Today, while I sat with yet more tears streaming down my face, still reeling from a morning of tears and depression, I had a kind of epiphany. Without my crutches, my crappy comfort foods, there is nowhere to hide from myself. And I searched, deeply, for what the hell is going on in my head. For the reasons behind so much of my mental anguish. And I think I found it.
I am horribly ashamed of myself. Almost everything I’ve done brings me shame, and I’ve spent my life trying to reinvent myself to get rid of it – to bury it and cover it up. But it never goes away. I think I have a fundamental tendency to view what I do as not good enough. Where this stems from I am not entirely sure. I have always felt very self-conscious and “judged” even when I was tiny – some of my earliest memories include feelings of self-consciousness and embarrassment.
My parents and even some of my oldest friends have judged a lot of the things I have done, and I have always carried around the idea, spoken many times by people in my life, that I am falling short of my potential. My father was ruthlessly critical of everything my brother and I did. My mother was physically and verbally abused for the first 17 years of her life and had her own world of problems that made being a present and stable mother figure almost impossible for her.
I have never really felt that I have done right, in anything, unless it is perfect.
I was going to write a list of things I am ashamed of, but the list goes on and on and on – too long for me to probably ever finish. It ranges from things I did at school, to the way I acted at work, to my personal conduct in relationships, to my self-image, my career, my (limited) achievements, my taste in everything, my parenting, my everything.
Funny enough, even recognising that this is the root of the problem (and I guess shame is in some way a rejection of self-acceptance and self-love), has made me feel better. I know what’s wrong with me.
So I need to work through all this – this mountain of shame and embarrassment and the feeling that I am inferior, and not as good in any way as anyone else.
How the hell I am going to do that I am not sure, but it must start with accepting exactly what I am and what I have done, no matter how distasteful that seems to me.