Today I want to speak on something that’s excruciatingly hard for me to talk about. My hope is that openly and truthfully talking about this particular issue will help me to lay this burden down, once and for all. And obviously if it helps any single one person feel better, it would literally make all the pain and shame worth it.
So diving right in, it’s about how for the majority of my life I’ve always felt like, you guessed it, a dirty loser.
Ugh, it’s so hard to even type that!
Especially the dirty part, there’s such shameful, self loathing, filthy, “less-than” connotations attached to that word. It’s such a stigma and I’m so scared to even admit that I ever felt that way or was that way, although since a lot of people have called me that, I think the cat’s out of the bag, regardless.
I’m clearly not fooling anybody pretending that being dirty was never a part of my identity, or that it’s still not. I’m definitely a lot better groomed these days, but when those feelings have been festering for a couple of decades, they tend to leave a mark.
It’s crazy because it doesn’t even matter if I’m fresh out of the shower, moisturized and smelling good. I still feel dirty. And I’m a girly-girly-girly-girl, who loves getting dolled up, so I usually won’t even leave the house unless my hair and makeup are perfectly done, my nails are on point, and I’m waxed, pedicured, and accessorized flawlessly. I do all this, and there’s still this voice in my head that inevitably chimes in at some point, like you’re dirty, you’re disgusting, you’re a loser, and you always will be.
It’s to the point where it has nothing to do with being physically clean or dirty. It’s now my internal state of being.
I’m the dirty girl and I always will be.
Being told I was dirty and looked upon with disgust for so many years ended up completely altering my sense of self and marred every single aspect of my self image, to the point that I feel like a dirty, disgusting person, and just assume everyone sees me that way, too.
So for all my super clean, take three showers a day people out there (that incidentally includes every member of my immediate family, I’m like the random dirty black sheep, no one knows where exactly I came from) that have never felt dirty and can’t quite grasp this concept, let me paint a picture for you.
You know that feeling you get when you see a person that you would say is “dirty” or “a loser”, and you’re thinking “ew what a dirtbag, take a shower you fucking loser” or something along those lines, and you’re feeling this cringeworthy, disgusted, grossed-out feeling towards them?
Okay, so flip the script and put yourself in their shoes for a second, and imagine all those feelings (the cringeworthy, grossed out, disgusted ones) being turned inward on yourself. The best description is a squirmy, feverish, anxiety-riddled feeling that I can only liken to diarrhea.
Now imagine those shameful feelings of disgust invading your body and spreading like cancer, destroying any of the good feelings you may have previously held towards yourself, leaving only ugliness and self-loathing in its wake.
And before you know it, you’re Jeanna the fucking dirty loser, and any positive regard you held for yourself in the past is completely and totally eclipsed by the shameful way you now view yourself.
Jeanna the dirty loser is now the essence of who you are.
Obviously it’s not the essence of who you were born to be, but the more you hear it, the more you feel it. The more you feel it, the more you believe it. The more you believe it, the more you do things that perpetuate the cycle and keep it going until that really is who you are in every sense of the word.
So let’s dive in to some of my most shameful, excruciating “dirty/loser” moments so you can really get a feel for the things I’ve experienced and get to know the shame I continue to live and struggle with on a daily basis. And, who knows, maybe my moments will make you feel better about yours, or maybe yours will make me feel better about mine if you share them in the comments section, because I clearly still struggle with this distorted self-image at times.
Imagine, reading an email one of your parents sent to your cousin stating that you were so gross that they didn’t want to hug you anymore (in all fairness, I shouldn’t have been snooping and I learned that there are some things you can’t ever unsee). That’s not a direct quote, I think it was like “I get so skeeved out when Jeanna tries to hug me” or something along those lines.
Imagine no one wanting to sit with you at lunch in 7th grade and being forced to sit at an empty lunch table by yourself, having nothing to do but sit there and feel like a loser. I don’t even remember how it happened because I feel like there were people at the table with me at the beginning of the year, but they slowly trickled away, one-by-one, until I was the only one left. It was such a public, panicky “nowhere to hide” feeling, almost like there was a neon sign pointing at me “this girl has no friends, no one likes her”, and there was no escape. I just had to sit there like that for the duration of the year.
Imagine walking onstage to get your diploma at your 8th grade graduation, and no one clapping for you except your mom and your one friend (special shout out to you, Alyssa, you got me through, couldn’t have done middle school without you <3) This one was so hard because its was almost like a public display to my mom of how much of a loser I really was. I mean she obviously had an inkling, but after that day, she really knew what was up. And I’d like to mention that I don’t come from a mushy family to begin with, it’s definitely not a “just be you, spread your wings and fly little bird” kind of vibe, its more like “what you do reflects on the family, don’t embarrass us” kind of vibe. I just remember sitting there, watching the other kids go up, and having the horrifying realization that some people weren’t going to be getting clapped for, and I was most certainly going to be one of them. Nowhere to run, no way to avoid it, just had to walk up there and face certain excruciating humiliation.
I feel the need to state again that the point of rehashing these gut-wrenching memories of mine, is just to get them out of me and hopefully release them once and for all, and I do feel like I’m making some real progress with that. When I wrote the rough draft, I was using a pen and paper and just writing so furiously and just feeling the emotions all over again and crying and just breaking the fuck down, but by the time I started typing the second draft, I had a much more objective view on the whole subject. It was a very cathartic experience. I highly recommend.
Self-Deprecation and Irrational Fears:
But, here’s something I’m figuring out as I go along.
Wait, I have to stop for a second and let you know you that just as I was gearing up to tell you all the good things about myself this crippling fear came over me. It’s odd that it’s more difficult for me to publicly say complimentary things about myself than to call myself a dirty loser. That’s how deep this goes.
I’m also a master at self-deprecation, and I could sit here and crack jokes at my own expense for hours on end. It’s almost like I want people to know that I’m fully aware of each and every one of my mistakes and flaws, maybe so it won’t hurt as much if I find out they’re saying it behind my back. Like, “too late, I already beat you to the punch and put myself down, joke’s on you”.
I can’t even deal with myself sometimes.
I also have this very irrational, but at the same time, very real fear, that if I’m doing well and feeling good about myself, someone is going to pop up from my past and pull a mask off of me to reveal the imposter hiding underneath, but it’s just me living my life, and I’m not fake, so I don’t understand why I fear that so much.
It’s kind of funny because it’s such a ridiculous fear, but it’s also sad that the feeling is so ingrained in me that even if I succeed in life and achieve all my goals, it’ll never be as real to me as being a dirty loser is.
It’s literally who I am to myself.
So, fuck it. I’ll embrace it. Jeanna, the dirty loser with the feisty temper and heart of gold. It is what it is. I’m having this epiphany as we speak that the more I say it and type the words, the less power they have over me.
And just please remember, if you’ve ever been too busy to shower because you’re crippling depression or anxiety wouldn’t let you do anything except stare at the wall for hours on end, that does not make you a bad person. Don’t you dare fucking feel bad about yourself for one fucking second. Don’t feel like you should be ashamed or that you’re less than anybody. Just try to do better tomorrow. If it’s not tomorrow it’ll be the next day. Period.
And keep in mind appearances aren’t everything. Even if people’s lives seem perfect and glossy we can never truly know what goes on behind closed doors. There could be drugs, abuse, pain, you never know. We can’t compare ourselves to others because we’re all specifically made to be different and to have different challenges.
I will say that I know a lot of people that wouldn’t win in the hygiene olympics, but are literally the kindest, funniest and most beautiful, non-judgmental souls I’ve ever had the privilege to meet, that have a lot of pain and hardship as well, and maybe that stops them from keeping up with their personal maintenance, but they still manage to treat everyone they come across with kindness and respect, and they’re just different, they’re interesting and unique in such a good way.
I absolutely love people like that.
I will say if I had the choice to be either a mean-hearted clean girl or a good-hearted dirty girl, I’m 100% Team Dirty Girl, excruciating experiences, shameful feelings and all. I would not change a fucking thing. At the very least I got some good writing material out of it.
I love that at the start of this process I was crying and going nuts, and as I finish it off I’m smiling and feeling so much lighter.
I’m starting to realize, literally from writing this, that the key to healing these emotional wounds is to stop hiding who we are. We need to confront these darker facets of ourselves head on, and love them too. No one is all good or all bad. And if you’re pretending to be, just stop, because you’re not fooling anyone, with the possible exception of yourself.
We’re all comprised of light and dark aspects of our personality, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Stop keeping yourself hidden and beating yourself up for being fucking human. From now on I know I will be intentionally seeking out those dark places within myself and letting these supposed “bad” qualities get a little air and sunshine.
Who’s with me?