A response to the Weekly Writing Challenge, List Lesson.
- I once thought I was one beautiful whole singular thing. But that innocence didn’t last long.
- I saw my reflection and suddenly I was looking through my own eyes at myself. I had to be two very different things. There was the emotional, perceiving me that I just am and then this image of me
- Things got more complicated one day when I pushed this boy over in the playground. Mum said, “that’s not you, you don’t do things like that do you? No you don’t”. Well mum tends to know these things so I agreed with her: there was me, my image, and then this other person who my mum just didn’t recognise, Not-me.
- I sat down with my image and with Not-me to try to figure things out. Not-me was good at shouting and pretty much dominated the meeting. Not-me said it wasn’t fair that they always got told off. Not-me was so angry that I felt a bit scared and started to cry. Dad heard me crying and asked what the matter was. I said, “mum said that I wasn’t me and now I don’t know what to do because if I’m not me then there’s nothing left but what I see out of my eyes and what I see in the mirror.” Dad told me that perhaps what mum meant was that their was a Good Me and a Bad Me and she wanted me to make sure I was Good Me as much as possible. So Not-me went away and I was relieved. It was just me, my image, Good Me and Bad Me. Bad Me was not as frightening as Not-me because I knew Good Me was there to fight him off.
- Good Me and Bad Me kind of learnt to get on with each other. Good Me would turn a blind eye to the occasional naughty thing that Bad Me would do. Bad Me would let Good Me take control most of the time so that we could all get sweeties and other treats. My image just came along for the ride mostly, changing a bit and starting to look a bit thinner and more angular. It took a while for us all to realise that there was someone else who had joined our little group, Big Boy. While the rest of us enjoyed messing around and playing, Big Boy was always being expected to do things a certain way; use the toilet and not his pants, say please and thank you. To be honest, Big Boy was hard work and Good Me agreed to let Bad Me take over more often just to wind Big Boy up.
- All of a sudden Big Boy and my image were getting on really well. Mum bought lots of clothes for Big Boy and I had a hair cut so that whenever we all looked in the mirror we couldn’t really see anyone but Big Boy staring back . Bad Me would pull faces to let us all know he was still there. On days out, Good Me would only ever appear to be with Big Boy. Dad would say, “You need to be good and act like a big boy. You’re growing up.” It was starting to feel like Good Me, Big Boy and my Image were all ganging up with my parents against the rest of us. So, I invented a new me that dad would later call ‘arsehole’. I called him Me-Me.
- Me-Me went in to the bathroom with my image one day and came out with a big tuft of hair missing and wearing dad’s smelly bottle stuff. Mum said, “Jesus Christ”. I thought Dad said arsehole but later he said he had said, “oh dear”. Big Boy and Good Me generally spent time with Mum and Dad and enjoyed it. My image would dress for the occasi0n and I’d even go as far as straightening my hair. But the most fun was between me, Me-Me and Bad Me. We’d run off, feral and wild and even forget to take my image with us sometimes. We’d loose ourselves in woodlands and car parks, play across warped embankments and secret gardens. On occasion this freedom was almost too much, it’s expansiveness was so profound. In a blue enclave in the hillside we came across Lost Me. He said he was pleased we had found him, but he continued to stare in to the mid-distance.
- You sat next to me in class at college. I can still remember what you were wearing and the way you smelled. That’s when I first met You-me too. You-me was so nervous at first and Good Me, Bad Me and Big Boy just didn’t know how to help. Lost Me tried to stay out of sight.
- As we got to know each other You-me grew in confidence and you gradually got to know all the other versions of me. You helped me fix my image. And when we really got to know each other Lost Me let you know his presence. You were kind and soothed him, you soothed everything. On a special evening you showed me that Lost Me had a another self, a self closer to well, just me, than I’d known for years: None-me. In moments with None-me all self-consciousness was gone, expansive, everything.
- There were moments when I kind of thought things had suddenly got simpler. Things seemed to settle down and become more routine. I started to become a little less aware of all the different versions of me. Then, one week when we were both particularly stressed with work, tired out by the squabbling of our two children and having had a number of drinks we had a massive fight. Like a ghost from the past, a vampire, a hunter, Not-me returned. Not-me did things that none of the rest of us – back in full voice – could really accept. It was awful, it raised a sense of tremendous anxiety in us all, all ten of us. Me, my image, Good Me, Bad Me, Big Boy, Me-Me, Lost Me, You Me, None Me and now not-me, sat trembling wondering what would happen next.
You and I calmed down, we started talking again and even laughed about what had happened. We said we felt stronger than before. We sat down and you told me to tell you all about myself. From 1 to 10 we talked about all our experiences and I learnt about all the yous. You had you, You-You, Sad You, Fun You, Serious You, Sexy You, Frumpy You and Grumpy You. You told me that you thought you were still discovering new yous. You said you thought that would never stop and that it’d be fun to discover new us together for as long as we could. I lost count of myself, stopped tracking it and just enjoyed the flow of changes that seemed to be part of life. Sometimes I feel joyful, sometimes melancholy. I am always listless.