The slithering serpent of self loathing snaked its’ way into my chest today, slipped around the four chambers of my heart and began to
“You’re no good.” it hissed. “Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not nice enough, not funny enough, not smart enough.”
It ‘s silky tongue slid against my ear.
“You make terrible decisions, you’re not living the right way, you’re always making mistakes.”
It’s smooth suggestions swarmed,” You’re a terrible mother, your house is a mess, the laundry never folded, the dishes never washed. You’re mean. No one likes you. You’re a phony, an imposter, a fake.”
“This project is stupid, you’ll never make a difference, the planet is doomed, you may as well give up.”
And everything felt gray, and empty, and mean, and small, and scary.
Because the serpent of self loathing preys on our deepest fears. Our coldest loneliness. Our most painful moments.
The final click of the key in the lock of your childhood home, emptied by divorce, suitcases on the front stoop.
The slipping sadness of your sister’s addiction.
The cold competition of public school.
The terror of losing your child.
The slithering serpent of self loathing breaks us into pieces, shuts us down, poisons our hearts, makes us hate ourselves and each other.
It is fed by airbrushed images of beautiful women, and emotional ads for shiny new toys.
It’s fed by the mind numbing boredom of the daily grind, and the ache we all have to be free.
It’s fed by the greed that is married to money, the constant consuming of lives, ecosystems, and spirits.
And it’s fed when we forget what it is to be human and sever our ties to the land beneath our feet.
The slithering serpent of self loathing wants us to be weak, and sad, and sick, and lonely. It wants us to bottle up our bad feelings so we feel small and helpless. It wants to destroy our self esteem so we’re too scared to fight back.
But I’m learning that when the serpent of self loathing slips into my chest and starts to squeeze,
I have to grab it with both hands, and stare it straight in the eye.
I have to shake my head, remind myself
That the serpent is just a snake.
And that I love snakes,
with their papery scales,
their sinewy muscles,
and their magic, legless movement.
And I’m starting to think that maybe if we learn to love our serpents of self loathing,
they will learn to love us too.
And that will make us WHOLE.
Thank you for listening,