Tonight I made dinner for two friends before we ran down to the Ritz Five for a free Philly Film Society screening (“The Thing About My Folks,” Peter Falk and Paul Reiser playing father and son, it’s sweet and funny and sad and endearing and you don’t have to be Jewish or from the east coast to see your own family in it). As payment for the meal, I forced my friends to listen to me, yet again, bemoan the fact that I feel directionless and without purpose. Coming from me, this is not a new story for them.
We walked down to the movies and once in our seats, I started to whine to Ingrid how pointless I’ve been feeling. That I want to be extraordinary and mostly I feel unimportant and like excess in the world. As I was ranting on, I glanced over to her and noticed her that her eyes had started to tear up. Seeing her close to tears, I shut my mouth. She took my speechlessness as an opportunity to tell me that I was not pointless, and that in her life and in the lives of our other friends, I was extraordinary. That I mattered to her. Hearing this stopped me in my tracks, because I realized that the current tear I’ve been on, trashing myself to anyone who will listen is not only damaging to myself, but it’s damaging to my friends, who don’t see me as pointless, but instead see me as valuable and important in their lives. I was stunned. It isn’t often that someone is willing to show you how they see you. Ingrid gave me a brief opportunity tonight to see myself from her perspective, as opposed to my own, slightly warped one (sometimes I feel like I see my personality and the space I take up in the world with the same level of distortion that anorexics see their bodies). I have to admit, I kind of liked what I saw. I’ve been spending so much time punishing myself for the things that I’m not recently, I haven’t spent any time enjoying all the things I am. This doesn’t mean that I won’t slip back down into a little self-judgement and dissatisfaction in the future, but when I start down that path, I’ll try to remember how I looked through Ingrid’s eyes.