Friday, September 19, 2008

Shrink, episode 1.3

New theory: I have a tape recorder in the back of my head playing my personal mix tape of Greatest Hits of Verbal Self Abuse. I think I constructed this system in high school when I started running 3 miles, 3 nights a week to lose weight to date girls. It motivated the hell out of me. I beat myself mercilessly with a wide array of creative self loathing. By any objective measure, my physical transformation was a great success. Unfortunately I never felt good about any gains I made because I was too busy hating the way I looked, and by extension hating myself, no matter what.

Over the last 18 years I don't think I've consciously recognized that the tape recorder is still back there. Still looping. Now I'm practicing recognizing it. And hitting the off button.

Maybe I can make a new tape. It will have some positive things to say about me. :)


BrotherBemused said...

Something has happened to my previous comments (vanished into Internet ether, I guess) so I hope this will get posted. I just wanted to say that I wish we'd had a better idea of what you were going through back then; I really had no idea your self regard was so low, and I feel bad that you went through that stuff by yourself. I'm so glad that now you're finding someone to talk this through, and provide some help in re-writing the old tapes. You've got a LOT going for you!

Jay said...

Oh? There are still lots of comments on various posts. Which ones disappeared?

I don't see it as something I was "going through by myself." I think I constructed it gradually over time and got used to it along the way, so it became my normal. I don't know to what extent changing the pattern will truly change my life, if at all. But over the last week at least it does seem that I can connect to my emotions with a lot less negative baggage gumming up the works. I don't think I ever had a conscious handle on where that wet blanket was coming from before. The low hum of self chastisement has probably reinforced my tendency toward emotional detachment and avoidance over the years.

BrotherBemused said...

Ah, yes, "the low hum of self chastisement"...I know that tune well. (So do most folks, methinks--particularly the ones who disguise it best.) Through the years I'm gradually learning to extend to myself a measure of the same grace I extend to others, i.e. it's OK to be a member of the human race, with our blended tapestry of shadow and light, strenths and weaknesses, etc.

Jay said...

The mind is an amazing thing. It has been an interesting month. :)