Gimme Shelter

This is my ultimate go to song. For so many reasons. A lot of those reasons are positive – it pumps me up, it takes me to many good places in my memories and vocally it resonates with me in every way. Some of the reasons are less positive – and it is a song I listen to a lot when I am struggling with my identity – who I am – what the hell am I doing here and what do I have (if anything) to offer.

When I am stuck in that challenging cycle, as I have been for the last 5-6 days now, I will listen to this song maybe 20 – 25 times a day. Partly because for me, this is the greatest rock and roll song ever, but the background of it – when and why it was written, coupled with the lyrics – speak clearly to me. Those opening lines feel like they are written for me – like someone looked at me and sent me a note written specifically for me – “Oh a storm is threatening, my very life today; If I don’t get some shelter, oh yeah I’m gonna fade away” Those words really could not ring truer with me.

I have thought long and hard about why this is – but actually I don’t need to look too far – it represents my psyche completely. For as long as I can remember I have really disliked myself. I don’t like who I am. To be clearer – I don’t know what I am. Or who I am. I like to think I am caring, helpful, selfless and someone that people like to be around, but the harder I look at myself the less I see any of those. What I do see is someone who is ugly on the inside – that is then translated into ugliness on the outside. I am not talking specifically about my physical appearance – I have come to terms with not being attractive a long long time ago – I am talking about my personality. I am a burden to my friends, colleagues and family. In fairness, my family seem to do a very good job of not wanting to know me so that is one less thing to worry about. But to my friends and colleagues, I think I would be first on the list to avoid if they could. I think it is because I am intense. I look at things differently – at least I seem to – and most of the time I feel like the odd one out. I know I do not express myself well – I can be too emotional – but I can also be too easily swayed. Swayed in a direction to agree with someone else to spare their feelings over mine. Allowing my own feelings, needs or emotions to be betrayed for the good of others. Now, this sounds incredibly contrite – like I am some amazing person for always putting others first – I can tell you right now – that is total bullshit. Being a good person – be that a friend or a colleague – is not about putting others first all the time. It is about telling the truth – at the right time and learning and growing together. This is my failing – something I do not do enough – an area I need to improve on quickly. I am a total novice at this. The amount of times I have done something for someone else that has left me unhappy is incredible. I am not talking about basic give and take here – that is part of any relationship – I am talking me putting myself on the line and going so many extra miles when it is not needed – or demanded. Me, putting my hand up for a beating, taking responsibility for something when it is not mine, apologising for how I feel, forgetting how I feel – all to make other people feel better. Again, let me stress – this is not people asking me to do it – this is me doing it. I don’t know why I do it. It may be because I want acceptance and feel that I have so little to offer that if I didn’t act that way then I wouldn’t get it. Regardless – this is not the fault of other people – this is solely down to me.

I feel guilty all the time. Guilty that I am not doing enough for anyone. People that I know (friends, family, colleagues) through to people that I do not know. I hate seeing people struggle. And I look at myself and think – what the hell are you doing about it – get off your fat arse and do something. But when I do that, I feel guilty that I am not doing enough and that I should do more. That is making me burnout emotionally – and sometimes physically – because that feeling of never doing enough and feeling guilty is always there. One small example of that is the whole disgraceful approach about free meals for kids who’s parents cannot provide for them. Or families who cannot afford to feed themselves. The idea of a child going to bed hungry honestly breaks my heart. Genuinely makes me cry. And then I feel guilty for feeling like that. That I am part of the problem. Now, that I can do something about – so I am now working once a month at the local foodbank. But that is not enough – and I feel bad for not doing more. It is an endless cycle and the bottom line is that it is not healthy.

These are other areas where my emotional eating comes to play. It is the crux I turn to in times of emotional distress. It is dangerous. I know it is doing me harm. I went to the gym today for the first time in months and months – and I was running on the treadmill when I glanced up and saw myself in the mirror. I immediately packed up my stuff and walked out. I felt so embarrassed being there. I clearly did not belong there – I need to lose weight before going there so I came home. And I ate. I have written some new rules for me to abide by to try and create new, positive and more healthy habits. I think this is like the 8th time I have done this since lockdown began in March. Again – I am just a failure – I cannot even keep that going. I think that is a fair word to use to describe be. I fail at most things in my eyes. Being a good friend. Being a good child. A good partner. A good employee. In my heart and in my head – I fail at all of those. No matter what – I am always letting people down somewhere – and that is a massive burden on my shoulders.

I need to change. I need to change fast. I have so much to carry right now and I am not sure how much longer I can keep it going. My world has changed so much in the last 7 months. I know everybody’s has. I understand that. But I don’t think I have taken any time to understand how much mine has and how much it affects me. I know it is a lot. I loved my job – I would get to travel frequently to see people and make deals – build relationships. I cannot do this and it is affecting me enormously. At the same time, I am having words like “the new normal; business travel is over; no travel needed anymore” shoved down my throat at every opportunity. I have people telling me they need to be understood more yet at the same time won’t take one second to think about how I feel and what I might need.

And all of that. Every point made above. Makes me eat. And every time I do that – I am harming myself more. And that scares me. It is an endless cycle that I cannot break right now.

I need to get a grip. I need to be a better person. I need to do so many things that are different. I need to understand myself again. Or for the first time – because I do not know if I ever have. I do not know how I would describe myself to people. I don’t know what my positive traits are. Or my skills. I am an expert in my flaws and my challenges. And I am really struggling to beat them. There is most certainly a storm that is threatening my life today. And that storm is me.

Writing does help – as does the work I am doing outside of this – and I see this all as a step forward. But I am not sure I quite realised what I was up against. I think I am really starting to discover what it must be like to know me – and for that I can only apologise – I really didn’t know it was as hard as this.

One thing I do know – is that I will get better. I am determined to crack this journey.




One thought on “Gimme Shelter

  1. Two things scream at me from this blog.

    Thing 1 – failing is good. If you’re not failing your not doing. Where failure can be troublesome is when we ‘fail’ to listen to the feedback life has thrown us. Lessons we can learn. From this blog it seems like you’ve not done that before but that now you are.

    Thing 2 – you’re being unnecessarily hard on yourself. If people truly find recognising yours and their feelings ‘hard work’ then the issues are much more with them than with you. I think you sound much more aware than most other people. This is a tough place to be as few see it as clearly as you and will take a lot more ‘onboarding’.

    Liked by 2 people

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