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I sometimes worry that I am too damaged. I go down my list of “Things that have f*%#ed me up,” and I think that I must be inventing it. The emotionally abusive mom, the cheating ex-boyfriend, the two men who’ve physically hurt me… this stuff doesn’t happen to normal people. This stuff certainly doesn’t all happen to one person. Sometimes I think that I’m crazy, that I’ve imagined my damage. I tell myself that the eating disorder is self-inflicted, a way to add drama to my life. I chastise myself, accusing my brain of remaining a “teenager.” I admonish myself for needing the conflict, needing to be a martyr, needing the added scars for attention. I wonder if I just want to be a “dark poet,” the kid in the back of the class who pulls her flannel shirt sleeves over her hands and looks askance at everyone.
But then I accidentally share with someone. I share a story that I’ve long-since accepted as a part of my history, and I share it with a chuckle. It doesn’t seem to matter what the story is, I am almost always met with silence. I look up and meet a shocked face, and it always takes a few days before the listener stops treating me a little bit more tenderly than normal.
Because I am damaged. I didn’t make it all up. I’m not lying, I’m not trying to make anyone feel sorry for me. I also don’t want to cover up my stories, because this is the way I’ve always seen the world. Conversely, I don’t want to share too much. I want to be normal.
I was never hit, and so I tell myself that my situation isn’t extreme. I still believe that no single thing that has happened to me is more than an average woman’s experience. And that sucks, but it is reality. Compiled together in one list, however, my wounds look like an overwhelming tide. In one list, they look like more baggage than any life partner would ever want to take on, regardless of how lovely I might be in other ways. How do I say to someone, “Please don’t joke about the size of my ass, I have a longstanding eating disorder,” followed immediately with, “Yes, I know that person, but I don’t want to hang out with him since he raped me at a party?” How do I say that to someone? It seems to be too much for another person to bear.
I am damaged. I don’t want anyone else to have to hold up the weight of that damage, and so I hold it all myself. I wish that one day I’d be able to know that someone else could hear it all and still laugh with me, joke with me, love me. I just worry, sometimes, that it is all too much.