Fixing Yourself: A Brief Look At My Mission For Self-Improvement

I have an incredibly flawed personality. The first sign was probably around the time I got diagnosed with an actual personality disorder – unspecified – after my behavior led to a pretty self-destructive, “self-prescribed” binge behaviour. Honestly? I never actually considered it problematic for a long time.

Clearly, it was everyone else with the problem. Tsk, tsk.

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Artwork by Christian Russo

The problem with having a diagnosis that’s “unspecified”, especially when it concerns something as intangible as personality, is that the solution to your problem is also unspecified. At that point, all the doctors could prescribe me was a harsh slap to the face when it came to my true reality.

Now it’s like every move I make, I scrutinize. When I’m an asshole, I usually know it. A little bit of denial doesn’t hurt, until that becomes a flaw as well.

Do other people think like this? I’ll probably never know, but the scrutiny I have adopted has become both a blessing and a curse. I’m able to look at myself objectively and understand that whatever behavior I’m choosing is not appropriate. It’s like a super power, because I now understand mine and other people’s motivations and reasoning with everything they do. I get it now, when someone is an asshole. I do. Because I can do it too, sometimes.

But with great power comes great responsibility, or something like that.

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“Infinite Introspection”, by Francisca Borzea

I recognize my behavior, but do I actually do anything about it? Well… I’m trying. It took me years to figure out that I was wrong, and another year to come to terms with the mistakes I had made in the process. Do I regret these mistakes? Of course. But would I change it? Not at all. I am the person I am today because of what I have struggled with.

That being said, I’ve been trying to actually prevent such things happening ever again, but that takes a little more work than just some introspection. I have to actually change my habits, my mood, and, well, my personality. I’ve had to heal those wounds, and now I have to take actions so that I don’t inflict them on myself or others ever again.

What do I have on the agenda to actually fix about myself? There are the common pitfalls, like procrastination, lack of sensitivity, and impatience. Then there are the big ones, like bad attitude, lack of responsibility/motivation, dependence on others, and over-thinking. At this point, all I can really do is acknowledge what I’m doing wrong, be aware of problematic behavior, and seek to replace it with healthier moves by developing better, healthier habits. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but… I have the privilege of being surrounded by people who care enough to call me out on my bullshit when I miss it.

Go and love someone exactly as they are. Then watch how they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered. —Wes Angelozzi

The people around me… man oh man. I’m lucky, so incredibly lucky, to have such a strong network of people who care about me deeply enough to not only forgive me when I mess up, but support me in my journey to become a better person. I’m just so grateful that I now have the foresight of actually understanding the magnitude of how lucky I am. Privilege can be a lot of different things for different people, but for me, true privilege is having the support of people around you.

Like I said, this process is a blessing and a curse. You can feel hopeless sometimes, like you’re gonna be stuck being a bad person forever and that you’ll never be worthy of love – this is a common late-night thought that induces panic attacks for me – so I’ve learned to become aware of my good qualities too. I have a strong sense of maternal instinct. I am a compassionate person. I’m smart enough to succeed, when I put my mind to it. I can write, draw, sing, laugh. I even make other people smile, from time to time. I love others, and they love me. I repeat that last bit like its a mantra whenever my mood dips below the dark surface.

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Artwork by Mari Toh

Do I deserve love? That’s something I still grapple with, and honestly, it’s probably the main question that drives my mission for self-improvement. For a long time, I didn’t think I deserved the love I got from others, and that was because deep down, I knew that I was a fuck up.

But now, I want to deserve it.

I have an incredibly flawed personality. But flaws make the human, and the human can only work hard to rectify those flaws. And this is me doing that.

This is me. I’m the one with the problem.

And… I’m fixing it.

 

 

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The Best Revenge

The mouth of the deep dark cave I kept returning to with the hope of finding remnants of an old treasure is gone. Shining, glittering, and swallowed up by the sea. The tide was rising for ages, engulfing me inch by inch. It was rising so much I titled my head up for air, hoping for a miracle written in the stars above me. How long can a drowning victim survive standing on the tips of their toes? According to the time stamp of my phone, exactly 24 days. But guess what? it only took 24 hours for me to climb out of there and watch paradise disappear underneath the cool mirror surface, as the sun moved out from behind the moon and everything burst into color. All that was left was my rippling reflection. And that’s how I knew I’m all that’s worth saving.

Every temptation, every reminder, every trace of this is gone. Words, Smile, Name. Everything:

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The Words were knock offs anyway – if I want authenticity, I’ll buy it for myself. The Words I speak now are authentic, high-end, genuine, real.

The Smile was too soft anyway – I am hard and smooth as a stone, my smile comes easy but my disdain comes easier. The Smile I wear now is worn, carved into my stone face with the intricacy that was lacking here.

The Names you tickled out of me were too impersonal anyway – when I am called, I expect the vowels of my name to be laced with personality, with a story, with an unusual tilt in the end that always ends in a pretty little package of a question.

The cover is blown, shut, banished; it is gone. I’ve deleted the unoccupied, M-shaped space in my life already – actions speak louder than words, love. I’m doing myself the favor, the favor of getting over this wasted paradise, of letting go of your Capital Letters, of being my Best. I’m doing it before you can even snap your head in my direction long enough to declare death upon the gasping poor thing on the ground between us. We all know it’s dead, idiot. Sometimes denial just makes it harder to declare.

Every desire that I could count off on my fingers is gone now. One day I will be the best version of myself. I will be successful. Surrounded. I will have a foundation of love, first for myself, and second for those who love me back. I’m gonna lead a life unstolen from anyone else, and any hesitation I experience until then just tells me I still have work to do. But when all that work has paid off and I am healthy and happy and hella fuckin’ loaded? Then honey…

Oh, dear.

I won’t even remember your name.

Two hundred and forty three bucks

Here it is. I owe you about that much. Yes, owe. For dinner. And the dress. And the abundance of flowers.

No, take it. Seriously, I’m not fucking around. Just take it. Take it.

Listen to me. Understand something cause it’s very important. No, don’t purse your lips ’cause you hate these conversations and find my feelings, my passion to be awkward, to be Too Much.

Listen. I don’t want your money. I don’t want the fancy dinners. I don’t want cars or penthouse apartments, I don’t want a pretty thing for my birthday. I don’t want any of that, honey, I want you.

I want you.

‘Cause I’ll tell you what. One text message. Just saying… I miss you. I’m thinking of you. That’s it, no initiation for conversation, no elaboration, just a simple “hey, I like you, I haven’t forgotten you, I miss you.”

That is worth a million dinners to me, because I want you, baby. I want you.

And honestly? That is such a miniscule amount of effort. Beyond that? I can only wish.

I can get myself pretty things. I work hard, I’m ambitious, I’m independent, and I love doing that. I love doing my thing, living my life, building my career. I NEED that.

And I know you get it cause you’re like that too. And I love that about you. I love that you work hard, you’re ambitious, you’re independent, and you love doing that. I admire you for it. I understand you for it.

But something is wrong when I think, “I’d be so incredibly happy if you just sent me a birthday message.” A birthday message. Even if it’s just “happy bday :)”.

How fucked is that?

Take the money and understand me as you do. I don’t want your bucks. I don’t want you to spoil me because it’s been ages since we’ve talked so you gotta compensate somehow, no. 

I want you.

Just you.

For the Artists

Straitjackets are, and always were, a popular trend throughout the history of the artist community.

It has gone as far for people to say that my mental illness would be perfect for the biographies that will one day tell the story of my own artistic career. I’ve been told that my fight against my own will to die will make my biography a best seller.

I’ve been told that to really be able to make it in the world of artistry, I have to wear tragedy like the crown of a proud tsarina sitting before an audience of buzzing flies.

Such accusations remind me that minds are like gardens – Luscious, colorful, varied, and dimensional. Flowers represent our knowledge, and they say knowledge is the most fearsome weapon of all – but what if a war is waged here? What if the garden is cannibalistic?

I already know the answer.

I jump backwards off a cliff and find myself falling like a magnificent meteor. I end up a burnt up heap in Southern France, 1880’s. A lonely Dutch man traipses the country side at dusk, his exotic chalky paints and pig tail brushes thrown in a beaten canvas bag. I can smell his perspiration mixed with the metallic taste of blood that hangs in the air. It oozes out of the shriveled mass on the side of his head, his ear: a gruesome mess.Image result for van gogh

I want him to realize that the world he sees in yellow splotches and starry nights is aching for him to stick around a little longer. I want him to not succumb to the whims of his bipolar mania, or to the wretched bullet that will soon rip through his hollow stomach.

But he continues on his way, ambling into the sunrise towards a little yellow house, humming snatches of an old tune.

I find myself floating once again, as I bubble up into the atmosphere and am blown to London, England, to a neat little apartment tucked away between townhouses lined like dominoes. It is midday, 1950s, when I spy a woman lurking behind paisley curtains. Her orange blush is harsh on her pale face, her gaping teeth peek between her lips like pearls in an oyster. Beside her are a million million notebooks. Her words swirl about the small room, chattering with the same particles of depression that plague the vulnerable garden of her mind as well.

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I want her to realize that like Lazarus, she cannot rise again from the ashes. I want her to stop toxic air from committing genocide to her blood cells. I want to tell her how her children will mourn.

But she continues to watch them play peekaboo with hazy eyes, as she fidgets with small memorabilia painted yellow and black like glittering bees.

Once again, I am consumed kicking and screaming into a black hole, which delivers me to the edges of the universe. I swim through liquid helium, my skin rupturing, my nerves coiling around my organs until I choke. My spine cracks, but I swim on. I reach out the corpses drifting about around me, their faces expressionless,  their fingers unmoving, their minds: lost.

IMG_20170618_185931_833I am reminded of when I myself had walked into my pantry and taken a handful of sleeping pills, hoping to escape as well to that very green void on the other side of the universe. I look to my fellow artists, to the sunken faces of my predecessors, the very men and women who bled yellow like I did.

I want to remember that I am an artist, not the chemical imbalance in my brain or the skewed events of my timeline – I am defined not by the ailments of my mind, but the potential of my mind; not the pills that I pop like candy but the ability to actually accomplish something when I do.

I don’t fight for a best-selling biography. I fight for them.

For the artists, the soldiers of creativity, and the ability to say that I survived.

I survived.

Here It Is

I feel ache-y, and just a tad stupid. As a fairly passionate person with a little too much inside her – too many words, too much devotion – I get carried away with how good and bad I am at handling just about anything. I don’t mean to be self-contradictory, but there it is? I guess?

Image result for head melt gifWhen I pour – like cement out of a porcelain cream cup – it’s hard to put a lid on it. I’m an either/or person, an all-or-nothing. I don’t understand going halfway, I fear mediocrity (mediocrity burns and sits at the bottom of my stomach like vodka – not very tasteful, to say the least). I reach out and I reach out and I reach out and my hand is still grasping out of a hole in the wall. I wouldn’t take it either, to be sure. Just so I’m clear. But it doesn’t stop me, in the heat of the moment. When the moment is raving and hot as the driest desert on a far off planet, my head kind of melts and I just become a scrambling mess of hands, stemming like a devil’s trap from a knot of brass, grasping for an answer. Very Dr Who, but there it is… I guess?

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And sure, we’ll never be royals, but listen, it’s not about majesty. I’m no majestic thing, I’m really just an object of passion. That passion gets the better of me sometimes. Brass boils hot and separates into all its parts, all its alchemic elements to inspect under a telescope (telescope because even though I bare my parts for everyone I seem to be irrevocably far away – far from reason, see?) just to have shoulders shrugged at me and saying “I don’t know mate, nothing much to fix but your head, but that seems to have melted.” I’m not given many other words to my ensuing question except another cursory shrug and a “maybe Walmart”, but there it is. I guess?

Who am I to decide it really. I know I dove into ice, I know I am a dove a little too trifled for greater society. I can’t help myself if I feel like something might pay off in something better than mediocrity, because I’m too much of a romantic and way to ambitious. I’m too artistic, I try to make masterpieces out of everything, everything, everything. My expectations breathe and sweat like I do. My self-contradiction plays jump rope on my back and the shrugs flap and follow me about everywhere. I know, I know. I know.

But there it is, I guess.

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If I were to contemplate the whole of the universe at once, I would probably go mad with the very universality of it. The matter is, everyone considers their surroundings at one point in their lives, from their infancy stretching to the urn they are so graciously put in. I think a good metaphor for this phenomenon would be the barre at ballet class. Music tunes, strings plucked, muscles relaxed. Plié, plié, plié. And even though this is a pretty standard procedure, humans, professional and the whole alike, have an amazing capacity of completely fucking it up. And the funny thing here is, any mistake can be made to be graceful if you can pull it off right. Anything is a dance if you call it so. And the universe is just like that.

Us as humans like to apply a sort of rigidity to everything, a structure if you will. But doing so, you are taking away from the complexity, the messiness, the chaos which makes the thing so inherently beautiful. Ballet was made to satisfy this structure, but even this structure falls apart occasionally, if not most of the time. And we make it look good. Sometimes it makes us bloom with new ideas, when a faltering misstep is perceived to be this avant-vogue move towards something even more structured, less imperfect. Imperfection defines perfection, and vice versa.

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Universality has no structure, no application. Universality is not a generalized thing. Universality is a chaotic creature – it aches to break out of those rigid lines and falter as it will. And it does. It does so when we’re not looking. And the aftermath, the debris left over, that’s what we find and call discovery. And I think that’s our pitfall. We call this debris progress, but what’s the point if we learn a lesson from something that’s already come to pass? Because in doing so, we’re not learning how it came to pass at all in the first place. It’s too complex for our silly, rigid little minds. We need to be like nebulae, and implode. We need to destroy ourselves to reinvent ourselves and become something even more beautiful again.

Chaos is our friend. The universe is not our pet, but it’s not our master either. The universe shares a familial bond with us. We are of the universe, after all. And thus, the universe and the chaos that makes it up is a part of us too. That creature abides in between our ribcage, and it beats, beats, beats, trying to count us into the ring, to perform an avant-vogue ballet piece. Beat, beat, beat. Plié, plié, plié.

So do it. Beat, beat, beat the cycle, break the rules, and dance to the beat with majesto.

Hypocrites and High Horses

The thing about hypocrisy is that no one, not a single person in this world, is exempt from it. Everyone is a hypocrite. This has been established already, by much smarter individuals than I.

But you know what else human beings are? Pretentious.

It’s natural. When someone gets excited about something that you knew about and gushed over ages ago, the superiority complex immediately settles in and you can’t help adopting a cool, just a little dismissive tone as you say “yeah… I know. I knew about them/that/those/whatever like… three years ago.”

Especially today with the neo-hippies who call themselves “hipsters” traipsing all around the place, it’s even easier to assume this holier-than-thou attitude, because being mainstream is just embarrassing now. To be mainstream is to be basic, and who likes being called basic? I don’t imagine a lot of people do.

The thing is, now that hipster culture has become so prevalent, even being hipster is mainstream. To be a true hipster you have to come out on top as a hipster hipster. I mean, what sort of garbage title is that? Continue reading “Hypocrites and High Horses”