Friday, February 17, 2017

What I'm Really, Really Bad At

I'd say I'm good at a lot of things: writing, baking, eating said baking, sleeping, cleaning, coloring in the lines, making small talk, avoiding unnecessary conflict, attacking necessary conflict, making impulsive decisions that do not usually backfire, crying at the drop of a hat.

I'm also bad at a lot of things: math, making rational decisions, not burning cookies in the oven, getting my oil changed, rejecting conspiracy theories, taking care of myself and making healthy choices, showing affection to my pets, keeping my phone charged.

Two things I'm exceedingly bad at though are forgiving myself and being alone.

Those two things together create a powerfully bad situation.

I am a guiltaholic. When I'm not feeling copious amounts of guilt over something, I feel guilty for not feeling guilty enough. When I'm alone, I dwell on that guilt and rather than getting sick satisfaction from wallowing in guilt, I get more and more depressed and feel more and more guilty. And then I isolate myself because why would anyone want to have anything to do with me, this awful, horrible person who doesn't deserve anyone's love and affection? And isolation makes me dwell on the negative more and more.

It's a fantastically bad never-ending cycle.

So I usually avoid being alone. If I can be with others, I can feel okay about myself and say fuck guilt like I totes mean it.

Then I realize that I'm avoiding being alone and I'm depending on others for my own happiness and since that can't be healthy, I go back to trying to find alone time and know thyself. Which leads me to thinking of all the bad things I've done in my life, and the cycle continues.

Being a single mom now is hard for all the obvious reasons, but the hardest is all the time I spend alone now. Time to dwell on past mistakes, things that led me to where I am now, analyzing every mistake made from the moment we met until this moment, wondering at which point things turned down the wrong path, and punishing myself for all I ought to feel regret over. And when I'm alone long enough, I can come up with zillions of things to feel regret over.

I'm isolated already as a single mom, but this penchant for shame and guilt isolates me further. It simultaneously makes me want to curl up in a corner to shut off the entire world and run outside looking for someone, anyone, to talk to and share happiness with.

Supposedly being alone is good for us and getting to know yourself is important for loving yourself. So what do you do when being alone is bad for you and getting to know yourself only involves discovering all your faults?

I wonder if this is an extrovert-meets-former-evangelical issue.  As an extrovert, I need people. I get my energy from people, I get joy from people, I get my bucket filled from people. There are times when I do genuinely enjoy solitude but not for long, and even while I'm basking in solitude, I'm usually doing something communicative... writing a blog, texting a friend, scrolling through Facebook. I am really bad at being alone.

Other extroverts, is this your experience too?

And as a former evangelical, I have yet to toss aside the deep shame of "sin". I was taught that Jesus forgives, etc etc etc, but regardless, he wants you to be pure and blameless and more like him, and the only way to do that is to confess your sins and get yourself right already. And it's not just outward "sins" we're talking about; every proud, lustful, hateful thought must be purged if you want to truly be like Jesus. If you are still okay with your proud, lustful, hateful, fill-in-the-blank thoughts, then you are not truly wanting to be like Jesus.

So when your very thoughts are sinful, how much more should you feel guilt over your actual actions?

I don't believe in "sin" anymore, but I haven't shaken guilt. Other former evangelicals, is this your experience too?

So I'm in the process of learning some hard and unpleasant lessons right now. How to be alone and not berate yourself. How to not berate yourself into wanting to be totally alone. How to let people in without assuming they will despise the person they see. How to not let in people who will just be harmful to you. How to get to know yourself and like your own company. How to forgive yourself and move on.

How to remember to turn the timer on so you don't burn the cookies. I'm the sole adult now, and not burning down the house is all on me.


  1. Anonymous6:08 AM

    You are a talented writer. You need an outlet beyond being an amazing mom. Make a little time for you. I know it's hard but it's not selfish. Don't deprive the world of your talents. You can excel at both. ��

  2. Anonymous5:09 PM

    Lori, first off your amazing at more things than you are bad at. Allow yourself the right to be HUMAN. You strive for super human, which is noble but unattainable for all of us "humans". Give yourself attainable goals. I am also dependent on people, I have been told I am "co-dependent" because I have a mental and physical need to be with my spouse as I am sure you also felt at one time if not still. But your person is no longer there so you feel loss & lost. You will get better at being alone it just takes practice and patience. Your person is out there, you just haven't met them yet. Also, even though your not married anymore allow your ex to take some of the burden because its not your sole responsibility. He made those amazing kids too. I know he is a good dad, and you need to allow yourself to need him still even if you aren't together, which I know is hard because you don't want to need anyone especially him. This is a hard time and will leave a hole that needs to heal, just like a gunshot wound, give your sole that time to heal the hole. Your are a strong, amazing, wonderful mom. You will continue to be that forever, but you are also a strong, amazing, wonderful HUMAN that, just like all humans, need other humans. (You should watch the show called "Alone" it proves that humans are social creatures and need other human contact to survive.) You, just like us all, will make mistakes but that is ok because that is what makes you human. I am on the fence about the whole god thing and have been for a long time, unlike you I am not able to fully jump that fence, therefore I admire you for that and so many other things. You inspire so many people, never forget that. Things will get better, time heals all wounds. Much love.


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