Thursday, 10 March 2011

Fear and Self-Loathing in the West Country

Deviating slightly away from the healthy thing on this post.

I have spent most of this morning (and in fact most of the last couple of days) feeling pretty down and miserable.  I haven't been feeling the best about myself the last couple of weeks, as I haven't really bounced back from getting dumped a couple of weeks ago.  I guess I've been sulking a bit.  Then something happened this weekend, which made me realise that there's another relationship in my life that's pretty toxic too, and was making me feel rubbish.

Those two things on top of each other, have well and truly pummelled my self-esteem into the ground.  I took the brave step (after a short delay) of ending that second relationship myself to save myself some longer term pain and I'm glad I did because I've known for a while I needed to but couldn't find the willpower to do it.

What both of those events have made me realise is this though:  other people don't care for me enough to either put me first.  Ok, painful.  But that eventually led me to another realisation:  I don't care for me enough to make other people feel the same.

I just don't like myself.  There's bits I don't mind, I'll grant you, but there's far more I dislike.

I know from my councelling last summer, that part of this boils down to the double standards I apply to myself and the world - the ones for me are far, far stricter.  I thought I'd started to move past that, but I guess I've backslid some.  The other part though, is pure and simple that there are aspects of myself and my life that I. Just. Don't.  Like.

So, what do you do when you feel like that?

Option A is sit and wallow.  Feel miserable, and pity myself.  Whine to my friends (my dear ever-patient friends), and drive them away.  Have people respect me even less.

You know?  While that might be tempting, it doesn't sound like it'll be fun for more than about 5 minutes.  And whatever else I am, I'm generally a fighter.

So that leaves Option B.  Option B is to figure out how to like myself a bit more.  Not an easy task to be sure, but I'm convinced that doing something will feel better than doing nothing.

It turns out that the internet is a wealth of information on this type of stuff.  A quick google reveals pages of articles and blogs and general scribblings on the subject of liking yourself and building self-esteem.

There seem to be lots of ways to approach it, but generally they seem to fall into 3 categories:
  1. Focus on what you do like about yourself.  Make a list, write it down, appreciate the good stuff, and stop worrying about the rest.  Sounds a bit like denial to me.
  2. Focus on what you don't like (yeah, I'm good at that), but do something about it.  Make a list, write it down, but turn into a To Do list and work at improving those things.  Hmmmm, confrontational and scary.
  3. Scare yourself.  Apparently self-esteem is very closely linked to self-respect, so the act of doing something scary and conquering it bolsters your self-respect, and by default your self-esteem.  Ummmm - I'm not sure I like scary things.
But clearly I need to do something because sitting here miserable sucks.  And in a couple of months, Hannah's going off travelling for the summer and then I'm going to be even more alone, and it's a truth universally acknoweldged that sitting around miserable and alone totally sucks.

That's kind of as far as I've got with the thought processes so far .... a committment to trying to something, even if I'm not quite sure where to start yet.


Seren said...

Hmmmm. I can relate to some of this - I find some parts of myself intensely irritating. And just being aware of that fact makes it even more irritating.

I am fascinated by the idea of doing something scary to bolster your own self respect. Although what then happens if you don't go through with whatever it is?? Potential disaster!!

I honestly think though, having ready your blog for a while, that you are an incredibly brave individual - and this post just confirms that. It is a brave person who admits to the world that they don't like parts of themselves and an even braver person who sets about trying to change those things. Good for you.


claire said...

You poor thing. I think this is unfortunately increasingly the way that lots of ladies feel. Something about modern life just makes us hate ourselves. The images we're pummelled with, the standards we are urged to hold ourselves to... it's all too much... I can recommend a great blog - called Eat the Damn Cake - deals with just these issues and is utterly fantastic.

Linz M said...

I agree with Seren, it's a very brave thing to admit that you don't like parts of yourself. Good on you for trying to work on the things you want to change.

I think getting rid of that toxic relationship is a good start.

If it's any consolation, you come across as fairly awesome through your blog :) xx

Badger said...

Yes it def sounds like your self-esteem needs a boost and I too am intrigued by doing something scary thing.

I think the thing that works for me is to set mini goals and small things to look forward to. i.e. visiting such and such at the end of the month, visiting somewhere new next month, doing a walk you've always wanted to do etc.

You always come across as someone who I'd get on with and like to be friends with if we lived in the same country :)

Hetty said...

Want to give you a hug after reading that and I don't even know you! I can definitely relate to a lot of what you say.

I've been trying to come up with a challenge that pushes me both physically (so it gives my training an extra focus) and emotionally. Something like a mountain bike marathon or tour that combines scary terrain with hard work (I also don't like crowds so that would challenge me too!). At least getting out on the bike to train doesn't cost anything and the events are pretty cheap to enter too. Maybe you could find a similar challenge (or come and join me!).

Peridot said...

I must say that you seem very likeable to me, reading your blog. I think we're very much harder on ourselves than we are on our friends. One thing that works (kind of) for me is if I am feeling particularly self-loathing and saying horrible things about myself (in my head - not reached levels of madness where I berate myself on, say, the tube) I think what I'd say to a friend who was feeling that way. It's never what I say to myself. So I try and change that internal dialogue to 'being my own friend' - well aware how w@nky that sounds but actually it is helpful.


Paul (Fat 4 Now) said...

Very brave post