I know I’m not a perfect human being. I’ve never had any illusions about that. I am fairly confident, however, that I’m damn decent. That is, I at least have enough decency to strive to be better.
I don’t blame other people for my insecurities. I could probably blame outside influences for my lack of confidence when it comes to the whole exterior beauty thing. But ya know what? I’m 26 years old now. It’s kind of up to me to get passed my awkward fucking adolescence. So what if I had the most gargantuan retainer the world will ever see. So what if it was dark blue with SPARKLES…
It’s up to me to forgive myself for not choosing a slightly less conspicuous hunk a’ plastic. It’s up to me to accept that just because I wasn’t a sexual dynamo at 13 doesn’t mean that I’m doomed to be unpretty in my twenties. It’s no one’s fault but mine if I go out to a bar and end up standing in the corner feeling fat. It’s no one’s fault but mine if I watch a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and spend the entire time making a detailed list in my head of all the things she has that I don’t have. It’s no one’s fault but mine if I stand next to an Amazonian beauty and curse myself for being born a pissed off pigmy.
When I was in middle school, a chubby boy I had never met in my life called me “saddlebags.” It haunted me for a while. I can’t lie. Does it haunt me today? Naw. I mean, if I had a time machine I’d go back and beat his fat ass, but I’ll be okay if that never happens.
I don’t blame other people for the fact that I have struggled with panic attacks since I was 18. Who would I blame? The engineers who designed and built the 405? Thomas Jefferson, for inventing the dumbwaiter, which would eventually evolve into a tiny fucking elevator? Some other old dead white man, for inventing the desk job? How about the nervous fish I evolved from?
I put up with the fear of impending panic attacks for four years before I finally saw a therapist. She helped a bit. She listened to me as I cried about my grandmother and all my shitty ex-boyfriends. She worked with me to accept that it’s okay to show emotions, and that it’s ok to admit when I’m angry, sad, or scared. A year later, still far from perfect, I talked to another professional. She listened to me as I described how I managed to bring my anxiety level from an 8 to a 2 by practicing the breathing exercises she taught me. She listened to me as I described how I convinced myself I was going to choke on my own tongue. She listened to me when I told her about the time I felt a slight twinge in my abdomen after taking a sip of my dad’s wine.
“I spent an entire week thinking I had liver cancer, I said.
“Pretty potent stuff your dad’s drinking.”
And we laughed.
Yes. I laughed at myself. I laughed at myself for how silly I sounded and I laughed at myself for having such a vivid imagination and I laughed at myself for the sake of staying afloat.
Sometimes people close to me mention what a total hypochondriac I am and how it’s so funny that I’m so damn nuts. During those moments, I feel a little hurt. A little betrayed. I wonder what motivates them to make jokes about my struggles. Do I think about those incidents from time to time and get angry? You bet I do. And ya know what happens next? The anger passes. And I’m over it. Again.
I know I’m not a perfect human being. Never told anyone I was.
Sometimes I’m not the best at letting things slide. Sometimes someone’s hurtful comments strike a nerve and I turn into the Incredible Hulk’s terrifying bitch of a sister. I say hurtful things. I yell. I hurl insults that are intended to damage a person’s entire psychological makeup.
Yes. I am capable of complete and utter nastiness. But ya know what I’m also capable of doing? Apologizing.
I’ve made numerous apologies in my life. I’ve mustered the strength to say, “I’m so sorry.” I’ve told family members and close friends, “I was wrong.” I’ve sworn up and down, “I will try not to do that next time.” I’ve explained, “What you said hurt me because” and closed with “but that isn’t your fault.”
Of course, it’s up to the other person to accept my apology. It’s up to the other person to decide if I’m worth forgiving. It’s up to the other person to relax and listen and make the next move. If things go wrong from there…what else can I do? Probably walk away, I think. Be patient. Acknowledge defeat. Practice the breathing exercises various pros have taught me. Forgive myself. Let go.
Sometimes I really want someone to immediately see eye-to-eye with me. Sometimes I not only want my actions to be forgiven and my apologies to be accepted…I also want to hear, “I understand.” I don’t only want forgiveness – I want vindication. I want to be assured that even though I said or did a shitty thing, my actions didn’t defy reason.
I’m not sure where this comes from. I think that a lot of people may have this in common with me. All the same, is it asking a lot? Possibly too much? Yes. I think the correct answer, unfortunately, is “Yes.” We’re all flawed humans and we all operate completely differently and we all have things we’re good at and things we’re bad at and holy shit it’s remarkable more of us don’t beat each other up more often. And I’ve already said it – I’m not perfect. But is the sin of wanting to be understood that much of…of a sin? Well, fuck “sin” – is it a mistake? Is it mean? Is it selfish? Is it completely insane to want to be able to express yourself, be forgiven, and be heard? Actually heard?
Aside from being perhaps a little naïve, is it…is it really that bad? Is it really that bad to want a little reassurance from time to time that I’m not a total monster?
I guess the answer doesn’t matter. I guess all that matters is that I try to work on it. Too.