The Nature of Dilemma

I walked out of dance class yesterday. I can’t even remember the last time I walked out of anything in anger. Now that I think about it, though, I wasn’t really angry. Just fed up.

I’ve mentioned before that I have problems with one of the women — a total narcissist. I get tired of the almost constant sound of her voice and the way she makes everything about her, but more than that, I get tired of how she treats me.

And yesterday I’d had enough.

It’s my own fault, really. Sometimes we as writers have the power to make things happen. When I was writing A Spark of Heavenly Fire, I always saw a silver Toyota Tacoma in the grocery store parking lot. I used the vehicle for the book, and oddly, after the truck was stolen in the story, I never saw that Tacoma again. Made me wonder if somehow I managed to get it stolen in real life.

Then, when I was writing Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, I didn’t want to use her real car — a PT Cruiser — since it could identify her, so I changed her vehicle to a Kia. A couple of days after I gave her the pseudonymous car, she drove to the studio in her new Kia.

Such things are common occurrences for me, but never before have I conjured up a person.

Those of you who read Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare are familiar with a character named Deb. This character started out being based on the idiosyncrasies of a couple of women in class, but I skewed the character far from those women to fit the needs of the story. This skewed character seemed to see herself in competition with the narrator (whose name, coincidentally, is Pat), and this competition, one way though it might have been, fueled the story.

When I was able to return to class after my various surgeries, lo and behold, there was Deb. Her name and physical description are not the same as my fictional Deb, but the rest of it is pretty darn close, perceived competition and all.

Did I conjure her? I doubt it, but still, whether her emergence is my fault or not, this woman is in my life, or rather, in my life as long as I continue to take dance classes. It’s only two months until my trip, which will give me a break from all that has been bedeviling me, so I’ve been trying to ignore the woman, stay as far away from her as possible, and to hold my tongue to keep the peace, but yesterday I simply did not want to have to deal with her anymore.

As I was going out the door after the incident that fueled my need to leave, she continued with her unwanted comments. I just wish narcissists would understand that not everything is about them, that other people have their own lives and needs separate from theirs. But then, if they understood that, they wouldn’t be narcissists.

Unfortunately, it’s too late to rewrite the story to make Deb nicer and less of a narcissist, and it’s too late to make her vanish since her fate was already written. (And anyway, when I write things on purpose hoping they will happen, they never do.)

So I have the dilemma of getting her out of my life and missing out on the good parts of dance class or keeping the status quo.

Not a fun dilemma. But isn’t that the very nature of dilemma? If the choice were easy, it wouldn’t be a dilemma.

For now, I’ll continue going to class. Maybe something will happen to tip the scale one way or another.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

9 Responses to “The Nature of Dilemma”

  1. Betty Rountree Says:

    Don’t dare let anyone steal your joy!! Dance is one of your joys, …. and you should protect it !!
    I’m OLD now, …compared to the age when I could have cured so many of my woes had I heeded my dad’s advice. His advice was: “Out-nice them”! You’ll never be sorry, and you will always come out smelling like a rose. He was so right.
    I began ‘practicing’, ….. and finally I think I can remember to ‘do it’ (out-nice them) most of the time now, and I’m truly less frustrated. I don’t know your ‘aggravate/agitator’s technique, but with your vocabulary, I’m sure you can easily take care of her AND keep smelling like a rose, too!
    ………and that way she can’t steal your joy!!!

    Keep a mental list of phrases that can be used for closure to conversations.
    “That sounds like a great idea, and maybe we can try it sometime, but what we have now is working great, so let’s not mess us something wonderful!” By the way, that’s a neat leotard you are wearing.” (Then, turn and pay attention to others.)
    “Wow, that’s neat to hear about your recent adventures! Maybe those of us who want to share more of our adventures with others should come a little earlier, then we can still start lessons on time! But I’m glad you had a good time! (Then, turn and pay attention to the others.)
    “I think it’s neat that you love your pets. Do you belong to some groups with others who share your interests? You might want to search Facebook for groups that share that interest, too.” My passion is hiking, and sometime when class is finished, maybe we can all take time to share if we want to!! Best wishes to you pet!” (Then turn and pay attention to the others.)

    I had to ‘practice’ for a while, but now, I can usually give the offensive ‘talker’ a subtle compliment that ends the conversation and sends everyone’s attention in a different direction!! If you wanted to take a different route, you could tell her (sweetly) that you can’t stay longer for class, so you would love to get started on time.” etc. etc.

    Just ‘Out-Nice’ anyone who tries to steal your joy, even if they don’t realize it !! YOU will know that you stood your ground in a nice, kind, way and you didn’t let anyone ‘get in your space’. Don’t you let her steal your joy! Maybe she’s an unhappy person with problems you / no one can fix, but your primary responsibility is to be “the best you can be”, …… and if dancing makes you happy, keep your spot, hold your ground, treasure your joy,
    ……… and “out-nice” her.

    Another option, is ‘confusion’ to control your environment! Upon your first encounter with her at each class, pay her a compliment, on her hairstyle, her first ‘dance’ attempt, how she was ‘graceful’ in a specific step, etc. I don’t know how your dance class ‘works’, and I don’t know the dynamics, …….. but you can never be criticized for saying and doing ‘nice’ things, …… just adapt the ideas and come up with some of your own. If she wants attention, ……give it to her first, and let her wonder what you might say next. Let her wonder! Chances are the others will all admire your stamina!!


  2. rami ungar the writer Says:

    If she realized the world didn’t revolve around her, she wouldn’t be a narcissist.

  3. LordBeariOfBow Says:

    In Australia we have a , some would consider crude, expression to describe narcissists ” Up themselves”, feel free to tell Madam Narcissist. at the dance class that she’s should stop being up herself, that’ll bring her down a peg or two

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