I am absolutely convinced that I am not lovable. That no one could possibly ever like me. How could they? I am boring, have no friends and am socially awkward. [so recounts the teenage part of me that was socially excluded and left out].
There is a growing sense within, a kind of revelation (another one), showing a pattern of behaviour and felt experience that has always been there beneath the different facets I’ve presented to the world and myself.
When I allow the feelings and thought patterns to emerge from the depths, again I’m confronted by a clear disdain for myself. I become that animus, assuming all of its characteristics of shame, scorn and derision. It is emblematic of the period I faced as a young teenager confronted with the complexities of migrating into the social world amid my isolation during home-schooling.
And it is crushing. It pervades my entire experience, colouring all aspects of life. At the centre is a sense of some abject failure with my ability to interact with the social world. I become acutely (and painfully) aware of the gap between how I believe I should be, and how I believe I am not.
The gaze on the deficit leaves me feeling exposed to the perceived negative evaluating eyes of the other. And it does not discriminate. It could be an elderly person, or a young person, or from a different social class; nevertheless, the self-flagellation is the same.
A closer look reveals that subtly there is a slight difference in the experience. The intensity is higher when the other is that of a peer (same age group) who is in my perception demarked as having attained a higher degree of social confidence and seeming ease with adjusting and attuning to cultural mores.
These experiences all occur under the watchful gaze of the witness within – the overarching self that is aware of all sensory experience. Inside there is a contrary dilemma, an inner polarisation between the part that is drowning in shame and it’s sibling guilt, and the self which knows at a foundational level that none of that is true, that my essence is pure and innocent.
But after many years and copious amounts of reading, learning and general striving, alas I am aware of the callous inner critic that still corrupts the naturalness and grace of the authentic self. It is toxic and soul destroying, eating away at dreams, ambitions and ultimately love, for self and other.
Up until relatively recently I became quite good at masking the inner disdain with clever adaptions to ameliorate the plight. Most of these centred around thinking strategies of learning to avoid certain environments and situations that would elicit the wrath of the banished one. At one point, I adopted a Pollyanna approach to life where all experiences (particularly negative) could be conveniently wrapped into the concept of non-duality; a spiritual bypassing technique that would ensure that my life story and its state of affairs (no matter how obviously perilous) could be dismissed as that of nascent ramblings of “the mind”, which of course being the ego needed to be dispelled, eradicated for risk of contaminating the still presence.
Time after time it seems, layers of denial continue to unfurl revealing again just another self-deception hiding the plain truth that at the core of myself are some grave wounds that need healing. Some panacea will not do, only some truthful looking and attending to with love and affection will suffice. Anything else is a canard, a ruse to fool myself into believing a fantasy.
It is too easy to avoid the obvious. It’s too easy to just mask it all away. My motivation now to address it is because I am at the end of the line. This is it now. I’ve arrived here without conscious objection. There is no more denial, no hiding from the past. I wish not to illustrate this into some dauntless act; indeed any such movement would be deleterious to the truth. I wish only to look with honesty and compassion for the many selves that have yearned for attention without regard over the years.
There is a beautiful symphony beginning to form between the parts that were left out, and those allowed to remain. It’s a curious endeavour, one that is already yielding a more synergistic inner life, more wholesome, more real – much closer to love. Amen.