feeling the brokennest

October 10, 2012 | 54 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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Join the conversation

  • E.

    Shannon. I have been reading your stuff on and off for a hundred years (and probably had an LJ comment back-and-forth with you at some point), so I know a little about your struggles with depression and whatnot. I wanted to comment here today to say that I know all too well the rabbit hole you are falling into, and that you can’t expect yourself to climb out of it without some help. Do you have access to a mental health specialist? Can you see your GP and have them refer you to someone? Because I am all for the power of writing, and for being open, and how healing that can be–but at this point, right now, this spiral is something that you need feedback to deal with. You need someone objective, someone who understands depression and self-loathing from a clinical perspective, someone who can help you figure out what to do next, how to get your bearings so that you will be around and healthy for Emma and for Steve and for you and for the WORLD.

    I know how that self-loathing voice in your head sounds, because I have one in my head too. There may not be a way to make it shut up altogether, but there are ways to quiet it, to interrupt it, to tell it to back the fuck off once in a while. I am learning how to do that myself, because I can’t stare down the next forty years of my own life with that voice dictating how I feel all the time.

    Please, please, call your doctor. Print this entry and hand it to them. Talk louder than the voice in your head, and advocate for the voice you WANT in your head.

    • http://bellejarblog.wordpress.com Annabelle

      Yes, this, 100%. I’ve been there. I know how fucking hard it is to go to the doctor, because every cell in your brain is trying to convince you that there’s no point, because you’ll never get better. There is a point, though. There is a life for you that’s better than this.

      So much of what you (beautifully, heartbreakingly) expressed here hit home for me. SO much.

      Anyway, I just wanted to say that I think you’re very brave, and I think you can and will get better.

  • Kelly

    I Love You…I KNOW you and I still love you, I want you in my life. I am a better person because I have you.


    • Natasha

      Yeah, I know you pretty well and love you still, too. See?

  • Jeannette Hippe

    Shannon please call your Dr. You are so important to so many people , so many who love you dearly…including me. I beg of you to get some help and get yourself well. Love you long time!!!

  • Kim

    You are on to something REALLY BIG here my love. This honesty – admitting it ain’t working for you anymore – is ground zero. You can build a solid foundation. You deserve love. You are an amazing mother for getting it – and you’re still SO young!!! I promise you – healing of your mind is possible.

    How do I know this? Because I used to treat myself the way you described. I can relate to – excruciatingly so – every word you’ve written.

    That is the shittiest, deadliest part of shame. It stitches our mouths shut and poisons our guts. Self mutilation at its most gruesome because one feels it but it remains invisible to others. Shame makes pain secret because if we ever told the truth


    no one would ever live us again.

    But the funny thing is – they already do. It is us we have to work on.

    Brokennest means ready to do whatever it takes to fix it. Which – fucking painful as it may be – is the best place to be.

    I wish I hadn’t been the one to say it. But I don’t regret the truth. You deserve healing Shann.

    I thought there was no hope for me.
    I was wrong.
    You feel hopeless and you’re wrong too.
    But in the best way possible.

    Xoxoxo xoxoxo
    Shitty shit shit fucker

  • http://kerstinauer.tumblr.com Kerstin

    I feel like I should probably not comment on this because I don’t even know you and this is only the second blog post I’ve read of yours… but here it goes.

    You are not alone and you can do it. Writing all this down and sharing it with the world is incredibly courageous and a sign of intrinsic strength.

    There were so many parts in what you wrote where I thought to myself: I am 40 years old and I know how this feels like. I’ve been there – I’m still there – I’m struggling – I’m making progress – I am crushed – I feel 10 different things in 10 minutes…. there is so much pain in your writing and I truly know how it feels.

    I am glad that you seem to have such good people who care about you and who left such supportive comments – hang in there!

  • Natasha

    I’m glad Kim said that, because I don’t relate quite to that degree and I’m so relieved to hear that someone does and that they came out of it. I definitely relate to feeling hopeless, as you know, and I’m so full of hope now. My life is fantastic now compared to before.

    You are a great mother in so many ways. The ways in which you’re shitty, yeah, you’re really shitty. But so are LOOOOOTS of people. And the ways in which you’re amazing? I don’t think many people are amazing that way. So, focus on that. You’re so conscious and you’re apologetic and honest with her and you ache for her and you keep trying and trying for her and you do things with her and you have more pressure on you in away because you only have one child. She’ll know this. Failing her figuring it out on her own, we’ll all be there as witnesses years from now, as knowing-witnesses, as mom-witnesses. But she’ll be fine.

    • Natasha

      By the way, I said that comment about “shitty” so that you’d know I’m being honest about everything else. The ways in which I’m a shitty mom, I’ve been REALLY shitty, too. The kids and I still talk about it.

    • Natasha

      And I would like to edit “LOOOOOTS” to “most”. I really think it’s more accurately “most”.

  • Mariesy

    Kim says it spot on:
    “You are on to something REALLY BIG here my love. This honesty – admitting it ain’t working for you anymore – is ground zero. You can build a solid foundation. You deserve love. You are an amazing mother for getting it – and you’re still SO young!!! I promise you – healing of your mind is possible.”
    The fact that you could even write all of this, instead of letting it brew inside is a huge step. Through all that hate, you know where you want to be and you are telling yourself through your writing that you are going to get there damnit!

    P.S. Do I need to send more chocolate in district mail? This is a crisis situation and you know that crises call for chocy in my world.

  • Lisa


    I want to tell you I get it. I SOOOOOO get it. More than you could ever know. I’ve been in this exact dark place absolutely paralyzed by the guilt and shame of being there. Beating myself up mercilessly because I can’t get my crap together and just be NORMAL. I’ve visited this self-loathing darkest of dark places MANY MANY times. Heck, I’m one negative comment or failure away from returning to this place at any given moment. I hate that THIS is my life story. I hate that it’s yours too.

    I can’t give you advice because inside I’m every bit as broken as you are. Maybe I hide it better from the world at large but those who have the misfortune of seeing me every day (my hubs and kids) they get the full force of my dysfunction. Knowing that the people I love are the ones who I hurt the most with mental garbage cripples me. Every now and again I rally myself and think, “Fuck, I’m not doing this shit to them any more!” But then I feel insecure about something. Then I lash out of my insecurity. Then I compound my bad behavior with further self-loathing until I am a big steamy pile of nothing. I wash, rinse and repeat this cycle constantly. Endlessly.

    Bottom line: your friends are probably right. Professional help seems like a good step. A humiliating and ridiculously hard step that can feel more like giving up on yourself and your ability to handle your own shit than a healthy option for coping. I guess, just remember that you can’t trust your feelings right now, so if they are saying, “don’t bother, it’s not going to help and all you’ll do is rip your guts out for some stranger who doesn’t give a fuck” you need to be able to tune that out and hear the voices of those who do give a fuck.

  • Linds (@causticchick)

    Just so you know, I’m pretty much in love with you right now. That may not make sense to anybody else but me, but still.

    Bee tee dubs, if you ask me to hang out, I’ll definitely say yes.

  • Jocelyn

    I thought your blog was down and I WAS FREAKING THE HELL OUT but it turns out it was just not visible In Firefox? I changed to Safari (I’M YER DEDICATED FAN GIRL) and it’s here? Hello? Bueller?


    Sweets, I don’t know how to reply except I want to take you out for coffee & cheesecake to chat (EVEN THOUGH YOU REFUSE TO WATCH THE BACHELEOR) but since I cannot (IE. I won’t invite you because *I* think you’d say no since I’M CREEPY BACHELOR WATCHER and if you did come I’d just hold you hostage to talk about THAT) just know I’ll always read what you write. Life is a process, and as yer fan girls we’re bearing witness to whatever you’re going through. It’s what fangirls do.

    • http://hellofisher.com Steve Fisher


      Thanks so much for letting us know about the site being down. Short answer is it was bad timing and does work in all browsers. Yay! Long answer involves me talking about the CDN (content delivery network) we’re using and why I’m not thrilled with the current setup. I’m always ready to get my nerd on, but that’s not everyone’s thing. ;)

  • Karen

    I want to send you a reply but I am not at all sure what to write. I am fighting with that voice that says i dont have a right to respond, i dont know what i am talking about, you really wont care what i have to say but i just can’t ignore the feeling that i, selfishly, need to say something – anything – even if its not the right thing. Please know it is said with love. Oh so much love.

    I wish more for you. I am sad knowing this is the place you are at. I agree you need to seek out professional help. Loving yourself is THE hardest thing to do. I don’t know if hearing that others love you regardless of all of this shit helps or not but they do. Even in this post you are inspiring people. You r inspiring me. Inspiring me to be honest. Not to be honest with the people around me but to be honest with myself , for that I say thank you.

    This is your start. Maybe your fresh start, or your new start, or just a plain ol’ other start. This is where you can begin to heal. But like others befor have shared you can’t do the healing on your own. No one can. And if you think they r doing it by themselves you are wrong. We all need help. The people who love you are not tired of listening. They just want see you reach the other side.

    I have loved you always. Kept a piece of you with me for so many years, and even after all this I still love you and I will keep loving you. Don’t stop fighting for you.

  • http://theselittlewaves.com Galit Breen

    I just wanted you to know that I read your words today.

    And I listened to you, I heard you.

    (You’re not alone.)

  • http://www.sarakeepsdancing.blogspot.ca Sara

    Thank you for being open and honest with your feelings and thoughts. I wish everyone would.

    I very much enjoyed reading these comments as well. This world is filled with good, genuine people. You are one of them.

  • http://www.coyotethunder.com/RedMonkey/ enderFP

    This was an incredibly stunning and beautiful read. Thank you so, so, so much for putting this out there, for being able to document the white noise.

    I think you’re a lot braver than you give yourself credit for and I hope you’re able to continue stepping along the journey to rebuilding that you’ve started with this.

  • Christina B.

    I also have been reading your blog forever– I stumbled on it about ten years ago (!!!), while I was checking on something else. I have covertly been reading over your shoulder ever since, which sounds creepy, but I hope isn’t really.

    The thing of it is, you are an amazing writer. AMAZING.

    Writers are the people who are brave enough to leave their (metaphorical) junk on the sidewalk. Great writers leave their stuff, and other people take it home because it isn’t junk, it is freakin’ art. Which is what you do. It seems it is what you are.

    Anyway, this is just to say thanks. From a private, secret fan. Thanks for being brave and thanks for using the English language so beautifully, I kind of wish it were a perfume I could put behind my ears.

    Christina B

    • Shannon

      OH MAN. Those are some nice words, Christina! Maybe the nicest. I’ve been feeling about as good as this post this week. Because I have my own business now, it feels harder to talk about. But yeah, I’ve been pretty low lately.

      Ten years! Oh man. I was not a good writer ten years ago.

      Lady. Thank you. Truly. xo

  • Kelly

    I found your blog though the repost of the diva cup giveaway. Thank you for letting me feel less alone. I’m glad you’re doing better.

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