Old Habits Die Hard — Feelings, Self Pity, and Regrets

From a very early age, I harbored a deep sense that I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t fit in somehow, that I was less than. Growing up in the country, my early feelings of unworthiness stemmed from the fact that my family didn’t have a farm, that I didn’t have my own bb gun, that I didn’t have a pocket knife and of all things, that I didn’t have a down vest. See, those were the things that the “cool” kids seemed to have.

As a kid, I was oblivious to the good things that I had. It didn’t matter that my father was a world renown instructor at the National Fire Academy. Never mind the fact I was sent to private school because my parents desperately wanted to make sure that I got an education in a town where education wasn’t valued as highly as a set of antlers mounted on the wall of your living room.

When I reached the age that little boys start to think that it might be nice to be around little girls, I felt like all the girls wanted nothing to do with me — and for the most part I think that was true. I asked the same girls to “go with me” over and over and got the same response every time, “no.” Not even a “thank you.” It didn’t help that my options were limited to about 15 girls in my class, but I didn’t understand that.

Years later, I still struggled with this. On the night that I met my wife, I was so convinced that she wouldn’t want to see me again that I struggled to ask for her phone number — after talking to her for nearly two and half hours at a bar in DC. Finally, in desperation she pulled out her card and said, “Call me” before leaving for the night. See, my feelings of unworthiness were so strong, perhaps only outweighed by my fear of rejection, that I’d never asked for a girl’s phone number in a bar. I was 31 years old and couldn’t work up the nerve to ask for her number.

At times, those feelings are still strong in my recovery. Continue reading