Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, November 12, 2010


I haven't hated myself for a long time. Now comfortable inside my own skin and, on most days anyway, not wishing to be inside anyone else's skin, it is rare when self-hatred rears its ugly head. But rear it did on Wednesday. I haven't a clue what triggered the attack, but it was vicious. I looked in the mirror and saw someone I called fat, old, and ugly, with no talent and no value. The good news is that I was aware of it on a conscious level, which was not the case for most of the years I lived with those feelings festering inside me.
The bad news is, I had no clue what triggered it.

I'd been harboring some envy of other blogging buddies who are having great success with book launches and blog followers, and mucho comments on their blogs. But that wasn't enough to cause this kind of self-loathing. I also found myself comparing myself negatively to the two other singers in my trio, but still, that wasn't it.

At dinner with a friend that night, I shared how I was feeling - not an easy thing to admit - yet here I am admitting it to bloggydom - at least those of you in bloggydom who do read this blog. She was astounded. She started listing the things she is in awe of that I've accomplished over the years we've known each other, including going back to get my college degree when I was in my fifties. Completing and publishing my memoir and almost selling all the copies in print. Starting Sugartime when, as she put it, "you don't have the greatest voice in the world," but now you're singing in front of 250 people at the Mayor's State of the City address.

So where does the self-hatred stem from? The best I can figure, it is old old old stuff - and the bottom line is that I can get to a place where I don't feel like I have value - to anyone. That I make no difference whatsoever in anyone's life. It's how I felt as a small child in my home. It's how I felt in my first marriage. It's how I felt as a mother, especially after losing custody of my child.

Today, I know these feelings aren't facts. I can't seem to get rid of them altogether. But by being aware in the moment how I am feeling, I can take steps to shift the energy back to center, back to where I know I matter. By talking with a friend and then doing a NIA class (movement always seems to shift the energy), the self-hatred left and I was back to my normal inner peace.

Do old negative feelings ever plague you in the present? If so, how do you deal with them?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't experience feelings of self-loathing, although there are times I doubt I'm where I'm supposed to be at my age in terms of accomplishments.
But we don't need to be at the top in order to inspire others to climb higher. And who you are now is what matters, Karen.

Jules said...

Being a partner to this same inner darkness I can tell you this. It is what we deem unworthy and useless that really matters the most. From this post alone I realized I'm not and the fact you went back to school @ 50 made me smile with, "See you can do it too."

You are exactly where you should be. My feeling and I'm just saying...

I read your blog and enjoy every minute of it :D
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Karen Walker said...

Alex, thank you so much for these words. They mean a lot.
Jules, I'm so sorry we are partners in this inner darkness. Ditto right back at ya!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I struggled for years with a low self-image, and throw in my half melacholy personality, I can still send myself into a funk. (That's right - it's not all spunk, sometimes it's funk.) I guess my busy schedule just keeps pushing me forward so I don't have time to waller with those thoughts.
And you shouldn't either, Karen!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Karen,

Yes, I think it happens to most of us. Those memory flashes tend to cause me anxiety and sadness more than self-hatred, though. I have to talk myself back into an upbeat mood.

Gail said...

Yes, I do have feelings of being worthless and having no voice.

I wish I knew what to do.

Bob Sanchez said...

Karen, occasionally I'll get down on myself and call myself stupid or start mentally listing my faults. I used to be really hard on myself. Now when that feeling comes over me I'll think, "But wait a minute. I'm good at A, B, and C, and I helped someone else."

You can't help your past, whatever it is. You can't help how you were raised. You can help your present. Try listing positive things about yourself. For one thing, you're a writer. You have a blog with 170 followers, for goodness' sake. Even if you didn't (I don't), I'll bet you've made someone smile, helped someone, finished an important task, heard a person say that you've made their day. Then when a dark thought enters your head, make a conscious effort to think about one of those positive things about yourself. It can be hard at first, because negative thinking is a habit. Remember, we all have faults and we all have value.

Karen Walker said...

Diane, you're right, of course, but sometimes, despite busy schedules, etc., the thoughts invade. I'm sludging thru the muck on my way out, though.
Patricia, yes, positive self-talk helps me, too.
Gail, I think we just need to develop a tool box of sorts, and keep trying one tool, then another, till something works.
Bob, you have no idea how your words touched me, and deeply. Thank you so very much.

Helen Ginger said...

That probably happens to just about everyone - it certainly does to me. I think you did a very smart thing - you had dinner with a friend. Even if she hadn't talked with you about how great you are, just sitting with a friend helps. And, frankly, I consider you an online friend and I'm glad I came by today.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

I am the wrong person to comment, because not only am I way younger than you, I haven't seen a fraction of how much you have. But one thing I do know is that those irrational negative feelings are hard to get rid of.
I know I am brighter and more articulate than most people I meet, I've probably acheived a lot more professionally than a lot of them, and have come further on a journey of self discovery. And yet, when I meet someone new, those old feelings of inadequacy raise their head, and I get all defensive. Why?

The only way to cope, I would think, is to recognise it for a problem and just get on with life.

You are one of the most fantastic people I know, and if you feel you are inadequate in any way, it is totally irrational.

Karen Walker said...

Helen, ditto to you. I feel the same way. Thanks for the visit and the loving words.
Rayna, wow. Thanks so much. Irrational - I love it!!!