The Ball of Shame

Happy St. Patty’s!!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

My Dad’s side of the family is Irish. We’ve been in Canada for generations, but one of my great uncles still had an Irish accent. It was awesome. I live in Montreal and we have a rather large, close-knit Irish community. There are St. Patrick’s Day Galas, a pageant to select the Queen of the Parade, special Irish breakfasts, everything and everyone downtown turns green and the Irish pubs go nuts! People are all dressed up in crazy outfits and drinking green beer on the streets. It’s actually a lot of fun.

My cousin runs the pageant. She was queen once herself. It’s not a typical pageant. It’s more like a public speaking contest. Contestants have to introduce themselves and their Irish background. They prepare a speech on Irish history or literature and they have to answer a current events question on the spot. Whoever is elected queen gets a trip to Ireland, leads the parade and spends the year volunteering in the Irish community. It’s a pretty good program.

It has become a tradition for my family to watch the parade together and then retire to my aunt and uncle’s place for Irish coffee and food. Every year we gather on the same street corner to watch. Kids, adults, dogs, the lot of us, plus our friends. There is usually about 25 of us.

Yesterday was parade day…..and I didn’t go. It’s not that I didn’t want to. I enjoy the parade, especially the music. I even bought a green sweater to wear for the occasion! It’s also been a while since I’ve seen my extended family. I’m dying to see them. So what’s the problem? I don’t want them to see me. Do you ever feel that way? It’s kind of a weird state to be in. It’s not like I have anxiety about it or don’t have the energy for it, which is usually the case. Maybe ashamed is the right word? I’m ashamed of myself.

My family is going to want updates on what has been going on. I don’t know what to tell them. I’ve stagnated at work (or school, whatever you consider Ph.D. work to be). My own research is stuck in ethics, I’m having trouble getting volunteers for the other studies I am involved in and I have no publications to report. Then, there is the bad news about my husband’s job (see yesterday’s post). On top of that, I’m fat and ugly and my clothes don’t fit nicely anymore. I have been gaining weight (thus why my clothes look bad), my skin is a mess and I haven’t washed my hair. This is not how I want the people I care about to know me.

So you think maybe I should have put on my best clothes, gone and kept the conversation focused on them. Impossible. My cousins are the type of people who look you in the eye, ask how are you? and actually wait to hear the response. I can’t avoid talking about myself a bit. So I stayed home. I missed out on my family, the fun I could have had and the memories I could have made. This makes me sad.

I should just put real clothes on and go. That’s what I usually end up doing, forcing myself out the door everyday. For some reason, this time, I can’t and I can’t quite explain why. Just get over it I tell myself, they are your family, they will love you anyway. I know this is true, but it doesn’t seem to help. I want to be successful, confident, pretty, fit and charismatic. Don’t we all right? Sometimes I pretend that I am. I fool my friends and co-workers pretty well. Acting gets to be exhausting though. Family and very close friends are different. I feel guilty putting on a show for them. It’s not really me after all. I’m so afraid of being less than what they expect. I don’t want to disappoint them. Now you say, you are disappointing them by not going. I know that too, but it doesn’t compare to the disappointment they would have in interacting with me.

The Ball of Shame that holds me hostage

So now we have fear, sadness, guilt and shame cycling through my head. Are these feelings what is keeping me housebound? Is that it, or is there more to it? I don’t want that to be it. Seriously?! Feelings are stopping me from doing things? That makes me angry at myself. I think I’d feel better if there were some sort of physical barrier stopping me or someone holding me hostage.

Usually my posts are a little more upbeat. I try to talk about more positive experiences or at least experiences where I have learned something, but I’m afraid I just haven’t figured this one out yet. Have any insight? I’ll be sure to let you know when I do.

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