Friday, October 05, 2018


I am nearly 66 years old. Just months away from it. And yet I'm still a mixed up mess of insecurity and self-doubt. I'm not 16 any more. I'm not in high school. I'm way more than an adult, I'm living the post-adult life. I haven't grown out of some of the rages of adolescence that I was waiting so willingly to pass by.


Run into someone I haven't seen in some time. They make a quick joke. I make a joke back. My remark, meant to be funny, landed like a thud and made me look like someone whose social skills had died a slow and painful death by embarrassment.


I obsessed about it. Wondering if I should write a note saying, 'oops, sorry' not funny. But then thinking that they may not be feeling that way about it. But then thinking they may be. Then thinking what an ass I am. Then thinking, but were were in joking mode. Then thinking that I always take things too far. Then thinking that taking things too far is what got me as far as I've gotten in my work. Then thinking that I shouldn't be thinking about this so much. Then thinking that I needed to think about it until I got a sense of clarity about what happens next.

It's exhausting.

But not as exhausting as the sinking feeling in my stomach that I'd just made a big social mistake. Then pushing that feeling aside with the realization that it was just a moment, just a remark. Then letting my stomach fall farther from the propped up stilts I'd put to keep my stomach from dropping through my shoes.

It's humiliating.

I'm an adult. I'm post-adult. I'm further from being 16 than I am from death. Shouldn't I be past all this stuff. Why is it that I've never really grown up. Why do I worry so freaking much? Why do I let my insecurities and self doubt such a free range? Why won't they answer when I call them back. Why are they always barking at the base of my self worth?

I got home.

Needed a nap.

Took one.

Old people can do that at least..


clairesmum said...

Your words eloquently describe what it feels like when the 'dogs of shame' are running around in your brain. It happens to everyone, sometimes. If you are too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired...they can be very quick to slip the leashes and attack.
I hope the nap quieted the barking so that you could see what the next right step would be.

Take care.

Amy said...

I am many, many years past 16, and yet, whenever I am under stress, I dream about the people who tormented me in high school. They become the nasty voices in my head, reminding me that I am worthless and unwanted, powering up the obsessive thoughts I was previously able to control. Something about that age cements habits and reactions, and it never ceases to amaze me how quickly I become that anxious child under duress.

I am glad you are healing. Naps are excellent for that.

Belinda said...

Oh, Dave, social mistakes? I've made a few. I've been beating myself up all week about over-talking--by which I mean, spouting off when someone opens the door, and becoming enthused about a point, to excess. I left thinking, "Why didn't I ask them about THEIR lives and how they are?" Maybe not as bad as your "dogs of shame," because I always hope that realizations, even belated ones, will help me do better next time. I live in hope!

wheeliecrone said...

Whenever I get into that spiral about what I said and what I did and shame, shame, shame - I try to stop myself for long enough to remind myself that human beings make mistakes and what other people think of me is none of my business. And that usually helps. A bit.

ABEhrhardt said...

Have the same problem. It just means are skin is thin - by experience or by desire, we want to please everyone. It's exhausting.

Just don't escalate, and you're fine, with the small awkwardnesses. Some people feel thm more than others.

Bigger ones require apologies. Apologize and move on unless the other person makes a big deal about it; then you may have to decide how much the relationship is worth to you.