How do I accept a compliment?

I don’t know how to do it.

Here’s an example:

Random person: You’re nice

Mole Rat: What are you selling?

Random person: Nothing – I only said you were nice.

Mole Rat: Piss off. Are you mad?

It’s not normal. I know that, but I don’t know what to do about it.

Recently, and utterly without precedent, some people have complimented me in a personal way. Someone even used the word “fit”, which I’d only previously heard directed at people stood nearby, who I immediately hated or moved into the “conceited dickhead” file in my mind.

Now, without any idea how it happened, that person seems to be me. I’m that conceited dickhead.

Except that I’m not. Dickhead, yes, granted. I’m a dickhead. But I’m not a conceited one, because I can’t believe it when I get a compliment. I don’t believe them. I don’t know how to accept them. I’ve never really had to do it.

From the age of 14 to the age of 30 I got nowhere with girls. Regardless of whether or not I’m George Clooney today (I’m not), the fact that I was George Formby for the formative years of my life has left a mark. I find it hard to believe it when – and at this point I’m going to pull a distasteful face while I type – when people say I’m attractive. Gah.

Being complimented makes me assume I’m being set-up, and that in 30 seconds I’ll be slapped with the punchline. I’m permanently ready to be at the receiving end of a cruel sexual-practical joke. So my immediate response is to beat them to the punchline, and find some way to turn their compliment into some stupid gag about my looks, intelligence or sexual prowess.

It makes me seem weird and timid. I’m not timid…

… I might be weird.

I’m normal for my family, but perhaps we’re all weird. I’m so fond of them that I’ve never given them any indication that I can bear the company of any of them. They’d hate it if I did. I was raised on a diet of endless piss-taking and creative abuse, which goes on to this day. I can’t remember a time when I said or did anything nice to my brother, or him to me. My parents love me, and I love them, at least the one who could be arsed staying alive… see? My dad’s dead, and I’m still taking the piss.

The idea that one of us might actually say “I love you”… oh my God, that would be the ultimate transgression.

People in my family are polite to anybody they dislike, and offensive and abusive to people they think are great. The more you’re insulted and mistreated, the more they like you.

To me, that seems normal. It’s compliments which are disturbing.

So I’ve got literally no experience of people being overtly pleasant to me. When somebody says a nice thing to me, my mind goes blank. I hide behind stupid jokes. I suspect I’m supposed to say “thank you” or perhaps compliment them in return. But I only know about that in an abstract way. I’ve never learned how to do it.

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