I’ve determined my approach to the “no pressure, but” situation, and kicked that boulder over the edge.
My quandary wasn’t really about whether or not I’d perceived the reality accurately, because that’s a long decided matter. It was just the first, easiest thing to grasp in the attempt to pull myself out of a psychic pain of unknown origin. What I really needed was a shocking and shameful experience of objective self awareness to get me squarely back over my own shadow again.
It took two days to get from knowing I was right but feeling that I was wrong to knowing why I was wrong. Honk honk honk, cognitive dissonance warning.
What had hung me up was that I’d mentally dehumanized the guy. It wasn’t a willful thing, and nowhere near being the black magic thought against which I must be eternally vigilant lest it transmogrify me into something terrible and despicable that will bring hell to me even while I live. It was just mental laziness: He is a this, and I interact with a this in a previously determined manner designed to create or restore a desired internal state — he will find the process very discomforting, but he deserves it because he’s a this and I have the right to do it because…
That’s been the dehumanizing thought process of everyone I’ve ever had to hate back, which is why it hurt so much having it inside my own mind. I was paralyzed because inaction was the correct course. Don’t just do something, stand there.
Once I got that figured, the rest was easy. I made sure that I was being my authentic self, and said what needed to be said. I find it unpleasant to be required to explain to someone the balance of power within the business relationships in which I engage, but in order to continue feeling good about myself I’ve got to continue giving fair warning. And just so it’s said, I do know the difference between fair warning and a challenge phrased for court. Picking an unfair fight would mean I couldn’t think of myself as a man any more, and I’m way too old for that.
The would-be manipulator remains an active client because I found his response acceptable, and that unpleasantness is now history.
There was a much needed but unexpected up side to the little misadventure, too. I’ve a habit of fact and reality checking myself at every terminal punctuation mark when writing my side of a conflict, and it struck me not very far into it that I’d needed the reality check. Reality checks make me happy.
This most recent one, coming in the final days before milestone 55 is reached, has got me thinking that the gods must love atheists best. Twenty years ago, my career plan was fuck it, I’m moving to the mountains and if anyone wants me the internet knows where I am. It wasn’t anywhere near so rash a decision as it sounds in summary, but to everyone I knew it seemed that it was. It’s important to keep in mind that the internet wasn’t anything at all like the one we know today back in those days — googol was still just a number, big business hadn’t yet figured out how to monetize the internet, and effective encryption was still regulated as munitions. Getting online from home meant angry family members screaming, “get off the internet, I want to use the phone!”.
Good plan, huh? Just say fuck it, and move to the mountains.