Fifty plus years ago, shortly after I came into this world, the seeds of self-hatred began to be sown into my psyche.

No human being is born hating themselves or others. Hatred is “planted, nurtured, and cultivated” over time, flourishing into a gnarly, thorny underbrush that dominates the landscape of one’s soul.

Sometimes it overwhelms the love, empathy, and hope within a person to such a degree that they become suicidal or homicidal.

My self-hatred and hatred for others was powerful like that. I never acted on them, but many years ago I had both suicidal and homicidal ideations. Feeling such hopelessness, repulsion for oneself, emptiness, nihilism, pain, and rage towards other human beings is Hell on Earth.

I felt as if I had been thrown into the “fiery furnace, where there was “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:42)

Death was beckoning as a welcome respite from the relentless torture of my undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder. But before I checked out, I had a couple of people I wanted to take with me.

Hatred had become so prolific in the garden of my soul that it choked out nearly every last straggling shoot of empathy, self-love, and reason that had managed to take root in the barren, parched soil.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, it was love that intervened that fateful day and prevented me from taking three lives. The love of a girlfriend and the love of a therapist. And their loving intervention.

Looking back after 26 years of recovery, learning to manage my Bipolar Disorder, and spiritual growth, it seems impossible that that was actually me. But the memories of the experience, thoughts, and feelings are all too real and intact.

And though the powerful force of love predominates my psyche today, I know that the ever-present spectre of self hate lurks somewhere in the shadows, waiting to pounce when I am vulnerable. Which provides compelling motivation to maintain my regimen of spiritual fitness and to continue to pursue spiritual growth.

If my self-hatred had a face, that face would have soul-piercing eyes and would project a terrifying look of malevolence.

I imagine it would look a lot like this…

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