Morning Me/Night Me

 photo by Meaghan Harris

photo by Meaghan Harris

By Meaghan Harris

My oldest foe, my main reason for self-sabotage, the gravity that weighs me down and prevents me from being an effective human being… shame. On some days just looking in the mirror can be layered with reminders of what I’m not doing enough of or doing too much of. I see wrinkles forming and I blame it on all of the bad decisions I make; too many late nights, too many drinks, too much smoking, too much candy. It’s funny how even the simplest of tasks, such as a morning routine can become so internalized. Some mornings I feel paralyzed and overwhelmed by the days and the years that have passed by, not living up to my own expectations and goals. Some days I feel fulfilled and at peace with myself but when I’m not careful these feelings always have a way of popping back up. My feelings of shame and guilt often rear their ugly head in the form of body dysmorphia (like many women I know) and these feelings usually hit their peak in the morning. Some days I shower with the lights down low so I don’t have to see my body in full lighting, I can spend hours doing nothing at all because I’m feeling guilty for not getting enough done the day before, which leads to getting even less things done. I get trapped in cycles of contemplation that lead to more contemplation.

‘Morning me’ and ‘night me’ are ALWAYS at odds with each other. Morning me is comparable to a middle-aged catholic schoolteacher; cautious, nit picky, introverted and critical. If you ever catch me in the morning unexpectedly on the street don’t expect to have a conversation with me that isn’t awkward and uncomfortable, that’s literally all I have to offer at that time; sorry. Night me, on the other hand, is driven by hedonism and impulse. I’m a pleasure seeking junkie in comparison to morning me. My indulgences comes in many forms: wine, cigarettes, weed, dancing, sex, painting, pastries... you name it. This dichotomy has been the everlasting theme of my life. At night I do what I want and in the morning I try to pick up the pieces. It’s not always this extreme (and often I’m very functional) but this duality is present in almost everything I do, and has been for as long as I can remember.

My parents divorced when I was two and from that point on I lived in two homes equally; I would switch on a weekly basis. My parents are probably two of the most opposite people I can think of. My theory is that on some level I always have both of their voices in my head contradicting each other. My dad is highly regimented, extremely scientific and routine-driven to the point of being slightly dysfunctional. My mom, on the other hand, follows her every whim and is driven by intuition far above logic... also to a problematic point. Exceptions were not something my father believed in; exceptions were all that my mother believed in. It didn’t take long for me to become sneaky and shameful in the way that I did most things, always at odds with the two sides of myself.

Avoidance is a craft that I have been sharpening since the time I learned to write. Throughout elementary school I was consistently the one student who couldn’t get it together. On multiple occasions-- notably grade two and three--my desk had mouldy apple sauce growing inside, concealed by all of my loose leaf assignment papers that I had never gotten around to starting, let alone arranging into a binder. On countless occasions I was singled out by the teacher for being so distractible. I remember in grade three I managed to complete a single piece of homework for possibly the first time and the entire class gave me a standing ovation. In grade five my teacher dumped out my entire desk in front of the class and told me to “clean this shit up.” Afterwards, the class was separated into “good students” and “bad students” (LOL the 90s). I was placed by myself.

In late elementary school I became overweight and was finding ways to sneakily binge eat. One time in grade 7, a shiesty little mean boy came up to me, looked me dead in the eyes and said “you know you’re fat right”. This was actually his way of telling me that it was okay for him to be fat (which he was) because he was a boy, but my fatness was unacceptable because of was a girl. I didn’t have the language to understand this back then but I knew it with all of my being. This was around the time that I began taking out all of my self-hatred and obsessions on my appearance.

I had many strong convictions about who I was; too dumb to go to university, too fat to have friends, too ugly to be liked. A failure through and through. The shame really had its way with me back then. I turned to drugs as soon as possible. First of all I LOVED the way they felt, and I was getting skinny! Weekends with casual ecstasy quickly turned into cocaine on school nights and sneaking out, returning home to get ready for grade 11 biology class...which, by the way, I failed twice.

In my early twenties I reshaped my entire life so dramatically that people who didn’t know me believed I had a Type A personality. I was reformed! What a miracle! JK. My old habits were all like “new lifestyle, who dis?” This is when I was introduced to my new frenemies: binge and purge. I was an early childhood educator who seemed like I had it together from the outside; meanwhile I was finding anything I could to binge eat and then puking it up on my break. I would eat really healthy and go for runs at night with my boyfriend and then the next day I would still compulsively slip extra food and premeditate when and where I was going to throw it up. I did this for years without telling a soul. I still have never talked to anyone about how often I was doing it or how strategic it all was. It’s like the little girl I used to be was inside of me constantly giving me reminders that I was an imposter. I could never have successes without counteracting with acts of self-sabotage.

In my late twenties, self-sabotage is still a present part of my life. I still do things on the daily that I feel regret for.  I still eat too much and stay up too late and smoke too many cigarettes. Sometimes I say the wrong things, do the wrong things and play them over and over in my head like a horrible broken record. Occasionally I wake up feeling aimless. Will I ever stop making bad decisions? Will I ever love myself enough to stick with good habits? I hope so. There are days that I feel I have climbed out of the murky waters of self-doubt and come to shore, there are days where it seems no progress has been made. These feelings may be-- in some way or another-- here to stay, but I can say confidently that they no longer steer the ship. I’ve finally cultivated enough love for myself to fight against the negative self-talk. Little tasks continue to get easier and mornings filled with paralysis are becoming less and less frequent. Above all else, I’ve gotten to a point of enjoying myself so much that I don’t wish to be anyone different. Our flaws are what make us unique (I know it’s corny but it’s true!) and I’m grateful for this. Maybe one day morning me and night me will magically meet in the middle, until then I will continue to mediate these two stubborn beasts that make up who I am. Wish me luck!

           

Emily Dickinson