nerve and the reader comments that follow are eye opening. 99% are of a thumbs-up variety as most civilized people, I find, employ the common sense rule of if you don’t like it, leave it. But the other day somebody posted a comment directed not at the topic of the post but at me personally, and while the comment was insulting and totally socially unacceptable it served as a gift to me in that her words spun me into thinking really hard about personality types, archetypes & patterns of behavior and why we each consistently do what we do. For example, I regularly state my feelings about the world as I see it and she regularly chastises me for it. Her behavior looks less to me like an opinion as it does like a false sense of superiority…the behavior that consistently infuriates me more than any other no matter who is asserting it.
So, let’s start at the beginning.
Two days ago I posted on Facebook a fascinating picture I came across on Pinterest that dramatically captures the unnerving effect that someone who is “two faced” can have on the eyes and the mind of those of us who have been on the losing end of their abuse. Pure genius on the part of the photographer/artist as it leaves the viewer to try to suss out where one feature ends and the manual manipulation of the image begins. Metaphors galore here…seriously great stuff!
Here is the post:
Beware of the person who carries two opposing reputations for they indeed have two faces: One, sugary & sweet and the other manipulative & selfish.
This is the most dangerous type of person. They have mastered hiding their ugly nature from some in order to build a team of people who provide them with the camouflage and defense to further their selfish goals.
The comments from friends followed as they would with “been there, done that” and “so glad that is behind me” and general recognition of that particular demon. With two exceptions…and I wish I could just cut and paste those comments here but because I deleted them in haste I cannot share them verbatim, but it went something like this:
Nameless1: You focus so much on the actions of others. Therapy might be very helpful in moving on. In the end we can only change ourselves.
Me: Therapy HAS been very helpful. It taught me to identify abusers and then gave me the courage to cut them out of my life.
(not willing to let it go, Nameless1 makes another comment which gets a reply from another friend that forces me to delete them both because, you know, Facebook is PUBLIC and insults are ugly)
Nameless1: You dwell on this topic above all others. Maybe I am misguided to say this but it seems you must be in great pain.
Nameless2: WTF??? Yes, Nameless 1, you ARE quite misguided. And beyond rude. And easily threatened. You must either BE two faced or enabling your own abuser. Step off and log off.
Had I not needed to delete those comments, my own reply to Nameless1 would have been;
Me: “Dwell” is an interesting choice of words…no escaping the negative connotation there so that is clearly more about you than it is about me but that being said, I have lost so much precious time to the manipulations of two faced people that I feel a need to point out the danger much like a person who has experienced recurring skin cancer might “dwell” on the hope that their friends see the need for sunscreen.
My friend, Nameless2, sent me this private message minutes after I deleted both snarky comments on the post. With her permission, here it is:
I saw that you immediately deleted my reply to that awful woman’s hateful comment which she thinly disguised as concern. You were too nice to her. Both by not putting her in her place and by preventing her from getting the slap she so richly deserved from me! I understand though, I remember how fiercely you guard your “virtual living room” against argument no matter how right the finger pointing may be. While I respect your protection of your friends, I had a powerful instinct to protect YOU, sister!
I’m here to tell you how incensed I am that this (Nameless 1) person is even counted among your “friends” as friends do not suggest that you need therapy based on your Facebook post. When you gently brought her back to reality about how therapy had led you to rid yourself of emotional abusers only to have her PUBLICLY impose on you that you talking about the subject means you “dwell” and are “in pain.” What the hell?
And she suggested therapy for YOU???
I’m going to guess that her totally offensive response to your post was inspired by her being close to one of those narcissists you have, in recent years, culled from your life or maybe she sides with that manipulator you and Mark are battling now or maybe she is a narcissist herself and doesn’t like you offering friends the tools to identify her as one? What else would motivate her to do anything but congratulate you on having the spine to shine a light on the struggles in your life that have made you the powerhouse friend that you are? Seriously, is she close to one of those family members or that former friend?
I don’t know her (damned glad of it) and I admit to scanning through the members of your women’s group to see if she was among them and no surprise, she isn’t because I couldn’t imagine the caliber of women in that group tolerating sanctimony and acid like hers.
Sorry I brought her down so hard but, no I’m not. 😉
I Love You!
Nameless 1 is who she is. Her motivation for trying to shut me up or steer me away from this topic could come from being trapped in her generation’s dogma of not talking about anything they perceive as negative or from her desire to shield a narcissist in her own life or her possible need to gloss over anything ugly in an effort to keep a grip on her day to day life but clearly it was NOT out of any concern for me. I have no interest in dissecting her whys. Namely because she did not invite me to any more than my post on any topic should have served as an invitation for her to judge my mental health or to discourage my sharing my own opinion.
She did get me thinking though.
- What allows me the comfort or the need to be so outspoken about my own life while others stay silent?
- How much of our behavior is dictated by generational norms and what percentage of the population advances with the times vs stays in their primary decade of influence?
- Does fear drive people toward denial or does their denial really provide them with happiness? ?
- What makes a person comfortable to stand in superiority and judgement over others?
- Why are some people damaged by that judgement while others of us don’t care at all?
- What drives our patterns of behavior more, nature or nurture?
- How much does our predisposition to logic vs faith based thinking play into our day to day behavior?
- Are there in life, as in literature, a handful of character types and an equal and essential need for them all?
- If so, why are some people so threatened by our different styles?
- If personality traits are often found in predictable sets, are we born with that imprinted in our DNA?
I went digging on the internet, starting with traditional archetypes, Jungian archetypes, psychology in classic literature, personality types in the zodiac, and for a few hilarious minutes I perused fantasy and movie examples of archetypes…because you know, all work and no play. (FYI, the Harry Potter analysis is super fun.)
Jungian Archetypes led me to a ton of websites discussing The Big 5 Personality Traits and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI which, I’d wager to say most of us have dabbled in. I spent most of my time reading about the various type combinations using these 6 categories.
- ESTJ: extraversion (E), sensing (S), thinking (T), judgment (J)
- INFP: introversion (I), intuition (N), feeling (F), perception (P)
When I had formulated a guess about where I would land at this stage of my life (because it has been different in each decade from late teens, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and now in my 50’s) I took the quiz again. I landed exactly where I would have predicted I would, given the descriptions. Many sites contain in depth descriptions of personalities including famous people and some literary characters who share your type. It turns out I have something in common with Harry Truman, Barbara Walters, Martha Stewart and much to my pleasure, the fierce “Baby” from Dirty Dancing.
None of what I read gave me the platter full of answers I would have liked but it served to be interesting and entertaining. The Myers-Briggs felt a lot like reading a newspaper horoscope, open ended enough to apply to most readers and we simply love having what we know about ourselves confirmed in print. A personality test is just a tool, and how scientific it is would certainly be debatable but through lifelong observation of my own behavior and deep dissection of my personal history I can tell you that it is my nature to offer up a warning about the dangers I have seen in the world because I really want to take care of the people I love. And it is not my nature to tell another person what to do or to criticize them in any way but rather to share my mistakes in the hopes that my friends can profit from them or at the very least, know that they are not alone in their foibles.
It seems to be Nameless1’s nature to discourage discussion about a topic she feels is too distasteful to be brought out in the light or perhaps too close to home and then to bolster her assertion by suggesting that I need mental health support because I don’t play by her rules. I will consequently keep her at arm’s length because I view her assertions as ugly and intrusive just as she feels that I must be damaged to mention anything ugly or maybe the rule I broke was that I brought it up more than once!
It is clearly Nameless2’s nature to fight against someone who has insulted or wronged her friend and to demand that they cease and desist. I love her for that protection even though I had to delete the comment.
We are all, like it or not, in this life together. And no matter what some might say, I think there is a need for each one of our personality types. We each serve a different purpose, none more important the the others.
We are who we are and we consistently do what we find works for us… be it the comfort we might find in taking the path of least resistance or the need we might feel to fight against a perceived injustice, to stick our head in the sand to avoid the things we are afraid of, to champion the weak, to expose the dangers we know, to preach the faith that saved us, to shun the teachings that failed us.
I can hear my young, adorable friend, Felicia, say as she often does, “You do you, Boo.” It is a short phrase intended to make it clear to the person she is talking to that being just who they are is welcomed. I told her one day that I don’t wear dresses and heels anymore in favor of jeans and clogs and her response was a broad smile accompanied by, “You do you, Boo.” It is her nature to be accepting and warm.
In the interest of full disclosure, I will never tell another person what to do EXCEPT when it comes to ME. I have a little something in common with Nameless2. I am happy to say, “Step off” when necessary because nobody puts Baby in a corner and nobody tells Suzy how to conduct her own life. That’s my nature. On Facebook and off.