It’s become my thing to obsessively search for the people that replace me. I scroll through Facebook and Instagram pictures looking for the slightest comment that suggests that this is the one. This is the one who you’ve deemed superior to me. This is the one that I have to know, the one who will animate the images I have in my head of all of the things that you do without me. She has somehow been the girl of both of our dreams.
This is the most toxic and destructive activity I’ve grown talented at and I don’t know how to stop it. I don’t know how to look away, how to flip the pages and write my own story. I am a prisoner to the people who replace me. I want to be them more than I want to be me, and I think that if I know them, I can be more like them, and I can be more like someone who won’t be replaced. I’ve gotten to know the feeling of my heart sinking when I click on her profile and am hit with the confirmation that she is, indeed, prettier than me — and I bring her to life. She’s not only prettier than me but she’s happier than me, kinder than me, funnier than me. It all makes sense in my head when I put it this way. I am so aware of how ugly my thoughts are in this very moment, but I don’t care. I just want to drown in self-pity and the comfortable feeling of inferiority.
I know I’ve given in to letting someone decide my worth, I know I’ve lost the game of strength, but in this moment, I don’t care. I imagine she would never be in this position, staring at a picture of a girl she doesn’t know, a brain filled with ugly thoughts. My heart sinks deeper as I find myself writing stories and creating these images that now have more truth to them than they did before. I can’t tell if I am overly imaginative and creative or if I’ve fallen into a destructive pattern I would be too ashamed to tell even my therapist about. I like to choose the former for myself.
I wonder what kind of girl would find herself where I find myself, and I’m so ashamed but I scroll further and further down. I find comments from her loved ones. I find your comment. I feel like such a stranger, such an outsider, and that’s exactly what I am in this moment. I am a stranger and I’m looking at a stranger’s life just because you are familiar. You are not my loved one, you are hers. And I tell myself this fact over and over but I can’t click back to the homepage. I can’t forget her name, and the worst part of all is that I’m a bit satisfied to have found her.
I feel confirmations and the right to be upset and angry. I can throw myself a pity party and it’s more justifiable now. I can stop the ugly thoughts. I should stop the ugly thoughts. This is my own declaration of closure. After all of the ugly thoughts, I can tell myself that it’s time to let it all go. I’ve found truth to everything I’ve feared all along, and once your fears become your reality, you don’t really have much to fear anymore. It is the worst part of letting go. It is the most important part of letting go. Your nightmares are no longer a part of your worst-case scenario imagination, they are your only scenario. It is a splash of ice-cold water to your face, and after you feel numb, you will feel alive. I don’t have to feel ashamed anymore. I don’t have to obsess anymore. It is as easy as reading the title of a self-help book without actually reading the book. It is thought adjustment and brighter days and me before you and healthy living. It is that I am not her. You are not my loved one anymore. Neither of you are or will be part of my story and that’s okay.
I have characters of my own. And they are beautiful. And one day I will find someone who won’t be your replacement, but they will hold their own narrative and they will make mine brighter than I ever imagined. I can no longer force characters to play roles that they don’t want to play. I can no longer hope to be someone else or try to know someone in the hopes that I will become them. It is too much and I am no longer capable of digesting the toxins I keep trying to force-feed myself. I will not be the girl who finds herself searching and scrolling for a stranger to validate the pain of being replaced. And if you are that girl, I hope that when you wonder what kind of girl finds herself here, you will know that it is a strong one. One that is learning and one that is healing. That’s the kind of girl who finds herself here.