Sometimes, it drifts through the background of my mind- like the sound of approaching rapids while you’re still out on calm water. Sometimes I scream it out, and sometimes it’s like someone else’s voice is screaming with my mouth.
You’re trash. You’re such a bad person. You’re so ungrateful. “I’m so ungrateful.” “I’m obnoxious and pushy.” “Nothing I do will ever be enough.”
I know firsthand that self-condemnation and self-hatred are painful. I also know that sometimes, it’s hard to control the overwhelming thoughts and feelings that tell you you’re a waste of time and space and oxygen. That’s why I’m interested in the way Star Trek deals with self-condemnation and unnecessary guilt.
In the episode, “Obsession”, Captain Kirk becomes, well, obsessed with chasing down and destroying a dangerous, white cloud creature. It gets to the point where his judgement is… clouded, (sorry, I can’t stop myself today), and he begins to make decisions that endanger his ship and crew.
Spock and Bones are, of course, very concerned, and even start to worry that their captain has gone space-happy. That is, until their history tapes reveal the root cause of the captain’s mania. When Kirk was a young lieutenant, his captain, and a good deal of his crew were killed by this cloud creature. Kirk still blames himself for not firing his phaser fast enough, which he believes would have stopped the creature, (spoilers: it wouldn’t have).
Spock and Bones are good friends. They confront Kirk, not about his outward recklessness, but about his inner pain. They make him look at his self-condemnation for what it is- nonsense and lies.
Then, Kirk is able to pass this along to young Ensign Garrovick, who also feels guilt for not having shot at the creature before it attacked his fellow red shirts.
If you’re like me, and those horrible thoughts overwhelm you sometimes, the good news is, they aren’t true. They are nothing but lies and nonsense. Sometimes, they will still feel real, but hopefully, somewhere in your heart or mind, or whatever it is that makes you you, we can remember they are nothing.
And let’s get some good friends like Spock and Bones, around us, too. To tell us the truth when we need to hear it.