my own worst enemy

When I posted that entry yesterday, about taking photographs of myself and putting them online, I immediately felt uneasy. And yesterday, all through today, I’ve realized, I’ve had a chorus running through my head. It’s a familiar chorus, made up of voices that are imaginary but no less real and each no less a stab with a tiny needle. It’s a choir that sings, Oh, she thinks she’s so cute. Look at her, post those pictures like she thinks that outfit is fabulous. Isn’t it funny, the way she was so careful to say, “I know I am not fashionable,” and then posts a picture? Honey, we know you’re not fashionable. You don’t need to tell us. She’s so ridiculous. She thinks she is so clever, with her false modesty. She is just waiting for everyone to say, “No no, you’re adorable!” God.

I talk back to the voices. I say, but no, it’s not like that. I am self-aware! I am self-reflective, and self-mocking, and isn’t that enough to insulate me from accusations of vanity and laughable prideful pride? It was ironic, right, and just fun, and I am aware that it is silly and I’m not taking myself seriously. I want to say, please don’t say The lady doth protest too much, because I’m just trying to explain myself, here, I’m trying to be honest. I’m not protesting, as if I were guilty and caught red-handed. I’m just trying to tell you–I just want you to know that I’m not like that, I’m not. I’m not. But there’s no one to actually say these things too. And the voices sure don’t listen, because they get louder, and they get nastier, and you start to think, well, maybe they have a point. Maybe I am too tortured and ridiculous to live.

I think the phrase I am looking for is “my own worst enemy.” I think
the life I am living is entirely too examined. I examine my every move,
looking for flaws. And then I make a move, cautiously, carefully,
gingerly, and I am filled, almost instantly, with regret and doubt and
embarrassment, and wishing it all away. Wishing that I didn’t know
exactly what every person in the world was thinking about me,
contemptuously and cruelly. Because I think I know. I think that I can
read your mind, you see. And it doesn’t occur to me that thinking that
someone has a secret cache of cruel things to say, that in their hearts
they are mean as snakes and poisonous as big black spiders, is just as
screwed up and pointless.

I’ve cast myself in a role as vulnerable victim, I’ve cast the world as
cruel villains, and none of it is healthy or smart, none of it is good
for me, good for my relationship to the world. I am tired of being
afraid of what everyone thinks. I am tired of being suspicious, and
assuming the worst. I am generally an optimist about
everything–sometimes to crazy extents, I will believe in miracles. For
everything and everyone but me.

Of course, it’s possible I’m right. Someone out there is certainly
saying something that is not candy and light and snowballs and kittens
about me. Somehow, I’ve got to internalize the idea that it doesn’t
matter. That what people think about me is none of my business. I can argue back at these imaginary assholes
all I like, but what’s that going to change? It’s just going to make me
more anxious, more unhappy, feel helpless and misunderstood. I am done
with helplessness. I don’t give a fuck, any more, if I am
misunderstood, because it is exhausting. I’ll just say what I have to,
as best as I can. I don’t know a better way of learning to live without

8 Replies to “my own worst enemy”

  1. Yeah. I know that feeling of examining TOO much. I too, have come to the conclusion recently that, as much as I REALLY want to be understood, as much as I explain and try to show exactly who I am, what I am and why I do things… often times there will be people who totally misunderstnad me no matter what I do to make things as clear as possible. There are dear friends who do, for the most part “get me” but there are many others who never really “get it”- at least not to the extent I want them to. And I too had the epiphany that it was EXHAUSTING to be constantly explaining and apologizing and well, who CARES what these people think? So, yeah, I think that this is a good way to think about things. I do. Good for you! Just be you without apology or explanation! Good choice!

  2. What I find laughable is the idea that you are not fashionable! My god woman, I have been dreaming about your blue tights with awesome dress that I saw in the Blogher pictures somewhere, and trying to figure out if I could ever be so cool as to pull something like that off! I’m not trying to stroke your ego (although – stroke!), as much as say I too have the voices in my head, and they’re saying “Don’t even bother trying to be as effortlessly adorable as her – you will only fail, and look like a doofus.”

    Stupid damn voices.

  3. I have the voices too. They tell me I look ridiculous running, like, hello, who are you trying to fool, you are so not a runner and so not fit. I don’t have a solution for you, but I can tell you that alcohol doesn’t shut the voice-bitch up and actually makes her more obnoxious, just in case you were thinking that maybe a mojito might make her go away.

  4. For the record I thought you looked adorable and alterno-chic and I love your red shoes. In fact, if you would just send them to me…

  5. Honey, turn off the TV that you are watching yourself on and be here now. No one’s thinking all that intricate judgmental stuff about you but you!

  6. Ditto, ditto, ditto! Plus don’t worry, we all feel that way about pictures – self-scrutiny indeed!

    Maybe if we saw less of the images of perfection out on the magazine racks this wouldn’t happen so much?

  7. Hey Anne! I discovered Elastic Waist last week and have become addicted! This is the best thing on the internet! :) The things you say sound like you pulled them out of my head (only made them more eloquent). You look fabulous in yesterday’s photo. When I saw your outfit, I wanted to be wearing it and look as great as you! I’m not just trying to flatter you either. It is just soooo wonderful to see REAL women expressing themselves through their own fashion choices. What fun we could all have if we just quit worrying about what everyone else was thinking and dressed for the joy of it!!!

  8. hi anne,
    i thought you looked adorable, especially in the red shoes! And I wish I could wear long shorts (I can’t!). I just meant, you’ve only had this body for one year or so, and you’re still having fun with it. I’ve been lucky enough to like my body my whole life (except for a couple bad years of eating disorders in my teens) and have had tons of fun dressing up (except in stores–dressing room mirrors are NOT flattering.) So I was saying–You go girl; you’re entitled to enjoy your new body that you are happy with for the first time!!! WORK IT!!! You have a lot of catching up to do!

    I don’t think that’s self-absorbed or puerile.
    I think “Eat, Pray, Read” was pretty over-the-top in that department. It fascinated me because I guess I WISH I could be soooo devoted to my every whim, wish and fancy! And have everything so “meant to be”, and so “perfectly cosmic” and so “Oprah-perfect” and so “Power of Now”, you know?
    (Moi, bitter?)
    i love you anne, you’re my bright spirit!

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