Navel Gazing

I hate thinking about myself and talking about myself.  That may sound strange coming from someone who has spent the last six months chronicling his divorce and depression, but it’s true*.  It makes for a weird dynamic in therapy.  Therapy is all about me, but I’m always trying to change the subject.  When I fail to change the subject, as I did in this week’s session, I get clearly, visibly uncomfortable.  So, of course, I was given homework this week, to think about why it makes me so uncomfortable to think about myself.

My immediate reaction to the question is to say that I don’t like thinking and talking about myself because I’m incredibly boring.  There is nothing interesting to see by looking inwards.  There are no surprises.  I feel average in every way.  Why would I want to spend my time thinking about mediocrity?  This is probably part of my issue, but not the whole thing.  If this were all, I would just be bored when I think of myself.  Instead, I’m actively uncomfortable.

I don’t think it’s because I have a bad self image.  I might not think I’m anything special, but I also don’t think I’m bad.  It’s not like I think I’m ugly and stupid.  I think I’m pretty normal.  So, I don’t think I’m uncomfortable because I don’t like what I see.  It must be something else.

It could be that I don’t like being the center of attention.  In general, I’d prefer not to be noticed.  Maybe that applies to me noticing myself.

Or maybe it’s because I’m something of a Humean when it comes to the self.  I’m a little skeptical that there is anything that can be labeled “the self.”  Maybe I’m afraid that if I take the time to look inward, I won’t see anything.  The stoic in me should be fine with that, but I find it to be an uncomfortable idea.

Perhaps if I could pinpoint the type of uncomfortable, it would point me in the right direction.  There are many different types of uncomfortable.  There’s physical discomfort, like having a blister on your foot or a sore back.  It is definitely not that type of uncomfortable.  It’s uncomfortable being ashamed or embarrassed.  But this feels like a different uncomfortable.  I don’t think it’s a worried, sad or angry uncomfortable either.  I’m pretty sure it is an emotional uncomfortable**, I’m just not sure which emotion.

It does feel a little like nervousness.  I’m not sure that makes any sense, though.  It feels like the kind of nervousness that comes from uncertainty.  I don’t know what I’m uncertain about.  I live with myself all the time.  There aren’t any great mysteries to uncover.  I’m boring and that shouldn’t make me nervous.

Maybe I’m nervous that I’m not who I think I am, that there’s a real me underneath the me I know.  That would freak me out a little.  But it’s also incredibly unlikely.  If there were someone else in there, someone would have seen some sign of him by now.  Being nervous about it makes about as much sense as being nervous about being eaten by a shark in a public swimming pool.  I don’t live in a Bond movie or a Gothic novel.

Something that just struck me is that it feels selfish to think about myself.  That might be the answer, or at least a good chunk of it.  I have many flaws, but I’m pretty sure selfishness isn’t one of them.  And selfishness is something I’ve come to deeply dislike in other people.  The very idea of me being selfish is awful.  I can tell myself that some self reflection is not selfish, but I have a hard time believing it.  It’s just a feeling I have, but I can’t shake it.  There must be other things more deserving of my attention.

The whole prior paragraph was very difficult to write.  I don’t know if that means anything, but maybe it means I’m on to something.  What could be more selfish than focusing on myself?  That was the whole thing with Narcissus and it killed him.  I don’t think it will kill me, at least not literally.  But a selfish person is not the kind of person I want to be.  What if I like it?  What if I neglect something that deserves my attention?  I think I’d have a lot of trouble living with myself.

I don’t know if that’s the answer.  This whole assignment is deeply uncomfortable for me.  It is forcing me to think about myself in order to figure out why I react to thinking about myself the way I do.  And I’m reacting that way.  I’m really, really uncomfortable.  It makes it hard to look too deeply.  I’m trying, but as I try I’m almost desperate to do anything else.  The discomfort has, I think clearly, altered the way I’m writing, too.  It is almost like free writing.  I can’t think about it the way I’d like.  That disrupts the whole process.  And proofreading something like this is a non-starter.  I just hope we get what my therapist is looking for out of this.  Otherwise, I’ve made myself awfully uncomfortable for nothing.


*In my head, when I’m writing, I don’t really think of the divorce and depression as a part of myself.  It’s the only way I can get anything out.

**I’m using the word uncomfortable a lot here.  I hope it doesn’t make you uncomfortable to keep seeing the word uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable, uncomfortable, uncomfortable.

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