Everyone has had someone speak badly about them behind their back. Everyone has felt that sick, swimmy, gurgling suspicion in the tips of their fingers and in their gut when they walk into a room, a hall, a street and see that particular look on some one’s face. Sometimes the perpetrators are so close together it’s almost intimate, but instead what they are doing is whispering, conspiring, creatures connecting and finding accelerated, condensed glee in generating unhappiness. Sometimes they’re speaking loudly and you can almost hear the spittle on their tongue, words. Sometimes they’re quiet, glancing at you and then looking away. It doesn’t matter much because you end up knowing anyway, whether the realization hits you like an electric shock or worms its way up your intestines.
Depending on your own emotional matrix, you bitch about this to everyone you know (maybe even some you don’t know) or you let it fester in your brain, swallowing down the rancor. Either way, the feeling adds a tinge to your thoughts and interactions. When you talk, hug, walk – you know that somewhere someone hates you.
But here’s the thing. You can’t complain. You can’t accept the role of the victim, because you’ve done it too. You’ve persecuted someone with hushed complaints and depraved syllables. You’ve enjoyed doing it. Maybe you can find a justification for it? Perhaps. It’s not as if I know the circumstances. But I’d be willing to bet that you don’t. You’ve got nothing.
Why this happens, I think, is because there’s a measure of cruelty in all of us. The question is if you can come to terms with it, or even acknowledge it. That’s not in my field of understanding, really, how people come to accept a detrimental quality. Methods vary, I suppose. Human behavior is so very complex that I can’t pretend to be able to comprehend it all. What I do want to understand, is this –
What if everyone had a tape recorder in their throats?
There are many things we would say if we were not afraid someone would hear them. There are many things we would throw away if were not afraid someone would pick them up. There are many questions we would ask if we were not afraid someone would give us an incorrect answer. There are many people we would love if we were not afraid they would not love us back.
When you are in front someone, telling them something important, something you want them to know, you are intensely afraid they will not understand. When you slander them behind their back, putting your hatred into words, you are intensely afraid the wrong person will hear you. We are so very afraid. Of darkness, spiders, reptiles, elevators, water – and of each other.