This post was originally published at The Outlier Collective. When it was published, it helped one girl seek help for her anorexia, so we’re reposting it here.
Everyone has something they don’t really like about themselves. If a magic fairy, or maybe just a regular one, allowed you to change one thing about yourself with no Twilight Zone consequences, I bet the vast majority of us could point to some flaw in a heartbeat. You think your nose is too crooked after the Drunken Swimming Pool Debacle of aught-two. Your hair is too frizzy or you don’t have any. Your teeth are crooked or you don’t have any. You hate your skin, your ass, your unsightly unicorn horn… it’s always something.
For most of us, these little deficits that bar us from the ideal standard of beauty aren’t a big deal. We might sigh at ourselves post-shower, measuring our love handles between forefinger and thumb, and decide to forgo that second helping of pudding, but we don’t obsess over it. We get dressed. We have a cup of coffee and get on with our day. We move on.
For some of us, our body issues are a big deal, even if they only exist in our minds. They can cause severe anxiety and depression. They can cause self-destructive behavior, starvation and even death. Before I talk about body issues, I need to tell you where mine came from.
- I was sexually abused as a seven-year old for over a year. In the summer, he pulled me out of my bedroom window at night by my ankle. In the winter, he lived just down the hall. He liked to hog tie and gag me. My family pretended nothing happened. He was never prosecuted.
- I was a promiscuous teenager turned whore. I don’t mean whore in the slutty sense, but in the traditional way of selling one’s body. I got myself a hardcore drug addiction that quickly turned me into a homeless prostitute, all while being an anorexic cutter.
- In my early twenties, I was in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship that nearly killed me. What life I had left was missing teeth, money, a will to live, and any sense of justice, hope, faith or security. All I had were bruises, a pile of debt, and a deep and binding hatred. He fled the state and was never prosecuted.
That’s my story and my life could have ended at any one of those points, but it didn’t. It’s strange how three little paragraphs can say so much.
Instead of death, I got Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Anxiety Disorder (AD), Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They’re all intertwined. I don’t have one separately; I have bits of all of them in a big disorderly stew.
I didn’t care about anything, especially my own life. I became a homeless addict prostitute because nothing mattered at all. I withdrew inside myself. I built a fortress using drug addiction, prostitution, abuse and even my disorders as bricks.
On the outside, I was tall, blonde, confident, gorgeous and fierce. I was invincible. I could have anyone I wanted, and sadly, with very few exceptions, that turned out to be true. I was untouchable. No one could get inside my walls. Love was impossible; sex was love.
On the inside, I was short, fat, insecure, ugly and meek. I only saw the scars on my body and soul from the past that I lived. I saw fresh scars from continuing to live that way. I saw the hundreds of blurred faces I had sex with, starting when I was seven years old. I saw how repulsive and unlovable I was. I saw nothing of worth, physically or emotionally. I never valued my own life or my own body. I abused it in every way possible.
I hated myself, so I tried to destroy myself, which only made the hate stronger. I was aware of the vicious circle, but unable to stop it. It was a passive way to make it end since I didn’t have the guts to take my life.
I was a messed up kid who grew into a messed up adult. Nobody thought to get me help, not my family and not me. When you have such twisted views of yourself, you can’t talk about it, because it draws attention to very problems you are trying to hide. I lived in the shadows for decades.
Most of that is in the past now. Not too long ago, I came out of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder closet on my blog. For the first time, I talked about it. I even told how much I weigh. I take medication; it doesn’t make it go away, but it helps me see things more rationally. I can’t afford therapy, but I talk about it like I’m doing now. I’ve been street drug-free for over three years. I eat something every day. Sometimes, for a split-second, I can look in the mirror and think that I look pretty. I know the difference between sex and love; or at least, I know that sex isn’t love. I don’t hate myself. I don’t hate my body. I still hate, but it is turned outward.
I am scarred, battered, bruised and completely imperfect, but I am alive. I am used, abused, abandoned and incredibly pissed off. I shake my impotent fists at a world that would allow such evil. I let out a roar of combustible fury and venom, then I let it go.
I try to remember that most humans are not evil. We all have good and bad inside of us, and we can choose which one we act on. We are capable of empathy, restraint and selflessness. We create beautiful things like music, art and infrared-optimized space telescopes. We love.
I am filled with childlike glee that I get to live in a magical world with trees, waterfalls and elephants. I remember how short our lives are inside a universe that is bigger and older than we are truly capable of comprehending. I am awed that I beat the odds and I’m still very much alive. I survived and I am still surviving. I have no intention of going anywhere.
It has not been easy. It has taken years of small steps and I’m still struggling, but dammit, I AM STILL HERE. I don’t want to live as a victim; I just want to live.Care to join me?
If you or someone you know is in danger, please, get help. Your actions can make a huge difference. You are not alone. There is hope.