Whose body do you refuse?

Whose body do you refuse when you stand naked before a mirror and call yourself fat? Pinching your love handles, groping some part of flesh you deem excessive, telling yourself there is still so much that must go — whose hatred, whose body?

Who listens when you speak to yourself, ventriloquizing others who in fact do not care, listing your faults in ever-subtler ways so even your attempts at self-compassion become more stupid self-harm? Presenting your tendency to kick your own ass as a form of ambition, of keeping yourself in check, of getting stronger. Choosing to believe you can toughen up this way. Seeing those around you who seem great and assuming your path was once theirs; despising those who remind you of yourself, despising what you have in common with those who do not seem as finished as you would like to be. Who hears the self-justification in your head? Who believes it?

Wanting to be perfect, but clever about wanting it, too — never calling it “being perfect”, never saying anything aloud to betray what you do to yourself. Giving yourself much to resent in what you have, but at least never seeming so dumb as to cripple yourself trying for perfection. Not openly. Not even in your own thinking. Never calling what you do a process of perfection; mere self-improvement. Self-discipline, not self-loathing.

Even moments of inspiration must serve some greater purpose. Even learning to be here now means worrying you’ll forget how to do it tomorrow. Somehow even the insight that this life, this one, yours, does not have to be a coherent story makes you wonder if it was all leading up to this insight.

And when others are fools, you judge them, safe in not being them, glad to be part of so large an audience that you cannot be called onto the stage yourself. Yet every moment you dream of standing out, of being up there.

Whose emotions are these that you feel? Whose death will you die? What is wrong with this, now? Who waters what grows in the gardens you make up? Whose unhappy day is this? Whose anger, whose sadness? Who do you blame when you find joy, and who do you blame when it goes? Who is it she does not love — who are they who do not see the real you — who chose the words you chose poorly?

Of the billions of people apparently out there, who feels this, right here, now, thanking nothing?


  1. Man, I feel like I need to print this out and hang it on every mirror. I feel like I’m finally getting better in a lot of ways, but the self-improvement trap feels so much like the self-loathing cycle. Some days I wake up and see good things, other days I see a monster that needs to curl up and die in a corner somewhere.

    I used to think judging every situation with the microscope of a psychologist would help a situation. It feels now like it’s more of a fancy way to insult people and establish a dominance. You help people just by being pleasant with them. That’s all, but it’s hard.

    We are all the one who sees, not the one taught to think.

    1. I agree, Laurance. The hardest thing seems to just be what you already are without a strategy, without a backup plan, and without the hope of improvement.

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