Worthless. Piece of shit. Garbage. Loser. Fucking stupid bitch. Ugly cow. Lazy asshole. Freak.
Ugly words. Words I use – to describe myself. There usually isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t use at least one of those. If Hermione* hears me, she responds, “don’t talk about my best friend like that.” I pause for a second, and then shrug it off. I wick away kindness like overpriced workout clothes promise to wick away moisture.
I don’t know why I feel like those words belong to me. I don’t know if I come by it naturally, or I grew this way. Some days I don’t want to know. I have crazy in my family. Dark, hateful, mean, crazy. My mother, I’m fond of saying, is batshit crazy. My sister is a sociopath (not officially, but I think it fits). The women in my family make me uncomfortable. They scare me. (With the exception of my beautiful grandmother.) In college, I liked to joke that I was going to get the Cabbage Patch Doll seal of authenticity tattooed on my ass, as proof that I came from somewhere else, that I was made of something different. Even though I try to be evolved and understanding, in the back of my mind, “crazy” makes me suspicious. I don’t understand it simply as a disease that hurts the affected as much as those around them. I see malevolence, a desire to inflict pain. I’ve cut my sister out of my life. I refuse to acknowledge her existence, going as far as excluding her children (most of whom I’m afraid have either inherited or absorbed her personality). Because I have recovered a meaningful relationship with my father, my mother comes as part of the package. I handle that by reducing her to a joke. I say that I had a chupacabra in place of a mother. I’ve come to terms with the fact that she is either unable or unwilling to own our past, and that I will die before I receive a sincere apology from her. I’m fine with that. Most days.
I’ve mentioned my ongoing health issues before, and lately, I’ve watched my teenage niece struggle to recover from injuries she sustained last year, and I’ve noticed similarities between us. Mostly though, I’ve stayed quiet, not wanting to hear ‘jokes’, or a rushed “oh I don’t think so” from her parents, as if any similarity between us is something to hope against. I get it, I feel that way about my mother and sister, but it sucks knowing someone feels that way about you. The words I opened with, the ones I call myself on a daily basis, are so no one else has to. It hurts less if I acknowledge it before someone else does. I don’t want anyone to figure it out, but I’m afraid they will, because to me, it’s so obvious. Cleaning the house the other day, I came across a journal I was using a few months after Husband and I got married. It was page after page of me constantly urging myself to do better, even though I was exhausted, “before he figures out he married a disgusting, pathetic loser.” Two months after we’d gotten married. Reading it made me sick to my stomach. I threw it out. Today I found out my sweet, funny, intensely adorable niece has been diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder. Naturally, I looked it up. Um…a bit more than similarities there… You know what I didn’t do? Mentally dismiss her. I didn’t think she should ‘suck it up’ or ‘get over herself’ or ‘stop being such a loser’. I didn’t hate her for being ‘fucked up’ the way I hate myself.
Lizzi (and others) are involved with 1000Speak, a movement to bring some compassion to the world en masse, instead of letting the Dark and the Sad overwhelm, like it’s been threatening to do of late. And I’ve wanted to join, but I’ve stopped myself half a dozen times, because I literally didn’t think I was capable of finding compassion and writing anything worth reading. But if the past two days have shown me anything, it’s that even if I can’t give it to myself, I recognize that the same issues do not make a girl stupid, or idiotic, or weak. Understanding, empathy, and most importantly, kindness, matter. So, consider me signed up. I’ll find something to say.
*Not her real name, but I can’t keep referring to her as my unofficial sister/best friend, and since I won’t use her real name (which is really pretty), I’ll give her one that reminds me of her, because she’s brilliant, and brave, and a tremendous support to those she loves.