Unorthodox conclusions about self-love

What strikes me about my last post is the level of fear it reveals. I write as if displeasing my superiors just the slightest bit could lead to my death. We´re approaching a very sensitive spot here, entangled with both pleasure and self-loathing. The self-loathing whispers to me that I´m just so scared because I fear someone might see my true nature, which is none of this good girl crap. For truly I am lazy, selfish and disinterested in other people. And the pleasure, while feeling pure and right in some hard-to-describe way, makes my behavior seem even more artificial. Which may be why I always feel that I can only join the world of work by giving up who I really am. Because who I really am is something embarrassingly antisocial. Nice twist. You´d think when someone says “but that´s not who I really am” he´s defending something precious.

I don´t know for what fucked-up reason I defend something that feels vile to me, but yes, even while watching movies I´ve always identified with and defended the villains. Even the pathetic ones (especially, maybe). I always recognized myself in behaviors that made me cringe while I saw them. And no, I cannot let anyone pat my head pitifully and ask me in a tone of saddened sympathy why I cannot love myself, be less hard on myself, see myself in a more positive light. Hear the lion of loathing roar behind these cynical, ungrateful lines? Because he is. The idea of “just loving myself” is ridiculous to me. Not because I´m such a particularly bad person, I just don´t know how you even do that. What´s it supposed to look like? With some vague terms like these, I have at least a hunch how it might feel to be able to do what they suggest, but “love yourself” is an empty spot in my imagination. Not because I´m such a severe case of self-loathing, but for some other reason I cannot really grasp.

If I think about it, though, could it be that my associations with self-love are just mistaken? I expect it would be something that would make you feel good, but maybe that´s wrong. Love can make you feel quite bad after all. And what is it other than love if I feel unreasonable rage and pain and get into silly arguments with others over what happens to a movie character I identify with? Who ever said that love was seeing everything through rose-tinted glasses? Sure, a person in love often does, but love without those glasses is just a sad, fucked-up loyalty towards someone you know is useless but unrevokably part of you. Someone you can´t let go. Why wouldn´t I have that same relationship towards the personality I believe to have, given that I angrily defended it throughout any attempts at changing it, such as therapy? Oh the irony, if my resistance is but a firm expression of self-love!

I know that my version of self-love is not how the term is used in the lingo of psychotherapy. They, for example, will tell you that not taking care of yourself properly (that is: eating pizza instead of cooking a proper meal, procrastinating, missing opportunities, spending excessive amounts of money, drinking…) reveals a lack of self-love. In fact, they excuse all your bad habits by saying your parents didn´t love you enough, and therefore you cannot properly love yourself. It sounds nice: becoming a paragon of health and efficiency just by doing something as fluffy-sounding as loving yourself. Win-win. I always felt, though, it is terrible to appropriate something which should be a free, personal and maybe conflict-ridden feeling in order to create more conformism towards a current social ideal of how a person should act and be.

How is my self-love conflicting, though? On the one hand, I do want to thrive, succeed, achieve stuff. That makes me feel frustrated with those character traits that stop me from doing so. Makes me hate myself even. On the other hand, I cannot wish to expel them, I cannot want to change, I cannot let them go because that wouldn´t be true to myself. Because of this loyalty towards my worse half I am never sure I deserve the approval I get for what my better half does. This loyalty, too, is were my guilt is coming from, not the flaws themselves. I am hard on myself not because I cannot live with my faults, I´m hard on myself because I am loyal to them. Refusing to change is dangerous. You can, of course, pretend that you are trying to change, it´s just that….but if you actually don´t want to, if you are loyal to who you are, then you might experience some severe anxiety. The fear that someone might find you out. You try to avoid conflicts in the first place. You are scared anyone might find fault with you. You feel like you´d have to lie to say you will improve (even though you will indeed probably not make the same mistake again), and lying is a sad, alienating business. Maybe that´s the connection between “I might do something to displease people” and “I will be abandoned and lonely”. “I will never be accepted the way I am” is not “I will never be accepted with all my flaws” but “I will never be accepted with my loyalty towards my flaws”. At least for Athena, that´s true. It´s just what stood between us, and I´m scared to make this experience again. In a way, it´s also why I knew therapy would never help me.  It makes me feel hopeless, like I´m destined to either be alone or anxious. And this – hopefully false – dichotomy is dangerous, too, as it might cloud your love for other people. I feel like my anxiety is a curse I have to live with, a direct consequence of my inherent badness, of my allegiance to badness, of my lack of will to be good, to be more like other people want me.

What causes me the greatest anxiety, however, can also result in unreal pleasure. To imagine that someone could break my allegiance to my worse half is probably the most powerful fantasy I have. This plot lies at the core of all my masochistic ideas, and it also justifies them, because a person like me really needs some breaking, right? Bad people need to be turned into good people and the plot revolves around overcoming the resistance this evokes. The real-life repulsion these fantasies cause me, of course, is easily made part of that plot, and I usually jump right to the idea which repulses me most. Consequently I´m much less conflicted already since I accepted those fantasies as fantasies and don´t take them so seriously anymore. As a kid I sometimes realized during daytime what I was thinking about at night and felt some kind of despair given my own self-betrayal. Maybe my inner conflicts are not so different in kind to those of feminist women having rape fantasies. Then again, have things changed so much since I was a kid? It doesn´t fill me with dread anymore that I imagine those things for my personal pleasure, but the very same fantasies I enjoy at certain times intrude on me during daytime and present themselves as plausible and I don´t even notice it! I always thought I had those intentional fantasies as a way to deal with the obsessional belief that I need to be broken, or maybe even as a way to avoid the necessity of it by dragging the idea into the dirt, but this thought itself could be straight out of one of these fantasies.








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