He asked me what my biggest insecurity was. Fidgeting with the grass, pulling it up between my fingers, I struggled with the words. So I let a soft “no” leave between my lips. I wasn’t comfortable telling him. I stared at my fingers, my insecurity felt so obvious to me. I didn’t understand how he didn’t notice. Everyone did.
They had to.
They ask me why I couldn’t change what was bothering me. And I do. I constantly spend money trying to remove this and that. Picking at myself when I’ve gone too long. My fingers grab at self hate. These nails scratch the surface, digging deeper and deeper, leaving cuts and reminders. Awareness that they can see what I hate. I break down under the pressure. Tossing and turning in bed, as if it’s too hot in the room and this comforter is suffocating me, wondering how I could continue on like this.
I know that I’ll never be enough for myself if I continue on this way. I try to remember that I’m more than this. I’m all these positive things people say I am. But it won’t change what I hate. Simply dull the anxiety when they notice.
I hate having to ask my mother for permission to call out of work because I’m too scared to decide for myself.
And it’s not that I don’t know how to make decisions on my own but my job reminds me how replaceable I am that I’m not entirely sure they’ll keep me if I called out just one more time because I’m still not feeling too well.
When they asked me why I even went in, I couldn’t lie and say it’s because I thought I was okay. No, it’s because I work retail and they’ll question me unless they see me in my hospital gown, struggling through the store wheeling the IV down the hall. And my coworkers understand this. They know it doesn’t make sense.
But he shared his story about how this job allows him to spend more time with his family and I had heard it before and it continues to touch my heart. Sadly, that’s not my reality. I don’t have a duo income, and I came here on my own and it’s only these past 8 months that I’ve had a sibling in NYC. I couldn’t babysit my nephew anymore because my work schedule wouldn’t allow me to. I’m sure my story isn’t the only one.
I’ve only ever felt replaceable in my relationships. I’m never good enough so I could see his eyes wander towards women who could meet the needs I left untouched. But here I am, in job that reminds me daily that they could find someone to be me because I’ll never be enough.
“If you’re looking for more money, then retail isn’t for you. That you need to find a different job.” Then he told us, after she asked for more compensation, that our pay, our benefits, and this job were just that, compensation.
If that is enough compensation, why am I feeling like this?
So I joined…again…because 3rd times the charm or was it my 5th. Maybe more like my 6th. Not out of desperation or loneliness. At least that’s what I told myself.
And he asked why I had joined because he feared my need for attention would force me back into the arms of guys who only wanted to put me in compromising positions as I contorted to their needs. Talking and fucking aren’t mutually exclusive and he didn’t want me to confuse the two. That while he can love to whisper sweet nothings between my legs, it’s possible to do without seeing a future with me.
I tried to explain that I wasn’t going to allow myself to be set back knowing I had made strides forward. But he hasn’t been single in awhile and loneliness is different to those who no longer have to suffer. That if he recalls, forcing yourself to accept what you can’t have only leaves the taste of iron in your mouth. Attempts to swallow your pride only brings up bile because you can no longer force down the bullshit that this all is for the better. And it’s not like I don’t understand his concerns because I’m nervous I’ll fall back into old habits.
I’m showering, eating, and getting enough rest. On my hardest days I wake up and do the things I don’t want to do because sometimes self care isn’t fun. It isn’t always bubble baths and girls nights. It isn’t buying a new jacket only because I think it’s cute and I’m a little sad. But I forgot that attempting to slide into his DMs is a form of self harm. Asking him to love me when he can only find lust in his eyes is a form a self harm.
I can no longer accept that if he comes over he’s putting in effort and that Chinese food from the spot is a date. I’d rather curl up in a ball and comfort myself through endless nights than fill the room with moans and funk.
They keep telling me it’s okay. That this isn’t the biggest thing in the world and of course I’m still beautiful.
I never said I wasn’t. The words never left my mouth where I suggested my beauty was only surface level. That you couldn’t swim in a pool of my self esteem, nearly drowning from the depth in which I loved myself. This is just different. A new experience that I don’t know how to navigate.
So I call my mother for guidance. But sometimes I can only reach my sister who I’ve seen cry in fitting rooms as she struggles to find pants that fit. As she focuses on the number they’ve given her instead of how she feels in them.
And her struggle isn’t mine. But I can understand why she couldn’t focus on how she felt as the number swirled around her head. Now her words are laced with suggestions of eating better and exercise. She’s not wrong. But I don’t need that.
The space between my thighs closed months ago. I cheered and proudly showed off the lack of gap. My ass is finally coming in and I can go to the club without feeling self conscious. They mention how I’m getting thicker and I shake my ass in celebration. But now when I try to slip into pants, I find they no longer fit.
And I’m not sure how to deal. I keep saying I’m tired of buying new pants. Am I really? Because I joke about how I love spending money. I’m headed to buy emergency jeans right now…so is that the difference? Emergency jeans means I don’t have any other pairs.
Or maybe I’m no longer sure how to envision myself. Gaining weight doesn’t hurt until you try on clothes.
Maybe I just need to stop putting on pants from last year because this is this year and this year I’ve gained weight.
I’ve been trying to love myself. Showers after work to lull me to sleep. Washing my hair to remind myself that although my beauty is skin deep, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to look pretty on the outside. I slathered myself with coconut oil, warmed in my hands. Leaving me slippery and soft.
But the smell makes me sick. Fear creeps into my chest as I try to figure out what is bringing these memories back. That as I lay in my bed or walk around these confined spaces, I smell the reminder of disgust and self hate. That regardless of how I may feel that day, no matter how much I love myself, I will always be pulled back into that time.
I’m self conscious as I remember scabs forming. Hard and difficult not to pick at. As I spread the oil on myself, they softened. Same as my will to live. Easy to peel away. I couldn’t get rid of them no matter how hard I tried. Another growing where fingers dug into my skin; they were harder and more painful than the last.
I slept with ice packs and prayed this feeling to go away. That this nightmare was really just that. That I’d wake up, grateful I could sleep it off. But I couldn’t. This was mine to keep.
Ice doesn’t remind me of restless sleeps and numb fingers. But every day as I attempt to love myself, I’m reminded of mistakes and regrets. Gently tearing myself apart with this scent.
I hate writing.
I hate the way I express myself through finger tips instead of tongue. The way I can only tell you how I feel when my face is to the screen and you only hear my voice echo off the virtual pages. That voice notes even cause me to stumble because that’s one step closer to you hearing my voice crack and shake.
I hate writing because it forces me to be real and honest and sometimes even pure. Things I’ve tried to run away from with no success. Before I share a piece, my breaths are shallow, anticipating whether I’m sharing too much. As these words hit pages, as they are read aloud, as they affect other people, the consequences become real. Doubt arises to question if this is the right decision because I can still back out but there’s no healing in running away.
Forced to write with honesty as I sat in a creative writing class, I wrote about you. It was the start to my healing so I would no longer carry the …burden of you on my shoulders. She had us read our papers to the class and through a shaking voice, I found my strength. I’d no longer allow you the power to control my self esteem.
But I still hate writing.
Because I expected that to be the end but here I am. Still writing about hurt feelings, honest fears, and the things that crawl deep within my soul.