I will love you when you’re beautiful enough for the image I have in my head of how you should look. I will love you when you have lost your excess weight and when you look like someone that could be on a magazine cover. Until then, I will punish you and hate you and I will say vile things about you from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep. I’ll keep you up at night—not out of pleasure—but because I will feel a paranoid need to run through your mind all your flaws on repeat, on zoom. You’ll toss your body around the covers and your heart will beat, beat, beat out of your chest and you’ll make lists of what you should do the next day to be deemed acceptable in my eyes and I will say yes, do those things, keep going. While you’re at it, do more and push yourself more. Stress. Keep stressing. I will love you when you are perfect.
I will love you when—and only when—you are skinny.
I will love you when you are wealthy and surrounded by opulence. I will compare you mercilessly to other people who I perceive to have more than you. I will constantly and endlessly find reasons why you are inadequate in my eyes and I will use those inadequacies as motivation for you to continually change your life. I will hand you a list of what you need in order to be acceptable and loved by me and I will hate and loathe you until you complete that list. Then, I will hate and loathe you when you complete the list. I will add more to the list, because you will never be good enough for me. You will never be happy.
I will love you when someone else loves you. I will see the way they look at you and kiss your cheek and I’ll look at you like maybe now you are lovable. It will take the love of someone else to supplant the love you lack for me to see that maybe you are good enough. Yet, if that person’s love fades and falters and vanishes from your life, I will stop loving you. It will be your fault. You drove them away. You are not good enough as you are. I will love you only to the extent that someone else loved you. Once that person’s love has gone, so will my love. I will only see your goodness and beauty and light when someone else sees it. Once the light of their love extinguishes, so will your own light. I will love you if their light flickers back. Or I will love you only when another person notices you again.
I will love you when you change everything about you and make yourself flawless and faultless. I will love you when you are more intelligent, when every answer is correct. I will love you when you’ve read the ten books you have stacked up on your nightstand. I will love you when you contain who you are to the point that who you are is acceptable enough for the world. I will love you when you’re not too much of anything, when you’re normal, when you’re not emotional, when you stop caring so much, when you get more likes on your Instagram, when you have more followers on Twitter, when you have more reblogs on Tumblr, when you’re viral on YouTube. I will love you when other people love and admire you. I will love you when you are famous. I will love you when enough people love you that your life feels worthwhile and valuable.
I will love you when you stop being the wonderment and uniqueness of who you are and, instead, step into who the world thinks you should be. I will love you contingent upon a list of attributes that you must always exhibit. I will love you when you are okay and small and acceptable and just like the people who other people love. I will love you when you do not stand out or do anything weird or be someone that other people are not.
I will love you when you are not you anymore. I will love you when you change. I will love you one day, but not today. Today, you must be miserable. Today, you must suffer. Today, I will say vile things to you until you are motivated—finally, motivated—to change into someone else who is worth loving.
I will love you when you are not you, when you are perfect and skinny and perfect and wealthy and perfect and contained.
This is how we regard ourselves now. This is how we see ourselves. This is how contingent the love we give ourselves is. We wouldn’t allow this from others, yet why do we allow it from ourselves?