I have been told that we are our own worst enemy. While I believe it is with purpose and progress that we try to become better every day, my number one competitor is myself. I compare myself to the person I was in the past often. I look at pictures from when I was five, fifteen, nineteen, and even a year ago, and I try to recognize that girl.
We are constantly in flux. Nothing about us set. Not our weight, our age, not our eyesight. At five, I smiled behind a pixie haircut, clinging to my mother, not knowing how much this period of time would come to haunt me later. At fifteen, I was a braces-clad high schooler, looking to find anyway to fit in. But I never did. I could hide it so well, the feeling deep down that I didn’t belong at the posh private school my mother sent me to. I was surrounded by perfection or at least a good show of what wealth and privilege could produce in material things. At nineteen, I was a confused college student. How could this man my mother brought into our lives hurt her in such a way? How could she stay with him and choose him over her own children? How was I going to cope? Nineteen was the year I chose to break out, to find any way I could to never return or need him in my life.
A year ago, I was naive. I am not saying that magically in a years time I have become some beacon of wisdom. I don’t have many of life’s answers. I probably have less of a sense of why things happen the way they do now then I did a year ago. I was fresh out of college, full of hope, and ready to take on the world. I was excited, so positive, and not really equipped for everything I have endured since then.
And that’s okay. My biggest asset in this life is my strength. I know I am tough and I am strong. I have endured more than my fair share of pain, misfortune, and strife. But through it all, I still have a smile on my face. And I genuinely want to help people. I am growing every day into the person I want to be.
It is so hard though. I am haunted and conscious of the past. The letdowns and the apologies from my father, that I am just finally letting go of. The misguided view of love my mother filtered for me. Her erratic attempts to control me and keep me in her life as I find my place in adulthood is both uncomfortable and draining. As a person, I struggle with self-esteem issues, ADHD, and intimacy. I go through periods where I believe in myself, then with one move, everything shifts. I become sleepless, restless, a flood of terrible experiences and disappointments shift into my frame of mind. The little voice that I hate in my head, the bad one, starts rationalizing why I will never be good enough to have amazing things happen. Why I can never be in a functioning relationship, why I will always be stupid, why I will never be skinny. The voice berates me, with taunts about my knobby knees, my hips, my non-symmetrical eye line. And I will hang my head low, in shame, thinking that this voice is right, things will never go my way, maybe I am not worthy of the things I so hope for.
But, I can’t lose my grip. That voice doesn’t have to guide me, it doesn’t have to be my reality. I have purpose in my work, in the people I can see I make happy, in the transformation externally I have made into a woman from a girl who had just donned a cap and gown. I can’t be on a run and let that voice tell me I am slow and fat and that I will never be the tan and skinny girl who hit on the man I harbor so many feeling for. She is no better than I, and I no better than her. I need to stop justifying people putting me down, because I will never get anywhere in life if I continue to believe that certain comments and actions by others that hurt me are okay.
I cannot give others permission to take away the parts of me that made me that naive and hopeful girl. While I can say I am not as green as that fresh-faced girl who believed that everyone should be forgiven when they hurt you, I am not jaded either. I no longer believe that I need to forgive everyone. I no longer believe that forgiveness is necessary. And that’s not out of bitterness. I wish no ill to those I don’t forgive. I just know that forgiveness won’t free me from the pain they have caused me. What frees me from that anguish is releasing them from my life completely and finding other people to replace their hurt with joy.
This is my manifestation who I am, right now, in this moment. My grip on life is shaky, not sturdy. I long for companionship and safety, financial security, and consistency in friendships. I crave dependability in people I surround myself with that I feel I have been robbed of.
I am not a victim, I am not a martyr. I don’t want sympathy or empathy from people. I am no hero either. There are far more people who triumph disease, war, poverty, and deserve these emotions.
What I want from my life, myself, my actions, is to be proud. I want to be proud of my strength and garner it with prestige even more so than right now. I want to continue to find resilience, fire, passion, excitement, possibility, and truth in corners and places I never imagined.
Most of all, I want to surprise myself…. I want to silence that little voice that terrorizes me in the dark of the night.