My Pretty.

I am on my flowered chair. The air conditioner is roaring in my ears behind me while Grey’s Anatomy seems to be turned up so that people downstairs have already made comments. Comments like, “The loud noise bothers my sensitivity” and “Mom. This is heavy drama you’re watching.”

{Well, I can’t hear the TV over the AC, and I am not willing to give up either}

I also enjoy the drowning out of feelings; the noise seems to help in some form. By help I mean quell some of the thoughts, thoughts of family, of marriage, womanhood and thoughts of failure; fear, of failure. I also feel very disgusting. That is the nice way of saying I woke up this morning and wanted to shave my head.

{Shave all of my hair off— so I would LOOK BETTER}

I do not often talk about Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I am ashamed of the way I feel. Not only because the symptoms seem frivolous but mostly because it seems ridiculous; and I am embarrassed. It is understandable to me to be embarrassed by an obvious matter of health. You know? Like, when I am having a panic attack because I cannot breathe— that is real. Not being able to go into a store because I believe I am distorted to the degree of public humiliation— is not easily understood by others.

Mostly – because I appear to look “normal”.

My mother has suffered with mental illness for over twenty years. During my early teenage years my mother was always the prettiest mom. She wore high heels, shoes that would never fit my size 10 feet even as a kid; pretty, blousy dresses that fit her perfectly and twirled a little when she walked. Mimi would set her hair in hot rollers and would present with big fluffy curls as she left for work.  To look at my mother you wouldn’t have pegged her for having a mental illness. She was just so pretty. And that is exactly what most of the doctors said too.

Not until years later when she was homeless and not looking so perky did she even begin to be taken seriously.  Sometimes pretty just doesn’t help.

Let me explain please. Honestly, pretty helps a lot of things. Young does also. But fuck young and pretty for now; I’m not in the mood for younglings’. Later on chickadees. Pretty girls are perceived in the media and magazines and mostly everywhere as being better than the ugly. Period. I don’t believe it but bottom line—that’s how we are poisoned. Pretty is better. That’s what we are all led to know. It’s stupid in my opinion because we all have different beauty ideals yet, there is scientific truth in symmetry and form. Pretty is described by Roget’s as melodious, right and flowerlike. These seem like accurate enough descriptions to me if I am looking at an abundant garden of flowers and butterflies on the side of a castle.

Ugly, on the other hand, is described as cankered, loathsome and menacing; causing me to envision rotting corpses of pigeons aside a reeking filthy dumpster. That is not how others describe me but that is a general sense of what my brain tells me I look like. Moving beyond the schoolgirl awkward, the prepubescent chub and hair that I could not control is something darker than and considerably as paralyzing as any full blown panic attack. I look in the mirror for more than a few minutes the imperfections are small, if I haven’t eaten anything, I can generally talk myself down from a fat crisis. Although this week I am sure I am rumbled with ungawdly curves and skin that is misshapen; calves, which are much too wide for my now lean, but far from muscular thighs. I go through the motions of grooming methodically if I am to go out in public and believe in my little mind that I am not a candidate for an ugly stoning.

{Stoned, maybe— stoning no}

People stare at me outside in the friendly world we live in and often approach me with latent, “you look familiars”, making me acutely aware of the flaws perceived. Probably it means I am average, nuts and maybe also paranoid. Not sure—most likely, I am shooting from the hip here. I have been told by loved ones that people stare, because I am pretty.

Meh.

That really doesn’t do it for me. Whether or not it is true, my pretty, may have gotten attention over the years but it is not something I feel inside. I have always worked doubly hard at my jobs and I do not like the dumb pretty girl label at all. I have read too many books in my time and studied too hard to know a little about a lot of things. I can carry a conversation with anybody and handle myself around all walks of life. So long as I feel like I am in control of the situation (myself) – I can handle it. I may go home and find my way to a pillow to do a deep-breathing exercise, before I collapse into what feels like a chokehold from the original WWF wrestlers.

I feel so alone in my depressed world. Cognitively, I know that I am not alone, that knowledge doesn’t dismiss the feeling. The more depressed, lonely, ugly and fat I feel, the less I want to participate in my life that mostly feels like a train wreck. It is like being seventeen again with way more baggage. I feel so much shame complaining about addictions, heartache and mental illness from my comfy couch in front of my giant TV. My children are healthy and smart and we all have food and shelter. I feel like an ass for crying. I should always be able to hold it together, to comb my hair and act right. I don’t have the experience for all of these feelings. The medications make things clearer so I become more depressed and then I need to find other things to cover up the bad feelings. It does feel like a giant tilt-a-whirl. With big ass freaky clowns painted on it.

Googling BDD will bring you to all kinds of information you need about the mental illness. Describing the person suffering from perceived negative images about their appearance. The way I see it some days is that I look like nothing less than the original Elephant man. A color version of course, but nonetheless, very yucky. Gangly.  I don’t know where I got this nonsense in my head from. Why I think the skin on my face hangs like dry linen and wrinkles just as easily, I am not so sure. I often squint my eyes when I look in the mirror so I can A.) See either what others see or, B.)Get a general idea that nothing is majorly a skew. When I ask one of my people if I look okay, all I am looking for is a yes, in the sense that I will not have blood poured over my head. I don’t believe the rest of it in the long run anyway and I feel like a liar for saying thank you briefly while trying not to make excuses for why I don’t deserve the flattery.

Hopefully someday I will be able to feel as beautiful as they see me. Often times BDD is accompanied or is added to an eating disorder. I have an eating disorder. It has been with me since I was sixteen and flits in and out of my life when I take the eye off the ball. My eyes haven’t been on the ball for three years now. The ball is in the closet with the rest of my tools. I have put it all aside to tackle day to day depression.  Day to day living with the feelings of repulsiveness whilst I try to take care of my family that often feels like it is falling apart.

I have been waiting in the Queen’s castle, my condo above the house, for weeks.  Waiting for just the right time, right words and right ability to write an essay. I have been waiting since vacation in June and I don’t really know what is “just right” anymore. Certainly, not when my days are filled with suicidal family members and the constant pressure of East Coast local culture telling me my children should be academically and richly occupied at all times. I more often than not feel severely inadequate. I know it’s a good day when I can remind myself that making and designing forts out of found items and sprinklers and plastic pools in the back yard are fabulous childhood memories in the making.

My Pretties.

My Pretties.

Lastly, I’d like to take a minute and address my readers who are used to me maybe being a bit more organized with my essays. I decided to write an entry about how I am feeling this week – sort of a hello to my writing verse.  A hello and also a catch up for my readers.  I have missed you. I miss laying out my prose, hoping for you to giggle, cry or just call bullshit. Whatever –I appreciate and truly find joy in knowing you read my words. Thank you. I need to brush all of your cheeks

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