Some time back, my therapist said something unnerving to me.
I’ve made a conscious effort to not hide things in my body language or close off any part of my thoughts or life to my therapist. So, when we were talking about what my “core issue” was, it surprised me that my therapist said I was so “well defended”. I don’t weigh what I say before I say it in his office. I just relax and go with whatever direction the session takes. Oddly, when he asked me what I thought my basic “problem” was, I shrugged and told him. It’s simple, really. I have a negative self-image. Nothing all that revolutionary or unique.
But, it turns out that was only partly what he meant. What he was really getting at was that the negative things, the things that hold me back personally and socially, are so integrated into my personality that they’re hard to pull out and apart. Also, because of that, I don’t take much personally any more. I mean, when the average stranger on the Internet says something nasty to me, I’m about as likely to simply agree with them as not. I imagine that must be frustrating for both them and my poor therapist. To have me just shrug and say, “Hmm, seems like you’ve got a point there” must be a little disconcerting. But, hey, like Dirty Harry says, “A man has got to know his limitations”. It’s like shadow boxing. I’m always fighting with myself.
The thing is, though, I see this and I see why it’s not a good thing. So, I’m trying. Trying to remake myself a bit at a time. Trying to become that person who I want women to find attractive. Or, perhaps more precisely, to be what I feel would be attractive to others. In short, I want to get healthier, but mentally and emotionally as well as physically. That’s what has motivated me to get running shoes and start shuffling up to a fast walk so I can maybe, one day, run and get into shape again. Yes, again. I used to be in very good shape. I used to work the heavy bag for 20 minutes, three times a week, and follow that up with five or ten minutes of shadow boxing with “Heavy Hands“. That in addition to push-ups and sit-ups every morning. I was in shape. And, I felt better about myself then than I do now. So, one thing I want to do is get back into shape.
And, I want to write more. No, I want to write and publish. Period. I want to be able to say that I’m a published author. I don’t need to win an award or anything, just get paid, a little, for my writing. I think I can get back to that place, too. Yes, back. Next to my desk, I have a framed letter from a publisher telling me that the editor/owner regrets returning my story, but that they’ve shut down. It wouldn’t have paid cash, but I would have been in print. I was that good, once. And, I will be that good again, eventually.
Now, I don’t think that I have to actually achieve all those goals before I’m attractive, but, I sure do have to be working hard at them to keep anyone’s interest. Isn’t that what so many of the ads on Match.com say? They want a goal oriented person. Someone who knows what they want. All that kind of thing. So, I’m setting goals and working toward them. And, to be honest, I think I do need to achieve at least some of them before I think I’m attractive.
I don’t know how long it will take, but, I hope, that some of these things will start to undo the knots that tie up the better part of me and slave that to the well defended, slightly defective, part. I hope that starting the work will start to break down the walls I’ve built over the last nine or more years. That the battlements might crumble down and that I can be more open, vulnerable and known to the people around me. I’m not promising anything, but, I am going to try.
We’ll see how it goes.
Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"If it falls to your lot to be a dishwasher, wash like Michaelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music... wash so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, 'There lived a great dishwasher who did his job well.'"
--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.