The Canary and the Ivy

I’ve written countless times about the difficulty that I have regarding interpersonal relationships.  I’m unskilled at, or unwilling to engage in the act of, providing for those that are my acquaintances, family, friends, loved ones, et cetera.  With every day and every therapeutic session that passes, I grow more adept at these skills, but I still lack.  I’ll never have those skills and the alignment of those that are not psychopathic when it comes to maintaining and enhancing my interpersonal relationships, but as I grow older, I can certainly be less bad at these things.  It may be my standard operating procedure to leave interpersonal relationships when conflict arises, having little patience for the flaws of others, but this too is slowly changing – or at least I am slower to pull the trigger than I was in the past.  I no longer know when to stay or when to leave.  The canary in the mine, checking the life signs of the interpersonal relationship, may have long turned to feathers and dust, but I still stay.  Or, she may be full of life and vibrant and I leave.  I no longer know my role.  I no longer know the role of the canary.

I’ve always preached restraint.  It is only as I enter my 30’s that such becomes a default choice rather than a memory to conjure in times of turmoil or unrestrained antisocial behavior.  I’m mellowing.  This is not a bad thing, but decades of unchecked narcissism and antisocial ways have left a void.  In many ways I am an adult child.  I never learned – partly due to inept familial figures and partly due to my own alignment – how to properly interact with others in a fashion that is not purely rooted in Machiavellian thought patterns and desires.  Therapy often is simplistic, explaining how to address those gaps in knowledge but providing little opportunity to act on what I’ve learned, so I flail.  Returning to the canary metaphor, I have the capacity to learn when interpersonal relationships are going well or not so well, but I do not know how to act based on her heartbeat.

Paradoxically, this lack of knowledge results in me, the narcissistic antisocial, setting myself up to be abused, misused, or neglected.  I voluntarily take off my armor, thinking that standing still or giving more will alleviate any weakness in my interpersonal relationships.  However, without steel between myself and sword, I set myself up for grievous wounds.  I stay in the house that was once grand and that once housed both valuable and person that could not be matched.  This house, through abuse and neglect, has become stripped of its beauty and ivy covers its walls, allowing no light to enter.  I do not know whether to keep my residence there, feeling nostalgic about the halcyon days that it once welcomed, or to burn it to the ground and rebuild anew with different materials, resulting in what may be an equally glorious construct housing new and invigorating figures.  I can’t hear the canary’s song as I once did before.  Is my hearing worsening or has the canary, unseen in the darkness behind the ivy that light cannot penetrate, died long ago?  Whereas there were days in which I abused and neglected, have I become the one to be abused and neglected?  Unsure if I am deaf or if the canary is truly feather and dust, I wander along knowing only one thing: that interpersonal relationships will always remain difficult.

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