Then there’s Ziggy, who always seems to be out of step with the bigger picture, whose cares and reflections revolve around their point of view and who is not in the habit of thinking about the wider lens of the ‘us’. For the purposes of this reflection, ‘us’= Zaggy, which might be Ziggy’s work team, their partner, their family or their friends who have allowed them to be the ‘designated victim’ of this so-called wretched team, marriage or social club. Hence Ziggy now occupies the real throne whilst appearing to be the overlooked martyr of the universe.
Ziggy’s conversation stabs will henceforth always be untouchable ‘lest we speak against the one who is always on the side of the angels’. In reality Zaggy is in collective sigh mode because Ziggy is having their day in court again and just can’t seem to ever work with the longer untidy processes of grey and of change and transitions where secret sacrifices are being made by Zaggy but never mentioned, not because Zaggy is a martyr but just because they see it as kind of childish to mention this stuff.
But Ziggy won’t be told, as far as they are concerned Zaggy is a joke and to make that perfectly clear Ziggy has mastered the art of waiting until Zaggy indicates a level of contentment with things. Contentment is Ziggy’s cue to pounce and launch into this great long list of unhappinesses, implying that Zaggy doesn’t love them and that Zaggy must be some kind of imbecile to have not noticed all the ‘great troubles’
Sometimes of course Ziggy is right and Zaggy is being irresponsible. But we are not talking about that today, we are talking about a Zaggy whose wider life indicates that in fact they are quite switched on, focussed and aware. So of course this Zaggy will have probably noticed everything that Ziggy is talking about but knows these things are not going to be able to be changed anyway, and maybe shouldn’t be.
Usually, because Zaggy doesn’t want to hurt Ziggy’s feelings, they will even play dumb and apologise for not seeing Ziggy’s great revelatory list of grievances, fears and martyrdoms. This is a survival tactic learned from the painful experience of sulking and punishing stunts pulled by Ziggy at some time in the past when Zaggy assumed a more honest and transparent relationship, or, it may have been learned from a parent or grandparent.
The scary thing about this tactic is that no human being can endure this kind of double-carrying of loads and ‘loving-deceit’ for too long and Zaggy may soon begin to lose their confidence, stammer, become accident-prone or forgetful and actually become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy for Ziggy.
It’s much more apparent when Zaggy is a child in a family. This is where the darkness shows its hand—perhaps even in suicide or self-harming—because this lose-win strategy is a suicidal form of conflict management, which has concluded that there is no such thing as conflict resolution. It’s a kind of constricting alexythymia1 where Zaggy becomes incapable of expressing deep psychological pain.
In their efforts to love Ziggy, they build a concrete wall between their thoughts and their feelings and live inside an illusion of control. Unfortunately they are in the throes of a constricting vision, which will be telling them that the only way ahead is to keep going in this. Finally the pain will become both unbearable and unspeakable.
The logic of this tunnel vision is that speaking out is the only way to be free of the pain but their indulgent love for Ziggy has robbed them of their ability to speak. Therefore, if they can’t speak, the pain will only get worse, therefore the ‘only way’ out is suicide. At this moment we can almost feel the whole of creation sobbing at such a deep, deep wrong.
The ‘only way’ is a common mantra of the suicidal mind, which Shneidemann says can be countered by assisting the person to make a list of what he calls, ‘lousy other options’. Change is going to be hard for Zaggy—who loves Ziggy so much—and it may be too late to do anything but it is worth a try every now and then for Zaggy to simply say, ‘I don’t agree with you and neither do a lot of others around here.’ Having said that, if Zaggy is an individual, they should postpone any discussion of the reasons behind their statement because Ziggy has the advantage of being loved by them and is thus more likely to win a debate.
This will be an awkward moment for Ziggy because they will be thinking, ‘Poor Zaggy, either their facts are wrong or they are deluded.’ By saying they don’t agree with Ziggy, Zaggy has suggested that Ziggy’s loud statement was only an opinion. This is awkward for Ziggy who is adamant that they were reciting a list of objective facts, which it may have been—but that’s not the point.
Fact or fiction is beside the point here. Something exciting is happening. For the first time in their life Zaggy has learned how to mess with the mind of a bully—how to love a bully actually. Zaggy still hasn’t conquered their alexythymia but they have at least found an alternative to self-harming! When Zaggy said, ‘I disagree’—Zaggy didn’t care about whether the facts were true or not, Zaggy was smoking Ziggy out and got the sub-conversation onto the table. Basically telling Ziggy, ‘I can play games too.’
1 Shneidman Edwin S. – The Suicidal Mind – Oxford University Press 1996 p.28 Loving Deceit Blog plv 17.11.14 1