I wasn’t pretty enough. My body wasn’t good enough. If I’d just had a chance to work out and get the baby weight off sooner. If I hadn’t had such difficult pregnancies. If only I wouldn’t have gotten so atrophied from bed rest with Little Man. Then I wouldn’t have been so tired, and I could’ve started working out sooner. If only I’d paid closer attention to my appearance, and maybe saved up to go get braces. Or a nose job. Or a boob job. Or lipo. Or…wait. What the hell is going on here…..
I’ve caught myself in a downward spiral of thoughts like this more frequently than I’d like to admit. It’s been happening since everything came crashing down in February. I’m appalled. I’m truly, deeply appalled that even one thought like this could creep in on me, but they have. Not because I’m somehow above feeling unattractive, or being self conscious about my appearance. It’s that I’m thinking these thoughts in relation to how I could have kept a man that is a complete and total asshat. A liar and a cheater. A man that would treat me so shamelessly, so cruelly. Someone who’d opt to not raise his own kids, yet go play house with a stripper and HER two children. And here I sit, feeling so rejected by his cheating and his lies that I’ve convinced myself, little by little, that if I’d only been like this, or if I’d only looked like that, that I could have kept him, kept my family. And it’s happening more and more often.
The self-hatred really kicked in to high gear when I looked in the mirror shortly after Honey left me. Through tears, I said ‘This (looking at my face and my body) is why he left. And this is why you’re going to be alone for the rest of your life.’ Instantly, it felt true. Not an opinion, not speculation, but the absolute truth. Yet, the fighter in me said ‘No. Eff that. As long as you’re still breathing, you can fix this. You can do the work, you can look the way you want to look.’ And since that time, I’ve sweat gallons. I’ve burned weight off in the searing inferno caused by running up hill after hill, mile after mile. I’ve run in the rain. I’ve run when it’s 90 degrees out with 90 percent humidity at 11 at night. I’ve gone when my knee pain is acute. When my lower back is on fire. I’ve even gone when I had a fever and sore throat. I’ve gone and I’ve sweat and I’ve run and I’ve run and I’ve run. And here I stand in front of the mirror, finally getting fit and almost down to my target weight and…I hate what I see.
I don’t see 90 pounds lost. I see the woman he left. I see ugliness. I see stretch marks and lax skin from 2 pregnancies and from weight loss. I see a big nose, one slightly crooked tooth, and thinning hair that’s fallen out from stress. I see rejection, past present and future. I wasn’t even really shooting for pretty. Hell, I’d take normal any day. But I don’t look normal through these eyes. It feels like I was used up until I was no longer useful to him, and thrown in the gutter as though I was inconsequential. Who I was and what I did and how I loved and how I cared wasn’t the point. The point was, he found her to be more attractive. So much so, he’d dump me in a heap and drive away from all three of us. He’d give up being in even the same time zone as his children. So…isn’t that my fault in the end? That I somehow wasn’t even good enough to tolerate so he could stay and raise his kids?
In my moments of clarity, I shake my head in total awe of these thoughts. Thoughts that would have been so foreign to the Christian wife and mother who securely rested in her husband’s love just 6 short months ago. I don’t even know who that person is anymore.
And yes, in the mirror I also see being alone for the rest of my life. Not even because no man could ever want me, but because if one did (like Van does), I’d be terrified of harming him because of my crippling insecurities. No one deserves that. I’m sparing them, believe me. So, that leaves me alone for good. And the hopelessness and sadness that brings to me isn’t anything that anyone can ever help alleviate. There is nothing that anyone could ever say or do to make this ok. Nothing.
Honey used to (act as though) he worried about me. If I were going somewhere, he’d get this concerned tone of voice and tell me ‘ok, well drive safely, babygirl, and be really careful because it might rain.’ I think back on these things now and wonder, how odd that someone that used to care if I got caught in the rain, used to care if someone I loved hurt my feelings, used to care if I was hungry, or lonely, or scared, or happy doesn’t care about any of that anymore. At the flip of a switch. So the part of me that yearns to tell him that I’m hurting, that I’m lying in the street, bones broken, and that my soul and my psyche and my life have been shattered is just a remnant of that. It’s not real. He’s not on the other end of the phone anymore, and he never will be.
The fighter in me is all out of fight. This body is ruined, this face is aging. I thought if I just worked hard enough, if I just ran long enough that I could fix it. There’s no fixing what’s wrong with my body, and there’s no fixing my inevitable acknowledgment of that. I’d love plastic surgery to fix it all, but let’s be real here. I haven’t got a dime to my name. I live in the guest room of my mom’s house. Even if I did have some savings, how on earth could I justify using it for procedures when I’ve got these kid’s futures in my hands? I can’t. So game over.
And all of this means no hope for a daddy for Little Man and Baby Girl. The cruelty of this fact brings me to tears before I’m even able to verbalize the thought.
This is why I tried to cut things off with Van. I tried. I sent him a message that said ‘I’m sitting in my car sobbing. I can’t do this with you. I know you’ve dated exceptionally pretty women before and you’re simply not going to like what you see. You shouldn’t come here. You have no idea how messed up I am. This is excruciating, but I have to say goodbye to you. I hope you find happiness and I truly do love you.’ To which he replied ‘Nope. Not going anywhere. Not ever again. You are mine. Don’t you understand that God himself made oceans part and skies crack open for this moment for us, for you and me? No, forget that. I love you, Babygirl. No matter what.’
And so I kept on talking with him, night after night, and have for 6 months now. Knowing full well that I will eventually destroy his heart, and my own. Because I have convinced myself, no matter what amazing, beautiful or poetic words come out of his mouth, that the only reason he says he loves me is because he can’t see me.
The X’s are my answers.
Screening Questionnaire for Adults: Do I Have BDD?