Lately I’ve been introspective, reframing some thoughts I have about my self-proclaimed faults. I have long worked to balanced the good and bad of all things – to find the positive aspects of a troublesome trait or situation and vice versa. So I sometimes try to find the good facets of my faults (although admittedly not always).
One thing that has always been glaringly obvious to me is my need to please everyone around me to the extent that I sometimes sacrifice myself or my needs just to not make people even slightly annoyed with me. They teach you all through school not to give in to peer pressure and this sometimes manifests in that way so I feel like I should have learned this lesson a long time ago. And yet, I still struggle. Sometimes this means I’m really insecure about my tastes in music (which… why music? I’m not insecure in my tastes in books or television or fashion. huh). But, if I am being totally honest, sometimes this means that I listen with two widely open ears to the thoughts and feelings of other people. And so my openness, my need to please people, has actually made me more empathetic and careful and thoughtful.
Of course, just for fun, mix that in with my social anxiety and I become a tightly wind ball of awkward afraid to say any words in any order in the fear that I might inadvertently hurt someone. Thank god I’m cute.
My son is a good reader, but he does not (yet?) enjoy it very much. Once he told me it’s because he can’t see the pictures in his head. I know he’s got a mind that is very different from me. He’s a born engineer, and I suspect he’s got ADHD. So what if his brain is wired in a way that makes reading less enjoyable to him than watching a movie? I feel so strongly that books are important (and they ARE), but I wonder if maybe it’s okay to not like reading sometimes. Maybe it’s okay to have a differently wired brain, one that doesn’t like reading as much as some. It doesn’t make him any less smart, and it sure as hell doesn’t make him any less valuable.
So I started thinking about my faults – about this desperate need to please people – and about how those things mean both good and bad things for me. And I started to wonder if maybe it’s okay to just BE who I am. Maybe needing to please people isn’t something I need to fix about me. Maybe it’s just a part of me that gives me a gift in exchange for being challenged in other ways.
This week I went to a therapy appointment (because I do that now) and talked about my issues with self-hate. Because confession: Even after all the work I’ve done in myself and in the world, I still have this little ball of self-hatred underneath all the self-love and all the goodness that just won’t.go.away. I’ve tried everything. But that hard little core of loathing is just there. So I asked my therapist why and how I can make that stop and she said, “Maybe you don’t. Maybe you just learn to live with it.” And that was really not what I was expecting. But she has recently been doing work with balancing the light and the darkness of the psyche (my words, not hers) and I think she has a point. And I think this is all related to my recent musings. Maybe my little bit of self-hate is just a part of who I am. Of how I am wired (for some reason – maybe genetic, maybe a result of past abuses). Maybe if I just let her be, and accept that she’s always going to be there, maybe she won’t have as much power over me.
And honestly, it’s only been two days, but I feel like I might be on to something.
So here’s my radical experiment: Love my self-hate. Accept and acknowledge that little ball of self-hate. Talk about her when needed, casually, even. Don’t try to erase her, don’t try to hide her, don’t try to fight her. Just love her. Loving my self-hate. When Jesus said to love our enemies, maybe he also meant ourselves.