I am not offended by her beauty. There will always be girls cuter and thinner and better dressed than me. I’m sure she has a better personality. I cannot spell her last name or guess her culture by looking.
You don’t know anyone at the party, so you don’t want to go. You don’t like cottage cheese, so you haven’t eaten it in years. This is your choice, of course, but don’t kid yourself: it’s also the flinch.
Your personality is not set in stone. You may think a morning coffee is the most enjoyable thing in the world, but it’s really just a habit. Thirty days without it, and you would be fine. You think you have a soul mate, but in fact you could have had any number of spouses. You would have evolved differently, but been just as happy.
You can change what you want about yourself at any time. You see yourself as someone who can’t write or play an instrument, who gives in to temptation or makes bad decisions, but that’s really not you. It’s not ingrained. It’s not your personality. Your personality is something else, something deeper than just preferences, and these details on the surface, you can change anytime you like.
If it is useful to do so, you must abandon your identity and start again. Sometimes, it’s the only way.
Set fire to your old self. It’s not needed here. It’s too busy shopping, gossiping about others, and watching days go by and asking why you haven’t gotten as far as you’d like. This old self will die and be forgotten by all but family, and replaced by someone who makes a difference.
Your new self is not like that. Your new self is the Great Chicago Fire—overwhelming, overpowering, and destroying everything that isn’t necessary.
Stand naked in front of a mirror for a long time, under unflattering light if possible. Trace the rises and falls of the little ripples on your skin — the scars, the dimples, the cellulite — and think about how much you try to hide these things in your day-to-day. Wonder why you hate them so much, and if this hate stems from somewhere within yourself, or as a result of being told all your life that it’s wrong to have physical flaws. Wonder what you would think of your body if you never looked at a magazine, if you never thought about celebrities and models, if you never had to wonder where someone would rate you on a scale of 10. Look at yourself until the initial recoil softens, and you can consider your features in a more forgiving frame of mind.
Listen to the music which makes you want to both sob and dance with uninhibited joy, and allow yourself to repeat any song you want as many times as your heart desires. Think of the person you are when you have your favorite song in your headphones and are walking down a street you feel you own completely, swaying your hips and smiling for no good reason — remember how many things you love about yourself during those moments, how much you are willing to forgive in yourself, how confident you are for no good reason. Try to think of confidence as a gift you give yourself when you need it, instead of something you have to siphon from every unreliable source in your life. Dance because the music makes you remember how much you love yourself, not because it allows you to forget the fact that you don’t.
Write a list of all the things you like about yourself, even if you think it’s a self-indulgent and narcissistic activity. Start as early as you like in your life — put down that time you won a trophy playing little league soccer when you were eight and then got an extra-large shake at the DQ on the way home, and don’t feel silly for remembering it. Try to understand how many sources in your life happiness can come from, how many things you could be proud of if you chose to. Ask yourself why you so tightly limit the things you take pride in, why you set your own hurdles for happiness and fulfillment so much higher than you do with anyone else in your life. Let your list go on for pages and pages if you want it to.
Touch and care for yourself with the attention and the patience that you would someone you loved more than life itself. Rub lotion in small circles on your elbows and hands when it is cold and your skin is dry and cracked. Make soup for yourself when your nose is running and curl up, with your favorite movie, in a pile of expertly-stacked pillows. Light a few candles and let their glow flicker against your body. Admire how gentle they are, how delicately their warmth touches you — wonder why you don’t let yourself do the same. Soak your feet in warm water at the end of a long day, until they have forgiven you for walking on them for so long without so much as a “thank you.” Listen to your body when it aches to be touched, and don’t be afraid to give it every orgasm that you may have been too ashamed to ask for in someone else’s bed.
Be patient with yourself, and don’t worry if a switch doesn’t flip in you which abruptly takes you from “crippling self-doubt” to “uncompromising self-love.” Allow yourself all the trepidation and clumsy, uneven infatuation that you would with a promising stranger. Try only to be kinder, to be softer, and to remember all of the things within you which are worth loving. Listen to the voice in the back of your head which tells you, as much out of sadness as anger, “You are ugly. You are stupid. You are boring.” Give it the fleeting moment of attention it so craves, and then remind it, “Even if that were true, I’d still be worth loving.”
There will be days when you don’t find your body beautiful. When that reflection in your mirror is the furthest thing from perfection you’ve seen. Your eyes will cringe at the extra inches round your waist, the missing gap between your thighs, the body bags under your eyes. And when I say days, I mean weeks, months, years, decades. You will wear clothes that hang from your shoulders like apologies, you will wear a belt just to hold your dignity up, you will never wear the right kind of smile. You will convince yourself that finding love is intertwined with losing weight. That nobody will ever be able to hold so much of you. This will be your reason for loneliness. You will believe that beauty is a thing to be seen instead of felt. You will never pose for a picture, never let anyone close enough to see all the layers you wish weren’t there. You will skip a few meals. You will run and you will run and you will think you are running away, but when you stop, all you would have lost is your breath and that little strand of hope you were holding on to. ‘Fat’ will slither from their lips, and it will echo in the corridors of your thoughts, and you will want nothing but to get out of your skin. One night, you will strip down in front of your bathroom mirror and the hourglass you are not will suspend you in time. You will search for the bones of your rib cage. You will put a blade to your surface, and hope for a silver lining, for the inches to cut away like cloth. They will puddle between your fingertips and you will still be everything they are not. You will collapse on the toilet seat, knees kissing, fingers running through hair, head unhinged, shaking like a house of cards about to give way. Someone once told to me “You are not your body.” Repeat after me. You are not your body. You are not your body. You are so much more. You are so much more. You cannot be fit into one word three letters long. Your beauty cannot be defined by a number. Your love is not attached to a measuring tape. You will never have to lose anything to find yourself. Repeat after me: your body is beautiful. Write it on your skin. Sing it from the highest cliff of your lungs. Take off your clothes. Point to your scars. Tell the world that you are so much more than it can handle. Tell everyone who ever said you were not worth it, that you are more than they will ever understand. You are a song their lips don’t know the words to. You are a poem they will never read write. You are a kind of beautiful they just can’t pronounce. Repeat after me: You will never have to lose anything to find yourself. Repeat after me: You will shape yourself. You will shape yourself. Find the first mirror in your sight and tell it that it doesn’t know shit. Look at everything you are. You are so much more than anyone will ever be able to see. You are the kind of beautiful you just have to feel. Repeat after me.
“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day,and if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.”
— Oriah Mountain Dreamer
I told you that I was a roadway of potholes, not safe to cross. You said nothing, showed up in my driveway wearing roller-skates.
The first time I asked you on a date, after you hung up, I held the air between our phones against my ear and whispered, “You will fall in love with me. Then, just months later, you will fall out. I will pretend the entire time that I don’t know it’s coming.”
Once, I got naked and danced around your bedroom, awkward and safe. You did the same. We held each other without hesitation and flailed lovely. This was vulnerability foreplay.
The last eight times I told you I loved you, they sounded like apologies.
You recorded me a CD of you repeating, “You are beautiful.” I listened to it until I no longer thought in my own voice.
Into the half-empty phone line, I whispered, “We will wake up believing the worst in each other. We will spit shrapnel at each other’s hearts. The bruises will lodge somewhere we don’t know how to look for and I will still pretend I don’t know its coming.”
You photographed my eyebrow shapes and turned them into flashcards: mood on one side, correct response on the other. You studied them until you knew when to stay silent.
I bought you an entire bakery so that we could eat nothing but breakfast for a week. Breakfast, untainted by the day ahead, was when we still smiled at each other as if we meant it.
I whispered, “I will latch on like a deadbolt to a door and tell you it is only because I want to protect you. Really, I’m afraid that without you I mean nothing.”
I gave you a bouquet of plane tickets so I could practice the feeling of watching you leave.
I picked you up from the airport limping. In your absence, I’d forgotten how to walk. When I collapsed at your feet, you refused to look at me until I learned to stand up without your help.
Too scared to move, I stared while you set fire to your apartment – its walls decaying beyond repair, roaches invading the corpse of your bedroom. You tossed all the faulty appliances through the smoke out your window, screaming that you couldn’t handle choking on one more thing that wouldn’t just fix himself.
I whispered, “We will each weed through the last year and try to spot the moment we began breaking. We will repel sprint away from each other. Your voice will take months to drain out from my ears. You will throw away your notebook of tally marks from each time you wondered if I was worth the work. The invisible bruises will finally surface and I will still pretend that I didn’t know it was coming.”
The entire time, I was only pretending that I knew it was coming.
We can stick anything into the fog
and make it look like a ghost
let us not become tragedies.
We are not funeral homes
with propane tanks in our windows,
lookin’ like cemeteries.
Cemeteries are just the Earth’s way of not letting go.
let’s turn our silly wrists so far backwards
the razor blades in our pencil tips
can’t get a good angle on all that beauty inside.
Step into this
with your airplane parts.
and repeat after me with your heart:
“I no longer need you to fuck me as hard as I hated myself.”
Make love to me
like you know I am better
than the worst thing I ever did.
I’m new to this.
But I have seen nearly every city from a rooftop
I have realized
that the moon
did not have to be full for us to love it,
that we are not tragedies
stranded here beneath it,
that if my heart
every time I fell from love
I’d be able to offer you confetti by now.
But hearts don’t break,
they bruise and get better.
We were never tragedies.
We were emergencies.
You call 9 – 1 – 1.
Tell them I’m having a fantastic time.
There’s potential in the gaping spaces that separate each of your fingers, the spaces you keep referring to as the universe because sometimes the gaping spaces are lonely and quiet and mocking of your insignificance the same way the universe is. There’s potential, in the lonely crook of your neck, in the dust collecting across your collarbones, at the curve of your hips, there is potential, yes, and there is time. There is so much time. There’s a soft promise sitting on your lips, a promise someone will one day keep with twisted, ghost fingers and a tied spine, even if for one day, two weeks, a year. There is so much time for romance, so stop wishing for it — kiss your words instead, touch your lips to music notes, caress canvases, hold the hands of your friends, there is potential there too, you know. It’s easy to feel unlovable in the cold, winter is overbearing, too close for comfort, so teach it how to be alone, show it the beauty of solitude.
I am reblogging this because it’s Valentine’s day and my dash is full of forever alone posts from people who I know are beautiful and funny and fucking great and look, the chances of you being forever alone are actually really, really slim and you’ll find someone someday, the odds are actually in your favor, and it’ll be okay, so just, I don’t know, enjoy the chocolate your parents gave you or something and be happy about the friends and people you have in your life, because I am actually really thankful for mine. Today I am just basking in my alone-ness (not loneliness, never loneliness with the friends I have) and watching crappy tv and listening to some really damn good music.
Listen, despite all the reasons you’re right for me, there’s one huge, pus-filled blemish that trumps all the other bullet points—you’re not interested in me. Whether you like me or not is irrelevant. You can like me until the cows come home but that’s not going to change the fact that your interest level is humming gently at zero and you’ve got your stupid fat foot on the break.
So you are wrong for me. You are wrong for me because your mouth doesn’t instinctively melt into mine. You are wrong for me because you’re baulking, and I don’t even really care why anymore, just that you are. You are wrong for me because you can see a way to be without me. And when I think about all the things I’m looking for in a partner, all the other bullet points blur into insignificance if you’re not interested in me.
I thought I was done with romance after all the failed ones, but it turns out I’m not yet ready for the cynical, arms-length relationships I’ve been having. I’m not actually all that broken, believe it or not. Wait, no… Yep, I’m still completely functional. And I want someone to want me like Ryan wanted Marissa. I want you to look at me, to speak to me, to be intrigued by me and to decide, quite simply, “Her.”