We Cannot Escape Ourselves


I sometimes imagine that we all exist in two. If not, how then to explain those moments when we get angry with ourselves, blaming ourselves for all the things we have done and regretted? Who is the target of our hostility? Who receives all of it? For that matter, who is the aggressor? When the fight is happening in our heads, it can feel like a mirror broken in two taking up our whole body.

The truth is that there is no escape from this dynamic. We are usually the hardest on those who are closest to us, and how much closer can you get than living inside of you? This means that we usually punish and torture ourselves harder than we do other people, made worse by the fact that we know ourselves all too well.

We are stuck in our own bodies until death comes for us, and even then, even if we have incorporeal selves, we might still be trapped. Who knows? We are stuck with the same set of arms and legs, the same beating heart, the same minds and experiences and pasts.

We might as well learn to stop fighting ourselves, and if we can, to love us too.

By love, what I mean is to accept ourselves as bumbling, messed up beings capable of much evil and good against us and against others, but this fact does not make us intrinsically bad or hopeless, nor does it make us innately good. What I’d like to believe is that it shows us the potential we have of being in a better place and state than where we presently are.

Sometimes, it seems so easy to fall into the same patterns of anxiety and sadness, to let ourselves come back over and over to the darkness because that is what we’re used to.

Comforting and safe, even. I should know. I have found myself saying that I do not know who I will be if I’m not depressed or anxious, and until now, it’s a continuous decision not to succumb to that way of thinking. It’s hard to tell where to draw the line, let alone be sufficiently strong to follow through.

The trick here, though, is to keep in mind that the goal for loving and accepting ourselves is not happiness. What is that anyway? The goal is to be able to experience peace from time to time, to be able to look at ourselves and be pleasantly surprised to know that we are content with what we have right now. Let us not expect permanence, but instead, practice gratefulness for the moments when there is more light than gray in our lives.

Those days will come, but it will not be easy. It will be a real fucker of a process, day by day, hour by hour, and we will fail so many times we’d wonder if it’s even doable at all. We will hate ourselves and want to be someone else, we will feel tempted to jump out of our own skins and move into another body which hopefully isn’t scarred the way ours already are. We’ll want to take the easy way out, to just run and run and run away from who we are until it can’t catch up with us anymore.

Sometimes we’ll need the pills to fill up what feels empty. Sometimes we’ll need the alcohol and the cigarettes and the bad friends, the one-night stands that make our skin crawl in the morning, the bad decisions and relationships and regrets. We’ll need the 3am cry fests and empty sobs that feel like they’ll break ribs, the numbness, the confusion and the feeling that we are adrift and alone without a home.

It’s okay.

The most important thing is that we try, anyway.

I think that out of all the people that surround us, out of everyone we claim we love, the one person who deserves all the chances from us is ourselves. We deserve our own forgiveness. We deserve infinite kindness from the only self we will ever have.

Since we cannot escape ourselves, how about we become our biggest fans instead?

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image – Flickr/dirkstoop