No matter what positive feedback I get in my day to day life as an adult, there will always be seven year old me inside my brain to counter it. “You’re UGLY! Too fat! Crazy! Nobody cares about you!” She giggles like some sort of annoying poltergeist that I can’t exorcise from my house. Doesn’t matter if it’s 3am and I’m barely awake, or if it’s 2pm on a workday and I’m trying to get things done- there she is. Don’t know really who invited her because it’s not like she even brings snacks.
She’s the boy in second grade who told me to kill myself. The teacher who told me I was too dumb to get into college in sixth grade. The doctor who told me I would be prettier and happier if I just lost weight. The people who gave up on me because I couldn’t just “snap out of it”. At the end of it, she’s me. Never happy with myself, always the pessimist and the harsh critic. It’s me versus me versus them inside my head twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days of the year. If it’s exhausting just to read that sentence, you get the idea.
It used to take me three hours just to get dressed in the morning, because I’d try on everything I owned six times. Allowing time in between to scream at myself for looking disgustingly fat, punching myself in the gut, and re-composing myself. I’d hold in all my emotions, no matter how much I was justified in feeling them for fear that the person would see the real “psycho” me and leave. Better to be a doormat than to be alone. Better to be sick than to be fat. Better never to try than to be confronted with possible failure.
So I guess it’s fair to ask why I let it happen.
Why do I bother ruminating over things that usually happened a long time ago, can’t be changed, and in the long run are from people who don’t matter? Why do I let them live rent free in my head, running up the electric bill and eating all the ice cream? I’ve been sitting here pondering that for the last half hour and the only answer I have for you is, “I don’t know.” But I guess you can consider this my eviction notice. I will never be perfect, but I am not going back to where I started. I have gained weight, but that doesn’t make me disgusting. I have lost friends, but that does not mean I’m a monster. I have messed up so many times in so many ways, but I am by no means a failure. I AM ME. And as landlord of me, I no longer possess the time and patience to let my life be run by a snotty seven year old.
I will slip up. I will negative self-talk, fall back into bad habits and I am sure that there will still be rough nights. But for the first time, what matters is that I am trying. I am fighting. I know that in the end, victory is not a destination, but a temporary state that I need to renew. If the only victory I can muster some days is being strong enough to walk out of the house and ignore the mirror, than it is still victory.
Brittany Bell is our guest blogger. She is a 25 year old peer support specialist at Youth MOVE Massachusetts. She has recently created and held a workshop on Youth Crisis boxes for PPAL’s annual conference. She hopes to bring awareness and support to the learning disability and mental health communities by sharing her experiences. When not advocating and blogging, Brittany likes to spend time creating art, gaming and playing with her bearded dragon.