I can’t tell you how many times I’ve envisioned myself gagging that nagging little voice in the back of my head and tossing her and her self-depreciations, doubts, put-downs, wildly irrational reasons, and idiotic misconceptions down an abandoned well, but it never seems to work. Not for very long. That bitch is determined. And strong. And obviously an exceptional rock climber.
I started this year, this blog actually, talking about my insecurities and how this was it…I was done with that. I was going to learn self-acceptance. I was going to learn to accept a compliment. I was going to stop inherently doubting every single thing I do. And, I was going to learn to see myself through other people’s lenses instead of the ones I must have mistakenly picked up at the magic shop or been given as some kind of long-con prank that make everything carnival-mirror distorted. I thought, and still think, that seeing myself the way other people do might finally fracture the images of myself that my brain so stubbornly refuses to let go of... or at the very least, I’d realize some things I actually need to work on versus the everything-is-wrong-with-me mentality that lives inside my head.
But, here it is nearing the end of the year and I still can’t take a compliment seriously. And, I’m not just talking about compliments on my physical appearance. Even the compliments about the strength of my character fall on uncompromising ears that absolutely have no intention of letting anything positive absorb into my being and stick. I go out of my way to be a beneficial presence in other people’s lives who often don’t have that, not in the form of peers anyway. I write and I help where I can and I visit and I distract. For at least a couple of people I know, I am their only connection to humanity beyond bars and walls. I’m the only person who cares, truly cares and not out of some sick fantasy. And, what do I do when I haven’t heard from that person in awhile? I immediately assume I did something wrong or that something is wrong with me. Even when I try desperately to push those thoughts away and wait and be patient, my mind works a thousand miles an hour coming up with any and every reason, reflecting on every word written or spoken, analyzing every possibility. When there is nothing I can find that I’ve overtly done wrong, my brain works even harder to hypothesize what it could be. I am never able to just leave it alone and see how it goes and give myself the benefit of the doubt. And that's in times when there is absolutely no reason that a person I go out of my way to help would be angry with me. In any situation, I’m never able to give myself the benefit of the doubt and let those kinds of thoughts cloud my mind like poisonous gas that stifles everything but the negativity.
I know, deep down, that I am an entirely rational being. Except for when it comes to myself, my self image, and the way I believe I must seem to other people. The whole saying about what other people think being none of your business is all fine and good when you don’t give a flying fuck about those other people. But, when it’s personal, well, that changes everything. I realize that this partly comes from years of knowing people who did criticize and hold irrational ideals about the way I should look and act and be…from having a parent who only knew how to be hateful and living in a town where I’ve never fit in and was ostracized for being different. On some level, part of the problem is that I expect everyone to act in the same manner. But, even after years of actually receiving compliments from time to time and having people believe in me, really fucking believe in me, and try to build me up, things remain the same.
It’s not that I don’t know how to fix it. It’s something I work on. I’ve had a million conversations about it with a close friend who has the same issues and we constantly work on being open and honest with one another and share how we both see each other and the reality of our respective situations. We’re a voice of reason for each other. But, we both still find that no matter how reasonable we tell ourselves we should be, that little voice creeps back in when we let our guard down and the doubts submerge every last reasonable corner of our minds. The dam ruptures and floods everything in its path that might have been a rational thought with obsessive insecurity . Are we able to stop the torrential downpour of darkness? Sometimes. Sometimes we help each other through it. But, most of the time, it’s a futile effort…. because that voice keeps on going no matter what finding one tiny crack and splitting the dam wide open once again. I know that I need to find a way to stop the poison from spreading as soon as it starts one way or another or the doubt takes over and it becomes harder once again to stop it the next time. I feel like for every 2 steps forward I’ve taken this year I take at least 1 back. Progress, when it’s made, has been abysmally slow and painful.
I refuse to give up, though. No matter how hard it has been, no matter how painful, I can’t just roll over on this and let that voice win. Determined rock-climbing-queen or not, I will take her the fuck out even if it means a sucker punch to the box. Fighting dirty sometimes has its benefits. The progress may be slow, but it’s still progress, and it may seem like I’m trying hard to convince myself here that I can do it, and that’s true. That’s what this entire blog is about…me forcing myself to be frank and vulnerable and all too real because I can’t pretend like it’s a nonissue if I’ve been open about how big of an issue it really still is in public for anyone to see.
One day I’m going to be looking through old posts, and when I get to this one, I’m going to celebrate how I knocked Negative Nancy right down to the bottom of the well with a well-placed punch to the throat and sealed that fucker shut for good.
(and, dear friend, I hope you're able to celebrate with me, too)
Of course, since it's Sunday, this is another Sunday Confession with More Than Cheese and Beer. I hope you'll check out her page to see the other submissions for this week's prompt "Able" and look at her facebook page for anonymous submissions.