Often I look at me with self-hatred. When I look back on my life I only see the mistakes I made. The people I hurt. The dreams I had crushed. In my eyes I am a huge evil monster.
Maybe some of you can relate to this feelings. We feel worthless and sometimes we think the world would be a better place without us. To express this feelings I wrote a little short story where I try to describe this feeling of self-hatred and self-punishment. Maybe some of you can relate to it. Maybe I express what some of us are feeling.
But before I start with the story I want to say that all the self-hatred. Every voice who say to you you are a monster. Every voice who say to you you are worthless. That everyone of this voices LIE! You are worthy and you are loved.
At the end of the story I describe my way to cope with my self-hatred.
The enemy within
He is always with me. He surrounds me. I can’t escape him. Whenever I think I’ve made it, he catches up with me again. I run away from him, just when I think I’ve lost him. I stop to catch my breath, and he’s already caught up with me. He sticks to me like a shadow and I can’t get rid of him. I fight with him, but even then; just when I think I have defeated him: he lies on the ground and I stand over him. Victory finally achieved! But then, a brief moment of inattention and he has recovered and now I lie on the ground and fight desperately to regain the upper hand. But as long as the fight rages, it is never over. There is no point where there is a clear victory. Where the enemy is defeated. The enemy in Me.
And so the fight becomes a part of me.
I look around in a flash. He is not to be seen. I am alert. With eagle eyes I search my surroundings for him. But I don’t find him. Finally I can breathe. A sigh of relief and catch my breath for a short moment. But only briefly. Then I have to go on. I run as fast as I can and look around again and again. But he is not to be seen. I walk along a long street. It is deserted. I have deliberately chosen this place to live. Here where no one else is, except me. Here where I can finally be alone and not be in danger of being overcome by my longing for human community.
I have tried to control him. The enemy within myself. But again and again I failed. Whenever I wasn’t careful and didn’t pay attention to him, control slipped away, he gained the upper hand… There was hurt, disappointment, sorrow, tears.
And again and again I was to blame.
Reproaches tormented me: “Why didn’t you pay attention?” “Why did you lose control?” “You are to blame for what happened!” It was not others who were saying these terrible sentences… No! I say them. Others are more gracious to me than I am. Finally, I could no longer live with the guilt. In the beginning I still tried to “only” withdraw. “If I don’t see people, I can’t hurt anyone!” I thought. So I tried to get along without other people. Tried to live a life in solitude and still serve people through my work. But I failed in this as well. My inextinguishable desire for community kept drawing me into the company of other people.
In the beginning, it usually went well. I managed to control it, was kind, courteous, helpful, and concerned for the welfare of others. But it usually didn’t take long for me to become inattentive. He gained the upper hand and what used to be a human relationship was ruined.
After a long time of thinking, trying, failing, and a lot of broken pieces, I admitted to myself that I would never make it. Never would I manage to stop hurting people. So I had to get away from them. But I also knew that as soon as the opportunity arose, I would always seek relationship and companionship with other people. So I decided to take away any possibility of human relationship. And so I went far away until I came to a place far away from any other human beings.
So I stood on a deserted street somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Was I happy, now that I was no longer in danger of hurting others? No, but that is not important. So far all my life I had been happy at the expense of others. Now the time had come when I had to put other people’s happiness above my own. If my presence among people meant pain and suffering, I was no longer allowed to live among people. I had to pay this price.
So I walked aimlessly along the lonely road, without a destination. The only thing I knew about this road was that it would lead me further and further away from people and deeper and deeper into loneliness. Tears ran from my eyes; crossed my cheeks, ran slowly down my face until they fell to the ground; Many tears. Tears of sorrow. Tears of loneliness. Tears of anger and self-hatred. The latter drives me forward.
For a long time I went along like that. Deeper and deeper into loneliness, until it almost swallowed me completely. But then I came to a house. Not that the road would have ended here; no, it meandered even further towards the horizon and never seemed to end. But it led past the small house. Surprised to see a house here, in the loneliest place on earth, I stopped. A voice inside me told me to pass by. After all, I was fleeing from people and wanted nothing more to do with them. If I went into the house now, there was again the danger of meeting people, talking to them, hurting them; of standing in front of new broken pieces.
But another voice whispered in my ear that I could only make a short visit. Without staying long. Only once again briefly talk to people. Just once again face another person, look him in the eye. Enjoy a warm handshake.
Foolish longing for community. But …
It won. Slowly I walked towards the house. It was hard to control myself and not run wildly towards the house and knock loudly. So I controlled myself with difficulty and walked slowly towards the house. It was only a few steps, but they seemed like an eternity.
Finally I stood in front of the door. I knocked softly and timidly. Waited briefly. Knocked again, this time a little louder. Again I waited a moment. Then I knocked again. Getting louder and louder, until I finally hammered on the door with both hands. Someone had to live in this house. Someone had to be there to talk to me. Someone had to be there! But …
There was no one there. The house was deserted and I was still alone and lonely. The hope of community had turned out to be a deceptive hope.
I sank down in despair and let my tears run. My body was shaken by sobs. How long I sat there and cried I cannot say. It may have been only minutes, It may have been several hours.
After I had calmed down again, I stood up. Just as I was about to turn away from the house and towards the street, the thought occurred to me that although I couldn’t talk to anyone in the house, since it was obviously empty, it wouldn’t bother anyone if I looked around the house a bit. So I walked back toward the door and pushed the handle down. The door was not locked.
I entered a long hallway. If the house had seemed small from the outside, I was now amazed at its size. How could such a small house accommodate such a long hallway? The hallway was strange. There were no windows on its sides and no doors. The walls were not decorated with pictures, photos or any other decoration. It was just bare colorless wall. Nevertheless, the hallway did not seem frightening and cold, but pleasantly warm. Despite the lack of windows, the hallway was brightly lit, without me being able to make out where the light was coming from. It was a warm yellow light that, like the sun, it had the ability to warm. The whole place seemed inviting.
At the end of the long hallway was a door. Like the room, it was of no particular beauty. It was a simple, plain brown wooden door, without any decoration, engraving or any pattern. Nevertheless, the door exerted an enormous attraction on me. So I walked quickly towards it. It was not long before I reached it. A short moment of hesitation, then I pushed down the handle, the door gave way and I stood in a small room. It was just as long as the hallway and just as empty. The only difference was that at its end there was no door, but an easel covered by a cloth. Curious, I approached the easel. I wanted to see what was under the cloth, so I grabbed it and pulled it aside.
I looked at the object on the easel, startled, sank to the floor and broke.
On the easel was not, as expected, a started painting, but a mirror. So when I pulled the cloth aside, I saw myself. But I did not see myself as I normally saw myself in the mirror, but this mirror had a special feature. It shows every person who looks at himself in it, his unadorned inner self. All malice, all envy, all false motivations, all selfishness, all contempt of others, all false ambition, all false self-love and self-infatuation, all…
In short, you get to see all the bad qualities that are in you all at once.
Instead of a hand-painted beautiful picture of a beautiful summer landscape with green meadows, a neat little house and a small stream. A kind of picture I had hoped for. I saw in the mirror a despicable monster, with large claws, bared teeth and ice-cold eyes looking down on me. I saw: the monster in me.
And that broke me.
How can we live with all the guilt in our life? How can we live with the knowledge that we are making mistakes and that we are hurting other’s? With the knowledge that it will never stop because we are humans and as humans we will make mistakes and we will hurt each others? My only way how I can live with all the guilt in my life is to believe in God. I am a Christian and I believe that God gave his son to die for all the failures I made, all the hurt I cause. Only because I know that my guilt lay on him I am able to live on. Only because I know God is able to protect others from me I am not constantly afraid of hurting others. Only I know that God is protecting me from myself I can look into a bright future. Only because I know God loves me, I can love myself.
The only way I can live with the enemy in me is to believe and to trust in God. That he can control the monster.