I Am So Ashamed Right Now

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Yesterday evening I was in a Read & Critique room. Now, I love this group of people. It’s a very dynamic group. We spend the first hour working with 2 prompts. The host usually gives us 10 minutes to make up a story about them. Sometimes they are word prompts. Other times they are image prompts. After that, she puts us into breakout rooms of 2 – 3 people where we take turns reading the stories we came up with and to get a little feedback. Then we all come back to the main room and work on our second prompt and do the same thing as with the first prompt.

After sharing our creations from the prompts, we then took turns reading excerpts from our WIPs. Usually a chapter. Last night 4 people had signed up to read. This is where I got into trouble. I’m so ashamed.

One of the regular attendees is writing a fantasy novel. His story is set in the 17th century. I’m very impressed that he is staying as true as he is to how English was spoken back then.

I was third to give him my feedback and I cringe to tell you what I said. I know that when I tell you this your opinion of me will definitely get much lower – much, much lower. I’m embarrassed to even mention what I said, but I have a need to talk about it, plus I have this habit of being very honest, even though by doing so, I incriminate myself. I’ve been like this all my life. So here goes nothing.

In this story there is a character who, I only discovered about a month ago, that he has an array of folks in his head that talk with him. He’ll have conversations with these individuals.

Before I began my critique I asked him if the character is schizophrenic. He replied,


This is what I told him,

“Ever since I found out he’s schizophrenic, I’ve lost some respect for him.”

Here I am, someone who is always defending those who are different, whether it be because of mental illness or just being different period and I make a statement like that. Let’s just say I never put my foot in my mouth because my foot seems to have taken permanent residence there!

What made that statement even more awkward is this: One of the members in the room, a young woman, just so happens to be schizophrenic. When I was finished making a fool of myself, she spoke up and said,

“Well, I’m schizophrenic and…”

The rest I honestly didn’t hear because I was too busy chastising myself. There was no anger or hate in her voice. In fact, she was very gracious to me when I apologized to her. She is a sweet person and such a gifted writer. I will forever be kicking myself about this.

I’m not trying to backpedal what I had said, but, as most will tell you, I have a problem with words and for some reason his schizophrenia stuck out for me and just wouldn’t let go. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it had nothing to do with that, but more to do with the fact that the character is a jerk. Just not a good person all the way around.

I tried to clarify myself, but because it sounded like I was backpedaling, it just landed like a lead balloon. It also illustrated something else that I try to impress upon others.

We all have our ideas about certain things and even when we ‘grow out’ of them, those negative connotations stay with us still. Even if we know different; know better. The difference is that most people are adult enough to not say everything that comes into our heads, except those like me.

Time and again I have to keep telling myself that it’s not necessary to voice everything that pops into my head. For the most part I have conquered the tendency to be ignorant, but every now and then, I slip up.

I want to go on record as saying that I am not prejudiced against those who have schizophrenia. When I think of all the myriad of mental health issues I have, who am I to judge others? My fault is that I allowed myself to cater to an old ideology that I grew up with in the days when I was distrustful of those dealing with this issue.

I own up to my insensitive remark and I’m sorry for any undue stress my ignorant remark may have caused you. You are very bright and talented writer.


11 thoughts on “I Am So Ashamed Right Now

  1. Though I am a little surprised by your initial reply.. that you lost some respect for the character.. you likely meant (not to put words in your mouth) that your reliance on this character’s credibility was lessened.. or, at the very least, you would take what he verbally offered with a grain of salt.

    I would. And I don’t think that’s terrible.

    Then again, back of my mind, I would wonder if he (the schizophrenic) wasn’t just gifted, like a soothsayer or seer from that era. A literary device used in some period pieces of the ilk.

    Be easier on yourself.. and, maybe, choose your words more carefully. Employing a more nuanced a description in your knee-jerk reactions.

    Hard for anyone. Why they call them knee-jerk. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Johnny. But you should know that diplomacy in speech isn’t one of our strong suits. Another one is having a tendency to be a bit unfiltered when speaking.
      She was very sweet about it and for that I’m grateful 🥲

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We all have knee-jerk reactions, conditioned by our circumstances, history, upbringing… before we think again and rationalise our reactions. Your difficult is that you speak out before you get to the thinking again, which is possibly what a lot of us would do on the podium with people listening to our pronounceents. I think, when we’re the centre of attention we feel we need to keep talking and it’s harder to think first.
    So that’s maybe something to take away for next time (for all of us?) Don’t be afraid to pause between thoughts, even when (especially when) everybody’s listening.


  3. I think what I intended to communicate in my reply was this:

    What you said may have sounded like you ‘lost respect’ for this character. In fact, it may have included those very words.

    What you likely meant was.. the character lost your unbridled support. His future expressions and actions would be colored by your knowledge he was presumably schizophrenic. And in ancient times, without the benefit of medication, the diagnosis would affect his dealing with others and the world.. and very possibly in an adverse way.

    I don’t see how this is worthy of so much shame.

    Blushing, maybe. Perhaps a further and immediately forthcoming explanation was due. A chagrined hashing out of your intent, perhaps:

    “Not so much a loss of respect, as viewing him through a more learned lens.”

    If the author insinuated a character was, I don’t know, lusty.. always seeking a momentary, naked tryst.. forever would the reader think his coming on to a fair maiden was of a certain bent. Assigning lascivious motives (quite rightly) with the knowledge he was thusly leaning.

    That is simply human nature.. to take input offered and react, interpret accordingly. A good author uses this tendency against the reader to produces plot twists and surprise endings. Don’t be ashamed his quill was successful.

    Yes. We autistics often speak before we spout. That said, I’ve been known to promptly parse out (sometimes contritely, sometimes matter-of-factly) what I REALLY mean when caught in an un-nuanced blurt.

    I don’t think we ever INTEND to hurt, but we do traffic in candor.

    I find candor sorely missing in the world, and I like that I add my own. Like I am right now. (And I hope you never lose yours.)

    The beauty of the written word, of course, is we can write, then edit, the polish before sending.

    To sum up:

    Blush, yes. Claim foot in mouth, maybe. Explain your nuance, indeed. Be ashamed, no.

    I go on to theorize the author was ‘very sweet’ about your observation because in your eyes, soul, and heart she sensed your implied truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My first thought when I read your response was, “that sounds like a neurodivergent thinker saying that.” I also lack a filter. It’s an awkward space to be in, but as my psychiatrist told me, we’re all a mess in our own way and we all deserve to take up space in the world while we work it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought again about your response about not having filters.
      The point for me is not whether or not I have filters. The point is I made a disparaging remark regarding those with schizophrenia.
      Having my filters all in check would only prevent me from saying something like that out loud. They would not prevent me from “thinking” that thought.
      That is what bothers me, especially considering that I’m an advocate for those who are on the fringes of society. I’ve spent my life defending others who’ve been bullied by others because of their differences. Making that statement alone makes me a hypocrite.
      Do you see what I mean?
      Thanks again for reading my post!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I totally get it. I was raised in a family of religious fundamentalists and bigots. I still hear things pop into my head that I learned while a child, and it’s humbling to know that shit still floats around in my brain even though I don’t believe it.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Actually, I have found that those “old tapes” stored in our heads can come out at the worst times – what it really points out is perhaps a need to sort through your old tapes and begin replacing them with “new” material and that takes a long time and a lot of repetition Your contrition is touching and I admire your willingness to confront yourself–never easy.

    Liked by 1 person

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