Every morning I hate myself.
When I think about it, there are a number of reasons why I hate myself, but the one I find myself most hating is my inability to go to bed early. Every morning I wake up, lazily roll over, and internally moan at the fact that I must get up. That I have to accept getting up to get to work. And I find myself resenting work. This happens every morning. And each time I chastisize myself for not going to bed like an adult (what is an adult, anyway) and vow to go to bed early. It never happens.
I also hate myself for promising to the future me that I will get up at 5 a.m. and go for that run, or get to work an hour early so I can leave early. I hate myself for not being able to keep promises I make to myself. It is a weirdly masochistic ritual that has become instilled into my life since managing to get a full-time journalism job.
When I say I hate myself, most people assume I self-loathe all day and have poor self-esteem. That may be true, but I also am a completely functioning adult who pays for her own health insurance and credit card bills. I have strangely transformed into a grown up version of myself, someone I don’t always recognize when I look in the mirror of the bathroom at work, or when I catch my reflection walking past the piers down Embarcadero. I am slowly crawling towards self acceptance. That I am me, and all I have is me. So whether I like me or not, I need to accept me.
Work is great. I always would ask my friends who had full-time jobs before me what work is like, and they all never failed to give me the most ambiguous, vague description of what they do 40 hours a week. I wanted to know so badly so I could prepare myself for the world I now find myself in. And now when people ask me, I too, give them a shitty answer. I’m such a hypocrite. But that’s besides the point. Work really is good. In the last six months I have made exponential improvements in my writing, editing and time managing skills. Everyday there is news. News for me to discover and read about and write about. I get paid to do what I love. Sure, it may not be critical analysis of film or writing about first generation Argentine female identity, but it’s a start. And that’s all I needed. I returned from South America with a conviction to pursue writing, in whatever shape or form that took. And to this day, I am so thankful for not canceling my interview because I was hungover from getting wasted with a college friend on St. Patty’s day.
Apart from my friends who graduated before me, I think I’m the only one from my graduating class who has most of their shit together. And that’s saying a lot. Because I spent a year of living in self denial and self discovery in the midst of depression and anxiety. I graduated in three years, but hung around for an extra one because I wasn’t ready to leave the dark paradise of Isla Vista and my ex. I have come a long way in being able to say that. I didn’t want to leave IV because I knew things with my ex would end, and that I would really be alone. And that, despite all my efforts, this person was clearly not the right person for me. Looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t realize how perfectly wrong my ex was for me. I wish I could apologize to the me who suffered so greatly a year ago. I wish I could save 22-year-old me from all the pain, dishonesty, and heart break she went through. But I also know she needed to go through that, and come out stronger, bolder, and more dangerous than ever before. Like a phoenix, I rose from my own ashes.
I won’t say that my breakup with my college partner was all fine and dandy. It left me depressed and hollow. When I was told they wasn’t in love with me, and hadn’t been for months the night we slept on a pull out couch at our friend’s house, I was crushed. It was like a sucker punch to the chest, leaving my reeling for air, and while also not wanting to breathe in air to avoid any pain. But it was impossible. It came crashing down on me, and I was paralyzed. I was trapped in a bed with a person who didn’t love me, yet I desperately clung to them, my snot and tears matting my hair and staining their shirt. I could tell you that it was one of the worst nights of my life and that I’ll never be the same because of it. But that would be a lie.
I’m a resilient mother fucker. My skin thick, my stare unflinching, my hands steady. There isn’t much that actually gets to me. So when my ex so graciously confessed to me, my life didn’t fall apart. He does not get to claim ownership in ruining me. The truth is, I was already ruined, and the reason his confession hurt so much had nothing to do with him and everything to do with me. The facade I had built for the last year and half came crumbling down, leaving me with the stark and brutal reality that I wasn’t really myself anymore. I lost who I was in the drunken summer nights and lazy beach days of Isla Vista. I had been living in denial, living to forget. Self-preservation will always be a human priority. And after my first two years at college, that’s what I tried to do. It doesn’t matter how good or bad you do it, just that you do. And I needed to survive, in any shape or form. And for me, that came with throwing myself into a relationship I knew was doomed from the start and getting into a drunken stupor every weekend. Because that’s what you do. You keep living.
Breaking up with the ex forced me to face my own demons, and my own truths that I had avoided for so long. I really did think I could be someone else other than myself. I thought I could bury the real me in layers of rugby, drugs, alcohol and an empty relationship. And facing yourself is harder than any breakup, messy or not. Standing in front of the mirror and looking at yourself is much scarier and painful than actually being alone in the world.
And that’s what I did. It’s hard to forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made. It’s hard to accept that you fucked up. It hurts to know you were kidding yourself this whole time. But it can’t be any other way. Because it isn’t until you’re crying in your car at 3 a.m. or hooking up with a person you don’t even like or blacking out just to get four hours of sleep, that you realize you have to change. That this isn’t the way you want to live your life or how you want to feel every morning you wake up. There is no short cut or clean way of realizing your own path to forgiveness, acceptance and self love. You can’t love yourself until you’ve hated yourself first. You can’t forgive yourself until you fuck yourself up first. And anyone who tried to convince me otherwise is clearly in denial and has yet to really see what I’m getting at. See, you can’t be the best version of yourself until you’ve been the worst version of yourself. It’s painful. It’s humiliating. It’s lonely. But there is no other way.