A few weeks ago, I was digging through my writing folder and I happened upon something I wrote late one night in February, and when I read it, I wanted to sob.
It’s incredibly easy for me to chase the rabbit, to follow one dark thought down into a rippling spiral that ends in the kind of dread that shakes me to my core and tears me out of the objectively amazing reality in which I live.
So when I see the trails left behind, from where I’ve chased myself into corners, it kills me to know that I can be that person.
It stings all the more because
I started a WordPress so that I could have a public writing showcase
but I’ve also slipped into the habit of using it to write about my feeeeelings, and I’m afraid that my future employers will look at my self-reflective sketches and think that I’m too this or too that and not enough of whatever it is that they want.
And really, I’m writing about me, but is it me that I’m serving up or the idea of me, the me that makes pointed observations about pop culture and its impact on my life,
or the me that puts fingers to keyboard whenever she feels emotionally unsound, who is terrified of every decision she makes, every thought she has, who stares into the Nietzschian abyss and flees?
I hold my breath and count backwards from ten.
But everybody is scared of something. And anybody who says that they’re 100% at ease with themselves is a liar, even if they don’t know it just then. My body? Hate it. My face? Hate it. My skin? Hate it. My uneven eyes? Hate ’em both. My scabby scalp, my unruly eyebrows? Hate hate hate.
I know all this within myself, but when I tell people how I really feel about my self-perceived image, I ease into a confident falsehood. I am at peace with my body. I am conscious of my body and my looks. I am I am I am
lying. I’m lying, goddammit, but it’s trickier than just all-consuming loathing.
Because I do like myself, as a whole, but I like the idea of who I could be even more. I have the ability, but I haven’t fulfilled it. I am a bloated caricature of the young woman I could be. And it kills me when I look in the mirror and I am not her.
Hate is a strong word. I don’t hate myself, just the components of my self. That’s not particularly healthy either.
I can’t control myself. It’s 3 a.m. and I’m writing an essay I know I could’ve finished days ago. But instead, I’d stayed up all night and slept in all day and then I whittled away my waking hours eating trash and keeping my ass planted on the couch. I know I should be exercising more. I know I shouldn’t pick at my scalp, even though it itches like hell when the scabs reset on my head. I know I shouldn’t drink all of this shitty soda.
This is the youngest I will ever be. The bloom of my youth, or some trite saying like that. Yet every time I talk about “Girls” with people and they grimace and groan at Lena Dunham’s body, I fight the urge to defend her, because I have her body. Actually, no, my body’s worse than hers.
Worse is subjective. I know that. I know that beauty is not measured in BMI. I still hate myself.
At least Lena Dunham has nice skin. Oh, and she’s a writer who’s somehow managed to “figure it out.” And she has enough going on with her that she isn’t defined by her body type, within the narrow constraints of what physical beauty is in our image-obsessed society.
But even though people like to blame fashion, entertainment, and the male gaze for the ever more implausible “feminine ideal,” the slow deterioration of my body is my destiny alone to control.
I can feel my belly push against my waistband. And I hate it, and by proxy myself, for it.
But I don’t hate myself. I hate my body. That’s different. That’s the distinction I have to make, or rather, the distinction that I have to make because hating myself isn’t, as I’m fond of saying, “a good look.”
Except that’s not entirely true. Because I hate parts of my actual self too, like the fact that I talk too loud and the fact that I cannot, for the love of me, make a good first impression,
and I talk too fast and I talk too nervously and I st-st-st-stammer but not in a clinical way, so I have no out when I open my mouth and this effluence of idiocy pushes its way past my lips.
The pimples on my skin make my face oily when the camera flash goes off, and there’s redness from where more pimples want to flare up.
I hate my skin. I take another sip of soda.
I keep telling myself that I can fix this, that I can fix me. I believe it. I know it’s possible
but only if I can cut out the vice from my life, if I can regain the balance that I’d lost long ago.
It’s difficult, because I’m surrounded by people who made good choices so they can make bad choices now.
Biology blessed me with a short learning curve but it’s a shame about everything else.
I count the seconds that pass by. One, two, three
and it’s too taxing, to keep my eyes open. I can feel the itch below my skin, somewhere on my jawline, where another red dot is pushing its way up into visibility. God, what did I do to deserve this.
Don’t ask God. I’m an atheist. Or at least that’s what I tell myself, except that I wish I could send offerings up to something, anything, because that would mean there’s a way to fix myself without actually having to fix myself.
I don’t hate myself I don’t hate myself I don’t hate myself
and I wonder where and when it is that I crossed the line between self-reflection and self-loathing. Have I ever thought about the end of it all, of giving everything up and letting my privileged life slip through my fingers? HA, yes, yes, oh yes, but that doesn’t make me special. On the scale of normality, on the scale of social functionality, I am at the peak of the Gaussian curve. I am average. I am the most average of average.
And maybe that’s what I hate the most. But I can’t will myself into being the best at something; I haven’t put in my 10,000 hours. I haven’t put in even 1,000 hours.
But why would I be honest now. I know there are things I’m good at. It’s just that there are people who are better. But so many things are judged in subjective ways, so who’s to say that I’m not the best at one thing or another, just that it’s immeasurable, or not being measured in a way that would crown me Queen.
Sleep tugs at my eyelids but I have to finish this paper. I can feel the weight of this dead physical self sag into the fake leather of the couch.
My body is betraying me, but only because I’ve betrayed it. You deserve so much better. But I don’t want to starve myself in order to look a certain way, because that’s a measure that I recognize is unhealthy.
I’m obsessed with the physical and I can’t stop.
I tear at myself from within and it hurts and not in a good way.
I hurt I bleed I burst and it pains me to know that