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 — whose chose the words you chose poorly?
Of the billions of people apparently out there, who feels this, right here, now, thanking nothing?