Game of Comparisons

Note: I wrote this piece in January, and I’ve wanted to share it so many times since then, but I’ve never found the courage. I’ve shared most of my story, but I haven’t shared all of it (except in hint form). And I believe that now is the time to share all of it, because over the last 6 months I have worked so hard to overcome this problem, and I’m pretty sure I have it beat.

Remember that this is a judgment free blog 🙂

 

Game of Comparisons

By, Kaleigh Distaffen

I have never been particularly fond of myself, and my self-esteem has always been relatively low. So, I believed too much, was too over trusting, and was too naïve to know any better. In other words, I believed what people told me I was, I trusted everybody was my friend, and was too naïve to know that I was worth more. It came as no surprise, therefore, when I was sexually assaulted that I believed everything those guys told me.

“You’re not pretty enough. You’re not good enough. You’re worth nothing.”

These words repeated over and over again in my head, never shutting up or slowing down. The Game of Comparisons started, and I lost every time.

She’s pretty; you’re not pretty enough. She’s skinny; you’re not skinny enough.

 Soon I became so full of self-hatred I was virtually incapable of feeling anything else. Every laugh, every smile, every tear was forced out. I felt dead—a human void of emotion is no human at all. In order to feel something, anything at all, I began to cut myself. And every time I cut myself open with the razor of hate, you’re worth nothing echoed in my mind. This routine continued day in and day out for six months. Eventually, cutting wasn’t enough anymore. So I stopped eating.

Well, ok. Technically, that’s not entirely true.

I stopped filling myself up. I started eating less and less, only eating enough to stop my stomach from rumbling. Sometimes, if I completely hated myself, I would skip a meal here and there. The cutting, not eating, and the voices continued for another year and a half. Until one day, I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to die.

And I almost did. But there was a quiet voice in the back of my head whispering, you are good enough. That tiny voice was enough to give me hope that things could get better.

Over time, I stopped cutting. But I didn’t start eating again. It got worse. The summer before Senior Year, I went two weeks without eating anything but a few crackers every day. Senior Year I didn’t eat lunch: Partly because I was taking too many classes to have a lunch period; mostly because I couldn’t stand the thought of people watching me putting food in my mouth.

If I didn’t like myself, how could I expect anybody else to like me enough to want me to eat?

Graduation came and went, and for the first time in a long time, I almost, kind of, maybe a little, liked myself. I started eating a little bit more than I had before, and was pretty much excited for college.

Until I went to college, that is. It’s funny. College is much like High School, at least my High School. There are the same groups of people—the popular kids, the athletes, the music nerds, the nerds. If I didn’t fit in before, how was I supposed to fit in now? At a College like Roberts, where the number of girls heavily outweighs the number of boys, I have found many more people to compare myself to.

When I walked into Garlock on the first day of classes, I was terrified by the number of people sitting there, talking amongst their groups. I saw many beautiful people. And I wasn’t one of them.

Sitting alone at a table the first day, I was overcome with feelings I hadn’t really felt in a few months. So, I retreated to the library; there among the books, I felt comfortable. Nobody cared how much food I ate, or didn’t eat. Nobody cared that I sat alone, procrastinating on important things, while scribbling away in my notebook.

But the Game of Comparisons continued, and I lost every round, even the ones I didn’t participate in. Only this time, it was different; the voice wasn’t saying “you’re not.” The voice was saying, “I’m not.”

I’m not good enough. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not skinny enough. I’m not ‘insert adjective here’ enough.

And trust me when I say that telling yourself you’re not good enough is a whole lot worse than having someone else tell you. It’s true, you know. You are your own worst critic.

Every day I would look in the mirror, hate what I saw, and would compensate by being someone I’m not. And it was physically and mentally exhausting. Between the not eating and the not being, I was having a really tough time.

But when you spend all your time in the library, among the books and the silence, you have a lot of time for soul searching. Towards the end of November, I was sitting quietly sitting at my table, trying to study when the quiet voice was back. Then, it hit me. I wanted to stand on my chair and tell the world, “I am having some major epiphanies going on up in here.” But, I didn’t. I was in a library, and shouting in the library is highly frowned upon.

So, I went in the bathroom and cried.

Three things hit me that day.

  1. I am capable of so much more. In the battle between Who I Think I Am and Who I Could Be, Who I think I am won every time, because that’s what I let get a hold of me. That’s what feed off my energy. It doesn’t have to be that way.
  2. We are all capable of doing something great. I am, you are, we are all. But, we all have something holding us back.

Every mirror tells me something different. I can tell myself that I’m beautiful over and over again, until I’m blue in the face, but there is an irrevocable flaw ingrained deep into the recesses of my brain that refuses to let me believe it. And even though deep in my soul I know I’m capable of greatness, there is something holding me back. And until I figure out what it is, until I figure out how to overcome it, I am destined to live in my own shadow.

I have figured out what mine is: fear and self-doubt.

3. I decided I shouldn’t spend so much time in the library, because it was making me all emotional (but that will never happen because I love books too much).

Even though I have figured this out, it’s still a struggle. I’m only ‘fine’ 20% of the time, which is good but not great. But it’s a whole heck of a lot better than 10%, which is how I felt before. There are still many days when I don’t want to eat (which is more than I’d like to admit).  Often times, I can eat a little bit every meal; but some days, I don’t like myself enough to force myself to eat (At the time that this post was written, that was the case. However, since I’m Italian, and therefore genetically bred to love food, I have decided that food is too delicious to not eat). 

Sometimes, when I’m sad, hate myself, and don’t want to eat, I look at the lines on my hands. They remind me that I have been stitched together by the master sew-er, and I’ve learned that sometimes, that is enough.

 

 

 

Related Posts:  “Accidental Inheritance”   “Your Body is Not Your Own”  “Testimony 2.0

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The End of a Chapter

The end is near…… of High School, that is. In less than 2 months, I will be walking that stage, receiving my diploma, and saying goodbye to everything that’s been a big part of me for most of my life. It’s symbolic–the end of one chapter, the beginning of another.

Needless to say, I am mostly excited. I am excited to go out into the world and learn new things, to find out who I really am. High School has whittled away a large part of me, until only a fraction of who I am is left. It’s tried to make me fit into this metaphorical box–a perfect box, with perfectly square edges, smooth, and with no imperfections. That’s not me. I have flaws. I have imperfections. I have scars. My dreams, my hopes, my being cannot fit into a box. I am so much more. I have this things I want to do with my life that I can’t do while I’m still in High School. There are things I need to let go of, people that I need to cut from my life. I need to get out, see the world, leave the monotony of High School behind–the repetitive, petty drama, the put-downs, the secret glances, the talking behind your back. I need to fly away from it all. The baggage of it all is weighing me down.

However, despite all the excitement that I have, I am still reluctant. I’ve come to accept the fact that people tend to not like me (solely because they have not gotten to know me, and judge me based predominately on how I look). I’ve learned to conform, blend in with the crowd. I’ve learned the fastest detours, the least crowded hallways, which hallways you have a higher possibility of being stabbed walking down. I’ve learned how to avoid people I don’t want to see. I’ve learned to not make eye contact with those that hate you. I’ve learned that friendships come and friendships go. And I’m comfortable where I’m at. I’m not sure I am ready to take that step after receiving my diploma and start a new chapter.

But the end is near. The final countdown has begun. And my High School career is drawing to a close. But before it ends, before I walk out those doors, I want to share some important lessons with you.

1. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Don’t be afraid to call people out. The people that matter will respect you for it.

2. When people hate you, you must be doing something right. Those who aren’t living, don’t have enemies.

3. Live the life you want to live. Be the person you want to be. People don’t define you.

4. People you talk about you. They will point fingers, whisper, and laugh. Don’t let it get to you. You are worth much more than what they give you.

5. Always hold your head up high. It’s easier to see the beauty in things when you are looking at the sky.

6. It doesn’t matter what people in High School see you as. Most of them won’t remember you 10 years from now.

7. The only people that really matter are those that are there for you when you need them.

8. You can’t trust everyone. And even when you think you can, sometimes they end up hurting you.

9. Popularity is overrated. Being “cool” does not have any merit in the real world.

10. Everybody has a story. We all have hurt we are carrying. Be mindful of it.

11. Always be willing to go out of your way to help someone, even if it’s just holding the door open. It could brighten someone’s day.

12. Laughing until tears stream down your face and you can’t breathe is one of the best feelings in the world.

13. Smile 🙂