The constant threat of physical violence combined with all the other stuff that went on daily in “the cave” (otherwise known as my childhood home) really shaped, or rather misshaped, my perceptions of the world and people in general.
I assumed that because I came from a clan of sociopathic narcissists, so did everyone else. I had that hunch confirmed many times by visiting friend’s houses and again when I married into a family of loud, violent, selfish pricks very similar to my own. It felt like the entire world was made up of these types and I saw for myself that these people are everywhere, only further distorting my view of humanity in general.
Sure there were nice teachers here and there and somehow my oldest sister managed to marry one of the nicest guys I’d ever met (who she then dumped for an asshole shortly after the wedding), but other than that I was pretty much surrounded by them.
Whatever niceness I had within me was like a candle light in a hurricane, and since I had no one to practice being nice with consistently, I, too, became an asshole. It was the only way to survive in a sea of them.
Sometimes I guess you really do have to “do as the Romans”, as the saying goes.