So I’ve been reading Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are (it’s a referral link, because I’m unemployed) and in it she talks about the power of being vulnerable, and how it basically can make you happier.
So here’s my vulnerable:
In the last couple of weeks I have gone from feeling absolutely nothing to feeling everything: old feelings of grief I drank away for the past 16 years, new feelings of grief over my separation from Mrs. M, and this other excruciatingly painful feeling that I have only really been able to recognise and label since Monday: inadequacy.
Feeling not good enough.
Feeling like a failure.
On a logical/cerebral level I knew that feeling was there, but the ache of it has only just crept in. Sneaky bastard probably saw that my emotional defences are non-existent at the minute and decided to set up shop inside my head, like “HI! YOU THINK YOU’RE CRAP AND NOW YOU WILL BE PAINFULLY AWARE OF IT.”
Bastard. Evil, evil bastard.
To illustrate what this feeling looks like, I will tell you about my new haircut.
Being unemployed and on benefits, I jump at anything that’s free. A trainee stylist posted online that she needed heads to practice on so I volunteered my messy mane.
I headed to central London – Soho to be precise – where everything is trendy and wonderful and beyond my budget. I miss central London, but I don’t go often for precisely those reasons.
At the salon, I told the (very nervous) trainee stylist she had free reign to do whatever she wanted. I immediately realised she was very new at this and so a trim was basically what I got. To be fair, she did style it up in the end and I left the salon without the need to immediately pop into another one to fix it.
Part of me was, I suspect, looking for a superficial boost to help get me out of my depressed funk. I wanted brand new sassy hair that required immediate selfies to be posted online. I wanted hair that screamed “I’m hip. I have style. Observe my luscious locks as they bounce giddily in the wind and be in awe.” or at least hair that didn’t scream “I am nearly 40 and my life is in shambles.”
As I said, my hair looks okay and it was free so for that I am grateful. But it was still my hair. My boring old hair. Just shorter.
Here’s where my total lack of self-love kicked in: I could’ve wandered around Soho and had a nice little walk or at least whipped out my phone to do some mystery shopping tasks as they are plentiful there.
But no. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
My heart was racing. I bee-lined it for the nearest bus stop to take me home and away from a place where I didn’t feel like I belonged. I genuinely felt panicked, like someone would notice me, my non-trendy hair, and laugh. Point and laugh and know that I didn’t belong.
I didn’t feel safe until I was back in my room. Once there, I wanted to cry.
Not because my hair looks awful. Because I feel awful. About myself.
What I’ve come to realise is that I’ve always felt this way, I just wasn’t consciously aware of it. The panic, the feeling of not belonging, are not new to me. What’s new is understanding what it is.
To cover these feelings up, I have cultivated a massive ego that can hardly fit through the doorway. I also drank those uncomfortable feelings away.
My writing? Not good enough: I don’t use fancy words, I hardly understand the fancy words I see other writers use and I don’t know enough about a topic ever to finish a piece and think “Nailed it. This is good work.”
Working in the career I want (audio)? Oh hell no. I’m too old. I’m female (it’s pretty male-dominated). I don’t know the software well enough.
My appearance? Oh yes, I will get started on that one: my face is crimson red (and not drinking doesn’t seem to help), I have no fashion sense whatsoever, I am overweight and yes, my hair is basically stuff that grows from my scalp and I have no idea what to do with it to make it look good.
I could go on, but you get the point.
Admitting this isn’t easy…my massive ego is saying “What the actual fuck are you doing? At least make a joke about this”, but apparently that’s not how being vulnerable works.
The raw truth is that I have lived with very low opinion of myself for a very long time and not drinking hasn’t made it go away.
Now, before this gets any more depressing, one thing I will give myself credit for is that I am a fighter. At least, I know I have it in me to fight.
It’s all well and good to sit here and pour my heart out about this sorry state of affairs, but now I have a choice: do nothing and continue running away from places I love because I don’t feel good enough to be there, or fucking learn to accept myself for who and what I am: Not a perfect human being, as my ego would falsely lead me to believe, but someone who is good enough.
Good enough for central London. Good enough to work in audio. Good enough for hipster hair.
This is far easier said than done, and frankly I have no idea how to change such a deeply ingrained belief.
Maybe just recognising the feelings for what they are is the best place to start. Followed by giving myself credit for making this realisation (well done, Moppy. Self-high five!).
The rest will require another read through of Brené Brown’s book and, I suspect, a few others. And more therapy.
But that’s what I’m going to choose. Even if it means sitting with the discomfort of how I currently feel a little longer than I’d like.
This is the part where I panic and give up writing and hand it over to you to tell me about how you are figuring this shit out in the comments below. Please.