Where Do All the Bad Bits Go?
On Eating Your Anger, Until It Eats You
How does it feel to feel whole? To know you are a real person? It’s like whoever made me left something out, or something open. There’s a constant draft, a small breeze of sadness that I can never quite kill.
I was a very angry and sad child. Things often didn’t feel right, but I could never communicate what was off. It was just strops and stomps and scowls. This resurfaced in my late teens as I was trying to navigate the transition between kid and young adult. I was hard to please and I often felt hard to love, so I’d shut out those who cared for me the most, becoming mean when they came close. It was also around this time that I met her; when she taught me to ingest it all. To stuff myself with plump servings of self-hatred, so I could still have a chance at being an okay person, on the outside. I got very good at consuming the bad bits. So good, in fact, that lots of people never saw them. So good that, despite being at my lowest, I won ‘biggest smiler’ at my year thirteen prom. It’s comical now but was confusing for me then. I felt like a fake. I realised that it wasn’t just me hanging around my body, but that there’s someone else here too.
The bad bits live inside me now. I imagine her as a blue and draining twin. She visits me at night and tends to stick around longer in the winter months. She comes uninvited when I’m with friends and sometimes she’s even there at the end of my bed when I wake. She’ll pull up a chair when I’m at the pub, or drag me out when she wants to leave the party. She books the seat beside me at the cinema and walks me home in the dark. My blue twin loves to get me alone. She lays with me in bed, stroking my hair, whispering cruel things in my ear. She eats my anger for breakfast and washes it down with my tears. Her favourite song is my pillow-muffled sobs, her favourite book my depressing journal entries, and she even told me she gets high off my pain.
Although she’s been around so much, the past two years have seen me be more lonely than I’ve ever been before. I’ve found it incredibly hard to love myself because I feel so incomplete. I’ve never felt able to live up to the label of ‘person’ because I don’t think I’ve ever quite been there. I’m a bit behind. Not necessarily younger, or less mature, just less whole. I am not quite a person, but instead some kind of love machine. Not for sex or self-pleasure, not as someone to be desired, and definitely not as the Girls Aloud song (sad), but as an undemanding giver. I’ve spent years being the ‘undateable’, platonic friend — the “non-hot girl” as I called it previously. Embarrassingly, I suppose, I always thought having a partner would help me heal and work through my issues with intimacy, but in reality, he made me feel even worse. The ‘love’ that I was offered was quite different to what I was sold by songs and novels. I had to give ten litres to get even a drop back and eventually learnt that I could (or maybe it’s would) only be loved if I were something I cannot be: someone who can have sex*.
That is probably the least smooth segway into a discussion around vaginal disorders, but nobody talks about them which means I don’t have anything to model my writing off… I’ve had a shit year and part of that was down to finding out I am ‘abnormal’ down below. This means that, at the moment, I can’t have heteronormative ‘PIV’ sex, I can’t use tampons or toys — so by extension, I can’t be involved in lots of conversations people have around self-pleasure. My lack of “normal” sex has sat in the back of my mind constantly and really impacted my social life this year. (Well that, and getting a urinary disorder as a side-effect from my SSRIs, but not sure I’ve got the energy to dive into that one as well).
A brutal and maybe harsh view I’ve now taken is this: men love women until they can’t fuck them. That’s what it ultimately comes down to — or at least it seems to in my case. Maybe it’s not true of all men, it would be very nice if it wasn’t, but until I experience or hear of otherwise, this is where I’m at. I don’t say that to be mean or play up the whole man-hater thing, but I do strongly dislike a lot of men at the moment and I do feel very hurt by my ex-partner and some of the things he did during and now after our relationship. Most (but not all) of my sexual experiences have led me to believe that sex is something I do to or for men, I’ve never been particularly involved and very rarely has it been about me. My physical barriers teamed up with some experiences I’ve recently recognised as really not okay, and my general difficulty with being intimate with people I like (whatever gender) have just made sex seem like a shitty, scary and untouchable thing for me. “Feminism” has gone so far into the world of stranger-shagging, laughing at vanilla sex and obsessing over dildos that those who are unable to or don’t want to have heteronormative, penis-in-vagina sex are shamed. Now before I’m deemed a prude or someone who hates “empowered women”, I would like to say that I am truly happy for you if that kind of sex makes you feel good, but it would be nice if the conversation were opened up a bit more to include queer people, disabled people, people recovering from abuse, people who don’t enjoy sex in this way etc.
I know that romantic love isn’t everything, but it is. Why are women told that we need to work on ourselves in order to receive love when that’s not how it works? I’ve tried hard to get there — to get whole and womanly and loveable. I don’t want people to think this is all just a bitter and spoilt rant. I went to therapy, I journaled, I tried medication, I opened up to friends and family a bit more, I went to sit in the sun, I took up art and I’m singing again. Even when we learn to eat our anger, master the art of a fake smile and tame our tempers it is still not enough. Why have I done so much work for fuck all? I’ve also chipped away at myself so much that it feels like there’s so little left — like everything’s an act. It will sound naive and dramatic to many, but I feel like I know heartbreak so well, and in a somewhat sick way, I find a certain level of comfort in it. Despite this knowing, it is still something I can only process with paper and typing and months of thinking. I find it hard to talk about unless I’m talking to myself. Have I swallowed so many lumps in my throat that I no longer know how to use my voice? Devoured so many bad bits that my blue twin is the only one I can speak to?
I will love because that’s all I want to do. To be loved has always felt like something for the other girls — the ones who are beautiful (and usually white and slim), who do not carry the weight of being blue, for the people who recognise themselves in the mirror, who know when their own smile is genuine. Being loved is for the people who know how to accept it, without reading a book or going on Reddit or looking up a fucking WikiHow. (I didn’t actually do the last one, but it’s quite a funny image.) I want so badly to break up with this other version of myself, to be the dumper. I’m tired of being mean to myself, tired of being alone and tired of being tired. I’m fed up of not telling people when they upset me, of constantly reflecting my anger back at myself, of feeling like I don’t deserve love, or friendship like only I can care for me, care about me.
I realise now, that I should still be allowed to feel sad. My sensitivity is something that just comes with me, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I just want to know if I can have both; if I can move on knowing I will always be especially vulnerable, but if I can also learn to be loved as well. I want to know if I can find a new place for the bad bits to go — somewhere that isn’t me.
If you want to know what this sadness sounds like, here you go: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3sSLiaXDcpip8NjVmWkiVq?si=94594281eebe4a8e
Note: I know this is probably the saddest thing I’ve ever written and I don’t want people to worry about me, but to be honest, maybe that is what I need — to stop pretending things are fine all the time lol. But truly, I am doing a lot better than I have been in a long time, I think that’s why I’ve finally been able to write… like for the first time in a year and a half. I’m sorry if it makes you sad, but I think this is better out than in.
*Sex as in PIV/het/normalised etc. sex