Thursday, August 23, 2007

Self-Esteem and Bitterness

When I was growing up, my mom always told me that people who put others down, or made fun of others, or just spread unkindness, did not feel good about themselves or their lives, and tried to cover this up by bringing others down.

The older I have gotten, the more I see this to be true. The worst part is, I see it in myself. The sense of bitterness and anger at my life is never far away. Sure, it gets tucked away for a time, maybe even weeks, but it comes crawling back out whenever it feels like it.

I can't be around the "perfect" people. You know who I mean, they finished their Ph.D by 26, got married, had 2.5 kids, stayed home for awhile, then decided to start a business doing they something they always loved, which, of course, is extremely sucessful and they also manage to squeeze into their schedule volunteering for some good cause or another.

Now, please, don't comment on how nobody's life is what it seems, everyone has problems, we don't know what struggles have happened behind closed doors, etc. etc. I know all of this. The truth is, it isn't about them. It is about me. What my mother always told me is true. I feel bad about my life, and that manifests itself into bitterness, manifests me into someone I don't want to be.

Here is me: Even though I am a grown up, I still don't know what I want to do "when I grow up". I have held several jobs searching for this answer, struggled to finish school (not done yet!). I don't have a "career", I have a "job". I didn't spend my youth traveling Europe, or expanding my horizons in any other way. I didn't get involved in anything, even hobbies, really. I just lived. Worked, paid bills, spent time with family, my husband, just lived a regular life. I am not old, but not young, though I still get told I am, and what do I have to show for my 20's? Nothing, but a dead son and a miscarriage.

All of those things about me have always been true, but since M died, they bother me. I never knew they bothered me until he died. I think because after M died, that became my ultimate failure. It magnified to me all I hadn't done, all I hadn't accomplished, the worst being that I couldn't even keep my son alive.

That stays with you. Even if you worked with it, tried to work through it, know in your very logical mind you are not to blame. But the whisper of guilt and blame is always there, somewhere.

No one tells you that grief will make you question everything in your life, both before and after.

Being pregnant again doesn't really ease this, at all. Because, as we all know, being pregnant doesn't mean you will succeed at the mother game. I might end up with another failure on my list.

And we are back to my issues with the "perfect" people. I never knew losing a child would make me doubt so much my own sense of self, my own sense of worth, my own sense of success.


MB said...

Grief sure is a tricky thing. Everytime I think that I've made it through or past something, I get my ass kicked. I don't know if I will ever understand it all.


Monica said...

I feel sorta the same way. I just had so many hopes and dreams for my life as a mother and when it didn't happen I re-evaluated my life. And let me tell you, my life didn't come out well in the evaluation. I have such an intense need to show everyone that I'm as good as they are. That just because my baby died, I can still do everything as well as they can. I have a competitive streak a mile wide and losing Jimmy only made it worse. The sad thing is, if I had him now, I would be the happiest person in the world. Ms. G, I don't think it is unusual to look at your life during the grieving stage and be unsatisfied with it. If you'd like to improve your life, remember that you can. I know it is hard to be empowered to do anything when it seems like you have no control. But you do. And I for one like you!

Beruriah said...

My life seemed pretty desolate too, and I desperately wanted (and sometimes still want) to figure out anything else I could do with my life.

We lost control in the most horrible way. You've captured so much of my feeling here too, the failures and the sick competitiveness. But in other ways, you do have options and some control.

Of course your first hope and need is to have this baby come home with you safely. But beyond that, are your feelings taking on any concrete direction, something you'd actually like to do better than what you're doing now?

niobe said...

Since it's fairly unusual to have a baby die, when it happens to you, you feel as though you've been singled out for misfortune. It's not one of those things that even seems possible until it happens. And I think that, to some extent, it's the random, almost freakish nature of it, the struck-by-lightning aspect, that makes you question every assumption that you had about the world and how you fit into it.

Carole said...

I have the same feelings. After Joseph died I questioned everything. I think I still do sometimes. Its good to here thought that I'm not the only one.

ms. G said...

Wow, I am very interested in the fact that others understand and have even felt similiar. It is an aspect of grief that doesn't get talked about much, I think.

Monica-I think you hit on something with the hopes and dreams part. I had a lot of identity wrapped up in being M's mom.

Beruriah-I honestly think about going further in school so I can move up in position at where I currently work, or something similiar. It's just a lot of school left then, (requires a Masters) and I start to doubt myself...

Niobe-Yes, exactly. I remember being in the hospital bed still, already thinking I was the only person this had ever happened to.