For a while now, the nights of me being happy with myself have become less and less. I don’t understand when I started to doubt myself this much. I’m not sure when I discovered this dusty trunk of unattractive traits boasting piles and piles of musty and tangled faults. My name is now followed by a colon, and the colon followed by all my disadvantages. I now see myself as a disadvantage. Yeah, more often than I see myself as a blessing to those whom I encounter.
But when did this start? I can’t say. Did I suddenly come across the pile of dirty things I am, underneath the bit of nice things that I have to fight more desperately to say I am? Or… were my failings splattered on the walls, but near the floor? So low that on days when I held my head high, I could not see them?
I can’t say I was not aware they were there– my faults –but I think I used to be able to encourage myself to see myself for the good things I was trying to be and the greater things I was yet to become. Then it became harder – the fight to be great, to accept what greatness I had so far achieved. I held my head down a few times, and then a few times more, and then I was mesmerised yet terrified at all the stains I wore.
There were so many.
There are so many.
I notice one more each day. Or two. Or on a very bad day, maybe three. I don’t know when I started wearing a coat of insecurities. It is heavy. And it does not warm me; it makes me shiver from the emptiness of the struggle, from the wrestling. I don’t know when I began feeding my insecurities with doubt. This coat of dissatisfaction is now drenched with tears. It sticks to my skin, clammy and cold, and makes weird noises when I move. So I try to move more carefully, and awkwardly; speaking with stuttering decrescendo; contradicting my own thoughts before anyone else does; hoping no-one can guess that this is a struggling and whimpering young woman trying so hard to find the will to keep trying… so… hard.
This coat is ugly, and ill-fitting, and not suited for the weather I once forecast for myself, and its seams are ripping from the weight of the now bulging pocketfuls of miscellaneous clinking, pricking bits of uselessness.
I don’t know when I started second-guessing my thoughts and my decisions. When I do my best, I am less proud than I used to be. I doubt that I even did my best. You see, for a while now, the nights of me being happy with myself have become less. I sleep earlier now, but I sleep less.
And I despise that I don’t like how I am. Apparently, there are so many reasons not to like me. It’s like picking up cracked shells at the beach. They are countless if you’re really looking. Why won’t I stop looking? See, another one – I despise me for despising me, because it makes my life harder. I despise me for wanting my life to be a little easier. Who do I think I am, not wanting to have to struggle through my story like everyone else? I especially despise me for the time and energy wasted despising me for despising me for despising me.
It’s just that some nights, the picture is so well-lit and so detailed and complex, and it’s so large that it surrounds the room. I painted this picture myself, always leaving room to add more, but I am not proud. More and more, I stare at it everyday and bash myself for doing it.
Look at me looking at it.
Look at me, and what I have become – a pitiful picture of a girl gazing with unblinking eyes at a dark mural –
of all the things
she is not.
(c) Sihle Atkinson 2018 – All Rights Reserved.