When I was a little girl Barbie dolls and Disney movies were never enough. But still, I always wanted more. More movies, more CD’s, more dresses for dolls I didn’t even play with, more books, more diaries. More friends. I’d immerse myself in books and become attached to the characters. I’d write my own stories and create these other lives. I’d get sad because neither were real. I felt this sort of dissatisfaction with life even back then when all I had to worry about was brushing my teeth on my own, making sure the bow in my hair matched my dress and saying yes mam and no sir. I felt so odd, even back then, there was always this kind of hunger for something that even to this day I can’t quite explain.
I don’t know if this was related to trauma, or if it’s who I’ve always been at my core because I remember feeling this thirst before I ever even found out what real monsters were.
I remember sitting on the canopy bed I had after school one day and staring at my white bedroom walls and just crying. They made me so sad. They were so lifeless, so blank, so empty. Empty, now that was a word that scared me even back then. I couldn’t stand not only how those walls made me feel, but that they stood there bare for the whole world to see. I especially couldn’t stand that they reflected themselves on the mirrors of my vanity and the sliding mirrored doors to my closet. To have to look at yourself that way. I was afraid of it. I begged my mom and dad to take me to pick out some paint that same Saturday. I picked out a metallic color between gold and bronze and my walls were covered with it that same night. (Before moving to a new house years later, I remember digging into the paint with my teenage nails and watching it chip away, letting what was always beneath resurface.)
I guess it’s something I’ve always done. Painted over things. Tried to color over imperfections. Looked for ways to fill up what has always felt empty.
I spent so much of my life trying to fill the void I’ve always felt inside of me with temporary things. Sex. Alcohol. Shoes. Clothes. Drugs. People.
For so long, I tried to find my happiness in other people. The friends I would surround myself with, and the men, oh the men. It was almost like I was this shiny clawfoot tub begging to serve a purpose, and they were the hand turning the handle like the water couldn’t be turned on any other way. I would seek fulfillment in their love, whether that love existed or not, I would mask my fears with their support, whether they were genuine friends or not.
But you know, nothing in this world lasts forever. Not even the great loves of your life and not even most friendships. The only thing permanent in life is the relationship you carry with yourself. At the end of the day, it’s the only thing that will keep you warm at night.
There can be another body laying beside you, but if you don’t have a great relationship with yourself first, it doesn’t matter, that body is nothing more than a tool for your comfort. You could surround yourself with all the friends in the world, you can have people in your life you know you can count on and you know will be there for you, but does that even matter when you can’t even be there for yourself? Does any of it mean anything when you don’t know how to be alone with yourself?
No, all you’re doing is painting the walls a different color. All you’re doing is filling up a bathtub with a broken stopper.
I have had a great number of people disappoint me and hurt me throughout my life. I have had too many betrayals to want to admit. I have had my fair share of toxic relationships because I thought it was easier than being on my own. I have had people walk out of my life in the blink of an eye. I have shut the door in many of faces. This isn’t something I say because I feel sorry for myself or because I think I had it bad. No, these were all blessings.
I wouldn’t have come to learn how much I need to love myself and how dependent I have to be ON ONLY MYSELF if it weren’t for the heartbreaks and the dirty friends.
I wouldn’t be here writing with absolute certainty that you can’t trust anyone like you can trust yourself. This isn’t a cynical statement. This is a fact. I don’t mean to say that people aren’t trustworthy. But even the good ones are human, and we all tend to get our hands dirty from time to time, unfortunately sometimes with the blood of the people closest to us. The one person you can trust the most in this life is yourself. That’s a constant. That’s a fact that won’t ever change. Nobody has your best interests at heart like you do.
Most importantly, I’ve come to realize that not one person on this colossal earth can make you happy the way you can make you happy. I have loved, I have gone through best friends like revolving doors, I have searched for happiness at the bottom of a bottle and wearing shoes I couldn’t afford but bought anyway, and the joy I felt with all of those was fleeting.
Even during moments in my life that I felt happiness, I wasn’t really happy. Why? Because I was too busy ignoring the things that pained me within myself. Because I didn’t love myself. Because I was too afraid to dig in and tap into what was inside. Because I wasn’t giving myself a chance.
Because I was painting the walls a different color.
I’ve been slowly falling in love with myself. I’ve been slowly getting to know myself. I’ve been getting my fingernails dirty trying to unearth all the things I worked so hard to bury at a young age and even recently. I’ve been learning how to depend on nobody but myself. I’ve been learning how to be there for myself. I’ve come to enjoy my own company.
I’m slowly learning how to be my own best friend.
I appreciate the friends I have in my life, and the people who have stayed, I love them immensely. But there is something to be said for that feeling when you can go away on your own and shut off your phone, and not feel like there is anything missing.
I have hobbies that I will never try with anybody. It’s time with myself that I value. My writing time, my painting time, that’s all for me and only me. I get to tune into myself and break away from the rest of the world, and I have never felt as much peace as when I do so.
I sometimes stay in alone, drink my wine alone, and weekend nights aren’t as threatening. I buy myself Brownie Brittle when I had a shitty day and treat myself to a good dinner.
I’m learning to face whatever ghosts come to haunt me alone, because the haunting is mine, and mine alone. Nobody understands it the way I do.
I know that nobody else will take care of me the way I can take care of me. I am taking care of me.
I talk to myself like a crazy person sometimes, but so what? Nobody knows me like I know me. If I need advice, yeah, I talk to my friends about it, but at the end of the day all the answers are inside of myself, and the only thing that matters is how I feel and what I think.
I’ve been writing in my diary more than I ever did as a little girl and it’s almost like I have found this long lost friend.
The process hasn’t been easy, but I hadn’t felt this fulfilled in a long time. There was a point in my life where I felt it necessary to be surrounded by others, with distractions, to quiet the deafening silence and ache inside me. I was so afraid of being alone that I looked past the flaws and red flags I saw in other people. And deep down, I was truly miserable. I was unhappy because, to be honest, the energies of others have always exhausted me because I have always understood there is beauty in solitude. And, oh, how I craved it so. But I thought that my value was determined by the love others felt for me because I didn’t feel it for myself. Because I didn’t like the thoughts in my head. Because I was too afraid of what I might find if I went searching around. I thought that if I didn’t feel happy I was sure to find that happiness in someone else, in whatever form. I was wrong.
The greatest thing I’ve learned in this budding relationship with myself is how to choose myself first. I am done being selfless. I am done being a martyr. I am done being a tourniquet for somebody else’s wound. I will always choose myself first because I know now that I should love no one and value no one the way I do myself. If this makes me selfish, so be it. I will choose self-preservation over selflessness.
I will be my number one supporter. My number one cheerleader. My own damn motivator.
I will not look for the light in someone else’s sky, I don’t care if I have to build rockets to make the stars come tumbling down.
I will be my own comfort. I will love all the unlovable and even horrifying things about myself more than anyone ever could. I will take my own damn secrets to my grave. I will be my own damn critic.
I am slowly learning to admire myself, how to be proud of myself, and how to stick up for myself, the way only a best friend knows how to. I am learning how to be honest with myself, the way only a best friend can be.
I am learning how to forgive myself.
I am learning more and more how to make myself smile.
No one is going to hold my hand every second of every day, but I can.
I am learning how to give deeper meaning to the term BFF. And the bond between us is something nobody can ever break.