The Onslaught of Contempt
By: Andrew J. Bauman
It was strange that our previous babysitter had blocked me on Facebook. What did I do? Had I offended her in some way? I was anxious as I approached her. “Jess is everything okay with us? I noticed you had blocked me on Facebook.” She responded in a cold matter a fact tone, “Well I wanted you to know I think you are a violent man, and you and Christy’s parenting is not very good for your kids.” I felt exposed and deeply ashamed. Then I woke up. Glancing at the time to see it was 4:30 am and me sweaty and feeling profound unwavering shame. I attempted to sleep but my feeble attempts were about as helpful as the screeching chatter between my ears. ASSAULT. It all feels like a battering on my core personhood.
For two weeks, I have felt under this form of attack. I believe my dream last night spoke to my current state of black eyed contempt. Feelings of isolation, loneliness, reading to much into interactions, or maybe not enough into them. Unanswered emails, feeling insecure about my work as a therapist, writer, teacher. Questioning my questions. Does everyone have it out for me as much as I have it out for myself? I have felt contempt towards my contempt, resentment towards my action and/or my inaction. Damned either way. Damn. I have been wedged in a contempt cycle that feels foreign and familiar at the same time.
Self-contempt works this way, its dizzying in its twisting of truth. Self-contempt is committed to pilfering any thread of goodness and soiling you after it’s finished. I assume this latest onslaught is because I have recently been so brave. Whenever we have the courage to step into goodness be prepared for Evil to fight back, through stealing, killing, and destroying resurrection in your life. (John 10:10) I turned in my first book to my publisher, Christy and I are attempting to fund a documentary film about grief and the loss of our son, Brave and two miscarriages. We have been heroic; I am proud of us. And of course, here comes Evil’s ambush! I have felt anything but heroic. I have felt small, futile, short and rude in interactions with my wife and friends. I even had the tricky thought of “What I am even doing with my life?” Despite the fact that I am nearing completion of my coursework for my doctorate, finishing up the book, speaking regularly, co-creating the film, it doesn’t matter to my contempt, our actions are never enough to silence our critic’s hunger. No matter how hard we run it is never quite fast enough for Evil to hunt you down and mock your success.
I wonder if my drive for significance is the pursuit to be unconditional loved? Quite oxymoronic, work so hard to achieve unmerited love? Maybe it’s an unconscious push to finally get my father to truly “see” me instead of his own reflection? I don’t know for sure, but what I do know is the orphan within me is ravenousness for confirmation and no amount of it can suffice. Its appeal is strong, convincing, fueling and justifying an unquenchable thirst for value. I think this article is more of a way to process this reality than providing a remedy, though the remedy is most likely found in this very process. This is my prayer, that I can acknowledge, see, and humbly release this false God of significance and contempt that has me so twisted.