Monday, July 17, 2006

Self Hate

Some girls can wax on all day about their vibrators, pedicures, and other luxuriant forms of self love.

Not me. Not today. I'm being punished.

I’m watching Hell’s Kitchen, rubbing green goo onto my legs because I was foolish, like I am every summer under a cloudless sky. I take care of parts, and not others. Sometimes my mind, others my body. Most of the time not entirely either. I didn’t pay attention to what was good for me as a whole, I was lazy, and I didn’t take care enough. The mental beating follows the physical burn.

Why can’t I just get it straight?

I have been accused of being too introspective, of trying too hard, of coming off as pretentious, too loud at parties. Not smart enough, as a fraud awaiting exposure, of being silly, and a worrywart. Bad with money, avaricious, slothful, bossy.

These accusations don’t come from my enemies (that makes me pause--who might they be? The blonde girl whose boyfriend I stole for a day in junior high? The boss at my first job who said I reminded her of herself and, reflexively, I grimaced?).

So where do those words, those nasty, slinging insults come from? Me. They come from me.

I say things about myself that are so horrible, so blown out of proportion and context, that if someone heard my inner monologue, I am certain they would immediately chastise me for being so cruel.

But nobody hears them, except my own beaten esteem, and that bruised wimp won’t stand up for herself, because taking a stand is too hard. The other option is easy and indulgent.

Why is it so tempting to participate in self-flagellation? Why is it so incredibly common to beat ourselves up in a way that we would never tolerate from our families, significant others, our friends?

I am not saying that my thoughts have not been correct at times, because they certainly have. But to have that define who I am seems so counterintuitive. Plenty of critics in the world are at the ready, must I really be one of them? At times I feel I own my world, others cause me to realize that if nothing else, I am undeserving of not only my current life, but all aspirations.

Positivity is so scarce, maybe not because it’s ridiculous and cheesy and overdone, but because it’s precious and important. It doesn’t grow on trees; it hides under rocks like moss, and needs to be sought out to be found.

I already have a mother, a boss, a disciplinarian. I’ve got plenty of naysayers, and if I go where I want to, God willing, I’ll have nothing but more…

That gives me a strange goal then. Trade the self-doubt for negative reviews from someone else. The notion of multiple people talking about my merit, discussing my worthiness and my worth is pretty exciting. Bad light is still theoretically light.

A forum of strangers publicly commenting on why I’m no good. That’s my best case of a worst case scenario. As inspiration, it’s nothing short of bizarre.

Maybe that’s why it seems so right for me. I'll conquer second thoughts by forcing my criticisms to fall from someone else's lips. It might mean more that way, so I'll grow. Or it might mean less, so I'll prosper. Either way it will lift my self hate, which leave more room for that self love everyone keeps talking about.

13 comments:

taza said...

oh i can relate. i read the best story about leo buscaglia and how he'd hug himself when he f***ed up, and say things like, oh leo, you are so cute when you lose your car keys and get so upset.

he'd actually hug himself. i have adopted this behavior whenever i hear my inner voice giving me the business.

at first it felt totally goofy, but it gets easier, and is certainly a lot more fun!

be kind to all, including Self, as life is short.

Maya said...

It's funny; those are near-precisely all of the same ways I criticize myself too. Sometimes it is hard to really feel like you're that lucid about how accurate your own self-portrayal is. Whatta sentence. :)

Cheetarah1980 said...

It's when the criticism comes from an outside source that we realize just how great we freakin are! I can't offer you the criticism you crave, but I can offer some positive reinforcement. You're an awesome writer and an amazing shopper. What more could you want out of life?

mamak said...

We are always our own worst critic. If someone else criticizes you, they are either jealous or bitter (or both). Ditch the self-hate it just weighs you down. And yes, it is really easy for me to say it - not so easy to do it myself ...

Buffy said...

Class is how you deal with criticism. It's hard. It's awful. You want to snap back like a rubber band and knock its lights out. But in the end, it's how well you take it, that sets you apart.

Serena said...

We definitely have to be our own champions sometimes.

Melissa said...

Just keep in mind that there are people who envy you and want to be more like you. It's easy to beat yourself (I do it all the time), but think about the things you DO have and the achievements you HAVE accomplished and you'll realize that you're not as bad as you try to make yourself believe you are.

Another twentysomething said...

Maybe it's that if you say these things to yourself, you're effectively beating someone to the punch, making the blow easier. But K, the likelihood such personally attacking words would come from someone else's mouth are slim. You will be critiqued for your work, true. But I offer you a sort of verbal e-hug because you are better than you chastise yourself for. We can, and should, all be criticized for our work because that improves it. But you should not criticize yourself because it will not improve you. Writing your honest thoughts will. ;) Have a drink, and give yourself a hug for me. I'll be thinking bout you. (in a non-creepy way) Feel free to email me, cuz Im a writer too and have been there.

Lynn said...

Ah... yes... the inner monologue/dialogue. We are so hard on ourselves. It's something I try to fix daily.

ps said...

oh, baby. embrace yourself.

br said...

"I am certain they would immediate chastise me for being so cruel."

Anonymous said...

Wow BR, way to add to the discussion and point out a typo.

K said...

Everyone, thanks so much for your positive words. I love how supportive you all are--I wish you guys were in my writing class, I could really use the power of positivity there!

And br--diligent reader, thanks for pointing out my typo--I'm often in desperate need of a copywriter. Guess that's why I'm only 'almost' literary :)