The last time someone called me beautiful, I cried.
I didn't mean to. He said it matter-of-factly, like it was something I should have always known, but I knew he meant that my soul was beautiful, my mind, my art.
I am flattered to hear these things from people, but as a human being I wonder sometimes if there is anything tangible about me that is beautiful. He was saying it because he didn't want me to feel bad about being unloved or feeling ugly. I have felt ugly most of my life, like there is something particularly rotten and wrong inside my body. Even as a child I would pick, and scratch, and chew, tearing up the inside of my mouth and biting my nails down to the bleeding quick with restless teeth.
My body, for many years, has felt like a prison to me.
I have often made images exhorting how comfortable I am with my body, but sometimes these feel like wishful thinking. There are days when I feel like a prisoner, like my body is a trap that I can't get away from.
I find when that happens, I have to rediscover what it is about myself that I like.
I like that I have clever hands that can learn to do lots of things, like cooking, or drawing, or holding a child, or touching a woman's mouth, winding with a man's fingers.
I like my hair, the brown curls shot with gray, the softy, dusty hairs that grow on my arms.
I like my skin, the punctuation of freckles, the lines of scars.
I have to actively reteach myself to love my body because otherwise my depression grows so bad that I will try to destroy myself with food and drink. To describe the relationship between my feelings and my appetite as unhealthy would be putting it mildly. Hating myself only makes it worse, and so I have to actively try to love myself.
This paradox is mind-boggling. Sometimes I feel like I'm lying to myself. Other times, I start to believe that I can love myself.
There is, however, the painful stumbling blocks to loving yourself of unrequited love.
I think that once a crush moves out of the year-long stage, you can officially start using the L-word to yourself to describe the situation. That seems fair. Having a crush as an adult is so difficult. When you're a child, you have the freedom to moon and sigh and daydream all you like, but as an adult there is no time to devote solely to that.
They take up residence in your mind like madness. I find myself feeling angry when they don't have time for me, but they aren't always going to have time for me. Especially since they're going to find themselves a girlfriend at some point. And then they won't have any time for me at all. How could they make the time I want from them? I want all their time.
Especially when the very depth of my feelings for them can't be matched by anything. I'm a creature who loves ecstatically. How could I expect that to be returned? The chances of finding someone else half as over-the-moon as I am are slim to none.
I loved like this last with a man I worked with in a restaurant, a man I lived with, saw every day. Oh, how I used to bite my tongue and smile and lie and pretend I was so happy whenever he found someone, but of course I wasn't. i felt rejected and passed over. We all feel rejected when these things happen. Trust me, I know better than most about rejection. The last time my affections were returned it was by someone who turned out to be a monster. Maybe my standards are just too high because I love good people now.
Yes, internet, I'm telling you I have an unrequited crush and that I'm miserably feigning joy instead of jealousy and that I know we all go through that.
God, I hope I'm right about this.