I make people feel bad. I’m mean to people I love. Sometimes I do it because I want them to take better care of themselves. Or because I want them to be present. Or because I want them to do the right thing. (Usually, if they aren’t acting out of integrity, they already feel guilty about it, and then I make them feel worse.) I don’t do it on purpose. I don’t want to hurt them. I get caught up in it, my pushing, my icky tone. I go on automatic pilot. I’ve done it since I was an adolescent, maybe even longer. I think over time, especially in this last year or two, I have begun to do it less often. But I don’t even know if that matters. One small moment is terrible for both of us. I remember being in the car with my best friend when I was sixteen. My hands were on the wheel, and I was screaming at her. Then I started crying. Even then I understood making her feel bad made me feel worse about myself, added heft and weight to my mountains of self-loathing. But I couldn’t stop. Just before my cats died I stopped yelling at them, found a way to be neutral, even tender. Now I have small moments when I manage to modulate the ugly tone in my voice, to not react badly to my mother on the phone. Not always, but sometimes I can stop myself. I want to believe one day I won’t hurt the people I love. And maybe saying all this is part of that, saying this and not hating myself while I do.