Perhaps I should have been a therapist. I have always been able to read people quickly, a skill that came from being the shyest one in the room as a child and adolescent, and also, I think, from seeing so much darkness as a child in people, seeing what they were capable of. I also know that it was honed even further in my late teens and early twenties both from my acting classes and from successfully hiding a drug habit. Trust me, learn to lie well and you will know how to read people well. Perhaps that would not go down in the books of advice oh “how o get along with others”, but those are the things that made me as intuitive with others as I am.
I know that my way with people has helped me in my career. I fell into the industry I work in by accident, or without real planning, and because I knew the best way to talk to people and caught on to what they were like, and what they liked. I was able to learn and grow, with the help of people who felt understood, and who then perceived a kinship with me, which subsequently motivated them to mentor me. I suppose it could be taken as dishonesty or manipulation, but I have never gone at it from that approach, it is just a part of me, of who I am, that gets how to connect and see people beneath their exteriors. I wear masks myself, and painted on disguises, so perhaps that’s why I know how to see through them.
The downside can be that people are drawn to me in a sometimes unbalanced way. They see an intimacy between us that only comes from their side as I am very selective of who I open up to, and who I trust with the self that lies behind my exterior. I am well versed in sharing parts of me, often in a very raw and personal way, but they are just parts and not wholes. In that sharing, though, the other person often feels they know me because I am allowing them to be known, sometimes in ways that no one has taken the time or effort to know them.
This perceived intimacy though, because it is not a shared feeling, ends often in misunderstanding and hurt. It has caused people to cross boundaries with me, declare unrealistic things about me, profess love or at least best friendship, and expect the same in return. It is that expectation that has done the most damage, and has put a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. It has been the cause of physical and emotional damage, and of a lot of heartache, tears, anger and grief.
Maybe I’m the one at fault here. Is it wrong to know how to get people to open up, and use it? Does it make me like the Allison Reynolds character inThe Breakfast Club, who is able to get the Claire Standish character to admit to being a virgin, which you know Allison already saw in Claire, by making herself seem open and intimate in her lies (or were they lies? Something I have often wondered about the Allison character, maybe they were not lies at all but things from her past she wanted someone to know, but then quickly denied them when they were out in the open).
I do not intend to crack people open and make them bleed out their emotions and secrets, or do I subconsciously need it to happen? It is part of my deep rooted control and trust issues that fuel me needing to know about others, while keeping so much of myself in check? Does it make me feel safe? Needed? In control? Secure? Do I need them to trust me as much as they need to trust? Has it become some kind of mixed up way to feel love, and loved?
Would it have been better if I had become a therapist, using the skill to its potential professionally, while trying to keep it far from my personal life? Or is this something that I need to discuss with my own therapist?
Save Me (live) :: Aimee Mann