I've been taught that loving myself is a crime, that everything I do is wrong and that I am wrong and that I can't enjoy myself for no better reason than simply enjoying myself, that I must endure and persevere and suffer in silence like everyone else, otherwise who do I think I am, someone special to please myself when I really should be pleasing others?
I have two readings of THE BADLINGS coming up in June, at University Bookstore on the 24th and at Third Place Books on the 25th, and I looked at my wardrobe and realized that I have to really think what to wear in the summer as I'm kind of scant on choices and have no summer sandals. I gotten some birthday money in February and was sitting on them like a chicken on eggs, thinking very carefully how I'd spend them so that what I'd buy would:
- Match everything else I have.
- Last a long time.
- Be cheap but good, as cheap as I could get away with.
- Be something I like at least in theory.
- Not make me look like an old senile idiot.
There were two major things I needed, a spring coat and summer sandals, and after a whole month of deliberating and searching and trying things on and buying and returning (God, I hate shopping. I either like things that cost a fortune, or I don't like anything at all.) and I ended up with a coat that is almost white (I wanted white) and almost the length I wanted and almost the shape, and with the sandals that are white so they'd match and last, because Birkenstock, but the ones with one narrow strip in the middle so my stupid bony feet don't look like hobbit's.
Yesterday I wrote a lot and finished early, and as I had no chance to wear the sandals or the coat yet, I have spontaneously started dressing up and trying on different things, thinking what to wear to my readings, and I felt happy and giddy until I looked at the time.
I SPENT A WHOLE HOUR DRESSING UP.
Oh dear God. For the next ten minutes I have berated myself for wasting time and not reading or writing a blog post instead (which I'm ironically typing now, ten minutes later), and then I stopped and thought, "Wait a minute. What the fuck am I doing??"
I'm not letting myself love myself, that's what. I was having a hard time accepting that I could just goof off in front of the mirror for no reason but to feel good. I've been always told that I shouldn't think I'm pretty and shouldn't look in the mirror and shouldn't play with makeup and shouldn't wear earrings (in school the teacher made me take them out in second grade and the holes in my ears closed off), shouldn't enjoy myself, shouldn't just be carefree and giddy and silly. This, in contrast, was contradicted by my mother knitting and sewing for me fantastic dresses that no other girl had, and my grandmother sewing me dresses, and then the women in my family dressing me up and displaying me to others like a cute good-looking child. I was so bloody confused. I couldn't understand why I couldn't do my own version of loving myself, why whatever I did was called wrong, and yet whatever the adults did to me was right, and why they could say I looked cute and yet I couldn't say it about myself, and why they loved only the way I looked when dressed nice and not the way I was or felt inside or wanted to be.
Look how many years have passed since then, and I'm still doing the same shit to myself. It's irritating as hell. I try to fight it, but it always comes back, though I've noticed that since I started writing, these self-berating episodes are fewer and fewer, and so I foolishly hope that one day they will cease and I'll be able to do nothing, a total and complete nothing, whether it might be dressing up or staring at the clouds or whatever, and not feel guilty about it, which is my baggage from my family and from the societal image of women I was brought up with in Soviet Union (beauty was frowned upon, a woman was supposed to be a revolutionary and a worker, and yet beauty was the only guarantee to get married and unmarried old maids were frowned upon in turn) and from the global position of women in general, the impossible burden of patriarchy that was thrust on our shoulders, to be nice and sweet and perfect and never angry and always amiable and pretty and selfless and busy as fucking bees. Don't we dare relax and play dress-up, or we'll get labeled as stupid egotistical bitches with no brains who care only about our looks, but at the same time don't we dare look filthy and slovenly and ugly, we'll get fired and divorced and ignored.
I don't really know where I'm going with this but I'm angry, really angry. I've been lied to and I've been robbed of my ability to enjoy simple pleasures, and I have to fight for this fleeting feeling of happiness you get when you're doing nothing and thinking of nothing and DON'T THINK YOU'RE WRONG FOR DOING IT.
This self-sacrifice women are taught is what's at play here. We're somehow wrong for loving ourselves but praised for loving others. Well, I've had enough of it. I'm off on my way to loving myself and not giving a fuck what anyone might think. If I'm a bitch for that, great. But I'm a happy bitch. There's the difference, eh?
And you know what's amazing? Having written this out, I do feel happy, happy to tears. God, writing is a miraculous thing.
So write, please. Write write write, and you will love yourself, more and more. Perhaps if we all wrote, we could make this crazy world better. It's my hope. I'll never stop. Don't you dare stopping either, or you know what will happen. I'll play dress-up IN YOUR HOUSE. Hell, I'll walk around naked and embarrass all your relatives and steal all your clothes. But don't fret, you're welcome to come to my house and play dress-up and steal your clothes back. And maybe one day we won't need clothes at all and go to our book readings naked. I'd certainly love that. Wouldn't you?