I've discovered something that I've probably always known: I don't like myself very much. I'm not a fan at all. Which means I also have a hard time believing anyone else likes me. I think most people either tolerate me, or at best, they feel sorry for me. I think people willing to spend time with me probably dread every second of it, and when they're done they feel this big load of relief and consider their random acts of kindness quota filled for a good long while.
It was actually the day I started Don's book that I read about the 3 circles. I'm just going to put what he wrote on pp. 19-21, and then I'll include a photo of the circles (as I drew them). He's talking about meeting with this guy named Bill...
He pulled a napkin from the table and drew a small circle on it. Inside the circle he wrote the word self and explained everybody is born a self. He said I was born this way and so was everybody else, a completely healthy and happy little self. And then, he said, something happened in my life that changed everything.
He drew a larger circle around the small circle, making something like a target. Inside the second circle he wrote the word shame. Bill said at some point I realized, whether true or not, there was something wrong with me. Either I didn't measure up to the standards of my parents, the kids at school made fun of me, or I came to believe I was inferior. Shame, he said, caused me to hide. "And that," he said, "is a problem. Because the more we hide, the harder it is to be known. And we have to be known to connect."
Then he drew another circle around the second one and said this outer circle was the false self we create to cover our shame. He said it was in this circle where we likely developed what we think of as our personality, or the "character" we learned to play in the theater of life. Bill said some of us learn we only matter if we are attractive or powerful or skilled in some way, but each of us likely has an ace card we believe will make us loveable...
...I was a self, covered in shame and hiding behind an act...
Bill pointed at the center circle, at the word self, and said, "This guy, your inner self, is the part of you that gives and receives love. The outer rings are just theater."
So (it's me again), this is my problem. The reason I don't like myself is because I'm not sure I know who my 'self' is. I only know the person who's tried to act smart, and funny, and sarcastic. It's really my false self that I don't like.
I can remember some of the places I picked up shame. Shoot, I was abused by some neighbor kids before I was even in school. I never really thought it was anything serious. I remember being called "shy" and "little Danny Horwedel" for most of my growing-up years. I tend to remember my football "career" as - my junior year I was the quarterback for the first 4 games, until I threatened to quit after the game in which I had 6 fumbles (so they moved me to receiver); and my senior year when I was the featured tailback, until after the first game and they scrapped our entire system and instituted the wishbone offense (with 3 backs) for the rest of the season. I always ended up letting people down. I couldn't stand up to the pressure. I couldn't be depended on. Not to mention the fact that everyone hates the principals kid (yes, my dad was my high school principal).
I know there are people who wonder why I took getting let go from my church so hard. You know, "It happens all the time." "Why are you letting it bother you so much?" "Why can't you get over it?" Well, that's why. I was overcome with the shame of not being good enough; not able to be depended on; of breaking under pressure; of letting people down. I was a "little Danny Horwedel," and might as well have been sinking into the corner of the neighbors shed out back with my crew cut and Keds.
It's a very humbling process I'm going through right now. I realize I am making myself very vulnerable here, perhaps letting loose some info that some of you may never have known (and maybe didn't want to know). But I just can't seem to find my self yet. I am stuck at 'little Danny Horwedel.' I can only seem to see myself as that little boy...
And, as I write this, I realize it wasn't my fault.
I was a good boy.
And here I sit at work, sobbing at my desk.
I think that's enough for today.