Eyes like a Monster
The first draft of this story wasn’t funny, and that seemed lazy of me. I mean, the subject matter involved is pretty personal, but really. I should be able to get over myself and make it entertaining.
So, I’m going to try my best, and hopefully you’ll all laugh, or do whatever you do when you’re entertained but don’t feel pressured to react how people expect. Really, I’m hoping for the second one, as it seems more honest. This is the third story that I’ve told you, and I really hope that we’re at that point in our relationship where we can be honest with each other.
At least I really hope so, because otherwise it’s going to make this whole thing really awkward from here on out.
How many of you have a part of yourself that you hate? A whole ton of you likely have more than one part of your body that you’re convinced you’d be happier with if it was just ‘different’. These days, that’s just kind of accepted as a part of the human condition. At some point or another, something or more likely, someone will make you hate at least a small part of yourself. Maybe you get past this self-loathing and dissociation, but maybe you don’t.
I’m not going to speak to everyone’s experience, because I really and truly can’t. I’ll stick to mine, as sharing my emotional scars through writing has worked out so well so far.
So yeah, I happen to be a part of the large group of people that happen to greatly dislike parts of themselves on a very visceral level. In fact, I don’t think dislike properly expresses the level of vitriol I possess for parts of my being.
I don’t tend to make a habit of hurting things that I dislike.
I only really tend to do that when I hate something.
I hate my skin, and this is why I pick and scratch at it every single day until I bleed. It’s why some nights I can barely bring myself to sleep, because an errant touch from my fiancé makes my skin feel alive. It’s why some days, I idly scratch bloody tracks into my neck.
I hate my hair, and this is why I pluck and pull and yank at it when I think no one is looking. It’s why I constantly shave myself bald, despite my constant claims about how I want to grow it out. It’s why I can’t be happy when it’s long or short.
I know that if I went to therapist and actually sought professional help with these problems, I could probably discover some sort of root cause for all of it. The trigger for all this desperate dissociation and gleeful self-harm. I haven’t because of money and my own weird history with therapy, but that’s a whole batch of other stories for another time. The story I want to tell is connected to all of this, if only by context. The story I want to tell you today is about my eyes.
You see, if I were to expect to really despise a part of what makes up this underfed fat-suit that I call my body, I would expect to hate my eyes most of all. I have the most reason, really, or at least the most coherent recollection of why I should. A lot of it goes back to when I was just a tiny little trash-can fire, something detestable but otherwise easier to ignore.
I was an aggressive, emotional, and oddly arrogant little troll back then. I was kind of the ur-example of the teen I would grow up to be, only just contained within a smaller frame. Weirdly, nobody really stomped me flat back then, and so I had free rein to just be a little shit.
Perks of being an only child, I guess.
No matter how aggressively terrible I was, my parents could at least console themselves with the fact that there would only ever be one of me. Unfortunately, this justification didn’t really hang around once I hit my teens. I wasn’t tiny anymore, and it was harder to avoid the mess I had become, and focus on the lovely child they pretended they had. It’s around this point that there was an odd shift in punishment, and I’m still baffled that it didn’t have a dissociative effect on me.
My bad traits stopped being mine, you see. They started being connected to someone estranged from our household. Someone that we all expressly despised and excluded from our day-to-day. This man was my birth father, someone whose mannerisms, personality, bad habits, and poor anger-management skills served to separate him from the family he could have had. For these reasons, I had worked to build a clear divide between him and I. I didn’t want him in our lives, and I didn’t want his abuse tainting the home I had now. He had no power as long as he wasn’t thought about or talked about.
Unfortunately, that stopped being up to me. When I hit my teens, a new coping strategy began to loom over our household, and it caused a massive shift in pretty much everything. I mean, I’ve already established that my aggression and my bad attitude was an established part of who I was as a walking garbage fire. I’m not excusing it; I’m simply reminding you that it was a very clear part of who I was up until that point. I had improved in small ways, like we all do, and developed new problems along the way. However, the core of my being hadn’t ever truly changed.
Yet these qualities stopped being mine, in the eyes of my family. They became reminders of the man that sat outside of our family. Now my aggression or frustration wasn’t just my negative trait, it was something that made me like him. The look in my eyes when I was angry or frustrated or confident or expressive was a look that he had once had. My eyes stopped being my eyes, they became part of this boogeyman that I thought we had all decided to leave in the shadows of our lives.
This opened a new dialogue, one that pondered the idea that I was doomed to repeat history. That every possible mistake or poor choice I could make would only serve to satisfy the inevitable. I was doomed to be this abusive monster, and as a churning heap of hormones, there was nothing I could do on a daily basis to escape that fear.
Weirdly, I don’t have that fear anymore. I don’t have that fear because I took the time to rediscover the boogeyman that we’d all left behind, and I saw the wreck that he’d remained. He’d gotten a new career, but his personality hadn’t grown or shifted. He’d made new friends through the same abusive gas lighting that got him a family (however temporarily).
He wasn’t a monster, he was still just a complete mess of a human being.
Best of all, his eyes looked nothing like mine, and never would.