I closed the heavy wooden door to my office as quickly and silently as humanly possible. I knew what was about to happen; it’d been building for months. Feeling for the stability of the hunk-of-wood barrier to my back, I slumped to the floor, exhausted and broken as I wrapped my arms around my legs and lowered my head in what felt like cruel and utter defeat. There I was – 27 years old, curled into a seated ball on the floor of my office, and for a moment, the only thing I could think was thank god for doors. Fire spread from the core of my stomach to the furthest reaches of my fingers and toes, growing in size and speed before it came spilling from the twisted-up corners of my very tired eyes.
Fuck, I thought. Wordlessly, I cursed myself and him and God and them and this life…my life. And then I cursed the fact that this mental and emotional collapse, which had been brewing for months, couldn’t have waited a few measly hours until I was safe in the comfort of my own home. I tried to halt the tidal wave of tears and emotion in vain. The harder I tried to contain it, the more fiercely my body shook. In mere seconds, it’d taken on a life of it’s own and I knew I’d have to let the waves come crashing, one after another, until it all subsided.
So I sat quietly…unable to do what I wanted to do, which was to scream at top of my lungs and pound my fists against the wall and weep with thunderous abandon. I couldn’t. So I sat and violently shook as salty tears ran fervently down my face – destroying my makeup and any hope of looking even passably normal for the remainder of the work day. It was a volatile cocktail of emotion: aching sadness, confusion, indignation, and above all – sweltering rage.
About a year ago, I read, “you have to go through the ‘fuck you’ to get to the ‘forgive you.'” It immediately resonated in my self-deprecating mind as a potential method of forgiving myself for my multitude of sins. It seems to me, many people wander through life blaming external forces for their particular misfortunes. That form of cowardly avoidance has always irritated me, as I was raised to believe you create your own happiness, your own opportunities, and you get the life you work to achieve. All of which is very sound advice (thanks mom and dad).
And so, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been the type of person to hold myself accountable, which I suppose is a relatively good quality to possess. I may not always address the things about which I bitch (body, habits, work, lifestyle, etc.) in a way that makes sense, but the only person I’ve ever blamed for my current lot in life is me, myself, and I. At some point, however…and I can’t exactly remember when the shift took place, holding myself accountable started to resemble an all-out mental shit kicking. It’s been that way for years and years. Only recently did I begin to notice the brutality of my inner-dialogue.
When you’re alone long enough and you use your audible voice to speak to other people less frequently, you can’t help but begin to hear the silent voice you use to speak to yourself. And man is mine a bitch.
The other morning, the following mental dialogue occurred:
Physical me: *wearily steps on scale after months of backsliding into bad habits*
Mental me: God, Brittany. You’ve gained back 11 of the 30 pounds you lost several months ago. Shouldn’t be surprised. You never stick to anything. Name one thing you haven’t quit. Do you want to be fat forever? Remember when people used to think you were hot? Why don’t you want it bad enough to stick to it? You’re a disappointment to everyone who wants you to succeed. You’ve become someone unrecognizable and gross.
Physical me: *steps off scale, heads to shower, avoids looking in the mirror*
This was, by no means, a shocking or stark or unique me-to-me exchange. In fact, it occurs almost constantly and without any special consideration or notice. Finances, friendships, failed relationships, diet, career, loneliness, patterns, habits, on and on and on and on…you name it, it’s my fault. It’s entirely my fault and only my fault.
The awakening to my self-talk is relatively new and when I initially came across “you have to go through the ‘fuck you’ to get to the ‘forgive you,'” I took it on as though it were a school project, designed purposefully for my own benefit. I wrote 25 of my poorest choices on a sheet of paper, read them aloud, and ended each confession-like statement with a, “FUCK YOU, Brittany.”
What I didn’t realize at the time, was the fact that “fuck you, Brittany” had already been playing like a broken record in my mind for years and years…unnoticed, but there, and resounding tens if not hundreds of times each day. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a miserable person. In fact, I’m usually cracking jokes, laughing loudly, and recounting hilarious stories when I’m in the presence of my friends and family. I have a huge heart, I feel things deeply, and I am blessed with the desire to live an examined life…seeking soulfulness, contentment, and a more evolved level of consciousness. Despite harboring and developing so many positive characteristics, I still struggle with a self-loathing internal Brittany, who so often whispers to me, ‘fuck you.’
All of this brings me to today, when a final straw was laid upon the camel’s back…and alas, broke it.
I’ve been wanting to develop my resume for months. Having not actually needed a resume in my adult life, I couldn’t help but feel the one I’d generated and half-heartedly sent to a handful of potential employers was lacking in quality and style. I thought I remembered my ex working with someone to develop the resume he used to score his most recent position. Because I believed our brief interactions in recent months were mostly positive, I figured there was no harm in reaching out and asking if he’d send me a copy of his resume to use as a template for formatting.
His response shocked me.
He said something along the lines of, “I’m not comfortable with that. Mine is updated and related to pharma. Sorry but I’m sure you can find some online.”
Not earth-shatteringly rude. Maybe not even callous. At first glance. And without context.
Upon reading his response, anger took hold and for the very first time since our big breakup shitshow, I instinctively proclaimed, “fuck you” aloud at my desk. It was then the deep sadness, indignation, and white hot rage began coursing through every vein in my body. If it were possible, I do believe the blood would have boiled through my skin.
Until that moment, I hadn’t been able to get angry at him or, for that matter, anyone from my past life. Early on, when my family and friends seethed with anger and spewed ill-wishes and sentiments of the ‘fuck you’ variety…I simply couldn’t muster it. I had shouldered so much guilt and felt so singularly responsible, I was unable to direct resentment anywhere but inward, which was by that time, my go-to response for anything off-kilter in my small world. I’d also come to believe in a sort of a ‘kumbaya’ existence in which everything could be resolved with meditation, reading, and introspection.
But at that moment…with the words, “I’m not comfortable with that” and all it implies and on the heels of being questioned about the vandalism of his car and on another occasion when he wanted to know if I’d done something shady with his credit and the fact that in 18 months he’s only ever said the words, “I miss” when they’re followed by something sexually explicit and the fact that his resume was built on my very back…and for a million other reasons, which have been piling on top one another for over 18 months…maybe for eight years, I fucking lost it.
And just like that, the dam broke. I was finally, at long last, angry enough to start internally screaming “FUCK YOU” to someone other than me…and as it turns out, a lot of someones. It started pouring from me like pus from a wound and I couldn’t help but feel the sting and relief of every single passing sentiment.
FUCK YOU to him for questioning my integrity and character on a multitude of occasions and for treating me like something disposable. FUCK YOU to him for never truly acknowledging my years of back-breaking help, support, and the thousands of things I did right over the course of our relationship. FUCK YOU to him for journeying on seamlessly with an unscathed life. FUCK YOU to him for the emotionless robot he’s become. FUCK YOU to him for the girl, someone I once considered a friend, who, from what I gather climbed into our bed before my side was even cold. FUCK YOU to him for never giving me the conversation I so desperately needed. FUCK YOU to him for being a selfish, self-obsessed, money-hungry, shallow prick. FUCK YOU to him for draining me and utilizing every last drop of my lifeblood for his own benefit and fooling me into thinking I was receiving something in return. FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU.
Fuck you to the people who were so quick to happily accept my hospitality, food, money, friendship, favors, and time…and were even quicker to disappear. Fuck you to the people who have told me what an asshole my ex-boyfriend is…but continue to kiss his ass publicly. Fuck you to the ‘friends’ I’ve driven or flown many hundreds of miles to visit…only to find out you’ve made multiple trips the area without so much as contacting me. Fuck you to those same ‘friends’ who think nothing of contacting me in a crisis. Fuck you to those who spoke about me and gossiped in such an ugly way. Fuck you to the dating and married men who came out of the woodwork to sniff and seek infidelity. Fuck you to the person I came to know, trust, and love deeply and fuck you for disappearing without a trace. Fuck you to the people who lived happily ever after…none of it seems fair.
Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.
This went on. And on. And on. I wept in sadness, consumed by sudden grief and fury, experiencing intangible emotions I’d suppressed for over a year and a half. I thought I was taking the higher road by refusing to speak ill of any of the people who had, in fact, fucked me over. I thought I needed to berate myself, and only myself, in some sort of emotional martydom to prove my goodness and new-found enlightenment.
What I learned today is that anger and ‘FUCK YOU’ and boiling with rage is not a step backward in self-improvement and it’s not a displacement of blame or personal accountability. In fact, it felt as though I’d dropped the weight of a thousand bricks with every tear and rise and fall of my shoulders as I sat on the floor feeling every fuck you. Finally, finally, finally, I was angry at the injustice of my past and the juxtaposition of my present. When it was all said and done, my soul was lighter. I spent so long searching the existential that I forgot to simply review the facts, which essentially boil down to the following: “I spent a lot of years with a lot of assholes. Lesson learned.”
My newest mission is to take careful inventory of the voice inside my head. After all, I do believe I’ve taken enough of a beating. I’ve paid my dues. And my sweet soul deserves no more fuck you’s.