I Know What You Tell Yourself

   Natalie Merchant Tell Yourself

While I was in treatment, a residential counselor played the song “Tell Yourself” by Natalie Merchant for all of us. She said whenever she heard it, it made her think of us and what we struggled with daily, and that she wished she could make us see how beautiful, wonderful and intelligent we were. The song hit home for me (and well, I love Natalie Merchant) so I thought I’d post the lyrics and music video for you tonight. I used to listen to this song after I left treatment, while I drove the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul, trying to make sense of my experience with an eating disorder, and how to write about it.

Tell Yourself

I know what you tell yourself, you tell yourself.

Look in the mirror, look in the mirror what does it show?

I hear you counting. I know you’re adding up the score.

I know, oh yes I know what you tell yourself, you tell yourself.

Ever since Eden we’re built for pleasing everyone knows

And ever since Adam cracked his ribs and let us go I know

Oh yes I know what you tell yourself, you tell yourself.

Who taught you how to lie so well and to believe in each and every word you say?

Who told you that nothing about you is alright

It’s just no use, it’s just no good you’ll never be O.K.?

Well I know, I know that wrong’s been done to you

“It’s such a tough world,” that’s what you say.

Well I know, I know it’s easier said than done

But that’s enough girl, give it away give it, give it all away.

Tell yourself that you’re not pretty, look at you, you’re beautiful.

Tell yourself that no one sees Plain Jane invisible to me, just tell yourself.

Tell yourself you’ll never be like the anorexic beauties in the magazines.

Just a bargain basement Barbie doll, no belle du jour, no femme fatale

Just tell yourself. Tell yourself there’s nothing worse than the pain inside and the way it hurts But tell yourself it’s nothing new cause everybody feels it too, they feel it too.

And there’s just no getting ’round the fact that you’re thirteen right now.