I first learnt that self could precede a word
when I learnt about self-hatred.
& like the good student I was
I practiced that lesson every day.
Desperate to get an A+ in the class.
The years went by & I became a master
at putting self before other emotions too.
Deprecation & loathing & shame
were written neatly on my report card
with rows of gold stars next to them.
But the lesson changed.
Self is now followed by love & care
& I’m not getting an A+ or gold stars anymore.
This time I’m flunking out of the class.
In the exam, the first question was
What does self-love look like to you?
I handed the whole thing back in blank.
So I’m going back to kindy, starting with the basics.
A is for approval.
B is for belief in myself.
C is for… fuck I’ve forgotten that one.
How does the song go again?