I Like to Watch – Episode 2
As I alluded to in Episode 1, and as Sally mentioned in her comment, there’s another reason that “I like to watch.” Perhaps it’s the major reason. On television and in movies, people live out loud. Which is to say that television reveals things that many (or most, in my experience) real people, in their real lives, work to conceal: their emotional states, their judgmental thoughts, their mistakes and faults, their guilt, their shame, their woundedness, and their secret desires.
On television and in movies, when someone is angry, you know that person is angry, because they scream it or rant it or lash out. If someone is sad, you know they are sad, because they sob and collapse and crawl into bed. If someone is motivated by the lingering pain of an old loss or failure, they show us a flashback. If one character is offended by the actions of another, they fight it out. If a character is afraid, they share it with others. If one character wants to hit another one, or push them in front of a train, or set them up for blackmail, or have an affair, they do so.
Television takes us inside the human experience and reveals it. Television characters become translucent. You get to see inside of them.
All of which can be like candy to Aspies, who can have trouble reading others. For myself, while I’m highly sensitized to emotional and psychological energies, and usually at least know when they are present, I can have a devil of a time understanding what those energies mean, especially insofar as they are further obfuscated by others’ attempts to hide them.
I’ve been studying human beings my entire life, of course, and have read and trained a great deal in the matter of human psychology and human emotionality, and I have had Sally, herself a skilled and intuitive therapist, as a constant teacher. So I’m pretty good at observing behaviors and noticing patterns, and then analyzing what I have observed based on past experience and acquired knowledge. But there’s much that I miss in the moment, and only so much I can know about any particular individual, and in the presence of emotion, my own internal systems go on high alert, making it extremely difficult to focus on anyone but myself.
But television characters make it easy. They tell me what is going on with them.
Perhaps not surprisingly, so do Sally’s kids. Raised, or now living, inside of a family system which values, demands, encourages, and facilitates the processing of feelings, differences, and conflicts, and the sharing of one’s felt experience of the world, her son, her daughter, and her daughter-in-law all live just as out loud as television characters. They say what’s going on with them. They share their feelings. They reveal their vulnerabilities, their dreams, their wounds, their strengths, and their judgmental thoughts. If they are offended or confused or angry, they say so. If they need something they are not getting, they put voice to it. If they find themselves motivated by old hurts or unacknowledged desires, they find a way to tell you. It may not work as quickly or as easily as we often find on television, but their family system eventually finds a way to surface and process that which needs to be spoken out loud.
Which is more candy for me.
As long as none of them harbors a desire to push me in front of a train.
(Episode 3 Coming Soon)