Friday, August 31, 2007

Self doubt, self criticism

"The self-criticism of a tired mind is suicide." - Charles Horton Cooley

It's a tired old tape that runs over and over again. It calls you by all kinds of names - moron, idiot, failure, dufus, retard, stupid, loser, freak, freakazoid, ignoramus, blockhead, dimwit, ninny, dork... the list goes on. It doesn't shut up, not even when I yell at it. It's a raging war in my head, and both sides relentlessly battle on and on. No sleep, no rest, not even to lay down its bloodied heads. In dreams it attacks so that by dawn, my pillow is wet with tears.

Late at night, as I lay in bed, I think of my running and my running route. I think of the fluid movements of my body, feel the push and pull of air through my lungs, in sync with the rhythm of the crunching gravel beneath my feet. I think of that brief moment when neither foot touches the ground, as if I am lifting off in flight, and I long to take off higher than the trees, higher than the clouds, perhaps to a place where the heartache can no longer touch me. And yet those dreams still haunt me, those names follow me and like a spreading stain it etches itself indelibly on my soul.

Self hate creates such rot. It erodes memories and dreams and hopes. It gnaws away the will power to remain alive. It takes away such basic instincts to survive, to thrive. Until there is nothing left but the black charcoal of death, or the promise of death. It becomes so sweetly twisted. So dark, so dank. When you reach a point where darkness is comfort. Draws you to its final closure.

V wants me to list all the self criticisms in my head, draw upon all the self doubt that has ever crossed my mind. How can I? As I sat in session last week, mute, nothing could come to mind. I kept drawing a blank because the door was shut, and I sat there afraid that opening it would allow the torrent to pour through and wipe me out, drown me in that fathomless sea of shame and sorrow.

How do I explain a lifetime of self abuse in 60 minutes or less? Nothing I could say would make it any less lame. Even the names I call myself are lame. And those thoughts, and those taunts, they are all so deeply private, so impossibly seductive. So secret, perhaps. The only relationship I have is so rotten to the core, so self destructive, so poisonous. And only later would I realise it's my own voice, my own heart, reflecting my own soul. And there is no one else to blame, but me.


Ms Peculiar said...

My dear it takes two to tango- in a relationship it takes two to make it work.
You are valuable, you are smart, you are a good person. So you have a chemical imbalance; if someone cannot deal with that then there i always someone out there that wil love you just the way that you are,

Suzanne said...

It's not you. Somebody gave you the message that it's OK to call yourself a dork and nobody said "Polar, you're not a dork, why are you saying these things?"

It's not you!

Aqua said...

Polar Bear,
There is something else to blame...your illness. These self-critical ruminations are symptoms of your illness...they are not your fault. I have the same symptom especially if I perceive I have made a mistake. I wish us both peace in the near future. Thinking of you.

Okgenuine said...

That was excellent writing and I hope you get more of your feelings out.

Anonymous said...

This sounds so much like the endless "Greatest Disappointments" loop in my own head ...

I used to pretend the voice beating me down belonged to evil people from my memories. It may have been them at first, but now I finally understand that since about age 14, the malevolent voices in my head are all my own. No one else to blame, no one else to seek revenge from, no one to run away from. The realization makes me turn the anger inward, against myself. I have done this to myself for so long that I don't know how to stop, and I'm afraid it will eventually kill me.

The only time the voices go away is when I am out exploring in nature or traveling somewhere new ... mountains, forest, city, even a new road to drive. If I can feel like I've stepped out of my current life into a different-but-parallel life, I'm a much more sane person ... thus the constant urge to run away from everything I have.

My therapist started down the same road, "release your anger", "identify the negative self-talk", etc. The problem is that when I try to "label" it or disprove it, I immediately believe it again and make myself hurt worse. That's what prompted my hospital stay last year.

I guess the point is, you are not alone in feeling this way. I wish I had an answer to help us both. I don't know what to do either, except wake up tomorrow and try again. I hope you and I never give up on the next day.

Marie said...

I can totally relate here. I have had negative thought patterns and self criticism for as long as I can remember. These patterns have hndered me from living the life I truly deserve.

It is time to change the tapes and focus on the positive. I know for people with mental illness it is a very hard thing to achieve. Go to the poetry blog and read my poem "Voices".

KansasSunflower said...

What a powerful post!

All of the secretive things that, probably, so many of us do to ourselves, you just wrote.

I think it's so good you're going to a therapist, and think you should try - just try - to open a small window into your thoughts. Your therapist won't gasp, won't recoil, won't be shocked. I promise.

It's hard when we have a chemical imbalance to go with whatever crap we dealt with growing up, and then what may have occurred as adults,'re making huge steps here.

You had the courage to write about it....maybe print it out and take it to a therapy session? It was very well written.

*big hugs Polar* You're such an empathetic, sweet person - I wish you could see yourself the same way.