Over the years my life has been punctuated with moments that mentally torture me, like a recurring dream, throughout the following years. My preoccupation with feeling < (less than) though, has become a problem in adult life. It has tarnished my own view of myself and sets me up for an almighty fall. Some would call this an inner-sabeteur but i call it “The luck of a Git”.
Feeling ‘less than’ can blur the lines of any situation and actually hinder the problem I am tackling. It preoccupies me and negatively effects my confidence. Feeling ‘less than’ a man, for example is actually a way of belittling myself – by degrading myself I guess I take the opportunity from others to get there first!
I have done comedy as part of an act, just once. It doesnt appeal at all, but in this specific situation there was one way I could get through it, and that was to self-depricate to the point where the audience didnt get the chance. I used hurtful words as a safety blanket to protect about potential hurt that the audience could throw at me. needless to say Stand Up comedy is definitely not for me!
Today whilst dutifully making breakfast for my 4 year old, i discovered a steady drip of water flowing from a light socket in our Utility Room… DIY is not my strong suit, that physical dexterity and problem solving jsut doesnt come naturally to my creative mind. Immediately,I investigated where the leak could be coming from and switched off the water upstairs. As I stood for a few brief moments staring at the still flowing drip – drip – drip, I felt a ‘less than’ symbol sitting above my head. self-doubt crept in and the self-flagelation began.
“You dont know what youre doing”, “You’re Dad would have this fixed already”, “what sort of man can’t fix stuff?”, “stupid idiot”.
I know how I can get, self-inflicted hurt feels good for a moment but i can battle it for months afterwards. So I wake my buffer up, not because my long-suffering wife knows any more than I do about plumbing, but more because she knows me better than I do, and I know that I need her steady calm to guide me through this…
Then I feel lesser of a man still, because a man shouldnt need a security blanket, Should he?
I did call my Dad in the end. He’s a font of knowledge and the person that I look to when I can’t see around a problem. And today I made a change. I told him how vulnerable I feel in these situations and opened up. I felt so much better getting out into the air instead of hurting myself with the words – I guess that was my lesson to be learned.
When you learn that you will be a parent, a miraculous thing happens, a really clear image gets built in your mind’s eye about the type of parent that you will be. I had such an image of the father I would be. Four and a half years on, i am still trying to live up to that image and constantly falling short of it. I raise my voice, get frustrated, am tired, lack the energy to keep up with him and worse – I always feel less than. Living up to a self-made image of what a Dad is, has kept my demons decidely in my head. This weekend I cried when my son managed to ride his bike with no stabilisers and without me holding onto it. I can clearly and tangibly remember when i leared to ride my bike and my dad let go of the saddle as I shot off around a corner… its probably not even how it happened but memories can be cruel occupiers of our minds. i cried partly with pride and partly with relief – at least I hadn’t failed him on this point.
2020 was the year that I lost my job, a job that had consumed me for over 13 years and a job that I didn’t feel ‘less than’ in. I was by no means the best manager ever to have graced the world, but I felt my strengths were appreciated and that i was the best manager that I could be. When redundancy became apparent, i had never felt as “Less than” as I have since. I am used to making myself feel that way, but now there was an email that alluded to the fact that the hurt that I subject myself to every day, was in fact correct.
I was less than my friends and my colleagues.
As my failure to secure a job drew on, I was “less than” other candidates with more relevant experience.
When I secured a job, my worth was “signicantly less than” financially.
And throughout I was “less than” in every aspect of my life.
I don’t say all this for sympathy. I hope to shed some light on an issue that I know is affecting a lot of people out there. We don’t want to lose our friends, grow apart from our families, spend more time ina mental hell of our own making. but right now it’s really hard to see beyond the “less thans” and instead focus on the many “equal to’s” or “more thans” that make us who we are.
I am trying, so hard, to take it easy on myself, and I would love it if all of you would try the same. we have so much to offer and whether its work, family, friends or life, you can’t feel “less than” exactly the person that you are, and nor should you.
I’m always here to listen if you would like to talk. i may not have the answers, but like opening up to my dad, sometimes putting those thoughts into the ether, is just the release that you need.
Take care of each other.