I didn’t hate myself until the first time I had my heart broken. I was very young, and I fell in love with a boy who was also very young. He preferred a certain flavor of women, and I was not that flavor, though I attempted to adjust myself accordingly. When the time came and he moved on, I thought maybe I am not the right flavor for anyone. Maybe I am too spicy, too bitter, too much for someone like him. What spices could I add to my life to make myself more palatable? How could I make everyone want me since the one person I loved didn’t. So I became sweeter things, because everyone loves sweetness, especially a woman coated in sugar. But then I became overly sweet and that wasn’t the next persons flavor either.
There is this perfection monster, that stands over my shoulder and is critical of every mistake I make. She is judgmental, she is unforgiving, she ruthlessly examines me down to the core of my being. She watches my motivations and keeps tallies of all my wrongs. There is an unrelenting bar to achieve in order to be a good person, worthy to be loved as I am. I spent many years believing her because I thought this perfect person that she wanted me to be, was good. All I wanted was to taste good.
My husband and I have approached this year of marriage and we realize our life is not the way we intended it to be. The sauce is still simmering but the spices are off. Albeit, we have a wonderful life, beautiful home, and amazingly healthy children. We love each other, we work hard, and we try our best every damn day. However, we took a look around and asked What’s missing? This year we have taken ourselves down to our very foundations and are relearning to build ourselves again as people. I have gone through the painfully long journey of deconstructing myself, I threw out the whole damn sauce and I’m starting again. This time, only I get to decide what stays apart of me and what doesn’t.
I still approach situations in which I don’t act the way I intend too. I still do things that seem contradictory to the goals I have set for myself. That perfection monster creeps up on me and whispers See, you can’t do it. You cannot be a good person who has good things and lives a good life because you are too imperfect to deserve it. You deserve death for being so flawed. No one will like you because you are bitter and spicy.
Recently, I had a conversation with my husband. He tells me I have tunnel-vision which immediately spiked my defenses. I observed myself reacting negatively to this description and asked myself why? It’s not that he is saying something that is wrong. I’m naturally obsessive when I find a subject that interest me. I have laser-like focus when I’m cooking, so much so I cannot even hear my children asking for my attention until they have shaken me from my activity. But my focus has made me a better cook. This is not a flaw? This is who I am. Why then have I hated myself for so long so being who I am.
I thought about this for a while. There are things I do that upset me but why is it so upsetting? Why does it cause me to hate myself in this way? Maybe, it’s because I used to believe in righteousness. I used to believe that there was some holy level of living to be attained. Maybe I thought eventually I’d be everyone’s favorite flavor. Maybe, one day I believed I would stop failing. Maybe one day I would shut the perfection monster up by being exactly what she said I wasn’t.
So I tried it, I quit all of my addictions, completely changed my diet, woke up every day with the list of things the perfect me would do in a day. I tried being the person in my head and it was impossible and failed. People spit me out again. Which was all-together more upsetting then before I even gave it my best effort. There is always something off in this recipe.
I write fictional stories in my spare time and when I’m building my characters the important question I was taught to ask is What does the character want? Why do they want it? And what are their consequences? This means that some people have motivations that would be considered wrong and some have motivations that would be considered right. However the formula is the same. Want + why = consequence.
So I then ask myself this. Am I upset because my actions are who I am, or because my actions are not who I am.
Recently, I have had the personal revelation that I am selfish. I always want for me first. i’m selfish with my time, selfish with my resources, and selfish with my food. Naturally, this causes me to hate myself because in certain situations of dilemma I choose the selfish option and hurt others involved. This is a pattern for me. This is a choice I make again and again and I spend many hours flogging myself for doing so. So why doesn’t this change? Is it because it’s who I am? or not who I am? True character is the choice we make in dilemma, so then, I am upset because being selfish is who I am.
I look at myself in this way. I know and accept that I have focused tunnel-vision and I have selfish motivations. This is what I know so far. That sounds like the life of an artist to me, which is who I have always wanted to be. An artist is greatly benefitted when she is focused and an artist must be selfish because when the inspiration comes she must steal away her own time and create. She must put herself first so her art can be expressed, because the inspiration comes suddenly, demanding the attention now and will not wait for too long. Why then would should I waste so much time telling myself I’m horrible for being selfish, when I know how imperfectly necessary it is for me to create the things I do? When I am selfishly focused in on creating something my consequence is magic.
Somewhere, there is a world where these weaknesses I have are my strengths. Someday, I will live a life completely content because I will be at peace with who I am. I will look at myself and be fully accepted by someone for the first time in my life. I will know myself and I will not run away. I will not wield my weaknesses as weapons, but I will train them to be tools in achieving whatever I intend to create. Maybe my selfishness makes me a bitter flavor? Maybe my focus makes me spicy? Maybe there are people in the world who like bitter spicy things and those are the people I will find. Maybe I will learn to like bitter, spicy things in the same way I learned to like chile peppers and black coffee.
I refuse to apologize for myself any longer. The only thing I can do, is live complete transparent with myself, fully accepting of the imperfectly messy person I am. I am this sauce, I am simmering now. I cannot pretend to be good or sweet anymore. I cannot give the world this person who has been praised for so long. To everyone I know, I have hidden half of myself. And even to myself I have only ever lived half-alive. This time of my life I feel the call to fully live, and in doing so I must accept that I will do the wrong things with the wrong motivations and sometimes I will sabotage myself by burning the good I create to the ground. It will happen because this is part of who I am. This will happen because these failures are my stories.
I cannot be anything other than me.
I cannot be good, I cannot be bad.
Today I am bitter and spicy and that’s all I wanna be.