My relationship with myself has been a complicated one. I’ve been in love (which God only knows I’d craved for so long, though even he probably couldn’t tell you why, as I’d never seen a love not accompanied by some equally-as-powerful disappointment). I’ve experienced hate. I’ve felt both these feelings toward myself, often in unbalanced quantities simultaneously, oftener a solid 80/20 split in either direction depending on the date and time.
I find myself singing along to songs I don’t know, belting out sounds of moans and “ahs” where lyrics belong. Cool ocean air tightening my skin, unwound by the sun broken up by houses’ shades cast on the sidewalk. Warm, then chilled. Trying to remember if that recent thing that happened was a month ago or last year.
Some months I don’t know if I’m going to get by, honestly. I just chalk it up to the universe and hope I can make do.
Suffering through the plight that is averageness, scrubbing dirt out of our cuts we earned through work, slowing slightly at the sting that comes with lifted, torn skin hanging on to life, we dream, and rip, or puss out. Uncluttered homes not needing stockpiles for disaster, tattered clothes we toss, no longer necessary… The reminders come few and far between, except in the form of scars we carry with us, scrubbed clean wincing all the while. We’d never forget if given the option, (we have the scars to remind us, lingering grimaces the brain couldn’t erase, like a Westworld character reliving their past characters,) but remembering could hurt less, or in the least, look like it hurt less.
I haven’t felt on the same page as anyone consistently in a while. The divide seems grander than that canyon split by the river (or flooding; the source is widely debated amongst the critics, I hear). Maybe we should stop judging others for things that aren’t hurting us. Maybe we shouldn’t gauge others based upon the path they chose, shouldn’t think less of others for their choices. Maybe we don’t know everything we think we do.
Drink, do drugs, be sober. Go to college, start working full-time right out of high school, live off an inheritance. Have an abortion, don’t get pregnant, stay celibate, have that kid, give them up for adoption. Be vegan, vegetarian, eat meat. Be healthy, overindulge. Be gay, or straight, or bi, or trans, or be nothing at all if you damn-well please. Who are we to judge your choices? Who am I?
I guess at this point, I just can’t take it like a champ. I’m feeling kind of kicked when I’m down. You know, mental health really is like physical health. It’s like getting punched if you’re really strong—the attacker can’t hurt you, their fist just bounces back, sometimes hurts the assailant worse than any bruise you may be subject to—versus being punched when you’re really weak. You know how that turns out, no need to beat a dead horse or play with semantics any further.
I walk through cemeteries in the summertime, so little life surrounded by so much death, to really remind myself of that sea breeze I felt, was that last summer? Perhaps this spring…
Drawn back to the present, what the fuck am I doing at 28? I watch a 25-year-old Lena Dunham just starting HBO’s “Girls,” and I really give it to myself. (Though since then, she’s not so much as popular due to controversy, but does that diminish her accomplishment?) A huge gut wrenching strike. And I’m hurt receiving the blow, and I’m hurt enacting it, the abused and the abuser—you get it. No need to act as if my analogy isn’t obvious.
“When I look at both of you, a Coldplay song plays in my heart,” she says. And nothing ever felt so real. The good with the bad; this is it. These are the tattered clothes we live in or discard; the choice is mine, and... Well, I am terrified.
Something about a room with a soft glow, like that of candle light in all the right corners, maybe a quietly yellowed lamp low to the ground, it calms. The terror pushed out to make way for love, the love I know I have to give, to others and myself, but simply am too scared to forsake. I try, though, remembering all the people I’ve loved that I no longer have the chance to show, to share in that intimate space of secrets and understanding, even if it was only one-sided. Doesn’t matter, it was there and real, and there’s never unfeeling something you’ve felt.
Then passes the thought of forgiveness. The one-sided love, or worse, hurt, caused, isn’t ever destroyed inside me. My soul yet may love but does not approve. How many people I’ll always love and never truly “like,” I tally in my brain, because I was able to forgive. I always forgive in time (and time, we have so little of), perhaps too much time. Again, feelings cannot be undone, no backspace, they just are and will be until reprieve, but they were always there and shall remain in the positive. So seek out the negative as so to not long for something that never will be, I command myself. This is where the forgiveness ends.
I love myself, terror and all, but I don’t have to “like” me, do I? Like it’s so easy or something... “Just LIKE yourself, dude.” It’s nothing so simple, because as good as I am at reaching forgiveness in time, I can’t ever seem to apply that process to me. Consequently, I am at odds, a bitter stalemate, sometimes closing the evening in 70/30 after a salt-sprayed day functioning mostly at 45/55. Logic does not apply, and the feelings change, but their predecessors are always present, not bound to return but woven into the cloth that is my life and the lives of those who understand the sentiments.
I will feel like beating myself up, I can’t help it, and I’ll continue to until I die, and that’s fine, because in my mind, the alternative is pure ego and borders sociopathy. I have little choice in that matter; tossing the clothes won’t change the body that wore them. Lipstick on a pig, I think they say. And to further annoy myself, and hopefully not you so much, reader, I will spell it out—the lipstick is the attitude and the pig the feelings. You’re not dumb, you picked that up, I mean not to insult you, just to reaffirm for my own recognition of my flaws. I can’t forgive myself. I rationalize, here and back there, when it happens, the blow to me or others (which is a blow to the self, ultimately cyclical and redundant, which at this point I feel I should take on as a middle name—redundant), but the feelings will not dissolve. No time offers them peace and rest; they are to remain, as the love, and the forgiveness to come for all the scourges who’ve slighted me.
I hope I’m someone that someone once loved and though they may no longer like me, they’re glad they did love and still do. I hope they won’t begrudge themselves for their own misgivings for all of eternity, as it feels I’m condemned. ...Craving the day we all can count on getting by without doubt, at least in the war against ourselves, and the day in which others’ actions—that have no true impact on our lives—won’t strike us the way we let them. Never clenching muscles braced for the hit, we glide, so that we can focus on the scars and remember the tattered clothes and smile upon the reality that’s now so untangled we can see it all clearly, and feel it all fine, just fine.