First, let me tell you that I love you.
I’ve always had this sort of idea that loving yourself meant that it was always sunshine and lurid flowers in your head, like the ’70s had exploded across your brain and left you with a rolling pink and brown landscape and a sort of bluegrassy musical line behind it. There was no room for self-doubt in I Love Myself Land, because everyone would be too busy singing folksy songs about how their greatness could light the way to perpetual joy while they swished around in their bell-bottoms and adjusted their jaunty caps. And while mediocrity and/or outright failure could be acknowledged in I Love Myself Land, it would always turn into some extended metaphor about how caterpillars aren’t terribly attractive but they eventually become butterflies, or how rainstorms make the ivy grow, or something equally insipid but easy to animate. If you loved yourself, said the little movie in my brain, that meant everything was ok, and you thought everything about yourself was oh-so-very groovy.
But as I have grown up, I have learned (time and time again, heaven help me) that loving someone and liking someone aren’t actually joined at the hip. There have been dozens of times when I have found myself non-committally thinking about strangling someone I love, because whatever they were doing in that moment made me acutely aware of the disconnect between loving them and wanting to be around them for even one more second. You can love someone and need to not see their face for a little while. You can love someone and not want to hear that corny joke of theirs ever again in life. You can love someone and accept that there are aspects of their personality that drive you slightly bonkers, which you can laugh about sometimes but which occasionally make you think about pushing them off a bridge. One of our mottos here at the Buffalo Moon Ranch is that “Sometimes I love you because, and sometimes I love you despite”. And that’s fair. Love is not an all-or-nothing game.
So I’ve gotta tell you: I love you, but I don’t always like you very much.
I don’t like you when you make excuses for eating whatever you want. I don’t like it when you use food as a reward–as that quote you saw today on the internet said, “Stop using food as a reward. You are not a dog”. I don’t like it when you eat when you’re bored or lonely or sad, because you have twelve billion books and eleven billion television channels and ten billion half-finished projects and nine billion shelves you could dust, so it’s not like there’s a shortage of things to do around here.
I don’t like you when you eat or smoke unconsciously, out of habit. It makes me want to shake you and shout, “For the love of pete, woman, show the tiniest bit of awareness and self-control, would you?!?”. I don’t like you when you give yourself permission to have “just one more” cookie or cigarette or slice of cake or round of cheese and crackers, because we both know it’s never “just one more”. And I don’t like it when you turn around and use “I just had a smoke” or “I’m too full” as an excuse not to exercise. I find it really damned frustrating when you do that.
Here’s the bottom line: I love you, but you are pissing me off. Whether or not you’re aware of it at, say, lunchtime, when you’re eating a sandwich and chips and cookies and then going outside for a smoke, what you are actually doing is committing very slow suicide via a combination of toxins and excess weight. And I love you too damned much to let that continue.
So I am taking control of this boat again–good job you, for stealing the helm back over the holidays when I wasn’t looking, but I’ve noticed now, and I’m taking it back–and we’re going to try this whole thing again. We’ve already started cutting back the smoking (and yes, I’ve heard your unhappy grumbles, but for the record, I don’t give a crap how you feel about it, because I am sick to death of being controlled by a pack of cigarettes), and we’ve started thinking about what we eat (and no, the pecan pie last night probably wasn’t a brilliant diet choice, but kudos for cutting it into eight pieces instead of six and for only eating one slice), and we’ve got the treadmill in the living room so we can get into the habit of walking on it (yes, I know it’s hard, and I agree that it’s not a lot of fun yet because we haven’t gotten the hang of it since it’s a manual treadmill. That’s ok. We’ll keep trying).
Basically, I’m drawing the line, Self. I love you too much to let you continue trying to self-destruct. And sure, sometimes I don’t like you very well, but that’s ok. I don’t have to like you all the time in order to keep loving you, regardless of what the ’70s-inspired cartoon in your brain may say.
Now let’s go turn into a butterfly or some ivy or something, shall we?
I love you forever,