So Sad Today - Melissa Broder

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For Nicholas

For if we could be satisfied with anything, we should have been satisfied long ago.


How to Never Be Enough

BRINGING A CHILD INTO THE world without its consent seems unethical. Leaving the womb just seems insane. The womb is nirvana. It’s tripping in an eternal orb outside the space-time continuum. It’s a warm, wet rave at the center of the earth, but you’re the only raver. There’s no weird New Age guide. There’s no shitty techno. There’s only you and the infinite.

I was born two weeks late, because I didn’t want to leave the womb. When they finally kicked me out, I was like, oh hell no. I’ve been trying to get back there ever since.

Day one on earth I discovered how to not be enough. According to my mother, the doctor who delivered me said I was pretty. I wanted to believe him, because I love validation. Validation is my main bitch. But I was not the type of infant to absorb a compliment. Had I been verbal I would have extended a compliment in return so as to assuage the implicit guilt of my own existence rubbing up against praise. Instead, I created an external attribution.

An external attribution exists to make you feel shitty. It’s a handy tool, wherein you perceive anything positive that happens to you as a mistake, subjective, and/or never a result of your own goodness. Negative things, alternately, are the objective truth. And they’re always your own fault.

The doctor’s perspective was only an error of opinion. He obviously had shitty taste in babies. If he’d called me ugly I would have spent the remainder of my time in the hospital trying to convince him I was hot. But he liked me. There was definitely something wrong with him.

If you’re never going to be enough, it’s important to find a way to turn a compliment against yourself—to reconstruct it into a prison—which is precisely what I did. I decided I would have to stay pretty for the rest of my life. If I got ugly it would be my own fault. Don’t drop the ball. Don’t fuck it up. I was definitely going to fuck it up.

Next they probably put me in a room with, like, twenty other babies. Immediately, I’m sure I compared myself to all of them and lost. The other babies probably seemed pretty chill about being on earth. They shit their diapers like no big deal. They just sort of effortlessly knew how to do existence. I, on the other hand, was definitely a wreck about being alive. Why was I here? What did it all mean? Things weren’t looking good.

My first day on earth and I know I was already thinking about death. A lot. I was probably thinking about death enough to negate every future accomplishment, relationship, and thing that I might come to love with thoughts like what’s the point? and why bother? At the same time, I still can’t come to terms with the fact that I am actually, definitely going to die one day, as this might lead to the realization that I might as well enjoy my one brief life, and who wants that.

The situation only got worse when my mother announced that she couldn’t breastfeed. More precisely, she told me later, I was “killing her.” Killing your mother as an infant is proof of one’s too-muchness. In the context of food and consumption, too-muchness translates into not-enoughness: your appetites are too big for the planet, and therefore, you probably shouldn’t be here.

I was “killing” my mother, because I was sucking too hard. Less than twenty-four hours on the planet and I was already trying to fill my many insatiable internal holes with external stuff. I was trying to sate the existential fear of what the fuck is going on here with milk. I was sucking and sucking, but there wasn’t enough milk. There would never be enough milk. One titty is too many and a thousand are never enough. What I really sought was a cosmic titty. I sought