I wish I could explain why I am so hard on myself and have it make logical sense. Trust me when I say I’ve tried. I always describe it as an open sore on my soul, a big gaping wound that I continue to pour salt into while I frantically try to triage all the pain of the people around me.
But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not an open sore. It’s not visible. It’s not something that a passerby could see and rush to help with. It’s cloaked in layers and layers of secrecy. It hardly ever sees the light of day. And that is entirely because I don’t let it. I fake my own serenity. I fake all of my self love and affirmation. All the while this sore just continues to fester. It feeds off of a variety of nutrients, including patriarchy, the impending doom of humanity, rape culture, and a culture of monetized self worth. And of course, its biggest source of energy is root of all the pain, the nuclear reactor core of all my self-loathing manifestations:
I don’t think that I am worth love.
And trust me when I say that sounds stupid when I read it back to myself. Why wouldn’t I be worth love? What is it about me that makes me less worthy than the next person? Why is it that I don’t deserve the one thing that human beings crave and require? These are all excellent questions that don’t have obvious answers. But they do provide context. They show me how I allowed people to walk all over me as if I were an especially hated doormat. They help me recognize how my behavior allows me to be treated and the situations that it convinces me are normal when in fact they are super detrimental to my mental health.
In other words, they have given me the gift of impeccable hindsight.
That’s what this journey is all about: the completely and utterly useless skill of being able to look back on an event or situation and know exactly how you should have acted. It isn’t entirely worthless, I suppose. The ability to point out better options in retrospect is an excellent catalyst for growth. But, and trust me this is a big but, it helps zero percent when it comes to avoiding the hurt that occurs in the present moment.
So how do I proceed now that I have this knowledge? Do I wallow in the notion that I am always going to be miserable with myself and never be able to know what it means to love myself? Do I shout from the tallest rooftop with the largest megaphone that I figured out my own Achilles heel? Do I write an angsty poem about the darkest caverns of my mind and how they trap me in vicious cycles of self-loathing?
Or do I swallow my very real belief that I am a horrible writer with no future in the world of publishing and write a book detailing my journey through life with a mind that is constantly conspiring against me?
I have to say that even putting words on paper to get this healing going was a huge emotional victory. Let’s revisit the whole ‘I-don’t-deserve-love’ mantra that I talked about at the beginning. What I mean by this is that I don’t believe I, Rosalind, have the right to take up space. I don’t just mean that I hate the way I look in the mirror or that I’m upset that I don’t fit into a size zero, though I do frequently find myself hurtling down that rabbit hole. It means that I despise how my body looks, feels and moves through this world. It means that I feel as though my existence is a colossal mistake and that maybe the world would be better if I weren’t here.
Wild, right? How could a person be so mean to themselves? This is the type of language you hear in documentaries about cyber-bullying. This is the type of hate that you imagine a vindictive Regina George-looking person would hurl at you while you cower in fright. It’s not something that you would expect an otherwise calm-looking person to say to themselves. Nonetheless, here I am. And I have decided that even though I am constantly at war with myself, and even though there are days when I feel like ripping the skin off my bones, I am going to stay here.
And I sincerely hope that you enjoy this series as I chronicle my process of working towards regaining light. I say that for one crucial reason.
I hope it demonstrates to you that you aren’t the only one who feels like a mistake. I’m here. And I’ve learned how to survive with a mind and body that are plotting against me. I’ve grown to find some peace in the turmoil.
Because, obviously, hindsight is always more profound than the emotions we have in the moments of pain.