Recently I came to a very grim realization, one that I think I have been subconsciously aware of for a very long time. That realization?
I legitimately and wholly hate myself.
Ask yourself: Are there days where nothing you do makes you feel complete, no matter how hard you try? Do you like the person you see when you look in the mirror, what about their face? Do you find that person attractive? Do you find that person even worthy of love or adoration from someone…anyone? Has every single accomplishment you ever made instantly become negated and thrown to the void, never to be looked at again? If you can relate to any of these things, you may be just like me or well on your way to where I’m at. At some point during my life I gave up the ability to tolerate myself, and it’s had a massive effect on who I am as a person.
When it comes to dealing with myself there’s a lack of forgiveness for even the smallest of mistakes. This intolerance for personal failure can range from forgetting to write for the day to wondering why I didn't capitalize more on the free time I had during undergrad to better secure my future. Every little thing becomes a red x, an endless parade of D- report cards filtering through my mental chimney much like Harry Potter’s Hogwarts letters. There is no room for gentleness, not now or ever.
I could not tell you when I first learned how to do this, or even where it happened. What was once a singular voice inside my head is now a chorus, a grand opera that shows 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is endless, it is agonizing, and it’s preventing me from seeing myself in the positive light I know I deserve to be seen in.
It may be a symptom of simple circumstance, I come from a working class family and was the first to go to college. I was supposed to be something of a poster boy for Black Excellence…but somewhere along the way that got derailed. Every mistake chipped away at this image I held of myself, slowly but surely rendering me the person I am now. If I once likened myself to a sculpted piece of art, now I would be no more better than the chunks of marble on the ground.
In today’s world we often read and hear about self-care, little efforts we can take to improve our every-day lives. A face mask from your local store, a relaxing bath, maybe even indulging in some junk food and a movie. We do these little things to add more color and light to what otherwise may have been a bleak day. But what do you do when all the filters have been switched out for the dullest of grays? No matter the brilliance of what happens to you, no matter how magnificent your accomplishment, it’s always comes back down to that same filter.
Through the filter of self-loathing, what becomes of a person’s potential? The world of possibilities is shrinking in my head with each poisonous thought. Where magnificent castles full of dreams once towered over the land…now exist only rubble and dilapidation, my mind’s luster dimmed to nothingness. Self-care twisted and warped into self-dismantling, I’m now standing in the center of these ruins and trying to figure out how I can change fate. What is this first step that would let me or anyone stop this disgusting cycle and move towards rebuilding a healthier self?
Cleaning up the debris. It starts with realizing that nothing has to remain in ruins forever. The castle may now be gone, but it doesn't mean something bigger and better can’t stand there one day. Years have gone by without a hint of softness for myself, idly standing by while the best parts of my being faded to dust in the wind. Conversely, years can go by full of that long-denied softness, the slow march of time in sync with the rebuilding of the love I once had for myself. Love that I would and still gleefully give to others, like arrows over the walls and into their hearts.
I wonder what my friends and family thought of these ruined castle walls. I wonder if the dissonance of my actions gave them pause, stuck wondering how I could shower them with love while denying myself any ounce of it. I hope they can find it in them to forgive me, since I’ve finally seen the light.
And I too hope I can forgive me, the road to recovery is going to be agonizing and long. Who knows when I’ll be back to where I was before I regressed, but I know now that if I keep my eyes looking forward to the horizon, those colors will eventually show themselves once again.
Thank you for taking this journey with me! I also create poetry: