It’s amazing how quickly I can fall down the self-deprecating rabbit hole. One simple image sends a million negative thoughts racing to the front of my brain and soon I’m falling over, tripping into the void of despair, hating things about myself that I loved a minute before.
When I was in fifth grade, I got invited to a swimming birthday party for the kid of a friend of my dad’s. I hated the kid. I hated the kid because he and his friends, all of which were at the party, liked to remind me how fat and weird I was. When it was time to get in the pool, I panicked, faked a stomach ache and made my dad take me home.
My dad was always worried about my weight. He said he worried for my health, but I knew, even as a seven year old forced to step on the scale for him, that there was more to it than that. That day, when he brought me home, my suspicions were validated.
Furious at having to leave a party at which he was having a better time than I was, he yelled at my mom, “See, this is why she has to lose weight. She can’t even make friends like this, how is she ever going to date?!”
And he was right. The guys he grew up with, they’d never have dated an awkward, fat, future lesbian. Most of them probably wouldn’t have even been my friend. Their sons were the same way. They are all good old boys, and while most of them love, accept and encourage me now, none of them would ever give me a second glance romantically.
I was not then, and never will be, their type. As they are not now, and never will be, my type. But back then, those things weren’t apparent, back then types didn’t matter, all that mattered was my dad was right, I was fat and weird and unloveable because of it.
My father is a wonderful, kind man. He has sat with me and talked about this incident and all the damage his pressure to lose weight has put on me through the years. He has apologized from the depths of his heart for insecurities he caused and we have moved past that pain in our relationship.
But that pain still exists in my relationship with myself. It takes everything in me to shut up the voice inside my head that screams “how are you ever going to make friends being fat more or less find love?!”
Some days like today, I just let it scream.
There’s more to that voice than just my body size. Some days I can feel absolutely sexy and still hate myself. I can look in the mirror and understand why someone would fuck me but struggle to find a reason they would spend the night.
I grew up a huge personality in a small town. Then I escaped to the big city and I was a country girl lost in the rush. I’ve never fit in, I’ve never been cool, I care too much about the wrong kinds of things. I don’t know the latest bands, I never can fit the latest fashion and I like sleep too much to party all night.
People make jokes about hipsters, but I’ve always wished I could be one.
Instead, I’m still awkward, fat and insecure, like I’ve always been. I try to push through it and some days I succeed rather well. Some days I love every part of my awkward, fat, insecure self. Those days are wonderful.
Today was not one of those days.
It’s always interesting to me what triggers my self-hatred. It feels so innate, so natural to beat myself up that it often takes hours before I realize I’m heading down that path. It’s such a familiar road, it’s hard to remember I was not the one who paved it, those are not my words, they are not my thoughts being fed to me.
It is not my voice screaming at me.
My self-worth is held in this cyclical realm that travels between the vision of myself as I see me and the vision of myself as I think others see me.
I look in the mirror and see a strong, beautiful woman who has taken on challenges and paved her own path, succeeded in a multitude of endeavors and found a semblance of spiritual peace and self-knowledge in the process. So why is it so difficult for me to believe others would see that as well?
I’ve worked on this enough – in therapy, through meditation, through affirmations and writing – that I’ve been able to somewhat accept that my friends, colleagues and acquaintances can see this. I’ve got loving people who support me in what I do, even if they don’t always get it.
But dating, oh man is dating a completely different story. There is just so much of me, in size, in personality, in emotions, that I don’t know how a single person could put up with it all.
Grief has made this insecurity worse. Now, on top of the depression and insecurities that already wrecked havoc on my emotional stability when I have feelings for someone, I have this massive boulder forever resting on my chest, crushing me, breaking me.
I am shattered. I am fractured. I am so far from ok it is hard to believe that anyone would want someone in this much emotional disarray.
So I settle for what will take me, I settle for crumbs when I deserve cake. I see how badly I am broken instead of focusing on how much of myself I have mended, how much I deserve for simply getting out of bed in the morning, for continuing to breathe.
When someone treats me well, I am angry and awkward. I wonder why they would do such a thing. I focus on what they’re doing wrong in their lives, sure there must be something wrong with them if they don’t see what is wrong with me. I pick them apart because I assume they are picking me apart. I see every one of their flaws because I know they see every one of mine.
I jump down that rabbit hole and drag them with me.
There must be something wrong with you, if you’d settle for someone as fucked up as me.
I wish it were this conscious at the time I’m doing it, but I’ve usually ran far away before I realize the monster I’m running from is myself, the screaming voice inside my head, the voices of my youth. By that time, I’m usually so far gone there’s no point returning.
All I can do is dust myself off, climb out of the hole and hope the next time I’ll catch myself before I fall in.