Fucking Perfect: On Loving and Being Helpless

Trigger warning: This piece (and video) contains frank discussion of depression and self-injury.

The other day, I was celebrating my classes being over by sitting on my couch in my pajamas all day, watching TV, catching up on all the Internet goodness I’d missed while working on papers, and in general being lazy, sloppy, and a little smelly.  I was in a good mood.  In my Internet wanderings, I happened across a link to Pink’s video for “F*cking Perfect,” which I had not seen:

By halfway through this video, I was in tears.  And not just weepy, eyes welling up tears.  I was violently sobbing my heart out into my sweater (the only thing I could reach to hold on to and to soak up the tears while I watched).  This video absolutely broke me.  It brought back one of the worst times of my life in a compelling, painful, and scarily relatable way.

When I was a teenager, starting when I was around 15, the two most important people in the world to me (outside of my family) were both depressed, and both self-injuring.  A lot.  One of them was my best friend.  The other was the woman I was in love with, my girlfriend for a short period of time, my friend and unrequited love before and after.  They both had complicated stories and very serious depression and other issues.  They are both in much better places now, although I know at least one of them still struggles with low self-esteem and depression.  But those are their stories to tell or not tell.

What really tore me up watching this video was how it ripped to the surface my memories of what they went through, and of being absolutely impotent in the face of the pain these women felt.  Memories of how helpless I was to help them.  I would have done anything for either of these women, and I could not.  I tried.  I told them both every day that I loved them, that they were smart, strong, beautiful, talented, beloved women.  But it didn’t help.  It didn’t stop either of them from believing that they were stupid, ugly, unlovable.  It didn’t break depression’s hold on them.  It didn’t stop new scars from appearing on their arms, their thighs, and their stomachs.

Every time I saw one of those scars, my heart broke a little more.  Every time I saw one of those scars, I felt like a failure.  But of course I couldn’t tell them.  How could I tell them about my pain as a bystander when their pain was so much deeper and more helpless than mine?  How could I let my own petty secondary problems make their problems worse by adding guilt into the mix?  It wasn’t about me, it was never about me.  My worst memories of this time are of their pain, not mine.  And so I watched and I hid my own hurt.  I tried to do something, anything, all the while knowing I was helpless to help two women I loved with all my heart, two women I loved more than myself, two women I would have lived or died for.  I tried to tell them what I truly believed, that they were fucking perfect, while watching them spiral into worse depression, worse self-esteem, and worse self-harm.

As I said, both women are in much better places now, much to their ““ and my ““ relief.  But they both bear scars, physical and mental, of those years.  And feeling myself break down watching this video that hit so close to home made me realize that I do too.

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GwenBear

I am an unschooled Unitarian Universalist, feminist, and library science grad student who loves reading, hockey, friends, family, and a variety of nerdy/geeky pursuits. I spend a lot of time dreaming about getting a dog, run as much as my bum knee will allow, and spend too much time watching TV.

4 thoughts on “Fucking Perfect: On Loving and Being Helpless”

  1. I had a similar experience with a friend who self-injured. I could ignore it for periods, and sometimes I just couldn’t, and I’d be really upset–angry and sad and sometimes terrified–and not know what to do. I talked to a guidance counselor-ish person on campus and I talked to my parents and I just never had a solution. I’d mentioned it to her before, but obviously there was a lot she had to work through. She’s since stopped, which is good news, though I continue to worry about her. I’m glad your friends are doing better, too.

    1. It’s hard because often there’s nothing you can do, no matter how much you want to.  I really wish I’d had the guts to see a therapist or counselor at that point in my life, because I think it would have helped me, and possibly helped me figure out what I could do to help them.  But I didn’t, so I just had to stumble through it on my own.

      I’m glad your friend is doing better, and I hope someday she reaches a point where you can stop worrying about her.

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