Friday, 3 April 2015


I find it really hard to forgive myself for mistakes. I make plenty of them, so you'd think I'd have enough experience, but I'm still just as bad at it today as when I started beating myself up about my screw-ups, which was many years ago. "Progress" is managing not to call myself names while I am figuratively punching myself in the guts in the aftermath. That progress is often short-lived. I even get into some meta-self-flagellation about my self-flagellation, this post being a soft example of that.

I think part of it stems from (or is at least related to) my long-standing behaviour of trying to elicit pity as an attention-getting strategy. I would cry at school, I'd tell people how my mother died when I was young, I'd loudly and publicly lament that I'd never had a girlfriend, I'd avoid bringing up people's mistakes about my name or about overlooking me in order to spring it on them much later to maximise their shame and the pity they'd feel for me.

It's pretty pathological behaviour, when you look at it like this. The point, in context, is that seeking pity is now a long-ingrained reflex for me, and tearing myself down is just one step in that process. I need to be low to get pity, and if I'm not low enough, I'll make myself lower.

This does not mesh well with forgiveness, or the problem-solving mindset I have to use for my work. Often there's no solution and nothing to do but accept the loss and move on, trying to do better next time. I never feel like I can just move on without trying to figure out how it all went wrong this time. This leads me to focus obsessively on my mistakes and the costs associated with them, which can be exhausting.

Take a recent example: I had a function to attend after work, and this would have been most easily managed by driving to work that day so I could drive there and drive home at night when it was finished, instead of taking the train as I normally do. I didn't plan my transport and didn't discuss it with my wife until I had already taken the train to work that day. We only have the one car, so if I drive to work, she needs to know that. I could have discussed it in advance, the night before. I could even have tried discussing it that morning, though that wouldn't have been so easy. I leave early, and let's say not everyone in the house is alert in the mornings.

Still, there are a lot of ways I could have done better, and I was well aware of these in advance. I didn't do them or even make an attempt, resulting in some tense exchanges of texts that made me feel like an irresponsible child. That's a recurring feeling here: that of an irresponsible child. It readily feeds into a number of other anxieties and personality issues, too, such as not being good enough to be a father, not being worthy of being a husband, remembering all the poor organisation and problems I have caused at home and so on. It's what makes me feel, most often, that I am not a Real Man, whatever that means. Real Men, says the voice in my head, communicate properly with their wives so they don't have to ask for a lift home at night. Real Men are confident, in control and show a basic life competence far beyond yours, obviously. Self-flagellation. And, in the end, it turned out not even to be a big deal.

Wanting to break out of this cycle is not enough. Knowing how, clearly, is not enough. Suspecting that I might have mild anxiety or depression is not enough, because you can hardly go to the doctor and say "Doc, sometimes I feel like an irresponsible child and that makes me feel bad, is there something wrong with my brain?" I need therapy. I need to do better. I need ... I don't know what else I need. I feel like forgiveness is just enabling my problems, most of the time. It's not that I don't feel I deserve forgiveness, because true forgiveness isn't deserved or earned. What I feel is that I shouldn't get forgiveness because it wouldn't help fix me.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm sorry if this is too long and heavy.
PPS - It bothered me, though.

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