Karen Carpenter’s melodic voice croons from the turntable and I realize just how much Mondays get me down. I live for rainy days, but there’s just something about this day of the week that sucks everything out of me: My energy, happiness, hope, motivation, and the want to accomplish anything for the day. It’s 2 in the afternoon and I’m sitting by the kitchen table with an empty stomach and unwashed hair. Across me there is a shriveled lemon on the fruit platter, an orange from the market two weeks ago, and my dad reading Stephen King’s Duma Key. We don’t speak to each other, of course, but I don’t really mind because I never have anything to say to anybody. I have been avoiding confronting myself the past few weeks, but now seems like the better time to try again because I’m stuck with my avoidant behavior again, procrastinating and putting off chores and tasks with every chance I can get.
Every night I’ve been going to bed with a storm inside my head and heart, and waking up late every morning with the world on my shoulders. I feel so depressed, and my room is just as depressing. Tissue, dust, shoes, hair, clothes, and trash scattered on the floor. Hair and dirt clinging on my tub’s drain and tiles. There’s a freaking cobweb behind my bathroom door and I broke my drawer after yanking it too hard some time ago; I can’t seem to put it back anymore and it has now occupied my pitiful tiny single mattress, leaving me no space to sleep in. Heaps of dirty clothes are piled up on my bed and my bath things are in disarray. My desk, my only working space, is covered with stacks of paper, vinyl record cases, too many pens I will never use, spilled paper clips, sleeping pills, and a stupid synthetic leather purse that I never wanted but still wasted money on. I have no space to work in. My room is gross, just as messy and disordered as my mind—perhaps even more than. I have no initiative to clean up, yet I’m wondering how long I can ignore the mess in my room until roaches and mice start cohabiting with me.
I’ve been eating horrible too. Just because I’m vegan doesn’t mean I eat well; I’ve been stuffing myself with junk food the past weeks, which I believe is just as bad as eating meat, and I haven’t gone running and biking at all. I feel bloated and like crap. I keep putting off my review of related literature for my thesis as well as my marketing project for my internship and I just feel like utter shit. I’m not trying very hard and it’s so so difficult forcing myself to function every single day when I just want to hole up in my room and disappear. I don’t want to see anybody, I don’t want to go out of the house, I don’t want to talk or even hear other people talking. I really don’t know why I’ve been feeling this way, and I’ve been trying to get to the root of this for the longest time but I never seem to arrive at an answer. I just feel so down all the time, for no apparent reason. And yesterday I was making a list, like how I always make lists for everything (even a list for all my lists) but this particular list was on things about myself.
I wrote in my list of myself: I always feel like an impostor. I never feel like I belong or feel drawn towards anything I do. I always feel like a crook about to get found out, and every day I go on about my lousy day with my guards up, my fight or flight response kicked into high gear, constantly looking over my shoulder in paranoia because I am so afraid of being discovered and called out as a great pretender. Being called out for what, that I do not know, but I always feel as if I am impersonating someone, like I stole someone’s identity and took it as my own, and that my achievements are never really mine (not that I have any, because I don’t) and any time now, I will be hunted down and exposed as a giant quack.
I wrote, I beat myself up over the littlest things. I hate myself over things people don’t notice and see, but are always visible to my eyes. A neglected task, a dropped hanky, a passing but not perfect test score, an overdue library book, forgotten keys and umbrella, an un-refilled water bottle, a stray thread from my hem, starting my sentences with coordinating conjunctions—everything, really. And every time, I see the need to punish myself for these little faults, purposely drowning myself in guilt and starving myself, reminding myself to not screw things up again or else. But I still end up screwing things again. I always do. I always end up forgetting things and missing things and losing things and dropping things and breaking things.
I also wrote, I hate having other people help me. It’s not because of an inflated ego, I think I just don’t like the idea of inconveniencing people, of having others stop what they’re doing to make way for me. It makes me feel so so so bad having someone help me, no matter how little a thing it may be. I feel an astronomic amount of guilt and shame, and have the need to always repay it back—not out of gratitude and gratefulness—but just so I can say “Now we’re even.” I had a drunken night a few days ago and was incapable of taking myself home, so my former editor, J, had to drive me home in the early hours of the morning. The enormous guilt I felt during and afterwards just spiraled me into so much self-loathing, but even though I was inebriated and half seas over, J told me that I still insisted on paying him for the ride and, apparently, handed him money as I stumbled out of his car. And I felt angry at myself after knowing, because if I did the same thing for another friend, say a friend got drunk and I brought them home and they paid me for it, I would be gravely insulted. And it sucks because no matter how drunk I get, my inhibition and fear of being helped and being deemed a liability for my incapability to take care of myself will never go away, that I will always feel guilty and ashamed of being helped, of being looked after, and taken care of, that I will always feel undeserving of these, and I really don’t know why I am ever this way.
I feel guilt for everything. I cannot even send a text message without putting my phone face down, three feet away from me, as I cringe and wait for a reply. I cannot even eat without telling myself I don’t deserve it, because I never did anything and shouldn’t be so hungry. I cannot even go to bed without telling myself I can’t sleep because I never finished any task for the day. I cannot laugh without being worried of being too loud. I cannot walk down streets and hallways without feeling I am taking up too much space. I cannot even ask dear friends out for dinner or a drink without first thinking, Oh no, I’m inconveniencing them or What if I smother them for being too clingy? And when I do get the courage to ask someone out to spend time with me, I feel shame and guilt for wasting their time, and I think, No one wants baggage.
And I fear for my baggage, because they come in endless stacks and stacks of boxes, each box filled with more fears and insecurities and paranoia and monsters than the last. And I am so afraid of having anyone peek inside my boxes and see their secrets, so I stow them away and keep them stacked, but the monsters struggle to get out and in the end the boxes always spill over for someone to see their sorry contents. And, I think, I will never really be able to get rid of these boxes. Wherever I go, whichever place I settle with as home, the moving van containing these boxes will always follow me.
And it just gets so tiring and difficult wrestling with my mind to the point that it’s much easier for me to avoid everything and everyone, and just keep to myself because why bother. And maybe that’s why I never ask anybody out to spend time with, because I always feel unworthy and undeserving of anyone’s time. And maybe that’s why I don’t have great memories with other people, because I keep denying these simple joys to myself. And that, really, the only memories I have are of me being and doing things alone.
I have stupid post-it notes around my room and one says, Celebrate small triumphs. And I feel like a hypocrite, because I have no triumph to celebrate, really. I do know I should lighten up and stop beating myself up over the littlest things, but it’s so so much easier said than done. That I am more stubborn than a mule, that I will always hate myself for something, and it makes me cry because I also don’t want to be this way forever, but I am stuck and each time I try to take one step further, the quicksand pulls me down deeper, and I feel so crippled.
But, I guess, no one is really scrutinizing me with a telescope or a magnifying glass. Maybe god, if it is real, but I have stopped believing in one a long time ago. I do not really need the promise of heaven to do good and find worth and purpose in this life—though this is something I have yet to tell my religious parents in the future, much to the dismay of their poor hearts. But the only one scrutinizing me, really, is me. And I should stop (even though I know I never will). I should stop. I’m not saying I will, but I should, because it’s what my mind needs.
And really, I realized, if there is one thing I love the most about being an editor, a journalist, and in general, a writer, it is the existence of deadlines and shitty drafts. Time is against me. My days are numbered. I will die someday. But there is always something to finish. And death gives life meaning for that simple reason: There is always something to get done. And that shitty drafts, no matter how imperfect, can always be edited until it passes muster. And if it doesn’t, then who the fuck cares. Imperfection gives me something to always strive for.
I think I have exhausted myself crying and writing. Bye and have a better day