Neurotic

I don’t know for sure what the clinical definition of the slippery term “neurotic” is [1], though anxiety is its’ hallmark.  The following illustration comports with my understanding of what it means to be neurotic, that is, so anxious, guilt-driven and chagrined, that you often do things that sabotage your own best interests in relations with other people.

My last remaining friend from a childhood that ended more than fifty years ago was in a desperate death spiral with his wife.  It had long been a very tense, combative, distrustful marriage, and it was coming to an end.  At one point, not long before their divorce, his wife and a marriage therapist convinced him that he had to confront me for deliberately or callously trying to end his doomed marriage.  His wife didn’t respect him as a man, found him weak and contemptible, and only confronting me would demonstrate that he had any spine at all.

I was supportive as I gave him a convincing, and true, response for his wife and the idiot therapist.  He seemed relieved, even grateful.  Things continued to go from bad to worse, and finally, after months of trying, it was impossible for me to maintain my friendship with my old friend.

Recent events in my own life made me realize that I should reach out to the poor devil, a guy I hadn’t exchanged a peep with in a few years.  We made plans to talk, by text (as it is done these days) and there were a few hits and misses due to his busy schedule until we could find a mutually good time to talk.   He was very happy to hear from me.

I told him about a long chat I had with his mother, after she dreamed about me and left me a message.   I described the traumatized friend who was in the hands of a great therapist who’d provided her with some excellent rules about life.  I quoted rules 12 and 13, texted them to him afterwards.   

12. A lesson is repeated until it is learned.  A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it.  When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.

13. People always do the best they can.  If they are doing poorly, it is because they have not learned the lessons that will enable them to do better.

We discussed these revelations and then he promised that the next time we talked he’d share his revelations.   He’d had some major revelations since the last time we spoke.  I told him I was looking forward to it.

“This might sound funny,” he told me, “but you never actually left my life.  I see you frequently in dreams, just passing by, or sitting around, but you are there pretty consistently.”

I paused and said “well, then I hope this was a dream conversation for you.”

He laughed, and we said goodbye.

One month ago.

[1] apparently the term is no longer used clinically, psychiatrists have replaced the squishy term neurotic with more concrete and identifiable ones. Here’s a general definition from thefreedictionary.com

neu·ro·sis (no͝o-rō′sĭs, nyo͝o-)

A mild mental disorder characterized by excessive anxiety, insecurity, or obsession, usually compensated for by various defense mechanisms.

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