half and half

It is almost ridiculously easy to enumerate my faults–and just writing that, I am poised to slide directly into a list of them. It would be so very simple, completely effortless to do. My pen wouldn’t stop moving for days and days and I wouldn’t have to ever stop and think. I would just sit and write a list, numbers marching down the page, of every thing that is wrong with me, and every thing that is broken, bruised, damaged, fucked up and irredeemable.

Then, I could flip the page to a fresh sheet and start writing down every thing that I’ve ever done wrong, every thing that I’ve ever fucked up, all the ways I’ve blundered and stumbled and all the times I wished I could backpedal, even though backpedaling always sends things further into fuckup territory, and the reparations I try to make end up making me look even more like a big asshole. I would go ahead and take the time to list them in the order of magnitude, from stupidest and worst to slightly less stupid and still pretty bad, but when I think about it, they all seem pretty much about equal to me in terms of screwed up-edness. Bad, uncomfortable, embarrassing, so easy to recall and impossible to either forgive or forget.            

It is so easy.  Not many things come easily to me, and that is
probably what you call irony. I would rather be able to maybe play by
ear, or juggle a soccer ball or catch a fly between two chopsticks or
do large sums in my head. Those are no less useless skills, but aren’t
they so much nicer? They are also a fuck of a lot more fun at parties,
I’ll tell you what.

It is so easy, and it is automatic, hard to shut off, endlessly
frustrating to suck so, so much. And it makes it difficult to
concentrate on what good things there are. Sometimes, there are good
things, there really are, I swear. I am trying to convince both of us,
here.

Sometimes, I do okay. I don’t kick puppies. I donate to charity. I have
been known to volunteer, to lift heavy things for people, to do favors
and not expect thank yous. I had a weekend of endless stumbling, and
now, I might be back on my feet. Here I am qualifying my statements and
hesitating and afraid to maybe say that sometimes I do more than okay.
Sometimes I can be a rock star. A super, duper rock star who
concentrates on her protein and avoids sugar. Woo!

Though in actual truth, though eating chicken salad for lunch isn’t
really that bad-ass, hard core and totally awesome, it kind of feels
that way. I wanted a bagel for lunch; I got chicken instead. I wanted
a donut; I got a latte. Can I get a what what? We love you Cleveland!
Good night!

The problem with trying to reverse your–no, my; let’s take responsibility,
and not hide behind rhetorical gestures, and say my. It appears that
the problem with trying to reverse my polarity like this, going from
half-empty to half-full, attempting to give myself a break and feel
good even about the little things, is that when I do break down and
admit that maybe I am not all bad and terrible and everything that’s
wrong with the world, then everything I do that isn’t actively a terrorist
action suddenly seems monumental, and worthy of praise and notice, and
why aren’t you telling me how fucking much the super greatest I am?
Tell me how awesome I am, holy crap, you’ve never seen anyone eat tuna
salad exactly like that! Tell me I am not all bad, please! Please, tell
me you’ve noticed that, and you forgive me, and that I am just exactly
like a cancer-curer, though much more punk rock.

What it is, I think, is that I spend so much time assuming that
everyone can tell what a terrible person I am, and that they are just too
polite to admit it. That every single person I pass on the street can
take one look at me, a cursory glance, and see directly into the
wretched hive of scum and villainy that is my soul, and they are
disgusted and horrified and I want them to turn around, and come back,
and take a better look, or let me explain, and I want them to see that
I am not everything that is terrible in the world. And I want them to
know that it is hard to be good and do right, and it is hard to let
myself admit that I might not be all bad; it is so hard to congratulate
myself for the things that I do well, and I need someone to give me
permission. I don’t want to ask for permission, and I hate depending on
someone else’s opinion, more than anything. And yet, that is exactly
what I am looking for, and what is wrong with me? Everything is wrong
with me. But not all the time, right?

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  10 comments for “half and half

  1. anon
    August 22, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    Once again I must tell you how genuinely awesome (and I don’t use words like awesome that much) you are for writing this down for us, for sharing, for baring, for tearing away painful pieces of yourself and having the guts to hold them up and say to people, Here! Look at my pain and I hope it helps you!

    Because it does. Help us. Or me, anyway, but I read your comments so I know it’s not just me. Every time you write something, like this essay, something that I read and say, Holy shit, some of my brains must have leaked out of my ears and somehow found their way to San Francisco, because that Anne, she is reading my mind.

    You are not alone in these thoughts, you really are not. And once again I read one of your essay and I have to take a deep breath at the end because I am overwhelmed by your honesty and by the way you express yourself and by how much I see myself in the things you write, all the hurt and pain and things I think about myself and the world and think that no one else feels or knows or understands, and I have to thank you.

  2. August 22, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Here’s the part where I share with you one of my favorite quotes:

    “I myself am made entirely of flaws, stiched together with good intentions.”
    Augusten Burroughs, Magical Thinking

    Learn it, Live it, Love it.

    You are awesome, Anne!

  3. Katie
    August 22, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    I just found out my ex with a capital E got himself a new boyfriend. Fancy that, he isn’t pining away for me after all. And I have to face the fact that I should move on too. It is so easy to feel sorry for myself, woe is me, where is my new love? But I have to remember – this was my choice. I dumped him. I let him go. I sent him away. It was hard justifying my new life in the city when he told me this, as I was squished onto the N Judah and carrying heavy grocery bags back to my bottom floor apartment. But it was my choice.

    And you’ve made all your own choices. And you are great!

    And life goes on. Might as well have fun with it!

  4. August 22, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    I think you’re in my head. But you write way, way better than me. I had part of a post for today on this subject and then I come over here and find it. Great post. Really.

  5. August 23, 2007 at 12:22 am

    you are awesome, apparently I’m not alone in this boat. I’ll help you bail it out.

  6. lulu
    August 23, 2007 at 8:38 am

    First of all, I really love your writing. I’m not going to reassure you of your awesome-ness ad nauseum because everyone is and has been doing it and I’m not sure it’s getting through to you. You have major mood swings and I’m sure it’s a side product of losing all the weight – hormones released through rapid loss of fat, that kind of stuff. I’m sure you got advice on this before the surgery? Either embrace/suffer the mood swings or counseling, or something? I can only guess that vitamins and protein aren’t enough?

  7. alice
    August 23, 2007 at 11:10 am

    Learning to compliment ourselves is hard. Maybe it’s especially hard for women, because we’re definitely socialized to think that *really* succeeding means having external validation, but I’m sure guys get their share of being screwed up in this way, too.

    *You’re* the one in the best position to see how hard all of this is, and to know what deserves kudos. You deserve to give and get them. It’s stupidly hard, because it should be easy and unthinking – true things should be like that, right? But they’re oh-so-often not easy in that way, and you deserve them regardless.

  8. alice
    August 23, 2007 at 11:12 am

    as a technical, unrelated to the topic ps – do you all have the ability to add an audio alternative to your comment protection feature? Or is signing up for typepad the way to bypass that?

  9. August 23, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Definitely not all the time. And definitely not most of the time. Almost probably — very little of the time.

    One of the best things about you is your ability to articulate and share your experience in a way that others identify with, that’s brave and honest in a way that makes the rest of us feel less alone. Even if you don’t think it’s brave or honest or enough, we do. As much as it bothers me to know that you tally up your faults like I do (because I wouldn’t wish it on anybody), I’m grateful to you for sharing this with me / us.

    And don’t let any of these comments (mine or anyone else’s) put more pressure on you. None of this is about idolizing you or having you set the bar for anyone or any of any of that. We like you, just as you are, and we’re glad you’re here.

  10. RG
    August 25, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    It is quite the conundrum. But I don’t think that seeing things as “half-full” requires you to pretend they’re all-full. It’s not any less realistic, but it’s okay with reality.

    For what it’s worth, I do think that the feelings you talk about – the hating yourself and the assuming that everyone else hates you – sound like depression. Most of us, even if we know our flaws, can snap out of it by thinking “other people don’t hate me, so I shouldn’t either”.

    And it is, ultimately, exactly like the half-full issue, in that your flaws are usually exactly the same as your strengths. They’re your uniquenesses, and some situations they work and some they don’t. Of course there are aspects of us that aren’t real unique, but we don’t sit around moping “I only have two legs, what’s wrong with me?? If I had three legs I’d be a stool, I wouldn’t have to sit down. Oh, well, at least my running is a little more even-handed.”

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