There are those who devote far too much time reflecting on their weaknesses and shortcomings, examining each through a magnifying glass as though they were so many insects-on-pins in a display case. They are their own judge and jury. Alas, I tend to be one of them. And while, way down deep, I know I am not being fair to myself, and that I’m not really all that bad, it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve always measured myself against others and inevitably come up short. But I am saved from too much "woe is me" anguish by the realization that I'm the one doing the measuring. And I’m talking about it here because, once again, I think I am not totally alone in being far harder on myself than reality dictates, and that in my self-imposed negativism, you might catch just a glimmer of yourself.
Though I cannot be absolutely sure from whence my lifelong, deep-rooted sense of inferiority and unworthiness come from, other than my tendency toward melodrama, I think I have put something of a handle on it.
It most certainly was not the result of my parents’ actions. They loved me unconditionally and never criticized me any more than I’m sure any parent criticizes a child. But I have always lived in a world of dreams, and dreams can never live up to reality. I don’t think I ever fully was able to separate fairy tales and Santa Clause and all the wondrous things that I found in books from real life. I expected myself to have all the sterling qualities, all the marvelous talents and abilities that the heroes in books and movies had.
I was, I felt—and again, it was only I who felt it—a great disappointment to my father because of my total inability to grasp the concept of organized sports, which he loved. The fact that I was also what I’ve always unkindly referred to as a “motor moron”—totally lacking in the hand-eye coordination which leads to physical grace—created a very real sense of self-loathing, echoes of which remain with me to this day.
I looked around me and saw how easily other people seemed to be able to interrelate, how effortlessly they understood what was expected of them by life and society, did wonderful things with astonishing grace, and comparing myself to them, how could I not have felt less than they? I could not understand why I could not be what everyone else seemed to be. So many of the things I ached to be, even as a child…graceful, talented, handsome, at ease in any situation, able to fit in anywhere…I knew I was not and never could be. Therefore, obviously, I was inferior and unworthy.
And of course it wasn't exactly easy growing up in a world in which a boy who knew he truly, purely loved other boys was constantly told by the entire world around him that he was an abomination in the eyes of God, would burn forever in the fires of hell, and was generally not fit to call himself human. (But as willing as I have been to believe so many negative things about myself, even as a child I never bought into that nonsense. One of the reasons I had abandoned organized religion by the time I was twelve was because if God considered me to be an abomination, then why was I also told I was made in His image? I was never very good at specious logic, and I got it every Sunday at Sunday school...which, I'm sure, is why I became an Agnostic.)
I suspect one of the reasons I concentrate so strongly on my own flaws is because I do not feel qualified to comment on the flaws of others. And besides, I know my own so very much better. I can judge myself; I have no right to judge anyone else. And, again, I truly do realize that I am not nearly as bad as I insist upon making myself out to be. It’s just that I expect so very much more out of life…and myself…than it is realistic to expect.
The prosecution...and the defense...rests.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 ).