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I don't smell, I'm not ugly, or something like that

Posted Jan 17 2013 5:11pm

My body is the most important thing on the planet.  My apartment is the most important place on the planet.  The stuff in my apartment is the most important stuff on the planet.

I have been fighting vicious self-hatred for more than a year.  It spiked in fall 2011 .  There was a girl at the restaurant I was working at who turned out to be a bully .  It was the first time in my life I'd ever felt bullied.  I know that is a lucky thing.

She yelled at me mid-shift for seating her too quickly.  I went out back and cried for an hour then returned to work with my eyes red.  Everyone thought I'd gone home.  I stayed because I loved that place .
She insinuated that I smelled.  I realized later that she was probably saying I had passed gas.  I was more objective in hindsight, saw the way she had waved the menus towards me.  But in the moment and for weeks afterwards I was obsessed with the idea that I had B.O.
I had people smell me.  My mom pressed her nose to my shoulder and said I smelled like I lived in a small apartment.  I took that to mean I smelled like dust and kitty litter.  She said no, of course not.
I dove into a bathroom with a fellow waitress and told her what the bully had done.  "I don't think you smell."  I asked three other people at work if I smelled, no no no.  One said no, "And my nose is good.  I told [name redacted] one day that I could smell her pad."  As a service; they are friends.
Then Catfish started obsessing over the kitty litter.  He'd come over and throw a window open.  I started changing the litter twice a week.  He still complained.  I told him he was being ridiculous.  He apologized.  But I was never convinced he was wrong.
I don't remember if this was before or after his TV was stolen.  I see that moment as the moment that we hit the skids.  What eventually did us in was my admitting we weren't going the same way in life.  But the burglary darkened everything.  I didn't like the way he handled it.  He got irrational.  He accused a guy who couldn't have been involved.  I worried what that would be like up through old age and death.
After Catfish and I broke up I became ugly instead of smelly.  I am obsessed with my acne scars.  I analyze them in the mirror.  I pick my face too much.  I have for a long time, since college.  It's been a decade now since my acne became a minor condition, but it's still around because I pick.
I watch my face for signs of aging.  Bully time, skidding-Catfish time, it was all about gray hairs.  I'd spot them, pull them down, and they were never gray.  Now it's wrinkles.  My eyes, there's hardly anything there.  I look at my parents' eyes.  Their eyes minus my eyes divided over the 27 years between us -- what I face.  I look at my smile lines and how they combine with my acne scars.  I turn my face, turn it back, look at myself in every new light.  It's not so bad.  Then it's bad.  Then it's a sexy quirk.  Then it's horrific.
Of course I am not eating right.  Did you know Skittles taste good?  I never cared for them.  Now I do.  When I eat my veggies, my skin glows.  I feel like a goddess of health and self-discipline.  But I don't have the fortitude now.  Chopping, cooking.  I can't even think of what to eat.
My apartment is constantly a mess.  I clean it up and it's a mess again.  It's a paradox.  I have so little stuff.  I have one closet and it's full of those things you hardly use but need to keep.  The rest, there's nowhere to put it.  So it's anywhere.  And then I come in, put the laundry down, and it stays right in front of the door.
I know I've got to rescue myself.  I've got to restore my self-image.  The only way I can is by taking care of myself like I am my cat, like I am the plants sitting in my window, like I am something I care for.
So my body is the most important thing on the planet.  My apartment is the most important place on the planet.  The stuff in my apartment is the most important stuff on the planet.
That I can write about this here in such detail means I am getting better.
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