The Space Between Love & Hate

I have somewhat of a confession: I hate myself more than I’ve ever hated anyone. I play it off pretty well, and although there are parts of myself that I like or am proud of, the majority of the time I just…hate myself.

But, Why?

I can’t tell you why exactly, but I do have a theory. My entire childhood and teenage life, my self-esteem was non-existent. It wasn’t that I just had low self-esteem – I had none. This set me up for a lifetime of self-hatred.

Growing up, there wasn’t much about me that was exceptional or all that great. I was loved, for sure, but there was no one around really to encourage me to be myself; if anything, I was constantly told how shitty “myself” was. If I liked a song, it was dumb. If I wanted to see a movie, I was an idiot. If I tried something and failed at it, I didn’t have someone to encourage me to try harder. Instead, I had people telling me how useless I was because I couldn’t get it right.

These things stick with you as you grow older. When everything you do is wrong, you start to believe that you, yourself, are a mistake.

How This Affects Me

This feeling of self-hatred affects me in all aspects of my life. How you see yourself affects how you present yourself, after all.

For instance, I tend to have a very giving nature. I say this not to brag, because in my opinion, it’s not exactly something to be praised. The reason for this is that my motives are selfish; I only give to others because I see myself as such a horrible piece of human garbage, that giving something to someone else makes me feel good for just a moment. Like, maybe I’m not that bad. My self-hatred runs so deep, though, that it only lasts a little while. Within minutes I’m back to seeing myself as this horrible, useless piece of trash.

If I make a mistake, I don’t think, “Well, that’s alright, I’ll get it next time.” No, I think, “Ugh, for God’s sake, you are the most useless, talentless piece of shit on the planet. Just stop trying, there’s no point because you’re such an idiot that you’ll never get it.”

This means that everything I try to do I give up on. My husband likes to joke that I think that if I can’t do something perfectly right away, I just can’t do it. He’s right. It took about a week of trying to play the drums (I was told I was a “natural”) before giving up, and the same with the guitar. I’m an alright singer, and I love to sing, but I’m not perfect so therefore I’m awful in my mind.

This constant self-hatred has become my shadow. I live with it day in, day out. I can block it out throughout the day usually, because I keep myself busy, but when everything stops or I have to think about myself, my thoughts usually consist of one or all of the following:

  • You’re so useless.
  • You don’t deserve anything good, ever.
  • Why were you even born? 
  • You contribute nothing to society.
  • You’re selfish and lazy and a terrible wife, friend, etc.
  • There’s really no reason you should even be here. 

The list goes on and on, but you get the drift.

Even with all of these thoughts coming at me on a regular basis, I’m not suicidal. This is definitely a form of depression, but it isn’t crippling and I don’t think about killing myself ever. It’s just that, like, if I were to die I think the world might be a bit better off.

I see myself as this narcissistic, manipulative monster who traps people with false happiness and kindness, when in reality I’m the devil. I want to help people, but I can’t get out of my own way to do so.

The Contradiction

At the same time, I love myself. I have high self-esteem. After marrying one of the most confident, loving and kind men in the world, his self-esteem and constant love and praise has inflated my self-esteem to the point where I actually am a confident person. I’m just a confident person who also hates herself.

My internal thought process goes from, “Hey, I look good today!” to, “Yeah, but you’re a useless piece of shit, so it doesn’t matter.” within seconds. It’s a constant battle of love and hate and it’s all happening in my head all the time. Like a broken record, I repeat the same things over and over.

Final Thoughts

Emotions are complex, and the way we see ourselves is continually affecting our day to day lives. There are those who hold themselves in high regard, who never worry about what they say and do. There are those who live in constant states of depression who think nothing but bad thoughts about themselves. Then there are those like me, who are somewhere in the middle.

I think that to an extent it is good to critique yourself every once in a while, to make sure you’re healthy and that you’re treating others well. The problem is when that critiquing goes from creative to destructive, and that’s where mine is. I don’t just critique – I go in for the kill.

Unfortunately I do not have an answer for those who are going through something similar. I am hardly dealing with it, myself. I can tell you, though, that what helps me the most when I’m feeling down about myself is to tell my husband about it.

He reminds me that how I see myself is completely different than how everyone else sees me, and that I focus too much on the negative and should instead focus on the positive. He reminds me of my good qualities and what he loves about me and these pep talks help immensely. They may not last forever, but they bring my mood and self-thoughts up for a while.

If you’re having a hard time like I am, I suggest finding someone you trust enough to talk about it. I guarantee that you are being harder on yourself than you realize, and that the people you think hate you probably love you dearly.

We all have flaws and no one is perfect. But if you live your life in a way that is kind, empathetic and compassionate, you’re doing good in the world. Whether you see yourself as a monster like I do or you love yourself completely, just be kind to others and live your best life.

And remember, how you see yourself is probably not how anyone else sees you.