feeling the brokennest

October 10, 2012 | 98 Comments

Grey sky and powerlines in Vancouver

Here’s the thing: I’m not okay. I feel silly talking about it because it feels dramatic and pathetic. Really, this again, Shannon? Yeah, this again. If you’re tired of me and my honesty and aren’t up to dealing with another one of my rock-bottoms: word.

I am the walking dead. I can do a little here and a something-something there, and it resembles a functioning, healthy, happy being, but I’m not coping. I keep crashing. Sometimes it’s little fender benders, other times I’m not sure how I came out, or will come out, alive.

I’m currently experiencing the latter.

I have been celebrating major changes and growth in my friend, Kim. She’s done hard work and is dominating mental, physical, emotional and every other domain of health. I’ve watch her instagram feed show off her runs, her healthy snacks and meals, her beloved kettle bells, and her children, and her beautiful face that radiates spirit and courage. I miss her. I’m inspired by her.

But I’m also really fucking jealous.


I sent her an email last night. I tried to be light-hearted, but I was desperate. I asked, HOW THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING ALL OF THIS. I begged her to tell me she wasn’t working full-time.

She responded.

“Do you have a habit of comparing yourself to others? Do you know how defeating that is to a spirit? Crushing. Can you tell when one negative self loathing comment spirals out of control and becomes a vicious cycle of abusive self talk?”

I was sad for the person she was talking about. I hated that it was me.

I was cracked and her response split me open.

My head collapsed into my folded arms and I wept on my kitchen table until I heard Emma’s door. I swallowed hard and called up in my cheeriest voice that I was okay and she should go back to bed. I knew if she came down the stairs my red eyes and the mascara bomb on my face would be less convincing.

And here’s the part where it becomes overly dramatic and I sound fucking pathetic, but I’m sharing my truth. I am awakening to how profoundly unhealthy I am. There have been situations recently where the chatter in my head is at full volume and I clearly hear every venomous word.  Over the years my body turned this chatter into white noise, the way a nervous system dulls chronic pain, in order to cope.

Since hearing with clarity, I’ve had to admit to myself that it’s always present; I almost never think good thoughts about me. Never give myself the benefit of the doubt or a break. That noise is constant.

I don’t receive the love Steve gives. I touch it, observe it, study it, and walk away from it like a museum artifact that doesn’t belong to me. I am convinced the kind things he says about me, so full of love and goodness and hope and support, are him trying to convince himself he chose well fourteen and a half years ago. He has to say those things; he’s my husband.

And for the rest of you with kind words, the chatter says to you, “You don’t fucking know me and if you did you wouldn’t say it. Any of it.”


I couldn’t sleep the other night. In the darkness I made lists of the ways I’ve failed Emma. We watched an episode of Drop Dead Diva before bed. It was revealed that the main character’s mom is bipolar. I saw myself in that episode. After the Shitty Mom list, I diagnosed myself with bipolar and silently cried myself back to sleep. In the morning, I told Steve I almost woke him up. The hate pulsed in my head and it scared me to listen to how awful I am to myself.

Yeah. It’s not pretty up in here.

I watch other people, healthy people, manage rejection and hurt feelings. I believe they go through a similar range of emotions I do, but in a fraction of the time. And they come out maintaining self-worth, knowing everyone fucks up. No big deal.

I am debilitated by rejection and hurt feelings. Paralysed. It’s one of the reasons I find it hard to hurt other people and end up lying to avoid it. I believe it will crush them the way it crushes me.

I was at a party last year having a great time getting to know new people. I told a story to two others and finished with, “I felt so retarded!” One of the women has a kid with Downs and asked, firmly, but with kindness, “Please don’t use that word around me.” As a teacher, I should know better, but because my circle of friends accept it, I never made the effort to rid it from my banter.

How would a healthy person handle that situation? Apologize, feel a little shitty, refill their plate with finger food, and move the fuck on. How did I handle it? I apologized, felt shitty, felt shitty some more, and spent the remainder of the evening not hearing anything above the voice telling me what a piece of shit I was. I had to breathe myself out of a full-body sob. I had to talk myself out of pulling her aside to apologize again and make her understand I’m not The Biggest Asshole.

I don’t think this is normal.

I sent her an email  later apologizing again and thanked her for calling me on it. While I feel very rejected by shit like that, I’m also thankful for opportunity to change and grow.

I vibrate self-loathing:

I tell stories to new people quickly because I’m a bore.

If you challenge my thinking, I default to you are right and I’m stupid for thinking I know anything. Steve has called me on this a bunch of times lately. Having it exposed makes me sad.

I don’t call people to hang out because I don’t want to hear their no.

In the past I’ve turned down dinner offers I’ve desperately wanted to say yes to because my cooking anxiety often keeps me from returning the offer, and people keep track of who’s done what so I shouldn’t take what I can’t return.

If Steve doesn’t laugh when I’m laughing, it’s because I’m simple-minded.

When someone tells me it’s sad I haven’t spoken to my mom in so long, I take days to re-convince myself I’m not a monster, but am in fact courageous, for taking an extended break from that shit-show.

I assume Emma will one day reject me, too, because Karma. I’m scared of hurting her to the point of losing her. Every mistake I make is lived and relived.

Offending someone is WORSE THAN DEATH. Even if I’m right.

Imagine the person you trust the most. The person you love and need and want. They exude love and warmth and goodness. You can’t imagine them ever losing it on you. Now, imagine them losing it on you. Bat shit crazy. Flinging words dripping with disgust. They have to be true because you trust them, right?

That’s how I fucking talk to myself all the time. Every minute. It never shuts off. And in order to cope I have convinced myself that it’s not that bad. I putter about with my little fender benders and my occasional near-death collisions and I feel stupid about them, but in the in-between times, I tell myself, This is just part of life. You’re fine. You’re good. You cope. You’re doing it. But I’m not fine or good or coping or doing it and I don’t believe it is just part of life—or shouldn’t be, at least. It’s fatal. I’m abusing the shit out of myself and keeping the worst of it hidden.

I hate myself. I hate all of me.

I desperately don’t want that to be my truth. I would give up all of my dreams to be mentally healthy. Every last one. And I bet they would come back ten fold if I figured out how fucking amazing I am. If I believed it and lived it and kicked the shit out of any thought attempting to counter it.

Kim talked about how watching her daughter repeat her lines rattled her. If I don’t learn what it’s like to love myself, to feel amazing in my own skin, how will I ever teach this to my Emma? My precious, deserving, big-hearted, ball of love Emma? HOW.

I have to get healthy for me. For Emma. For Steve. For my friendships. For my career. For everything I want to do but don’t believe is possible.

Kim made big changes because she was 40 and doing the same things I’m doing and tired and couldn’t imagine 40 more years of the same bullshit. This is where I’m at. I don’t want to be this needy and broken. I hate that I’m not out conquering the world. I am full of courage and wonder and hope, but my head is KILLING all of it. People tire of your sadness and pain. They disappear because what can you really do for someone like me except show up? And after a while showing up gets really fucking sad and draining.

I can’t stay here where it’s so dark and mean and lonely.

So, no. I’m not okay. Not even close.


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