I am full of hatred. I put on a good show, though, don't you think? But the truth is that I am so full of animosity that sometimes I can't even function to full capacity. I am sometimes so completely overwhelmed by my distaste for this person that I have to ignore them completely to simply go through the motions. But the hatred is always there, a burning, seething, writhing cobra that is coiled in my gut. Who is it, you ask? Myself. I hate me.
I need to clarify, I suppose. I don't hate ALL of me. For the most part, I have a pretty healthy relationship with myself. I don't lie to myself about my abilities, I'm not particularly conceited too much, I have a healthy dose of self-deprecation which I use to temper any thoughts that I may be superior to another person. But I do hate myself... my outer self. I hate the way I look. I loathe it. I could write volumes on the fact that my upper arms keep waving even after I have stopped, the fact that I can use my own earlobes as earplugs, my lower stomach which is full of scar tissue and is never, ever going to be flat and if you want to occupy approximately eight hours of spare time, let me talk to you about this weird underarm/backfat thing I have going on now... Hideous.
I've NEVER worn a sleeveless dress or shirt in public. It's safe to say there are three people in the entire world who have ever seen my upper arms: one of them is my husband, the other is the lady that fits my undergarments and the other is my son, in the swimming pool. There may be a couple of other people, but I'm sure they have blocked out that trauma in order to move on with their lives and be able to eat pork again...
All of the things that should make a woman feel beautiful just make me feel weird. I've never had a massage because I'm terrified that if the masseuse is small, she may actually get lost in my back fat requiring the jaws of life and heat-seeking radar to save her poor little life. Pedicures freak me out because I have a franken-foot. After a car accident I had to have three surgeries to correct the damage and there are scars all over my feet and ankles... and my pinky toe is just a big dollop of skin with a bit of nail... I shudder to think about it.
Currently, my pores are so large and distended that I could smuggle refugees into the United States in them, although they do come in handy for loose change... My legs are ok, except for the terrifying scars from all of my adventures as a child, from getting caught in a barbed wire fence to sliding halfway down a gravel road on my knees after an unfortunate bicycle accident.
I don't like looking at pictures of myself because I don't want to know. It's a very, very, very unhealthy relationship that I have with my body, or how I view my body and I know that each and everyone of you probably spent the last five minutes inventorying all of your flaws. How sad is that?
But there's a new development. One that puts all the other "This is sooooo wrong with me" laments to shame. Here it is: I am losing my hair. It's been slowly falling out since about a year after I had Kyser. I was on so many medications when he was born because we were both sick that my OBGYN told me I could possibly lose my teeth or my hair, possibly both. For years, I have held my breath... terrified that it would be my teeth... there's no way I could afford to replace them. But now that my hair is going, and it's going fast and in clumps, I'm not so sure I am willing to part with it, pardon the pun...
But I don't have a choice. It's going... fast. I had almost grown it out to shoulder length for the first time in my life about six months ago and over Christmas break, it came out in handfuls. I called my doctor, he said to cut it short. I cut it short, it looked thicker, but I had to start using fiber enhancer on it so that you couldn't see through the bald parts of it. That stopped working so well about six weeks ago so I went and got it trimmed even shorter. I colored it red because the lady said red would make it absorb light and look fuller. We put highlights in, it didn't work. The fiber wasn't working anymore. I went to hair makeup, this stuff that you can brush directly onto your scalp to help cover bald spots. It worked for awhile. It's not working anymore.
I spoke with a dermatologist. She said there is nothing that can be done. I spoke with another dermatologist. He said there were a couple of things we could try. I tried them. They didn't work. He referred me to a specialized dermatologist. The specialized dermatologist said to stop shampooing so frequently to slow it down. He said it might not work. It didn't. He apologized. I cried.
I thought about everything that I hated about myself. All those wasted years. And then I got to thinking about why I hated myself. Truth be told, I didn't hate myself at all. I hated the way I looked. I hate the fact that no diet or amount of exercise was ever going to get rid of the huge span of scar tissue around my middle. I hate my Italian grandmother arms that, if they ever get out of control could possibly injure a small child. I hate my stupid long, weird earlobes. But not as much as I hate losing my hair.
There's only one thing to do: learn the lesson and share it. I'm not sure who told me I was ugly. I'm not sure anyone ever did. In truth, it was something that I inferred. I've never looked in the mirror and smiled back at myself. I don't ever look at pictures of myself. I'm so scarred by my own perceptions of myself that I have never heard myself sing because I am afraid that if I ever heard myself I would hate that part of me as well and I don't want to hate it because I LOVE to do it.
So here is what a lifetime of hating myself for the way I look has taught me:
That's right, absolutely nothing. It's a regret, but it's one that I will have to live with. I didn't learn one damn thing from being so cruel and hateful to myself. I didn't learn one damn thing from agreeing with people who felt that way about me. I didn't learn anything from it. In fact, I allowed it to steal from me and it has stolen time, energy and worry and concern that should have been spent on others. I wish I could blame magazines or society, but I can't in good conscience. I bought magazine after magazine and poured over them so in a sense I did it to myself.
And so, in honor of my last summer with hair, there's an excellent chance that I will be tear-assing around in sleeveless shirts - all I ask is that you protect your young. I'm going to go get my first massage and ask for the biggest, stoutest masseuse in the place. I'm going to get a sassy little pedicure and not feel self-conscious at all. And finally...I'm going to forgo the hats and go straight to wigs. Short wigs, long wigs, curly wigs... you name it. I'm going to find out if blondes do have more fun, but I doubt that it will have much to do with being blonde. It will have more to do with finally, along with shedding my hair, shedding the inhibitions and self-judgements that have haunted me since I was a teenager.
Today, Ms. Williams... tomorrow: LADY GAGA!