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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I hate you, you're just like me!

Okay, so the other day I met a woman under circumstances I won't bore you with because the point is not how or why we met. The point is this: I hated her. She was pushy and nosy, and when she didn't get information she wanted by (strongly) hinting to me that she wanted it, she lingered in the vicinity of my conversation (with someone else) in order (it seemed to me) to see if she could learn what she wanted to know by eavesdroping.

She was loathsome, and I loathed her.

But (and here's where things get sticky), she wasn't completely unlike me. I mean, I hope that I am not oppressively pushy and nosy, but let me be honest. If someone were to complain about me, that person almost certainly would not begin by saying that I'm...oh, aloof. Or disinterested.

Do you get where I'm going with this? My point is that if you were going to list my worst traits, you just might say that once in a while (and I'm sure this is only under extreme circumstances, but there you have it) I can be a wee bit on the pushy side. And while we're on the subject, I am occasionally interested in having information that is none of my business. I would like to believe that I would never go so far as to linger in the vicinity of a conversation that a) people had made clear they did not want me to hear and b) was none of my business, but if we are being completely honest, I must here simply say that one should never say never.

To cut to the chase: I hated this woman and her pushiness and her nosiness because she was just enough like me for me to hate her.

I don't know if you've had this experience. Perhaps you have. For example, say you are vaguely interested in being slightly more popular than you are and you meet a girl who is desperately climbing the social ladder. You might once or twice have ditched your friends for a boy and you meet a girl who's got her best friend's boyfriend on speed dial. And what happens is you see a grotesque reflection of yourself in the other person and you do not feel sympathy. You do not feel empathy. You do not feel compassion. You feel hatred.

Empathy means understanding. Empathy means deep understanding. Ultimately, empathy means understanding that is so deep, it results in one's recognition of shared humanity with another person.

Shared humanity. Versus, in my case, hatred.

There is no word for the opposite of empathy, but a woman I know and respect recently provided me with one. Here it is:

CONTEMPATHY.

Contempathy: the strong dislike or loathing born of recognition of the self in the other.

Here's hoping it makes the OED soon.

xoxo,
Melissa

2 Comments:

Blogger Kat Werner said...

I actually have a problem kind of like that with a friend of my boyfriend. She and I are kind of similar, both geeky, both used to being the one to "take care of" the group (feeding people and what not), both kind of inflexible. I've tried to be friends with her, but it just doesn't work. The woman has no interest in getting to know me, or even being friendly to me most times we meet up.

December 1, 2011 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Princessatemma said...

HI melissa i just fifnish reading IF I HAVE A WICKED STEPMOTHER, WHERE'S MY PRINCE AND I LOVED IT but i was wondering did lucy tell collin she went with sam and how did collen react with the news also ur book waz so good i want to read the break up bible or confessions of a not it girl any will be better cause both sound really good i love this book and i hope u make more books in the futher

May 17, 2012 at 4:41 PM  

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