I like to count my blessings. I don't do it often enough, but I've been doing it more lately because I know what a good thing it is to do, to remind myself of what's fantastic about life.
And I have many blessings. My marvellous wife, my spectacular children, my adorable friends, the opportunity to get paid to write, and to have large numbers of people see my work. An absence of famine, war or violence from my life. The privilege of living as a thirtyish white man in a first world country. I am safe, well, and loved. Hell, my cup overfloweth.
I have a good life. I have a great life.
In fact, the only parts of my life that aren't good are the parts that are absolutely awful.
But those parts don't really count because they're not real. They're all in my head. They're my own weakness and stupidity overwhelming the logic centres of my brain. They're bullshit.
However, they do provide a fascinating (not really) insight into how a person can know their life is brilliant at the same time as they feel their life is unbearable.
But it's not real. Let me stress that. Let me stress in particular that I know it's not real. I already know.
Let me stress also that, as I mentioned above, I know how good my life is. I count my blessings.
This is relevant because when you talk about what's awful in your life, people tend to try to remind you of all the good things and try to scold you for not appreciating them, so it's useful to make it absolutely clear: yeah, I got that.
I got it. I got the good stuff. I got the blessings. I got what I need to be grateful for.
But there'll always be times when life remains awful, for one simple reason: I hate myself.
I've often heard it said that you can't love others until you love yourself. That sounds to me like crap, and I hope I'm right, because I like to think I love a great many people, but I could hardly hate myself more.
It may be that my overwhelming self-loathing is part of the bullshit I mentioned earlier. It may be it's all in my head. But I nevertheless know it to be true.
I know that I'm a failure. I know that I let my friends and family down every day. I know that I have wasted my time and my talent all my life. I know I'm ignorant, and lazy. I don't do enough, and I couldn't do enough if I wanted to because I lack the ability. I know I'll always have delusions that I can achieve beyond my grasp, and I know I'll be constantly disappointed when they're smashed time and again, and I know it won't stop me forming new ones and chasing after success like a pathetic dog running after a car.
I know I'm neglectful and callous. I know I treat people badly and that they deserve more from me, and I deserve less than I get from them. I know I disappoint people I love like it's going out of style and I know I have no idea how to maintain decent human relationships. I'm terrible in company and I'm useless alone. I unsettle people with my obnoxiousness and I disgust people with my desperation to be loved. I'll never have the love I want and I'll always have more than I deserve, if only out of pity, because if there's one thing I am worthy of, it's pity. No more so than the poor bastards caught up in my orbit though. Because I know I'm annoying, and insufferable, and destructive.
And I know I'm fat and I'm ugly and I'm flat-out disgusting. I feel sick every time I look in the mirror, and I know that's only fair because I'm repellent. And I know that this is mainly my own fault and I have brought my own revulsion upon myself through greed and laziness and lack of self-respect. And I know I won't change because I know I haven't got it in me. I know no matter how much I swear to improve myself, I'll fail. It's in my blood. I know I'll keep looking at the mirror, at that fat repulsive utterly unloveable creature, and feeling my stomach turn, till I go to the grave. I know every time I venture out I'm inflicting myself on the world, taking up too much room, getting in the way, turning off all I meet with my hideous size and unspeakable visage.
And I know most of all I deserve everything I get and more. I know when I look at myself I want to punch my face, hard and repeatedly, until I bleed, until I fall. I know when I think about myself I want to smash my head into a wall. I know every time I make a mistake, every time I let someone down, every time I make an unsuccessful pitch, every time I make a joke that doesn't get a laugh, every time I make a mess, every time I miss a day of work, every time I spill a drink, every time I forget to buy milk, every time I don't reply to an email...every single time I want to beat myself into unconsciousness.
And that's just what I want to do now, for my unmitigated narcissism in writing this. Because if there's anything worse than how much I hate myself, it's the burden I place on the world by insisting on sharing it with others. I'm very sorry.
I am, as Whitman said, large. I contain multitudes. I am smart and funny and dull and wise and foolish and arrogant and shy and loud and quiet and loving and kind and vicious and cold and sad and happy. But of all my shining facets, the biggest, the one that outshines all others, is self-loathing.
This is what it's like. Knowing you have a great life, and knowing it feels terrible. This is what it's like. Knowing you're a good person, and knowing you're a dreadful person.
This is what it's like.
When you say these things people tell you you're wrong, or that you need to snap out of it, or that you should adopt a more positive attitude. They tell you to count your blessings.
All of it's useless. I know I'm wrong, but I know I'm right. I don't want to be told anything. I just want to tell you - whoever "you" might be - that this is what it's like. Hating yourself.
Depression claimed me years ago, and it's made sure that my worst enemy is myself.
And I just want him gone.