I have always compared myself to others.
I will look upon someone I see and write a list in my head of the flaws I have – lumpy bumpy skin hidden under layers of clothing, scars on my legs faded and blue, makeup smeared under my eyes, crooked yellow teeth and hair that is in no way manageable.
As I watch TV I look at the women and think “God if I was even a tiny smidge bit pretty/funny/shaped/intelligent like you, I would be so much more content with the hand I was dealt” I would be able to succeed in life because I had something. I wouldn’t fade into the background, waiting for meagre scraps to be thrown my way.
I look at happy couples and wonder what I lack. What makes me unlovable and not attractive to others? Do they know about the monsters in my head that I try to hide from people I don’t know? Have I got it written in secret code across my face that makes me easily identifiable to others? Or simply was my ex right when he told me that no one likes me?
I’ve struggled with my place in this world for as long as I can remember. I’m a middle child, so of course have the “Middle Child Syndrome” – I’m not the first to do something so its not as exciting second time around and I’m not the cute younger sibling who can be forgiven many mistakes. I used to try to impress my parents but eventually stopped trying. I hid my successes from them, I hid my problems, I hid my depression and I hid my abusive relationship.
A relatives partner once told me “Your parent’s don’t worry about you as you have it all sorted, where as your brother and sister don’t”, I was about 13 and can still remember thinking “fuck I have nothing sorted and I’m meant to because that’s what everyone thinks”. I’m pretty sure that just exacerbated my anxiety issues and made me more neurotic then I would have become.
At 33 I still feel the same. Nothing sorted, furiously paddling away from danger, all whilst waiting to go over the cliff. I see school friends announcing their engagement, new jobs, babies and travel plans and I look at my potential upcoming successes and see nothing on the horizon. A barren wasteland lays before me and I can’t even claim to own it.
Growing up I was always on the fringe. I had no strong friendship group, just mere acquaintances that I hung around with until I or they grew bored. Both at school and at work I’ve managed to be available yet not. I stop myself from getting too involved for fear of them finding out that I’m a fraud. This happens even more now since the one person I thought I could trust ended up being an absolute shit. Its only in the last three years I feel that I have made what would be considered a best friend but even then I wonder if I expect more then what she wants to give me and I’m scared of being hurt again.
The other week a school friend died in her sleep. I read about it on Facebook and immediately my stupid brain went into overdrive. I cut myself off from people and laid low for a few days. I cried myself to sleep and barely ate anything. I was sad she was dead don’t get me wrong, but the biggest part of the pain was that she had died at 33 living in her parents house and single. Even as I write this I realise how bad that sounds, but yes I compared myself to her and scribbled many notes. If I were to die tomorrow what would my achievements be?
I eventually confided in my best friend, who told me not to be so silly. I know she meant it with love, but I just wanted to scream at her. I wanted to tell her it was easy for her to be so positive with her loving husband, house, well paid job and future plans. I wanted to tell her how unfulfilled I feel and how I’m scared of dying alone. I wanted to share with her that there are days that I cry so much at home I end up vomiting and days were I consider creating new patterns on my legs with sharp objects. But I didn’t. I just smiled and thanked her for understanding. Its not her fault that I’m too fucked in the head to open up completely to her.
So I go back to comparing myself, waiting for the day when it isn’t necessary anymore.