I can still remember years ago (when I was in the throes of my untreated Bipolar Disorder exacerbated by the trauma of frequent verbal and emotional abuse) that when I walked into a room full of people, it was like preparing to wade into a swamp of predatory crocodiles.
My toxic shame would envelope me in a shroud of pitch black, soul-smothering fog. My anxiety rose so high that I felt like I was bursting out of my skin. I became tongue tied and terrified that someone would speak to me.
My sense of self worth was utterly reliant on approbation from others. So since my brain was telling me that everyone in the room was hostile to me and thinking I was fat, stupid, and incompetent, I was psychologically enslaved to my perceived thoughts of everyone in that room.
It was absolutely miserable. And psychologically, I actually was chum for the true crocodiles- people who were mentally stable and capable of navigating social situations, yet spiritually sick.
Those self-centered, insecure individuals who needed to pull someone else down to pull themselves up flocked to me like seagulls to popcorn. They felt shitty about themselves, so they relieved their pain by tearing me down with socially acceptable snark, sarcasm, and other passive aggressive modalities of gashing my already wounded psyche.
Nevertheless, after 25 years of being on my journey of Recovery, the perceived crocodiles are gone. And the real ones don’t matter.
Today when I walk into a room, provided I am spiritually fit, I don’t worry about what the people in the room are thinking of me. I contemplate what I am thinking of them.
What a blessing.