We are gathered here today to mourn the passing of someone very dear to me: Me. Oh, I know I am still alive, so obviously, I am not mourning the actual physical passing of me, as fascinating as that may be. No, I am mourning the passing of the girl/woman I used to be–the one who I am trying to no longer be.
For decades, I hated that girl/woman. I wanted her to die. If I had the guts, I would have killed her and her whiny, mopey, puling ass. I couldn’t stand being inside her head as she brooded about how much her life sucked for hours on end.
I hated that she was weak and indecisive and just so gumdropit* spineless. She was a complete mess, and she couldn’t do anything right. I hated her with every fiber of my being. I wanted nothing to do with her–which was problematic, of course, because she was me. As hard as I ran, as much as I numbed out, as much as I tried to get away from her–I couldn’t.
That depressed me even more.
Hate. it’s an ugly word, but it’s apropos in this situation. I can’t tell you how much I raged against her, how much I tore her down and shredded her into tiny bits. The demons in my head didn’t have to egg me on because I was a willing participant in her destruction. I berated her physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. She couldn’t do anything right, and oh, how I hounded her with that truth every Damascus Fig moment of her existence.
Let me be brutally honest: There was a time when I didn’t like a single thing about myself besides my intelligence. I hated my face, my body, my indecisiveness, my low self-esteem, my freakishness, my skittishness, and everything in between. I thought I was the biggest piece of shiitake on earth, and I didn’t think I deserved to live.
I abused myself physically in many ways because I just couldn’t express my disdain for myself deeply enough with mere thoughts and words. Horrifying? Yes, in retrospect. At the time, I thought it only what I deserved.
When I look back at who I was twenty years ago, I don’t recognize that person. I don’t know her or what she was thinking or how she thought. Frankly, she and I would never have been friends. And yet. And yet.
That woman–girl, really, at that point took all the abuse I heaped upon her. She took the mutilation, the dangerous sexcapades, the eating disorders, the exercise obsession, and she didn’t break down. She did not have to go to the hospital–ever.
My body. It’s sturdy. I have never had a broken bone. That’s pretty amazing given how little I actually cared for it over the years.
My mind. It’s crazy, for sure, but it’s also creative, lively, and imaginative.
That abused girl dug in her heels, and she survived as best she could. It wasn’t pretty or easy or healthy, to be sure, but she’s not dead. Or rather, I’m not dead. And, for that, she is to be thanked.
The thing is, though, the coping behaviors she developed that allowed her to survive this far are not healthy ones. They are not coping behaviors that will allow me to do more than survive. And, dingdang it, I want to do more than just survive each day.
Now, I can recognize the habits, thought patterns, and behaviors I employ that are outmoded. It was my habit to constrict my world to make it as manageable and nonthreatening as possible. I avoided personal conflict at all costs, and I worried endlessly about everything. I put off doing things that were unpleasant or that could possibly be unpleasant, and I swallowed my anger. I would hurt myself because I felt it unsafe to have any kind of argument with anyone else. I would get on and off the diet train until I wrecked my body. I hated myself, and I doubted that anyone could really love me. I viewed myself as irrevocably broken.
I’ve started to slowly and painfully put an end to some of those bad coping mechanisms, but it’s never easy to change one’s core beliefs. And, because I am the way I am, changing these beliefs results is me questioning and doubting myself even more.
It’s one step forward, a half step back for me. Sometimes, it’s one step forward, two steps back, and then a huge leap forward. My progress isn’t linear, and I get discouraged when I backslide–which seems to be so figging often. I am not one to be patient with myself (another flaw), and then I spiral into a constant loop of self-disparagement.
It’s time to put a stop to that as well. There’s not much I can do about my initial reaction to things, but I can do my dammedest (please note, not a swear) to stop the slide before it gets too bad.
I’ve put off writing this post and posting it because it’s very bittersweet to say goodbye to the old me. I know that it’s best to let go of the broken, battered girl I used to be, but it’s hard to do so without wondering what I am going to be from here on out. There’s a small part of me that doesn’t want to let her go because she was my identity for so long. I have to be gentle with that part of me while simultaneously saying goodbye to my past.
I can’t change my past. It’s a part of me, and it has definitely shaped who I am now. However, I also can’t cling to it and pretend it’s all I’ll ever be. I’ve done that for far too long. In the last two years, I have changed by leaps and bounds, albeit in fits and starts. Earlier on, I said I wouldn’t recognize the girl I was twenty years ago. Hades, I don’t even recognize the woman I was five years ago.
I don’t know who I am, any more, but I know who I am not–her. That broken, comatose girl. That ruined, walking dead woman. And so, it’s time for me to let them go. As I do, I thank them for their service to me, and I truly hope they can now rest in peace.
*I gave up the swears for Lent in order to prep for my run to the Republican primaries for president. At least I don’t have to stop lying.