I spent my entire life telling myself I was a good, caring, selfless person. But I’m also self-centred, selfish, overreactive and sometimes I do bad things. I’m struggling to find the balance. In my mind I can only be all good or all bad. At this point I don’t know who or what I am.
I read somewhere that most psychiatrists don’t like using the term “self hatred” and prefer to descrive a person as having low self esteem. I agree that I have low self esteem, but when things are particularly bad, self hatred is much harsher sounding, which I think fits.
My self hatred chips away at different aspects of my life. Usually my relationship is first to get hit, since that is a weak point for me to begin with. I’m afraid I will be abandoned. If I hate myself so deeply, how can I ever expect anyone else to love me? And so, usually without me even realizing it, I push and push until they get frustrated with me. This is often achieved by angry outbursts, oversensitivity, accusations based on nothing but my irrational fears, and splitting.
Right now the self hatred is so bad, I hate myself for even writing this. I’m stigmatizing my own situation, even though I would never think to do that to someone else. I can’t bear to write any more.
I easily fall into the trap of splitting, which is just another way to describe black-and-white thinking or all-or-nothing thinking. I’m very aware of this habit and I try very hard to keep myself walking along the grey zone.
You know how we easily adapt to slow change? For example, during childhood, you don’t really notice how much you’re growing until you see a family member months later and they start gushing about how tall you’ve become. And then you sort of think about it and go, ‘yeah, I guess I never really noticed’.
Or when you’re staring at a clock, time seems to pass so slowly. But if you occupy yourself, it will seem like time has zoomed by. So it’s almost like if pay too much attention to something, we don’t really notice the change.
Like I was saying before, my biggest struggle is with my black-and-white thinking. Even when I think I’m not splitting, I probably am. I focus so hard on walking the middle path and staying in the grey zone that I just stare and stare and stare at it as I walk along. I will slowly start straying off the straight path and start veering off. The shade changes ever so slightly so that I don’t notice until I find myself in a sheer panic, looking up to find I’ve wandered into either a white or black zone.
Here’s the thing. There are many instances where there are very clear opposites: up or down, black or white, open or closed. It’s easy to identify the middle ground or the grey zone. But life, emotions, recovery… everything is so much more complicated than that.
Our lives are not two-dimensional. Yes, we can be in the grey zone in terms of “up or down”, but what if we’re shifting on the “left to right” scale? Just because I’m making sure I’m living in the grey zone in one area does not mean I can neglect other areas.
That’s a very black-and-white way of trying to avoid black-and-white thinking.