You aren’t using it correctly. It’s a phillips not a flathead. and no amount of shoving is going to suddenly make the wrong screwdriver work here. Not ever. It’s just like life, you know. If something is simply the wrong instrument for the job, it’s never going to work quite right. Don’t have expectations that extend beyond the initial task assigned.
I’m not sure which I hate more, the reality of my body or simply the reflection of it in the bathroom mirror. And it isn’t so much a hatred as a misunderstanding. It’s taken me most of my life to come to terms with my body as it is. That it’s malleable, yes, but for the most part, this is the vessel with which I must live my life. The mirror lies. The mirror tells me I’m not good enough. But this is an opinion I would never make without the ability to compare my vessel to others. And this is something I could never do with out staring, vacantly into my bathroom mirror. It’s as if I’m looking for flaws that don’t really exist. I’m only picking out minor details because it seems as though I’m not allowed to love myself. There’s an odd stigma attached to finding something about your body that you dislike. That there must be some aspect of themselves that everyone dislikes. However, there must be an aspect of themselves that everyone loves as well. I’ve been too cerebral about this. My body is more than the reflection in the mirror. My skin is as soft as it is strong. I take it for granted how much work my skin does holding in my organs and veins. I take for granted how good it feels to be touched by someone I love. And how that touch awakens new
The sound of metal against metal was more jarring than I ever imagined it would be. It shook me to the core and lingered long after the initial impact. I suddenly found myself unable to make decisions. I didn’t feel injured, but I didn’t feel anything. I lay unmoving. Not because I couldn’t move, but I didn’t want to. I couldn’t think. Well, I could think just fine, but I didn’t want to. I watched the scene unfold before me as if I were an outside observer, not an active participant. I saw my own face, white with shock, immobile but unblemished. I saw my sudden dive into hysterics as a kind bystander asked if I was ok. I saw myself try to talk, but I scarcely remember anything I was trying to convey. I was too shocked to even help myself. I remember thinking “I’m glad someone stopped to help that girl” before realizing that I WAS that girl. But I had already left my body behind with all my emotions. How did this even happen? I was always so careful. But careful seems like a silly idea now. I knew it had nothing to do with me and it was simply a careless accident, no one was at fault. The driver of the other vehicle was alert enough to participate in the conversation now. I watched him try to get a meaningful answer
I sat alone in quiet discomfort.
But, I welcomed this sense of unease, because I knew it was a catalyst for change.
I would rather be uncomfortable for a moment then find myself consumed by the shallow stagnant waters of complacency.
I knew change was necessary and inevitable if I desired any sort of true progress in my life.
Treading water had become second nature to me, but was no longer serving me as well as I had always pretended.
I lied to myself saying I wanted one thing when I knew I desired another.
It wasn’t an easy decision.
One choice was the easy option, where I would leave my true aspirations behind, to be experienced only in dreams.
The other choice meant digging out the bits of my soul that I usually left locked away, ashamed to admit that someone like myself would have such grandiose aspirations.
I didn’t esteem myself highly enough to believe that I was one of those people who achieved lofty goals.
But now, I was at a crossroads.
I knew from this moment onward in my life, I could either uncover my honest ambitions and pursue them with abandon, or succumb to complacency.
Either way, my life will continue on.
It’s simply a matter of choice.
Do I want to remain stagnant and continue to live mostly in dreams?
Or do I want to relinquish my desire for comfort and consistency and make my dreams a reality?
Either way, it’s a risk.
One decision would mean forever taking a willing seat as a bystander, never leaving the comfort of my observational prison.
The other would mean that I would have to abandon my safety net requirement of consistent outside validation to bolster my own self-worth.
It was truly a matter of esteem.
Whether or not I was able to give my dreams the merit they were due.
Whether or not I could muster the strength to believe that my aspirations for success were just as valid as anyone else’s.
One choice would cause momentary discomfort, knowing it would involve changing the patterns already ingrained in my previously sheltered life.
The other would ultimately lead to my discomfort for the rest of my life, knowing I’d chosen stagnation over success.
I’ve made the choice to stop treading water.
You heard voices that told you among other things, that you weren’t good enough.
It was a lie, but it sounded as convincing as any truth.
You firmly believed that because that one girl wasn’t your friend, or because that one boy wouldn’t talk to you, that your life was meaningless.
You were convinced that it was because you weren’t pretty enough, or weren’t skinny enough.
You stopped dancing, something you’d loved doing for 12 years, because you constantly compared yourself to the bodies of the other dancers and the voices told you that you didn’t measure up.
You allowed yourself to be a victim of these voices.
You allowed herself to become a victim of a disorder that was all about control.
You felt this void, this unexplainable emptiness.
Feelings that you didn’t understand.
Instead of dealing with your emotions, you suppressed them by filling yourself with all you could eat.
Filled yourself up till you couldn’t feel anymore, then get rid of it.
Because it’s oddly cathartic being able to be the cause of your own pain.
To be in control of punishing yourself.
It was an endless cycle of binging and purging.
Though you were religious, your bible sat forgotten on the shelf.
More of an artifact than anything else.
A reminder of your past, and one that only added to your shame.
Occasionally you would pick up that book, that artifact, and flip through the pages begging for answers.
You wanted to know where the disease came from and why it plagued you, but you found no answers in that book.
You wanted to stop. This endless cycle was destroying your life, silently.
Your family ignored it, calling it “That thing you do.” They even joked about it.
But it’s not cute, it’s not funny.
It stole your voice. You used to sing. You had a lovely voice.
But the disease took that from you too.
It ruined your voice. It physically hurt to sing. You’d made yourself another victim.
Another reason to hate yourself.
Whether it was time that healed you, or sheer force of will. Or the kindness of a few loving souls that finally stopped the cycle, but it did stop.
It took every ounce of effort that you had to stop. It took every ounce of effort to fight the temptation to get rid of everything you ate as you watched your body change, not used to actually taking in food.
You hated your body for five years after that.
For most of your life you lived as a caged animal, either hindered by a disorder, or hindered by the fact that you still hated your body no matter what you did.
It would take another five years to heal completely.
But if I could go back and tell you, I’d tell you that it will heal.
And you will be ok.
And there will come a day when you won’t even think about it.
You won’t even remember that this was something you used to do to yourself daily.
And you’ll sing again!
There will be a time that you’ll think that will be impossible, but you’re wrong.
There will even come a day when you’ll come to love the sound of your own voice.
There will come a day when you finally believe other people when they tell you that they love the sound of your voice.
And you’ll finally be free.
Don’t lose hope.
It’s a long battle, but one worth fighting.
And I’m proud of you for sticking it out.
But just know that everything you’re going through won’t be the end of you.
And I look back on those years and it gives me strength for everything I have to endure today. Knowing how far I’ve come.
I look back at you. At that girl, that beautiful, strong girl who fought so hard to hide it, who fought so hard for control without having any at all.
One day you’ll truly find control, and you’ll realize that instead of making you feel trapped, that it sets you free.
Humans are animals. And like animals, we have an ingrained “fight or flight” response to stressors in our lives.
This is what gives us the ability to avoid dying when a car makes a strange maneuver in traffic and we have to get the fuck out of the way.
Or, it tells us to lie down in the street, opossum style, and hope the car just magically passes over us and we avoid death.
This is the strategy I also like to invoke when I’m faced with danger in social situations.
…It doesn’t always work.
But one key difference between humans and, say, squirrels, is that as humans we have an advanced capacity to feel emotions.
I’m sure cats and dogs feel things like happiness and sorrow, but they probably don’t get as advanced as existential questions about our existence.
Nor do cats have the tendency to fall obsessively in love with someone and try to stalk them.
And your dog probably won’t slash your tires for sleeping with your best friend when you were out of town visiting your parents.
But, emotions are wonderful. For the most part, I love being able to feel things. It makes life more interesting.
Sometimes though, as humans, we use our emotions for strange things.
For instance, we have this ability to use our emotions to suppress our “fight or flight” response.
And this makes us do really stupid things.
So there will be situations in which our little primitive animal brains are literally yelling at us to STOP FUCKING DOING WHATEVER WE’RE DOING AND RUN and our little emotional human brains will say “oh no dear, you’re just being silly. this is fine. calm the fuck down. put your pants back on. you’re a big girl. shhhh…”
I know this is true because I’ve done it.
Here’s a perfect example:
I was dating a guy for nearly four years. It wasn’t the most perfect of relationships, but that isn’t the point. He cheated on me then broke up with me via text message. It was traumatic to say the least.
He and I, obviously, didn’t speak for awhile after that. But six months later, in an unexpected rush of optimism, I decided that maybe it was time for us to be “friends” again.
So I contacted him. And he immediately responded in a rush of guilty “I’m sorries” that didn’t really fix anything, but made my ego feel nice and cozy.
So he and I started hanging out again, as friends.
Then we started making out again, as friends.
Then we started dating again (?), as friends…
On most of these “dates that weren’t really dates because we’re just friends” my ex took me downtown drinking.
I fully supported this idea, because when he and I were actually dating, we never went downtown drinking.
In fact, for most of our relationship, he despised alcohol. I didn’t really question this new behavior because I was getting free drinks out of the deal. So I just kind of went along for the ride.
Now, I’m kind of a lightweight, but I know my limits when it comes to alcohol. I never drink more than I can handle.
But, for some reason, on these “dates” I would be only one drink in or so, and I’d start feeling very anxious. Overwhelmingly anxious.
And this wasn’t just my normal, constant level of anxiety I carry with me every day. This was near “I’m literally a deer standing in traffic” levels of anxiety.
I soon realized what was happening. Not only was alcohol suppressing my inhibitions, but alcohol was suppressing my normal human tendency to Ignore my fight or flight response.
Since I had begun talking to my ex again, my brain had been screaming things at me like “NOOOOOOOOOOO STOOPPPPPP WHYYYYYY” and I’d been ignoring it.
But with alcohol in my system, I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
As I sat outside of a bar with my ex, I was overcome with a feeling I can only describe as eating day old sushi, swallowing a pound of pop rocks, washing it down with a 2 liter of mountain dew, then riding the incredible hulk during a thunderstorm.
In short: I vomited everywhere.
It was gross.
But, this guy I was with, being a gentleman, held my hair back while I puked.
My sickness was so bad, it attracted the attention of a bouncer who came over to ask my guy friend if “his girlfriend” was alright.
My ex responded, in the most soothing voice he could muster, at the top of his lungs, “YEAH NO THANKS MY EX GIRLFRIEND IS FINE I DON’T KNOW WHY SHE’S GETTING SICK. THANK YOU”
Which just made me vomit more.
Now, you would think that this happening once would have been enough to wake me up to the reality that I should not have been hanging out with this guy.
Once was not enough.
It happened two more times.
I puked, in public, downtown, while out with this guy, two more times in two weeks.
Each time, I’d only had 1 or 2 drinks.
It was around the time that he insisted on reminding me that he “wasn’t looking for a relationship” that I FINALLY learned my lesson and stopped seeing him.
But, shit. My animal brain was trying SO HARD to get me to stop seeing him.
Some people can’t see their exes because those people are abusive assholes.
I can’t see my ex because not only do I have an adverse emotional reaction, but I have an adverse physical reaction as well.
MY EX BOYFRIEND LITERALLY MAKES ME VOMIT.
*In the time since I’ve stopped seeing this guy, I haven’t once been sick due to alcohol consumption.
We are all selfish beings at some level. Sometimes it’s a matter of survival, sometimes it’s a matter of ego. Regardless, we always think our stories stand apart from other people’s, that we are somehow inherently above or below them based on our own subjective assumptions.
Love is no different. Falling in love is believing you’re the exception to someone’s rule. What we don’t realize is that our feeling of exemption doesn’t actually shield us from becoming collateral damage.
We start believing that how someone treats other people is not indicative of how they will treat us. Friends forewarn us. Red flags wave. We ignore it all in lieu of the hope, the expectation, that it will just be different with us. The danger never registers, we never allow it to. We start believing that we will be the one who saves them, who reasons with them, who changes them.
You can never…
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