Maybe You Were Never More Than You Are Now

Every day, there’s a little less of you — emotionally, spiritually, physically

Jenna Bailey
Human Parts
5 min readFeb 27, 2019

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Photo: Asia Marosa / EyeEm / Getty Images

EEvery day, there’s a little less of you. Emotionally, spiritually, physically (how much weight have you lost now?). It was months before you even noticed. You’ve done this before—thrown your entire person at something or someone. You wanted the satisfaction of feeling you acted with commitment, with authenticity. Never let anyone say you weren’t fully invested. But there’s something different this time. No replenishment, no recovery, no growth, no more. So each day whittles away your soul and flays your person, and you wonder how much longer you can withstand the decay.

The well of curiosity, hunger, passion that was once brimming has dried out. You used to be voracious about learning, growing. You contorted aspects of yourself to achieve what you thought was success—reaching the pinnacle of your field, forming relationships with people you admired. You could still make yourself out through the fog of the persona, and you enjoyed the rewards of your malleability. The confidence, the experiences, the prestige.

Had you ever dreamed of this life, even in your most foolhardy moments?

TThe best speech you ever gave was a result of a technical difficulty. Right before you went on, the microphone fell off your cheek, and the organizer anxiously scrambled to get it back in place. You grinned sympathetically as she frantically spread tape across half your face. You reassured her that everything was fine, we’d make it in time, your instincts demanding you comfort her panic. She urged you off and you strode into the spotlight, hair matted to the side of your face, laughing at your near mishap. You flew through your talk without a care in the world. The worst was already over.

Sometimes, you’ll catch a glimpse of yourself as you were, think about how you knew so much less but were ready to give so much more. You were comfortable then, weren’t you? Your now-oversized clothes swallow you whole, mockingly reminding you of how you’ve shriveled up.

You martyred yourself for the briefest chance at convincing yourself you were more to people.

Did you like yourself when there was more of you to take in? What about now? You used to have an answer for everything, you knew when to turn on the charisma for others, how to make them wonder how the wilting person they met earlier could speak so pointedly.

The whiplash, that was always there. The disappointment in their eyes when you couldn’t pull out that version of yourself in every moment. Should you have tried harder to be that person for them? How many people did you let down, even at your most?

Maybe you never were more than you are now.

YYou avoid eye contact as if the act will sap what’s left of you into the ether. You try to cling at the few people left who bring you any nourishment, fill you with hope and joy. But you were never much to them, were you? You grasped at people you respected but were less concerned if they couldn’t give the same back to you. You took pride in it—the implied selflessness of putting in more and more.

That’s what a relationship is, isn’t it? Meeting someone where they are? But the truth is no one ever wanted any version of you enough to teach you what that exchange should be like—if it could be better, easier, make you less wrung out. It couldn’t be a coincidence that this happened to you again and again, so you assumed the problem was you. You weren’t enough. You martyred yourself for the briefest chance at convincing yourself you were more to them.

You’ve seen what happens when you lean on people too much.

You’ve run out of more to give anyone. A polite gaze, a greeting, a benefit of the doubt. You’re struggling so mightily to keep from vanishing that every misunderstanding or missed connection seems fatal. You find people often seem small—the way they protect themselves as you should be doing for yourself.

But who are you to call anyone small, when you’re less?

CCertain people brought out the best in you. You reveled in being surrounded by people with more intelligence, more curiosity—the pressure it put on you to be your most in that moment. It was intoxicating to be that fast on your feet, to feel you could float alongside their loftiness for a few moments. You still think about making them laugh, the warmth of that trust and how the afterglow kept you full long afterward.

You’ve seen what happens when you lean on people too much, how they eventually shatter under how much you can be. How do you ask someone for a moment, some small piece of their attention when you need it to keep from being blown away? How do you convey the urgency without the burden? The answer slips through the gaps in you every time.

You let them drift away, specks on the shore that’s rising around you.

Even the hollow motions of your responsibilities are becoming more difficult to perform—commitments to take care of what’s left of you, your work, your friends and family. Your colleagues have to see it, don’t they? How long are you going to keep underserving the people who rely on you while every interaction chips at your ragged facade and every mistake aches to your core?

Skipping meals becomes tolerable—they only remind you how incapable you are of enjoying them. The same goes for skipping out on personal obligations, which comes with the sting of the reminder that, as you vanish, they hardly notice. All of you was little to them. So you do what you should have done in the beginning, and you let them drift away, specks on the shore that’s rising around you.

It isn’t that you haven’t tried to reverse this damage, to repair what’s missing with doctors, family, anything. But it’s seeming too large a hill to summit now, isn’t it? Are you going to make it? Are you enough to try to save, even if this is all you are? What are you willing to lose to become more again?

Can you live with less?

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