different now

I’ve walked around with an open heart on my sleeve for twenty years believing that people are always more like me, than they are not– that each of us possesses some sameness. As a result of seeing evidence of this theory being untrue, I have donned a T-shirt, so my heart is only revealed at the slight lift of my arm, like a tattoo on the bicep that you don’t want your mom to see.

I give people the benefit of the doubt, because I love them. I don’t really love or even like everyone I meet, but I do believe everyone is worth loving– if not by me, then by someone else. Maybe it is someone dear to them, too, maybe it is their sixth grade lab partner.

I want to believe that people are good, and not be wrong. I wish it were so simple, and people were good or bad, and not a mushy amalgam of them both.

Every day I find myself more and more to be two separate schools of thought– one feminine, loving and harsh, one masculine, arrogant and often indignant. My mother and father. Their beliefs are lay against each other and do not combine.

I learned from her that, if you encounter an obstacle, hard work– and hard work alone– will get you through it. If your will is strong enough, you should be able to do it, by yourself. You will never quit, until it kills you. When you are dead, rest.

You must try your best. Always. But sometimes your best is not good enough, so you must try harder. Aim for perfection. If you miss, try harder. What I heard is: your failures are your fault.

I didn’t learn this from her words or the way she treated me– it was nearly all from her behaviors and feelings towards herself. I don’t resent her for being damaged, and for the fact that it damaged me.

Learned from my father: become self-righteous; nothing is your fault, the plight of the beaten belongs to them alone.

Also learned from my father: that I am fucking worthless, that my opinions are not valued and often ridiculed, that I am naive, forever a little girl in grown-up skin.

When I am not doing well, I find that my mind goes to these two, and these two alone. They are two sides of a coin– everything is my fault, or nothing is. I have to work harder, or someone should be doing this for me. I see no in between; I don’t know how to. I guess it is time I stop asking everyone to teach me and time to start learning instead.

All I needed was a little bit of love, I feel fine now.

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belm0ney

belm0ney

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Isabella (she/her) writes literary nonfiction and creative memoir. She is currently an undergraduate English & Creative Writing student in Raleigh, NC.