Thursday, April 21, 2011

Warning: Self Involved Post Ahead...

In 10th grade I was in a play and my character wore a shitload of makeup and a dress, which in combination with the right foundation garments did pleasing things to my breasts.  During the production 4 boys asked me out.  I’d never had that sort of attention before.  Rather than make me feel good about myself it made me feel terrible.  None of these boys were asking me out, they were asking out a heavily made up face and a nice set of honkers.   I wanted to be liked for who I was and what I looked like without a lot of fancying up.  The entire experience made me feel worthless.  And ever since then I have felt suspicious of anyone who ever compliments me.  At first it only hurt when people said nice things when I was dressed up, but as my mental illness took hold every nice thing anyone ever said felt false.  When people would innocently be nice to me I actually thought they were taking pity on me, or when I was really unwell, making fun of me.  During that time I was in my early 20s, slender, and perfectly pleasant looking.  Yet when I looked in the mirror I saw an obese and hideously unattractive person.  I wanted not to care about how I looked, but I was obsessed.  It was all I thought about.  At the time I thought only vain people were self absorbed, but  I was wrong.  I was beyond that, I was self obsessed.   As I became worse I did start to put on weight, my meds made me get even heavier so what I believed was becoming reality.

Imagine being married to me at this time.  I regularly called Z a liar when he tried to say anything nice about me.  I accused him of not being attracted to me.  I was sure he was having an affair and wanted to escape our marriage.  How long do you think you could listen to that stuff without it affecting you?  Of course he stopped finding me attractive, I was berating him daily.  For a number of years he refused to compliment me in any way because he was tired of being called a liar.  It was incredibly hurtful to him that I thought he was having an affair.  He is a loyal and kind person, he was doing nothing wrong, yet I treated him like utter crap.  Thankfully, we were able to work through that stuff in couples therapy along with a laundry list of other issues created by my illness.  It was a super rough road. 

Things are better now.  They aren’t perfect; there is a lot of left over hurt between us.  But we are still working on it.  I can't believe he stuck it out with me.  He is an extraordinary person and I am lucky to be with him. But whenever I write about my self esteem issues it drives Z up the wall.  He always thinks it sounds like I am fishing for compliments because people can’t just be expected to know compliments make me so uncomfortable.  After he read the last post he sounded so sad when he said to me, “Why do you do that?  What do you get out of it?”  So I thought about it.  I’m not very proud of the answer.

A whole bunch of you nice guys who read this are friends from high school who I’ve reconnected with on the good old book of face.  The last time you all saw me in person was when I a skinny teenager.  So any time I post a picture of me the still sick part of myself thinks you guys are looking at it and feeling sorry for what I’ve become physically.  In my worse moments I think you guys are laughing at me because you think I probably am deluded and think I look fine. Yup, I know how twisted and bizarre that logic is.  I know it isn’t healthy.  I know it is incredibly self involved.  I know it is a big step back for me emotionally when I do it, but when I wrote the last post I was feeling vulnerable about my weight due to an unrelated incident to so my unhealthier impulses were impossible to ignore.  I just couldn’t help but say, “Hey, folks!  I know!  I’m tubby!  Don’t go thinking I believe I look OK because I’m in on the joke!”  I would still rather look like anyone but me.  I spend a lot of time looking at your pictures and wishing I looked like you (well, not the guys--no offence, I just don’t want to be a dude).  I spend an unhealthy amount of time looking at women in general and wishing I had their eyes, their hair, their bodies.  I wonder if they know how good they have it.  

I'm not sick like I was before, I don't spend the bulk of my time thinking about this stuff anymore.  But sometimes it does bubble up to the service.  And then I realized something while waiting to go into therapy this week.  I was thinking about wanting to be slender again and I realized a large part of what was stopping me was my immature and unrealistic belief that people shouldn’t be judged on their physical appearance.  It is the perfect excuse to hide behind for why I don’t put effort into my looks.  Yes, part of the reason is I feel like there is little point in trying, but a big piece is a stubborn desire to be judged on my smarts over my looks.  I was born with more brains than beauty, not that I think I’m Einstein or anything, but it works in my favor to concentrate on my intelligence.  And of course I’d think everyone should be judged by their minds over their physicality.  That way I’d stand a chance of winning, or at least being in the race. 

But I realized that is total bullshit and there is nothing wrong with trying to make yourself look nicer.  Z cares what he looks like.  He is very particular about how he presents himself to the world, and he likes how he looks.  Man, am I jealous of him.  And I should take some lessons from him.  After this New Guy is born I’m going to make some changes.  I am going to try and lose weight and get healthy.  I’m going to not wear sweats all day and try to take some pride in my appearance.  And for the love of God, I’m going to work on my impulse to believe a group of people who have shown me nothing but kindness since I’ve reconnected with them are laughing at me behind me back.  These goals are going to take some serious therapy and I might be biting off more than I can chew, but I’m gonna give it the old college try.    

My friend found this in her neighbor's backyard after the neighbor moved away, so free car for T!  He adores it. 

Notice the blue key in his hand.  It was attached to the ignition, but the  first thing he did was grab it and pull it loose.  I figure he'll lose it in less than a week.


  1. Of all the things you've written it is this that makes me bawl.... full on heaving cry at my desk because good god, I know all these feelings.... All of them. Every one. The only part of me that feels sorry, Karen... is that you can't see what I see in you. Ok, so maybe there are two parts. The other part of me is sorry I can't see what you see in me, because the only person more self-absorbed than you is me, friend.

    I hear you. And I get it. And I can say that when you're ready... taking care of my body the way I have taken care of me while i was pregnant and nursing, now that I am no longer doing either, it has been desperately hard to maintain. To feel like I am worth the time. The energy. But so healing. Thinking of you...

  2. You know, as someone with these problems it should be easy for me to understand them happening in another person, but I still am incredulous that someone who seems so outwardly confident and perfect can struggle with the same stuff.

    I mean, when I was trying to screw up the courage to post my picture I was thinking of the photo of you that just won the contest. And how I'd never measure up to that sexiness in a billion years.

    Thank you for understanding my craziness. I promise I understand yours and I hope you overcome it as well. Because you rock.

  3. Everything Kelly said. except the balling part. I tend not to do that. :)

  4. Last week I was at my office which has little to no cell service. An email managed to get through...from Facebook. Someone had tagged a picture of me. MY WORST NIGHTMARE! what picture? Do I have double chin? Do I look fat? Is my hair okay??? These are the questions scrambling through my warped mind.
    We are blocked from FB on our work computers and with such a weak signal I cannot log in from my iPhone. I have a meeting in 5 minutes, so obviously I got my coat and left my office, got on the elevator and left the building. All I can think about is everyone I have known since kindergarten is staring at a picture of me looking like I have sudden onset Downs Syndrome.
    5 minutes later I have a signal, see the, not so bad...maybe even cute. I leave it and go back to work and to my meeting, late.

    Isn't it sad? We all do this.

  5. J-I totally get it. A truly unfortunate photo of me was uploaded and I agonized about hurting the person's feelings who uploaded it by untagging. Ultimately I just untagged from the recent photos people see at the top of my page and hoped my friend wouldn't notice. Of course, it was still at the top of Z's page, so I was sure everyone he went to high school with pitied him for marrying a double chinned heifer. I'm glad you were greeted by a cute photo after your hustle to see it, and I'm sure being late to the meeting was worth it...