Am I Unattractive or Unapproachable?

I’m sure a vast number of women (and men) have asked themselves this at some point. Honestly, I think I know the answer for myself–both.

Yes, I have pretty severe body dysmorphia; I spend copious amounts of time inspecting my face in mirrors, going over what I think is wrong with it. One of my eyebrows is slightly higher than the other, my nose is too wide for my face, I have low cheekbones, no jawline, my eyes are too small, my upper lip is too thin, my skin is flawed. The discrepancy go on and on with my face and my body. What I would give to not have the shoulders of a linebacker…

My self-esteem has gotten worse with each year. With each week, really. To be honest, I thought it couldn’t get any worse, but 23 has been the age I’ve experienced the lowest self-esteem of all time. When I look for books to possibly aid me, they really don’t delve into physical self-esteem issues; it’s almost entirely about emotional self-esteem issues. And no, I am not one hundred percent confident in that area either, but I am extremely confident about who I am as a person. I know my values, I know I’m intellectual and intelligent. I’m rational yet also emotional. I’m good at communication. I know I’m talented and capable, and I’m a great friend. I know my self-worth.

Except not when it comes to how I look, which seems to trump everything else.

It’s difficult to feel confident in how I look for a lot of reasons. I’ve analyzed my appearance with such scrutiny, and I’ve found “rational” explanations to explain why I’m so unattractive. And yes, my friends occasionally try to tell me otherwise, but they’re biased because they think my personality and who I am is attractive–not necessarily how I look. Also, throughout my entire life, no one ever told me I was attractive. Distant relatives and friends of my parents would comment on my brother and I and they would automatically declare that he was attractive. Me? I honestly can’t recall ever hearing that from anyone. It probably didn’t help that throughout childhood and adolescence, my brother actively berated me about being unattractive.

No one’s ever really complimented me (and it happens very rarely now–although I do have one friend to thank for telling me I look nice ever now and again), so I find it hard to believe.

I also know I’m unapproachable. I definitely have “resting bitch face.” In fact, I’ve had multiple people tell me I actually look like I’m on the verge of murder. At the very least, I know I look angry a lot of the time. Everyone I’ve ever become friends with has told me that before I actually talked to them (and sometimes after), they thought I didn’t like them and that I would be an unpleasant person.

Last night my friend and I went out for St. Patrick’s Day–sort of. I got looped into it, but I was glad I was sober for the multiple and extensive interactions with new people.

Soon after sitting myself down outside, I lit a cigarette and silently observed my over-stimulating surroundings: two very drunk girls standing next to me, a group of well-dressed men smoking a blunt on the other side of the picnic table, a man climbing a hardened snowbank to write something in chalk on the cement wall. A guy sat down across from me, and we made eye contact, so I gave him the inverted head-nod gesture. You know, when you quickly jerk your jaw forward in recognition? That’s usually what I do.

He was also silent, and out of my peripheral vision I caught him shooting me glances quite a bit. Eventually he asked me, “How are you?” I replied with, “I’m alright. How are you?” to which he responded, “Are you sure you’re alright?”

I laughed. “I’m alright,” I assured him. I knew why he was asking–I looked fucking pissed. “I use anger as a defense mechanism.”

We sat in silence again until I asked what was going on with him. It didn’t take me long to realize he was plastered. At one point he asked if I was single, to which I said yes. He asked why and I said, “Have you seen my demeanor?”

Nevertheless, I was happy to have talked to my new and very drunk friend.

Later in the night, my friend and I sat around the fire pit. Two of her friends had joined us as well. A bearded man in a short-sleeve button-up sat down next to my friend.

Listen, I actually love meeting new people, but I’m usually unwilling to break the ice–mostly, if not entirely, due to how I feel about the way I look. This guy eventually broke the ice for us by asking my friend what she studied at school. Then he asked her female friend. He didn’t ask me. So my friend came to my rescue and told him which school I go to, and then he asked what I studied and what I wanted to do.

It’s being an afterthought that really makes me feel hurt. It’s a pattern, and it’s a shitty one.

Soon it became just myself, my friend, and this man. The three of us talked, and we were both enthralled by his personal life for a few very specific reasons. I thought, “This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to speak to a man like this” so I decided that no matter what, I would ask for his phone number. I ended up asking to add him on Facebook, since that seemed more approachable (ah! That word). He seemed to happily agree to this and added the two of us. He also invited us to a party he’s having this weekend.

As the three of us were talking, a young man, extremely plastered, sat down next to our new friend. He asked the names of us “ladies.” After my friend introduced herself, he repeated her name and said “pretty” and licked his lips. Then I said my name. Boom. Not a person of interest, clearly.

We parted ways with our new friend as the lights of the bar came on and the bouncer shooed us out (although he seemed genuinely pleased that I wished him a good night; I’m sure it was a tough night for him). As I stepped outside, a dude said, “Hey girl” but I honestly don’t know if he was talking to my friend or myself.

As I pulled the car up, a man driving by honked at my friend.

Okay, I’m not wishing for myself to be sexually harassed in any way, but I’m the only female I know who hasn’t been (insert laugh track here).

And now I have this party to figure out. My friend actually can’t go, so I have to fly solo. And there’s no fucking way I’m gonna be sober for it, so I’ll have to shell out money for an uber. But that’s not the problem. The problem is, I’ll be alone. I’ve never been to a party myself. That’s terrifying enough, but even more terrifying is the fact that I barely know the host.

However, I’m very much into the host. It may be a little rash to declare that, but the more we talked with him, the more I realized how much I was aroused by him. It didn’t help that he put on an incredible red velvet blazer as we exited. What a dreamboat. Viewing his Facebook photos sealed the deal. Well, for me anyway.

Basically, I can’t determine if he was more into my friend than me. I would guess that he probably was. I just imagine him being disappointed that she didn’t show up. Also, I don’t flirt well. I never do it consciously and when it does happen inadvertently, I’m usually extremely aggressive or become a little self-deprecating to try and avoid actually becoming flirtatious.

This is a conundrum. And I don’t have therapy again until after the party happens, but perhaps that’s a good thing. I don’t know how to end this post–I guess my original statement still stands. The answer is both.

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Dear C.

My first distinct memory of you is from our poetry workshop–you sat across the circle from me, and during one of our impromptu writing sessions, you began playing a Radiohead song from your phone, stating that listening to them is something you like to do when you write.

I remember thinking at the time that I only knew a handful of Radiohead songs and also who were you to be so bold?

And then you created such a deep love affair between Radiohead and myself that, to this day, I get chills whenever I listen to them, and none of my friends listen to them, so I have no one to go on about Thom Yorke to or listen to the entirety of In Rainbows with.

Friday nights were ours.

We would sit on your bed amidst the anti-capitalist artwork you created and the candlestick holder made from an empty brown beer bottle and drink Yuengling and smoke cigarette after cigarette until my hair was drenched in the scent of smoke and my lungs quaked.

The first time I did coke was after one of our group writing meetings, just a few blocks from your apartment. It was a sunny day in winter, and I drank a beer and did a single line and didn’t feel much.

That didn’t stop us though.

You’d play The King of Limbs from your laptop as we cut lines on the floral-print plastic tray. I’d tie my hair back, press the rolled up piece of paper to my nostril and inhale. We wouldn’t even go out. We just sat and let out tongues and teeth move at top speed.

I still have the Javas coffee card you used to cut the lines with. You told me I was great at cutting lines. I guess I can put that on my resume.

I fucking loved you. There’s no doubt in my mind. I fucking loved you. I loved your scratchy voice and how your hair cascaded down your back, how you deliberately let your black negligee glide off your shoulder as you sat with your thighs crossed over the mattress.

I loved you despite the dirt beneath your nails. I loved you when you were a crumpled heap in my arms, and I brought you dark chocolate and Tension Tamer tea.

Not long ago, while at work, I pressed my face into a shirt someone donated because it smelled exactly fucking like your apartment–like laundry detergent and lilies and cigarette smoke.

Hell, there was even one time when I was in your bathroom, and, after reading the back cover of your copy of Slaughterhouse Five, I plucked your discarded black thong from the tile floor and pressed it against my nose.

Because I’m a creep.

I’m a fucking weirdo.

Even at the time, I knew it was a tragic thing, to love you. To want you.

And I don’t even know how we split apart. It just happened. I do that to people eventually–I just inch further and further away. You called me up one evening and I drove over, and it was like old times. I cried about my mother. We saw each other again that summer, sat on a park bench outside and drank iced coffees, talked about our mothers.

I’m truly sorry I became cold. Seeing you at my new school was like seeing a ghost. Your voice no longer charmed me. I didn’t know what to say to you. And I’m sorry.

But I see that you’re happier than ever now. You seem so fucking happy and I’m so glad that you are and even though it makes me sad, I know if I had stayed in your life, you wouldn’t be this happy, because that’s just how the world ties things together. It’s the butterfly effect.

I hope someday you’ll call me up again. I know you won’t. It’s okay. I’ll think about calling you but I won’t ever do it.

People come and go.

God, you’re unreal. You always were.

Drunk, After Party

I’m a solo cup of rum and butter and cider in and I feel the warmth hit my stomach like a bomb.

I just can’t escape the trenches.

I ask her, “Do you want to leave?” because, despite her sobriety, she’s nodding off on the damp stoop.

“I’m fine,” she says. That’s all she ever says.

So, okay, I go beer after beer deep.

On my third (?), a tall lanky guy who introduces himself as _____ stops in front of us. I first notice his costume; mistake it as Waldo “humping” a leprechaun but he corrects me–he’s riding a leprechaun. He comments on my t-shirt, he asks what I thought about the remake. We talk. He seems stable. Nice. Sober, because he has to drive an hour and a half home.

“You drove over an hour for this?” I ask.

Fast-forward.

The warm feeling has burned out but the inebriation in my brain is full force. I’m socially lubricated and my body is loose. I’m leaning against the wall, I’m laughing at stupid things I overhear. I’m talking to a kid who is younger than me but graduated with a four-year degree sooner than me. We went to high school together. I’m friends with his ex. I have reason to dislike him; I do dislike him.  Yet, his stupid banter and commonality between academia is much needed at this time in the night. Him and his girlfriend are even more of a social lubricant.

“Gangster.”

“Can I buy a cig off you?”

“Mugwort.”

“The competitor of Uber.”

They start playing a live rendition of “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer and I tap my foot against the stoop.

My old neighbor, younger than me, probably has an IQ of 150, has travelled all over the world, is as lifeless as I remember him being even back when we were small and played house and I got a mouthful of sand and dirt in my mouth and he kissed me.

His house was full of secrets and dimness and smelled like sugared cereal.

I have moments of introspective drunkenness.

It hurts. Vaguely.

My ex-neighbor sort of encourages me to take a Jello shot. Sure, I’m all about having more vivid dreams. I like to remember pain. I usually forget. I swallow a slice of clementine. The Jello is slightly bitter, slightly sweet, and a vivid orange. Where’s Waldo joins me–this pleases me.

I feel dumb.

She and I go back out for one last smoke. I tell her, I’ll talk to him before we leave. Before we leave, though, he’s walking out and we’re telling him to have a good night.

There’s a certain kind of loneliness the stems from being intoxicated, even if you’re having a good time. There’s a moment–perhaps you’re in the bathroom, or you’re having a cigarette, or reaching into the fridge for another beer, or standing against the wall. But it’s there. It reaches up into your  brain and tugs on your flaws, your insecurities, your hopes, your dead dreams.

In two years, two months, two weeks, two days, two hours, this moment, this night, this experience–it will not matter.

 

Tangled.

You asked for it, you fool. You asked, and you received, so it’s your own fault that you curl into yourself as you struggle to fall asleep, the glow of the TV pale blue.

“I want you inside me.” These words, not about you, not about you at all, tumble in your brain at any given moment–while you’re sitting in your car on a chilly evening, as the sun sets and makes the clouds golden, while you smoke your third cigarette, while you walk to class in amidst the pitter-patter of rain. These words, those words, you just can’t get out of your head. You see them in bright red letters, you feel them slap you across the face.

And when she asks you to hit her, you wonder if you do it because she asks or because there’s a part of you that actually wants to, that wants to make her sting, make her skin turn bright red, bright red like the muscle of your tangled heart.

You get drunk, more drunk than you need to be, and when the situation is brought up you do your best to smile behind your cigarette, take another sip of your gin and tonic, pretend like it doesn’t bother you, because at the end of the day, there’s nothing you can do.

But you sit there with your drink, and your cigarette, and your people, and those words get tangled on your tongue.

“You don’t believe in yourself.”

I believe in myself, I just don’t believe in anything else.

My skin is at an all-time low now that I’ve, once again, increased my dosage of Lithium. I don’t know if it’s helping. It might be. I don’t feel so full of despair, or at least it’s not overwhelming. But I start my last year of undergraduate school tomorrow and that could be change. I’m not ready to wake up at 6:30am, to drive 45 minutes to campus, to block out the sounds of young, obnoxious voices droning on and on. I’m not ready to be so physically and mentally exhausted, and so drained. I’m not ready to read four different books at once and struggle to retain the information.

I’m not ready for any of it.

I dyed all of my hair teal and this seems like the opposite thing for me to do, considering I don’t want to be seen. At all. Ever. By anyone. Encouraging attention is the last thing I want at this point in time.

My friends have too much faith in the world. Or too much faith in me. Maybe both. I’m not capable of much. I can barely scrape by while doing the bare minimum.

I want to land a teaching job without needing a PhD. Or, if I need the PhD, I want it to be worth it. I want to be held in high regard. I want people to know my name, to read my writing in various magazines and papers and yes, books too. I want my talent to be recognized. I want a modest house in the Pacific Northwest and a job at a modest college. I want a dog and gardens in the yard. I want my friends to always be by my side, even if we separate physically, and I want someone to love me. I don’t want to succumb to suicidal ideation. I want to eat healthy and go hiking on the weekends and have a good dentist and decent health insurance. I want to feel good about myself. I want, I want, I want…

I had a dream the other night that I shot myself in the chest with a revolver and a giant bloody hole was left, and then I told the person in front of me to shoot me in the head, and then I woke up. I don’t know what this means.

I do believe in myself.

I do.

I’ve Had Worse.

I can’t explain anything anymore. My words are incongruent and incohesive, my mind is an anxious, dying cluster-fuck of depressive, intrusive thoughts.

I wake up at noon. I pull on a pair of pants that, mind you, are not clean. I sign the back of a check. It’s raining outside and I worry that my car will do that stupid thing when it rains, where it stalls and acts like it’s going to break down but somehow it doesn’t. I drive to the bank. The man in line behind me surprises me with his presence. I’m glad he can only see the back of me. I hate the bank. I’m not enough of an adult to be at a bank. I deposit the check.

It’s raining even harder when I walk out. I drive down Panorama Trail and have to stop and wait for a mail truck, while part of me wishes someone would slam into me at 60mph and destroy me, but that won’t happen. I spend $16 on hair dye because my priorities are screwed.

At home, I try to smoke a cigarette in the garage, but it’s so stuffy and dank in there that after three drags I give up. I go inside, fall asleep on the couch for an hour. Wake up to people talking, so I go upstairs. All I want to do is sleep. That’s all I feel capable of at this point. Somehow, I don’t. I fuck around on the internet all day. I masturbate without an ounce of satisfaction. It’s a miracle I don’t cry after coming, honestly.

I smoke more cigarettes. I feel anxious. My face feels greasy. I listen to Radiohead. I wish to feel something other than misery. I wish for someone to genuinely give a fuck, but I also am happy, in a sense, I’m alone, because I don’t want to bring anyone else down. I eat and feel disgusting about it. I consider going for a walk, but I don’t like the dark.

I maintain an internet presence to cover up the fact that I’m suicidal.

All of my desires are impure and vile. They’re full of self-hate and sabotage. All of my wishes are only wishes to destroy myself, to just waste myself for once and for all. My thoughts are barely strung together. I want to cry but I can’t, which is worse than actually crying. I feel overwhelmed by the empty space around me, and by the concept of time. I want to see my organs spilling out of my abdomen. I want my brain to be taken out of my skull and probed. Just tell me what’s so wrong with me. I’m doing something wrong, clearly. I’m all wrong. I’m all wrong.

Not That.

I’m listening to “Love/Paranoia” by Tame Impala on repeat, drinking my second cup of, now cold, chamomile tea. My best friend sends me a picture of herself and I feel my eyes well up momentarily because her collarbones are visible and mine are not, her lips are full and mine are not, her skin is clear and mine are not, her eyes are pretty and mine are not, I am not any of that, I don’t have any of that. Another cigarette won’t make me feel any better but I want one anyway. My room is too hot. I don’t know how I’m going to fall asleep tonight–not without struggle, that’s for sure. Even the days that are okay aren’t really okay, you know? I’m so tired of being inside my own head, because it’s not a fun place to be. I need a new phone. I need a car that isn’t a piece of shit. I need new shoes but I can’t any in my size because I was “blessed” with abnormally large feet. It’s even hard for me to find men’s shoes. I just want a pair of oxfords, for fuck’s sake. Something is wrong with my right hip. I’m not that old yet. I would rate my depression at a 7 out of 10 right now, and my anxiety maybe a 5. A wavering 5. I want to win the lottery. I want to be discovered. Or shot dead. There’s so much of that happening, but not to me, because I’m not that lucky.