Every time I have tried to write about this I get too afraid and I quit before I even begin. I think it's because I feel that I haven't "arrived" at a "good place" regarding self-hatred, but I've decided I'm never really going to ever "arrive," so I may as well just write about it. Warning: This may get dark.
Since a young age I've always had a deep-seated fear of not being good enough. Okay--before you protest with April, don't be so hard on yourself; what are you talking about; you're so good at _____, etc. let me explain. I'm not fishing for compliments by being self-deprecating. I know that my fear of inadequacy is dramatic, and I know that it's irrational. Knowing it's irrational doesn't make it any less real or powerful.
The way I've coped with this nagging fear that deep-down I'm a useless deadbeat is by trying to be perfect, by pushing myself. So I try to excel and most of all, try to be competent. Capable. This is unrestricted and applies to all domains of life: academically, professionally, physically(!), relationally and spiritually. No matter how "good" I am at any certain area, I can always be better. It's exhausting to demand so much of myself and all it does is feed my need to be "adequate," whatever that means.
A couple of weeks ago I came face-to-face with my self-hatred and it was terrifying. I had a moment of realization that the Charles Bingley/Jane Bennet relationship I'd mentioned in an earlier post--yah, that whole thing was more just a one-sided unrequited interest on my part. FOOM--what little self-confidence I had imploded completely. HE DOESN'T LIKE ME! my inner voice wailed, as I spiraled down into the depths of the it's confirmed--I'm no good inaccuracy-chasm. Frankly, I was heartbroken, and beating myself up even more for even liking a guy in the first place (setting myself up to get hurt). It was just an awful week. It was like all of the dormant negative self-talk within decided to ignite and I'm, like, surprised I wasn't consumed by the fire? (God, am I writing horribly on purpose? Whatever. That's more negative self-talk right there.)
But my mini-crisis had less to do with this boy than it did with my own toxic thinking. I think cuz I'm so afraid of not being good enough, I have this sick, slanted view where I try and confirm that fear. Like, when I get rejected (romantically or otherwise) I think to myself, "Oh, yah, I guess I should have seen that coming. Not. good. enough." Things that would appeal to my vanity (like getting offered the permanent position at work or being complimented on the way I look), I try and downplay, like excelling in whatever is just to be expected, like NBD, why all this hoopla; I didn't even do that much to deserve it?
Wow, it's cathartic to write down all these dysfunctional thought patterns. I mean, I recognize them as they're happening, but it's just such a habit to be down on myself and accusing myself that it's a huge effort to fight against it.
Last week was extremely alarming because the way I decided to cope with not being liked back by this guy, or whatever, was to be all anorexic. What the heck? I was hating myself so much, I was just like exercising as penance for being such an unlikeable person and ate, like, a bite of my lunch and threw the rest away. Like, my brain was so twisted and messed up that it actually made me want to gag when I put food in my mouth. As a friend aptly put it, You don't deserve that (the food you're about to eat). I was internalizing the stress by punishing myself. Ah, what the heck, brain, why are you so sick???
Thankfully, after some prayer and good conversations with close friends and family, I've mellowed-out quite a bit. I'm eating three full meals a day, and not feeling horrible about myself. It was an eye-opening, albeit hollowing (and "hallowing," I suppose?) experience to realize how much I hate myself. I know, it sounds super bizarre, but I'm all for self-reflection and self-awareness, so this was fascinating in a masochistic way.
It would take a whole nother post to unpack how self-hatred interacts with Christianity. Maybe I'll get to that someday. Or maybe I'll just watch TV with Rachel and eat chocolate and do my nails. You know how it goes.