Fear and Self-Loathing

Disfiguring of Ralph Steadman's cover art for
WIth apologies to Ralph Steadman and Hunter S. Thompson

Despite my progress, I often feel I am one stumble away from tumbling into a deep chasm of self-loathing and shame.

At times, my road narrows to a small path along the edge of a mountain, one side bordered by the stone face of the cliff, no shoulder on the other side, just a vertigo-inducing drop. It is unsettling how little it takes to trigger anxiety that I’m no further from the edge of the abyss than when I was trapped within my head, a solitary confinement of the worst kind.

When I was in despair, I did everything possible to validate my hopelessness. I’d list my failures. I’d remind myself how I failed my family, my friends, myself. I had no capacity to ask forgiveness, or forgive myself.

I’m no longer in despair, though the vivid memory still scares me and motivates me. Maybe that’s the motivation for my work. I will do whatever it takes to avoid the abyss.

I understand rewiring my perspective doesn’t occur instantly. Changing lifetime habits require time and effort. I know there are no quick fixes. Suggesting otherwise reminds me of a line from The Princess Bride, one of my family’s favorite movies.

Princess Buttercup says, “You mock my pain.”

Wesley replies, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

As part of my rewiring, I strive to be more aware of, and to acknowledge my progress. I’ve come to realize moving forward can be as subtle as not feeling like I’m a fraud as frequently as I once did.

Another sign is how I now respond when I doubt my progress. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed, I recognize and acknowledge my fears and self-doubt. While I pay attention to the feelings, I don’t let them control me.

I’m not saying I don’t have moments of despair. I do.

I’ve written about habits I’m trying to incorporate into my life, like meditation. Like 10,000 steps a day. Replacing judgement with kindness. They’re all ways in which I’m committed to avoiding the abyss, to reaching and maintaining a state of mindfulness.

I am a work in progress. Baby steps are steps, nonetheless. I have to remind myself to savor those moments when I could have easily slipped into a spiral of shame, comforting myself through a combination of food, alcohol and pot.

Will a day come when my road no longer seems as perilous as it feels today? I’m not sure. My work toward mindfulness doesn’t include creating expectations. I’m striving to stay focused on this moment.

In this moment, through the act of describing my feelings, I feel that much safer in my journey than before I sat down to write this.

Thanks for listening.

Stay in touch. Connect.

PS I couldn’t decide on which Princess Bride clip to feature so I chose a montage of Wallace Shawn.

6 thoughts on “Fear and Self-Loathing

    1. So, I just read Sheb’s Wikipedia entry. Sheb in better known as a character actor. In his wikipedia, it’s written, “He was a regular on Hee Haw as the drunken country songwriter Ben Colder.”

      He is also credited for created the sound effect, the “Wilhem Scream.” To quote the Wikipedia a second time, “Wooley is credited as the voice actor for the Wilhelm scream This particular scream recording has been used by sound effects teams in over 300 films.”

      He might be my new spirit animal.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was hoping you would like ole Sheb. Hee Haw was a regular Sunday occurrence when I was a kid, that and Mutual of Omaha . I remember summer days poolside listening to an old AM station – WTKO. They played all the greats. Of course as a kid I thought that was old fogey stuff. We used to dread it, and would play games to see who could stay underwater until the worst song was over: probably ole Sheb. You’ve missed your night for moon howling. Gotta wait ’til next month now. Unless you have some good pot and a moon roof, then it’s allowable when the car’s doing at least 80.

        Liked by 1 person

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