I started choking again two weeks ago.
It’s awful each time–feeling that lurid grip that sits high in my chest, just above where my inspiration originates. It hits very suddenly with a cyclone of self-abuse and careful evaluation of each word I’ve said, each action I’ve taken, and every single way in which I don’t think I was ever good keeping the grip tight enough to bruise.
I should have seen it coming, just as I should have seen it coming the last time it happened to me, and the time before that.
You’re not good enough.
I’ve never been good enough for my own standards. I’m the only one holding myself up to this measuring stick, and I’m the only one who beats me with it when I can’t meet it–again.
I am my own abuser now.
Just once I’d like to look at my own hands and think for one second that I am enough.
I’ll never be enough because the only way I can accept the good things that happen in my life is to accept the fact that none of them feel real. Something bright will happen, and before I can smile the choke comes back again, like an allergic reaction to good.
When is it all going to go away? How long do I have before the other shoe drops?
I can never seem to be proud of what I’ve done. All of this is temporary, I didn’t earn it and it will never be mine.
I’m choking back anything good that could be by being penitent only to my own demons.
If the bad doesn’t come quickly enough, I can always count on my choke to sabotage what is good. If things won’t fuck up on their own, I’ll take care of it myself. My defiance is sabotaging my happiness in a weird cycle of stupid.
And then there is a brief flash in the middle of the choke of something that I’ve done that maybe–maybe–is good enough.
And it is then I realize–this choke may never go away, because in some sick way I need it. I don’t have an abuser to return to, so I’ll do it myself. Will I ever be able to be creative without pain and abuse and hatred? Can I produce if there’s nothing awful spurring me forward?
Is my success tied to self destruction?
It can’t be.
There has to be a better way to do this. There has to be something else.
There has to be something more to work with, another handhold, another step, another link–I can’t take this.
And then, it’s gone. The grip is released. All the pressure, all the guilt and hatred and desire to do anything but fuck up–it’s all gone.
There’s no shining lights, there’s no bells or trumpets or confetti or anyone who knows what has happened because by this point, I’ve shoved them all away. There is only me–sitting alone in my car, gripping my steering wheel so tight my knuckles creak–realizing that this is a brief reprieve of victory.
And in that moment, in that release of good that was accompanied not by drugs or alcohol or cutting or the wish to leave or anything else artificial but only me, I learn what it means to live like fuck.