Self-Consciousness and Self-Hatred

I have suffered from self-hatred for many years.  It is hard sometimes to figure out where it comes from, but being in therapy for years does help. A lot of my self-hatred goes back to my childhood, but not all of it.  Looking back, I think that some of it was the result of how others reacted to my own self-consciousness.  I am very shy, although many people would disagree with that if you asked.  Of course, my doctor believes me and tells me I have a touch of social anxiety disorder.  (No wonder I couldn’t get through public speaking to save my life.) 

When I was a teenager, I was very self-conscious about my looks.  I was a little heavy and didn’t think I was pretty.  Now, couple that with physical and emotional abuse starting at 11 or 12.  My brother told me daily how fat and ugly I was.  Since he and I were in the same grade, he was also able to isolate me there.  So my self-hatred started early.  I believe that the kids I was in school with made everything much worse, though.  He stood up on the bus one day and said some really embarassing and damaging things about me.  Instead of someone standing up to him or at least telling me that he was a jerk, everyone on the bus laughed.  (And, yes, I am aware that every single person didn’t laugh, even though that is my memory of the event.)  Not a single person on that bus looked at me, let alone told me there was nothing wrong with me.  Their reactions turned what might have been an embarassing memory into a completely mortifying and hated memory.  I completely blamed myself because of the way they acted and the fact that my brother was telling the truth.  If he was telling the truth and no one stook up for me or said anything, then I must be the one that was wrong.  So my self-hatred had another stone added to the wall.

I am able to put a mask on when I am at work to “fit in”.  Granted, it doesn’t fit well and there are times when my social awkwardness or bipolar disorder break through.  Apparently, though, even my mask doesn’t look all that “normal” to others.  When the girls I work with talk about going out for drinks/dinner after work, I am never invited.  Now, I know that some of that has to do with being on different shifts since they are first and I am second.  The other day they invited a couple of the people on second shift to come during our lunch, but not me.  I have tried over time to “let it go” and not let it bother me.  But when they make their plans in front of me and ask others to go, but not me, it hurts.  So I am very self-conscious about my ability to interact with others due to the social anxiety and bipolar…their actions though, make me hate them and think that there must be something wrong with me.  As soon as I start having that thought, I run headlong down the hill to worthlessness and self-hatred.  As well, I become even more awkward when I am angry with someone.  You can see how all of this can be a pretty vicious cycle for me.

So the actual negative thoughts go back to my childhood, but their actions in response to self-consciousness trigger that spiral of self-hatred.  I have similar issues whenever I am around new people or in public.  Just to add to the awkwardness, if I am in a hypomanic state, I do and say all manner of inappropriate things.

So we all have things that we are self-conscious about.  It is our pasts and the way others react to us that turns it into self-hatred.  I don’t know how to stop the cycle in my own life.  How am I supposed to go forward and not allow these things to hurt me?  Other people say that I should just get over it.  (Don’t we all hate that freaking phrase?)  But how?  These sensitivities have been carved into my mental pathways for over 20 years.  So I try hard not to end up in those spirals of self-hatred, but I still do.  I learned coping skills to keep me from going there, but…

This hurts.

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~ by theartistryofthebipolarbrain on February 13, 2012.

10 Responses to “Self-Consciousness and Self-Hatred”

  1. Wow, thank you . Well written and emotional .

  2. You, like me, don’t fit into the “normal” crowd. And that’s ok. I’ve never felt much approval from my parents with my chosen career, I also hear of people going and doing things after work that I’m not invited to. At least I’m “lucky” in that I only hear after the fact that plans had been made. Ever feel like you’re on the holiday special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, except you’ve been cast on the isle of misfit toys? We’re part of the minority, dear one. More intelligent than most, can’t stand / tolerate common stupidity, and quite frankly, socially awkward.

    Think about the times where you did feel you fit in. For me, it’s with my fellow gaming nerds and sci-fi / fantasy geeks. My therapist (it’s been years, but I did go once for a three year period) always encouraged me to find what I enjoyed, and embrace it. This is why I can count my friends on one hand, with a thumb left over. Yes I’m self-conscious about not fitting in, but I know that with the few people I do fit in, I fit well. And these handful of friends are all the type that would drop everything / wake up at 3am when I called to come help me, no matter what’s going on.

    I think the only real issue here, is to try to stop the self-hatred. There’s enough hatred and fear from others, you don’t need to supply any yourself. And in truth, I doubt you’re truly self-hating, but just on a massive feedback loop of the hatred you’ve felt for years. The average crowd of people, quite frankly, are ignorant, rude, and wish nothing more than to be told what to eat, wear, think, and talk about by their talking picture box. Embrace the fact that you’re still capable of independent thought, find those that can truly understand who and what you are, and pay attention to the opinions of those that truly take time to know and understand, not the ones reacting poorly due to ignorance and fear.

    • Thank you so much, hun. As you know, there are only three people for me, but I know for a fact that all of you would drop everything if I told you I needed help right now. And I guess that aspect is a good thing as I have known a lot of people that learn their BFF isn’t at the very worst time of their life. So maybe, in some ways, all of the slings and arrows of others just made us more able to figure out who the real friends are in our lives.

  3. The last line “This hurts” got me. this does hurt, it can be excruciating but know you are reaching others, just not in the well beaten path. Huge hugs

  4. Sometimes I think that the people who say ‘get over it’ don’t truly understand how deep rooted these feelings are. To use a tree analogy, we’re not talking little bushes, but huge soaring…I’ll use pines since you’re not in NZ! The really old ones that have been there for hundreds of years. For me, it’s about working out what I feel (since I have such a disconnect from my emotions) and why I feel it. Understanding helps. Everything is less scary, more logical.

    And as for social engagements. I’m not very good at them either. And I’ve become less so. I did go out on the weekend for lunch with some work colleagues. It helps that they understand, or if not understand accept, that I react to things differently to most people. And that I need to know way in advance – I’m not a fly by the seat of my pant gals. I need to be in control of me. So I was giving advanced notice of the lunch and they made it on a Saturday since Sunday is my day to just not do anything. Something I need. They are all very sociable though, and I appreciate them asking me when I so often say no.

    I’m sorry things are so difficult at work. Do you think there might be one person you could approach? Who you might feel comfortable with? Perhaps start with one person and go from there? Whatever you decide, I’m sorry you have to deal with this, and that your brother is at the root of a lot of it. Sometimes family hurts more than it helps.

    *hugs*

    • I am lucky in the amount of self-awareness I have (per numerous therapists over the years). I realize that there are a lot of people that don’t make the connection between an outside trigger, my negative thoughts in response (which might not even seem to be connected at the time) and my behavior. By the way, those connections I just talked about are the basis of cognitive behavioral therapy, which I have found one of the most helpful things when it comes to my over-the-top reactions stay in my head for the most part. If they didn’t stay in my head, I probably would have started screaming at some of my coworkers long ago and not lasted in my last three jobs or more. 🙂

      I am glad that you have more accepting/understanding coworkers. It sounds like they made an effort to include you, which must feel really nice. I am glad I am not the only one that has had more issues with social situations as I got older. You would think I would learn how to interact with people better over time, but that is far from the case. I isolate during depressive phases, but I tend to be pretty solitary even when I am not depressed.

      As for my coworkers, when I have a better hold on my reactions, their behavior, while childish, is something I can handle. When I am a little too sensitive, they make me very angry, but I try to keep it in my head or shared with my close friends. Now, if my boss says anything to me that might be negative…That’s a bad situation for me and very hard for me to hide my reaction. That is all rolled into that worthless feeling that goes back to my family.

      I agree that family can sometimes do the worst damage to us all.

      Thank you for the hugs and the kind words.

  5. I don’t really talk about this but I’ve gone through the same thing throughout my life. To be honest, it is one of the reasons that I “decided” that I like being alone. As a child, I had a lazy eye and I was just weird because my parents didn’t teach me manners or how to behave socially. But then After growing up and an eye operation. My husband kinda helped me learn how to behave and people didn’t blantantly stare at me or say anything. Then at other times, people accepted me in other circles, even looked up to me. Now there really isn’t a circle I can be comfortable in. But what I am trying to say, is that awkwardness is sometimes related to the crowd of people you are around. If people are superfisial and shallow, they accept people for their looks or dress ect. Other crowds think well of people by how much money they have and so on. If you find friends that are more interested in your goals, in your opinions, and other more meaningful things, then it is much easier to let go of the hate. I hope you can surround yourself with some people who accept you for the gifts you have to offer.

    • My intelligence has always isolated me. Whether it was from other children growing up or from adults now and then, I have mostly been alone. Luckily, I like my own company.

      At my current job, many of the people I work with believe I am far smarter than the job requires and should be doing something “better”. What they don’t understand, and never will, is that I was unable to finish my last year of school because of my bipolar disorder. I couldn’t make it to class regularly let alone focus enough to understand what the professors were saying. When I did make it through a class, I understood it differently than everyone else, so I failed my tests. So I know this about myself. None of the people here do, though. They seem to go back and forth between ignoring me completely or assuming I don’t want to do simple things with them and believing that I know everything. (If you want to see me have a meltdown, tell me I know everything.) I think some of them are intimidated by my intelligence. The others do seem to be pretty shallow. I try to tell myself that they aren’t important and get on with what I need to do, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

      I am incredibly luck to have the friends I do, though. I have three people in my life that I can pick up the phone and call, no matter the time of day. These are the people we all need to find. I hope you are able to surround yourself with loving and compassionate people as well! Thank you for your kind thoughts.

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