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

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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A Jigsaw Puzzle

I struggle to take this apart and put it back together to create a picture that makes more sense for fear of ruining what I have already arranged. Two years ago a hurricane ripped me off the wall, out of my pristine plastic wrapping, and I was left scrambled on the floor. I struggle to understand why I didn’t at least glue my pieces to each other.

Let’s take a better look at me.

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Gif by Audrey DeBruine for North by Northwestern

Here in one hand I hold a puzzle piece. In it, I can see my mothers fingers, outstretched to touch mine, still pink and stringy from being in the womb for too long before I grip hers like my new life depended on it. My eyes open for the first time.

In the other hand, I hold another piece where I can see the corner of his smile, the smile that I came home to after getting fired from a job I hated anyway, the smile I cried to like it was the first day I was born. His smile, however, stayed constant, the only constance I had left.

With wet eyes I let the pieces fall. Everything that fits in between them must be too varied, I fear it’s not all the same puzzle. Did I mix up boxes of different lives together by accident? Is this a trick puzzle, a 3D puzzle of Dracula? Or maybe this is a different game altogether. A game of monopoly, perhaps? Poker? Hungry Hungry Hippos?

I never knew I would be so mismatched. People talk about everything falling together perfectly, like a bubble being blown into existence by accident and flying up to be swallowed by a neon cyan sky. All I seem to have is a toddler’s take on a masterpiece, horrid and painful and juicy and colorful and blurry. None of it fits together, and it certainly cannot be framed – not in its entirety, at least.

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My knees throb from kneeling on the ground for too long, but I let my fingers trail across the mess, the low light making it all heap into a giant dark mass I could never differentiate for its parts.

This is the sort of jigsaw you don’t put together, but rather just appreciate for its individual pieces, good and bad, rough and smooth. Though the idea might be a little avant-garde, I make peace with the pieces nonetheless.

After all, at least I am a mess left over by a puzzle ravaged by a hurricane, and not, say, a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos.

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 tilted 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 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.

Jane Eyre

If strength means being unfeeling, I am weak.

Passionate. Emotions burst out of me unwarranted, words pour out of my mouth like a bazooka, and I? Tend? To invest myself in objects. Objects. The objects are made of muscle and sinew, a void missing the “chip” that “makes us human”. Are we ashamed to be human? is that the root issue? Do we wish to be the animals we document on TV, the unfeeling wolf who snatches at a baby doe without the sensitivity of a French savoir, without the delicacy of a marinated sauce simmered to perfection and drizzled over our amuse-bouche to disguise the baby animals we snatch as well?

 

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“‘British Birds: the King Fisher'” [Jane Eyre, 2011]
If strength means lacking human quality, I am weak.

Even a wolf has a family, a litter of doe-eyed pups looking to grow big and strong like their mama,to grow into “unfeeling” killing machines. Unfeeling? Please. I run barefoot and tear myself to shreds in the process, but I grow a thicker skin, I glow with hotter blood, I smile with a metal fuckin’ smile and I love it. I love it with all my intensity and without apology.

If strength means holding back, I am weak.

I cry over a sink a couple times a week and my eyes are puffy and pink, but hey, you know what else is puffy and pink? My hair. I laugh really loud and I talk a little shrill and I lose my mind with a kind of liberty I can never control, but hey, you know what else is loud and shrill and free? Songbirds.

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“I’m not in need of tea, thank you.” [Jane Eyre, 2011]
If strength means not caring, I am weak.

I sing with a broken voice and I fly with snapped wings, but I do it all anyway. I twirl and I twirl until I’m seeing stars and depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll either bump my head and cry a little, or start laughing really hard cause man, I can see my house from here! Space is wicked and I love it and I’m not even sorry.

If strength means keeping my head up, I am weak.

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“You would rather break my heart than break some human law?” [Jane Eyre, 2011]
I fall. I break. I lose hope. That happens, but don’t be fooled. It doesn’t scare me. Beyond rock bottom is hell and… I have a timeshare there. Eventually, the same passion that betrayed me and made me crash down like a meteor? It will lift me up again. I’ll lift me up again. Because without the capability to thirst for something better, without the emotions that chatter and tell me better, without the feelings that burst through my body and electrocute me in the heart to revive me for the better? I am a stone. I am a rock. I am an island. And those guys sure as hell don’t have the strength to get themselves out of a stagnant pace.

If I am weak, then fine. I am weak.

Because if that’s is what strength is supposed to be, I’d much rather be weak anyway.

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“Awaken then.” [Jane Eyre, 2011]

Why I Don’t Believe In The Right To An Opinion (Or How To Piss Off Everyone In Your Vicinity)

Opinions are so damn complicated. We’re human, right? I think so. Whether you believe humanity is just an abstract concept or not is up to you, really. It’s not for me to decide what you have to think.

What do I think of opinions? You’d think, at this point, I have some kind of riff with it, but I really don’t. In fact, I bloody love opinions. Opinions are the best. Opinions are what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. It’s what makes us… human. Again, whether you believe in that humanity stuff is up to you.

My problem isn’t opinions, no. My problem is people with opinions, or to put it more eloquently, people with opinions who just don’t shut up.

Continue reading “Why I Don’t Believe In The Right To An Opinion (Or How To Piss Off Everyone In Your Vicinity)”

I, Hestia: A Slam Poem

The Fire sustained me. The Fire was my essence;

I twirled my wooden poker stick like a magic wand

Tracing blazes across the purple galaxy.

I connected the white hot stars hanging by screws around me

Stringing together the people I loved

Like spots on a map.

The Fire consumed me.

It melted its grate and licked my fingers the same fingers

That I used to count off the days I spent kneeling over.

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It warmed my stone heart, cracked it open,

And soon, revived it.

A miracle.

I am blood. I am iron. I am strong.

I am balance. I am passion. I am home.

  Continue reading “I, Hestia: A Slam Poem”