I’m the only person on the planet who’s scared of first dates and public scenes. If you think those things scare you, too, you’re wrong. So saith the irrational section of my brain, which is entirely convinced I’m the only one with these weaknesses. Who needs logic when everyone around you seems so damned confident? By the way, did you know I’m the only woman whose body isn’t made of curvaceous, perfectly honed steal? It’s true. I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear that you don’t have cellulite. I know I’d be if it were me.
I can see that I’m not the only person without an Alek Wek body, but my brain turns logic into complete nonsense. I rarely believe my sensible thoughts these days.
Intellectually, I know that if I take off my clothes at the party, people aren’t going to run away screaming like extras in Jaws, but damned if I can act accordingly. For the moment, I’ll just drool about the idea of being on the other end of that flogger while pretending all I really want to do is talk about how postmodernism deserves to be wiped from the face of the earth forever.
Who gives a shit about postmodernism, seriously? Did you see those marks he left? Oh, lord. If only I wasn’t the only woman in history with stretch marks.
My intellect is aware that I’m not the only one terrified of first kisses. I also recognise that I’m quite fun to know when I’m not whining (and sometimes even when I am whining), but the beliefs I live with are like reflexes, not calculations. I have to consciously remind myself that dating is fucking terrifying for you, too, and The Body Imperfect is the norm, not the exception.
My self-esteem is my least evolved trait, and the reasons are obvious enough: I have abuse in my past. If my reflexive beliefs were the same as my conscious knowledge, I would be an icon of psychological health, but I achieve the impossible by not believing many of the things I know. It’s a lonely space sometimes. If I judged others as harshly as I judge myself I’d be an A Grade Asshole.
My most toxic internal monologues start with “I should.” I should have achieved more this week. I should look better, be better, do better. I should have been friendlier to that dudebro. Should is the language of my history: the voice of my abuser, which I now carry around with me everywhere I go.
I should be beyond this by now. I shouldn’t be taking this long…