Shame Brain is a jerk

I assume I’m not the only person who struggles to feel like they belong.

The problem with that particular struggle, though, is that you always feel like the only person. That’s why you don’t belong.

I’ve been doing a lot of work in this area for the past year or so, trying not to let the shame get to me, the deep-seated feeling that tells me something is wrong with me. That no matter what I do, I’m not going to fit in.

But unfortunately, I live in the world, which is saturated with all kinds of uncertainties all kinds of stuff that tries to make me feel like I can’t measure up.

I hop on social media, and all my friends and acquaintances are getting engaged and getting married. And the dumb voice in the back of my head — we’ll call him Shame Brain — tries to tell me that it’s because they have the luxury of being nice, normal people who fit into the categories they’re supposed to fit into.

I listen to my friends to whom faith comes easily and wonder if I could feel the way they seem to feel about God and the universe and stuff if I could just stop questioning reality all the time. Shame Brain likes to tell me God is punishing me — or at least isn’t helping me — because I couldn’t just be a normal Christian like they are.

I watch people who are at least good at pretending they’re getting their lives together or who are achieving their dreams or whatever. Shame Brain would have me think that my biggest accomplishment is that I’ve somehow managed to not fail miserably. If I could just be normal, he says, I could feel like everyone else looks like they feel.

Shame Brain is a lying, arrogant jerk. But he is a persuasive lying, arrogant jerk.

Like I said, I’ve been doing a lot of work on this. And I probably should give myself more credit. More often than not these days, I can keep that part of my mind in check. Rational Brain tells me that’s something I should be proud of. I can tell myself that the things Shame Brain says aren’t true.

But sometimes I just have a long, tiring week and I’m really emotional all the time and I’m not totally sure why. And I find myself battling between Shame Brain and Rational Brain.

Unfortunately, Shame Brain carries a baseball bat, and Rational Brain is a borderline pacifist. So you get the idea.

I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way, who carries around this nagging shadow of a feeling that I’m weird and different and that everyone else just fits in because they’re normal.

I don’t know, maybe the irony is that we all feel this way.

Maybe what I’m trying to say is that if you feel this way, too, you’re not alone.

Maybe I’m writing this to convince myself that I’m not alone.

Maybe I just need to write some words to give myself courage, because words are outside of my head and I can see them and evaluate them.

Maybe if I write this down, I can get Shame Brain out of my head and onto a page where I can see him for what he is.

Maybe if I do that, Rational Brain stands a chance.