Ghosts and realities – shame and criticisms from my past and how they affect my future

8 05 2007


Dear teachers, early influencers,
and those from my school days,

This goes out to you all. All of you who criticised my actions, laughed at what I was saying, smirked behind my back at the true expressions of myself and those of you who shouted “How dare you?” when I did not understand the consequences of my actions.

You may ask “What did I do wrong?” and I am here to tell you.

You locked away my own truth, you pushed the true me and the actions by which I express myself into a dark corner. You did this both emotionally, with your sarcastic ego trips and physically when you sent me for punishment.

Every time you did this (I don’t know if you noticed this or not) I took it in. I drank your criticism like it was water laced with poison, and then shrunk away like a scolded puppy.

Over time, these retributions for my supposed ‘transgressions’, built walls between ‘me’ and the outward expression of myself. And they now impose a limit on what I am willing to express of myself. They have shamed me into conforming to your rules.

I feel what I now know as shame whenever I express myself. So early in a creative process does this shame kick in. that in many instances I never even get to the first stage of any activity I do. I prefer to hide my dreams away believing somehow that they are pointless or wrong.

I am extremely proud of those things I have achieved those times I have fully seen a project through. More often than not though I have been forced to by other people and criticised because of my actions.

For example:

Under duress I wrote a play for my ‘house’ play competition while at school. This was forced upon me by you emotional bullies who wanted nothing to do with it. From time to time you would come into my room, look at and then criticise what I had written. I remember thinking (note the ironic turn of phrase) “How dare you put down my work when you are just sitting there on your backsides doing nothing but pretending you are more important than me.”

The play really was a painful birth. However, when it was shown it turned out my writing had perfectly captured the attitudes of those emotional bullies playing it and the audience loved it. I will remember for the rest of my life the person (a peer) who came up to me at the end to tell me he thought it was a great play. I will also remember sitting in the gallery watching my peers fall about laughing to what I had written. (I should add that it only last 10 minutes until it was thrown off for “…not being in the spirit of the house play competition”!).

One further example was my ski trip to Canada where I know a number of you [whether ghosts in my memories or people around at the time] were criticising my actions believing it wasn’t going to lead anywhere, it wasn’t going to lead to a ‘proper job’ or ‘it’s just another one of Andy’s dreams’. Well people, it gave me more than a ‘proper job’ could ever have done. It gave me hope, courage, discipline, insight, strength of character and faith in my own abilities. So screw you.


Here we are folks in 2007 and those ghosts and realities have been affecting me all this time. However I forgive you. And I forgive that part of me taking on board what you were saying. You were not doing it intentionally; you may even have been doing it because you believed you were helping.

If you fall into this category and are feeling criticised by all this I would ask you do one thing. Recognise when you are criticising someone else using your beliefs on how the world should be. Recognise that everyone has their own way of doing things which isn’t necessarily wrong. More importantly recognise when you are shooting him or her down for doing their own thing. Then apologise if possible and make a mental not to catch yourself earlier next time.

That’s it. Thanks for reading. I am off down to the framers to get my ‘school play’ poster posthumously mounted and put up in its proper place, on my wall.



One response

25 05 2007

From a friend….

“I had a similar experience at school, had to produce a dance for the
house competition. My dance teacher was a cow to me for some reason
she really did not like me and would always put me down if she could.

She did not help me at all (glad that she didn’t) but when word got
round that our dance was rather good, she came along to a practice
and spent the whole time criticising and making sarcastic comments or
negative suggestions so much so that one of the dancers just told her
to f*** off and then later said to me why did I let her do this?

It made me realise then that I was too forgiving and angry that I did
not stand up to her. But it made me more determined to “beat” her by
winning which we did. She wasn’t the only one a little surprised at
my achievement….I suppose what I’m trying to say is that we all have had these experiences to a more or lesser degree but you have experienced such an extreme and
enduring amount in your childhood.

Your school sounds horrendous so why did you stay?
I know you chose to go to boarding school to
escape homelife but surely this was worse? ….”

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