Excruciating Discord

16 11 2010

Strange thing the sort of feedback people give me about myself. It’s like they’re talking about someone else. I always have a hard time accepting it. I figure they’re complimenting or being nice. It’s difficult for me to hear these things because I feel the need to rationalize, explain and even convince people that I am not whatever positive things they’re saying I am.

Lately, though, I’ve received a couple of signals that tell me clearly that it’s not compliments. It’s not remotely related or intended to be so. It’s remarks made on the side: someone is surprised at an impression I l left, another is caught by something I said. I begin to wonder: why is it so hard for me to accept that I might be that person who leaves strong impressions? Could my reality be skewed? Could my perception be off? I know it’s all about perception. Could I be two people: the person people see me and the person I see myself? But how could they be so different?

Others see depth, interesting “magnetic” personality, “amazing qualities.” Where do they see this? I know I don’t pretend in front of others; I may put on protective “masks,” but that’s a whole different thing and wouldn’t result in these comments. I may just try to be nice. Mostly I am just quiet; I am trying to hide my ugly monster, knowing that every time I open my mouth to talk, I risk the chance of it rearing its ugly head for others to see. Are these just superficial aspects that others catch for a fleeting moment?

I only see ugliness, wrongness, lacking, incompleteness, flaws, weakness, ignorance. I work very hard to cover, hide, protect. Because I don’t trust what’s within, I abide by strict rules of right and wrong. I am cold. I don’t leave room for anything for lack of being wrong. It’s not safe to leave room. I am tense beyond any words. I am always on edge, alert. No one must see. Only they do see the strangest most unexplainable things, things that don’t fit in my scheme of things.

Could it be that what other people see are glimpses of the real me that I have killed? Could it be the me that’s screaming to come out? Why is there such a gap between what others see and what I see in me? Am I completely off? Have I internalized the cruel voices of my mother (you can’t), father (you will most certainly fail), and culture (you’re helpless) to the point where I killed my essence?

Lately I have been resentful towards certain family members for not being “kind” in certain ways which has resulted in endless injuries to me. I blame them for a lot of the problems I face today, the way I am. I am trying to overcome my anger towards them. If they had been kinder to me, I would have been more confident, I would have felt enough. But what if? What if I am taking on the same role they played years ago and being just as unkind towards myself? Who am I to blame now? Could it be that I am whipping myself so hard every day that I can’t even see anything good in me? Could I be the reason that I have to wait for an outsider to point out a strength in me out of the blue, and even then, I don’t believe them? Could it be because I am perpetuating the damage others have started, walking in the same tracks? I am the one who’s unable to be kind to me. I can’t find it in me to forgive myself for my mistakes. I can’t find it in me to say, “It’s okay that you’re not perfect. You’re good enough.” So the whipping goes on. Occasionally, someone says something nice, throws me off completely and then I go back.

Only there’s a discrepancy. Something is not right. There’s a friction. Two forces are going against each other. Why am I in so much pain? I am in constant agony, discomfort. I feel trapped, an overwhelming need to get out, to be freed. Freed of what? Where’s the discord?

It’s between who I am on the inside: fragile, vulnerable, human, weak, imperfect and who I am on the outside: monstrous, unforgiving, slave-driver.

It’s between the way I live and the way I would like to live.

It’s between the way I think and the way I would like to think.

It’s between the work I do and the work I would like to do.

Nothing is where or how it should be. I need to find harmony.

My therapist repeatedly says, “Loosen the screws. You’re too tough on yourself.” But I don’t know how to do that. It’s not like I am consciously being tough; it’s just the way my auto-pilot self is programmed. I am an all-or-nothing judgmental perfectionistic bitch on the outside. On the inside I am as fragile a child as can be, constantly in need of reassurance. How can I reconcile these two beings? Where do I start?

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