Friday, March 27, 2009

Thinking Bad Thoughts

March 28, 2009 1:59 am

Thinking Bad Thoughts

There have been occasions, writing this blog, where I’ve put up a post that I later regretted. And no, it probably isn’t the ones you are thinking of. I do not regret any of the things I’ve written about my sexual assault or my eating disorders as I’m quite used to talking about those things in a public setting and they are so far in the past that I have enough distance to look at them critically. No, the ones that I sometimes regret are the ones that I haven’t yet figured out a solution to. Those problems that are still, well, problematic - my post on compulsive overexercising, for example. This desire to not talk about our struggles until we’re no longer struggling with them is a common one in our society which is unfortunate because it removes us from those who could be the greatest strength to us. All of which is my way of saying that I’m probably going to regret writing this but I’m so desperate to find a solution that my need for your help outweighs my embarrassment.

I have a problem with thinking bad thoughts. And I’m not talking about those of the naughty-George-Clooney-in-a-secluded-villa variety.

My Brain Is Broken
Red lights mean stop, green mean go but yellow lights? Well, for me apparently they mean freak out. I blame my driver’s ed teacher, a lovely little Frenchman who would scream “Faster you eeediot! No slower! Do not make the cows kiss! No kissing cows!” And then when I lost concentration on the road trying to translate “cows” into “cars” and then figure out what he meant by kissing, he’d redirect my attention to the road by screaming, “Ohsheetohsheetohsheetohsheet!” Thanks to him I refused to make a left turn without aid of a stoplight for a solid year after I got my license.

Anyhow, when I come to a yellow light, I panic. Do I slow down? Do I speed up? Do I jump out of my car and run a fire drill? This quandry has led me to make up a complicated list of conditions. For instance, if the light turns yellow after I’ve passed the start of the line to the left turn lane, then I speed up. But if it is an extra-long turn lane or the turn lane is missing then I’m forced to estimate where a “normal” left-turn lane would begin. Heaven help me if there is snow covering the lines. You get the idea.

So the other day, I came to a yellow light and did my little brake-gas-brake-ohsheetohsheetohsheet dance, finally slamming on my brakes and stopping right before it turned red. Embarassing? Yes. Catastrophic? No. And yet do you know what I said to myself in that moment? “You stupid, fat cow! How do you not know how to drive yet? You are fat and ugly and I hate you.” I know. A bit overkill for stopping short at a light, no? I would certainly never say anything like that to someone else. And I’m pretty sure nobody would speak that way to me.

But I speak to me that way. It gets worse. See, barring extreme injury of the doorknob-slammed-into-forehead (thank you Second Son!) variety, I don’t curse out loud. But in my head, to myself, I throw in every awful word I can think of. And I punish myself brutally for the smallest infractions. Forget to start the dishwasher before I leave in the morning? G-D Motherf’ing obese waste of flesh. Accidentally delete a voice message before listening to it? You fat f’ing retard.

Besides the sailor speak, the other strange thing you may have noticed is that the only epithet that makes it in every time is some permutation of “fat.” And nothing stings worse than that little 3-letter word. I am so ashamed of this. See, it’s not that I think other people’s instrinsic worth is tied to their weight but for some reason I think mine is. Which is especially difficult because the other day I passed a weight mark that years ago I had designated my “I’d kill myself” weight. Meaning if I ever weighed more than that then I’d, well… I’m not going to kill myself. I’ve had enough therapy to realize that my life is more than a number on the scale. But I will admit it killed my self-worth. Ever since, I’ve been plagued with thoughts like “It doesn’t matter what you do, as long you’re this fat nothing you ever accomplish will be worth anything.” and “You’re a failure at living. It’s food. If you could just stop eating like a pig you wouldn’t be this hideous.” and, worst of all, “Nobody will ever love you as long as you’re this fat. You’re ugly and stupid and they hate you. I hate you.” And when I think it, I really do mean it.

As an experiment (of the lowercase “e” variety) one day, I decided to count how many times I berated myself. I stopped at 500. It was 2 o’clock in the afternoon. So believe me when I say it’s chronic. Omnipresent.

It’s got to stop. It’s killing me. And, on a logical level, I know it’s not true. I would punch the person who said such things about a friend! Yet, I’m the one throwing the jabs at myself. I’m abusing myself far worse than any bad boyfriend ever has. But I don’t know how to stop it.

So I’m throwing this out there, to all of you. What do I do? Anyone else think bad thoughts? Is this just a type of mental OCD? Non-verbal Tourette’s? Or is my brain really just broken?? Help!