A difficult weekend, after several in a row that seemed better.

I’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. It’s all I watch at the moment. Not sure what that’s about – I can see very well it’s a soap opera, the situations are so exaggerated as to be ridiculous, the characters, well, operatic. And yet. I believe a younger part of me loves this show. As well, it is about emotions, and I want to think about emotions, and about how people are relating to each other, and this show lets me do that.

Several situations and characters remind me of my own dilemmas. In one episode, a short man has had botched surgery in China to lengthen his legs, and winds up in the hospital in danger of losing his legs altogether to infection. He defends his decision to have the leg lengthening surgery – how he can’t get any dates, how his life is a misery, how he has no confidence and no success, all due to his short stature.

And you watch him, and it’s pretty obvious his height has little to do with his problems. It’s like seeing shame on display. He feels so unworthy, so defective, that he needs to blame the length of his legs. He needs a focus for his misery. Yes, he’s slightly homely – by American TV standards he is not handsome. He would be average in everyday life. Lots of average people find partners. It’s his shame that’s the issue.

I identified with that feeling of being tainted, just doomed because of who I am. I ran into some more criticism at work last week. One of the clients I’d worked with previously in this job had complained that I’d lost one of her projects, which was ridiculous, but the complaint went through several rounds of emails without anyone ever trying to figure out if it was true or not.

Then this same client didn’t want me to document a procedure for her. She spoke to her manager about it, with me standing right there, saying it was too complicated for me to comprehend. Apparently, I ‘didn’t get it’, and had done a terrible job with a previous document. I’d thought this client and I were on friendly terms, but we’re not.

Then on the same morning, QC ‘failed’ one of my documents, and this was copied to several people.

And so I felt ashamed. So ashamed of my work, my skills, my worthiness. I almost broke down crying that morning, despite having back to back client interviews. I actually insisted on a Starbucks break so I could get away for a few minutes and replenish, which I’m pretty sure is not really allowed.

I feel that shame a lot. Not good enough. Even if I don’t run into headwinds like i did that morning. My face is just wrong. My reactions are too much, not right. I say the wrong things. My questions are wrong. My voice is wrong. Just bad.

Ugh. Luckily I don’t think I can fix it by flying to China for life threatening surgery! It’s not that I’m ‘too short’. But that feeling of shame displayed by the character who had the gruesome leg surgery – I so get that. That feeling that you’d do anything to ‘fix’ what’s so very wrong about yourself.

  1. I think the message that “if only I [or some aspect of me] was better, people [my parents] would love me” gets hammered in pretty early and we spend years and years trying to find and change the things that we think make us unlovable before we realise that it is not us at fault. I don’t know how you make yourself truly believe it though.

    I’ve found binge watching certain kinds of tv shows a great solace when I’m down and lonely. I get really into the show and it’s almost like I’m there and they’re my friends and I get to experience success and bonding through them. Sure, it’s not the same as the real thing, but if I genuinely can’t get the real thing it’s a lot healthier than some of the alternatives my brain comes up with. One of my favourites was the Australian drama Police Rescue (all 5 seasons on YouTube) 🙂

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, that is damage that happens to a lot of us. For me it helps to realize that this is damage, not the truth. I don’t need to fix things as these types of thoughts tell me, I need to focus on not beating myself up…It is an uphill battle!

      I also think there are worse things than getting interested in TV series. For me, it helps that there’s a structure, that people care about each other, and just the feeling that the world is probably going onwards, even if my life seems stuck. For Australian TV, I’ve seen Janet King, series one. As well as The Slap. Both were great.


  2. Grainne said:

    I come from a place of shame too. Just last week I was sat in my office while one boss, frustrated by the snotty attitude of my other boss, took it All out on me. She claimed that she couldn’t comprehend what it was I did all week since she’s not giving me extra work (she is, daily, and I pointed it out) and the other. Who is far more demanding, always thinks I am asked to do nothing by her (she was sending me work from the plane on her way home from vacation).

    Sometimes I think some people are impossible to please and if you (and I) go into situations confident and wanting to do the job with absolute perfection we are bound to let someone down. When someone is displeased, we are faulty and have failed in our own psyche, thanks the the “lovely” upbringings we had. My point is, you can fail if you give all you can. Making mistakes at work is not personal failure. Xox

    Ps. Be careful with that show. I watched a few seasons and they have a terrible habit of killing of characters you grow to love. I have never cried so hard as I did at the end of one of those seasons and I couldn’t ever watch it again. Mind you, it’s an awesome show. Just don’t watch the season Enders when you’re feeling low. Xo

    • Grainne said:

      *CAN’T fail if we do all we can. I meant. I need to spell check before I hit send.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks for sharing your story Grainne – it actually helped to hear someone going through similar BS at work. Hope it’s gotten better.

      I was wondering, after I read your comment, who is going to get killed off – I was betting on Izzy, but she’s made a miraculous recovery. Now I know it’s George. I am glad it was not a vulnerable moment when that happened – I was OK with it really. Thanks for the heads up though! George became my least favorite after season one – I thought he treated Torres horribly and behaved like a child….


  3. I felt a similar feelings of shame. My counselor worked several years trying to help me see that sometimes, I’m not the problem. That really got my attention. He pointed out in some situations the other person has unreasonable expectations, was unclear in explaining their needs or just looking for a scapegoat and I’m the target. I’m still wrestling with this concept. I am starting to get it intellectually it is taking a bit more to internalize that sometimes I’m not the problem. Hugs. I hope you get someone at work that sees your value.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, that’s it.

      I actually did get a pat on the back this week at work – I’m ‘most improved’ it seems. lol.

      Thanks Ruth

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