Thursday, March 19, 2009

Self Fulfilling Prophecy

Miscast in the role In the role that I was born to play This loser act I know Is only getting sadder each day I guess you were too new I needed someone who was damaged like me I think I thought you'd do Baby just don't lie to me You know I thrive on jealousies I'll boil it down to simple pleas Baby just don't lie to me --Local H, "Simple Pleas" I'm not sure where to go with this. It feels like I'm on the verge of one of those random, self-absorbed entries. But I'm not entirely sure I want to write about me. Maybe I'll just stomp around the mess in my head for a while, see if I can come up with a coherent narrative. I think there's a random point in our lives where we get set in our ways, but not completely. I think we get this view of ourselves, what we are, what we do. We label ourselves. And I think it comes fairly early. The stereotype that we place on ourselves is just as insidious as any we get from an outsider, and in some ways I think it could be worse. I think we're all our own worst enemy. This, too, might be the Father Wound of John Eldredge. It's not that our parent calls us something and we internalize it. I think we all do carry around a wound. Some may well get it from family or strangers. But I think we give wounds to ourselves, too. Like, I'm sure everyone knows that person who has labeled him- or herself as always right. They drive forward through life, confident that they are right and the only options are to agree with them or be wrong. We all probably know a pleaser or two, the sort of person who has decided its their job to make everyone else happy. I'm not planning on making this an exhaustive list, so please insert your own labels, your own thoughts, whatever. I've worked my way through life with two internal labels. One is fairly obvious, but the other is something of a mystery to me. I'm assuming they worked in tandem back in the day, though. See, the obvious one is "the fat kid." There's a commercial, I think for the Bowflex, where there's some guy talking to the camera and he says that he used to have his "fat clothes" and now he gave his "fat clothes" away to his "fat friends." Assuming he wrote his own script, that dude's an ass. However, I can practically guarantee he's going to need his "fat clothes" again. Because no matter how sculpted he is in that commercial, that guy is a fat kid. I can hear it in the contempt in in his voice when he refers to his "fat friends." I kind of hate him, but in that complicated way that we hate people both because they mock us and because they are us. I know this because a few years ago I decided to stop being the fat kid. Over the course of about seven or eight months I dropped from 340 to 230 pounds. And losing all that weight didn't solve a single problem. I did what I did for all the wrong reasons. It's weird, too, because I suspect I didn't enjoy it. It's not that I was one of those people who bitched and whined about having to be on a diet. I never thought of it as a diet. And I loved exercise. I picked biking, which was something I enjoyed, and I looked forward to pushing myself to go farther and faster every day. My problem was that no matter how much weight I lost, I could never escape from the fat kid. It was kind of like a horror movie. You know the ones. The main character looks in the mirror and all of the sudden sees their reflection, but they're dead or the evil monster or whatever. I saw myself as the fat kid. Pretty much every time. At some point I gradually stopped paying attention to what I was eating. I slacked off on the whole working out thing. I started making excuses. And I gradually moved to where I am now, which is somewhere close to the middle of my two extremes. I hate being here. I'd love to be back at 230 again. I like to think I'd appreciate it this time because I genuinely miss it. More than that, I'm realizing that being the fat kid was actually a convenient way to avoid the other label. See, at some point I decided I was a loser. Why? Who knows. However, the loser is a fairly easy to spot individual. He or she invests far more time in coming up with reasons why this or that won't work than actually trying. It's why for the loser being the fat kid is actually a boon. It's a ready-made excuse. Can't get a date on Friday? Girls don't want to look at your grotesque fat ass. Boom. There's no more reason to try. It's also great fantasy fuel. Some day you'll be buff and thin and everyone will finally see just how awesome you are. Funny thing is, no matter how fat or thin you are, you're always going to be you. If someone is going to like you, they'll like you on either end. If they don't like you, they won't on either end. And if you're going to wait for the world to come to you, you're going to be waiting whether fat or thin. There's a mental leap here that I keep making. It's a strange transition, but that doesn't bother me so much. My phone rang at 4:15 in the morning a couple of Mondays ago. Those calls are never good. I think there's no time more lonely than the dark hours of the day right after something bad has happened. I sleep alone. I always have. But that morning I missed having someone there. I can't explain it, since I have no idea how I could possibly miss something that was never there in the first place. Two things struck me, though. The first was that I had no urge to pray. Turns out there may be atheists in foxholes after all. The second was that not only did I not miss Her, I was actually kind of glad she wasn't around. It's been almost exactly a year since we last intentionally spoke to each other. It's been ten months since I stood five feet from Scott Lucas and heard the first angry words of "The One with 'Kid'" and knew exactly what he was talking about. Since then I've missed her, I've hated her, I've called her names, I've randomly said goodbye, and I've probably been pretty hard on her. I assumed throughout that I was being properly even-handed. Then I read this over on Slacktivist today and thought, "Crap, I'm like this douchebag." I fought the thought because, I mean, I'm really not that much of a jackass. I mean, I try to give credit where due and lay blame where it belongs. When it gets right down to it, I'm certainly no misogynist. So why was I so bothered by it? It's the self-absorption, the self-loathing, the self-justification, and the excuse making. That's what I see. That's what bugged me so much. It's weird, too. By any objective measure she should be out of my life. She should have been out of my life way earlier than March of 2008. Equally, there's no amount of self-discovery that either of us could make that would make the idea of being back in each other's lives a good idea. Some things don't work for no other reason than they can't work. That doesn't invalidate the lessons, however. See, whether she knew it or not, she was with a loser. I think I expected her to, for lack of a better term, validate me. I don't think I knew I was doing it at the time, either. I mean, I've known people who look to relationships to validate themselves and in most cases it's basically, "I have to be with someone to feel valuable." I wasn't doing that, so I missed my own need for validation. I wanted to be with her. For a while there I wanted her to be the absolute most important person in my world. But I also desperately wanted -- needed, really -- her to tell me that I was good enough for her. More importantly, I needed her to tell me I was good enough in all the categories where I felt deficient. Either way, it's been a year and I haven't been able to fully let go. I think I finally figured out why. I like to believe I'm over the fat kid label. Something tells me that the loser one will be harder to overcome. This, too, ties in to my Golden Haired Woman/Gomer dichotomy. It seems largely unfair, really. I've never bothered with the madonna/whore thing but I've still been categorizing the female gender with arbitrary distinctions. Apparently I still have a lot to learn.


PersonalFailure said...


I am not traditionally pretty. If we're being fair, I'm cute, at best. One day, I got sick of hating myself, hating my face, hating my nose, and decided "fuck it. I'm beautiful."

I pretended in my head that I was this irresistably desirable creature, a force of nature that cannot be denied. The longer I did it, the more I believed it, and the funny thing was, people seem to buy it.

I'm not wandering about convinced of my own superiority acting like a supersluttybitch, but I have to say, believing in my own beauty seems to have made me beautiful.

It helps not to look in a mirror much when I do this, because the mirror, it lies. It shows me things I don't want to see, but then again, maybe I'm just seeing what I want to. And I want to hate myself for some reason.

PersonalFailure said...

I also have to say this- I date big guys. I just do. Some guys like blondes, some guys like black chicks, I like big guys.

But, for the reasons you mentioned, it can be frustrating.

I absolutely loved this one guy, we'll call him Alan. I though Alan was the greatest- but I tend to see people as they could be, not as they necessarily are.

Alan kept going on and on about all the things he would do with his life if he could just lose 100 lbs. All of these things were things he do at his present weight.

Finally, I realized that the "if I just lost 100 lbs" was an excuse. He was afraid to fail, and "I'm too fat to try" made a good excuse. We broke up after I told him to either lose the 100 lbs or get on with his life with the 100 lbs, but to stop excusing himself from trying.

Alan likes to tell people that being skinny, I just don't know what it's like to be fat. Fair enough, but colleges don't have a weight requirement.

Fiat Lex said...

Good post. I like reading what comes out when you get all introspective and junk, even though it makes me want to cheer you up. So hey! You are this cool tall guy in shades whose half-shaven beard always manages to look sophisticated rather than unkempt! How do you do that?

PF, I admire enormously the thing you did with beautifulness. People like to gab about "mind over matter" but exercising "mind over mind" is way harder, and seems to me is done less often.

I still, somewhere in there, have an "annoying weirdo who won't shut up" label. I put a lot of work into learning how to be charming and funny, but changing the way I behaved didn't help me be any less freakishly insecure. As Geds can attest. No matter that, in real life, most of the time, I'm a nice person other people enjoy being around. I still suck at keeping friends because I have this deep, sneaky belief that eventually they'll figure out they've been duped into hanging out with some weirdo nobody likes.

Good point also, Geds, about how we hate people when they live out the worst things we see in ourselves. I've been going through a whole re-evaluating my feelings about Christianity thing. Part of trying to change my relationship dynamic with my family. And I've discovered the things that piss me off most about Christian behavior are the condescending jackasseries I engaged in when I was a Christian myself. I see people mimicking the attitudes and behaviors that make me want to travel back through time and punch myself. So I want to punch them instead, by proxy. Because, y'know, we don't know how to do time travel and it may be impossible.

Geds said...

PF: One of the things that slowly dawned on me about the particular member of the female gender above is that we were both pretty broken. But I think we both recognized the problems in the other more than we recognized them in ourselves.

I used to be big in to the whole seeing people as they could be thing, too. My death spiral in Christianity that was followed immediately by the relationship pretty much killed any desire to keep doing that. People are who they are and I've realized that my perception of another doesn't matter if perception doesn't match to reality. If I couldn't live with her as she was (and her with me, for that matter) then I couldn't live with her period. It sucks, but sometimes you just have to let go, y'know?

Fiat: Um, I'd love to answer your question re: my beard, but I have no clue what the hell you're talking about.

However, now that it's warm again I'm thinking of shaving the dome and dropping down to a goat. I've always wanted to rock the evil overlord look...