I’m not sure that this was the first time I ever felt un-loveable. I don’t remember how old I was. It was after Syd moved to Texas, so I must’ve been 12, 13, 14. I picked at my fingers badly then. They’d bleed and the skin around my nails would be disfigured. They’d hurt throughout the day. Sometimes doing little things like washing dishes or writing would hurt. I got really used to the stinging. But, I guess, then it’d never occurred to me in any real way that that made me unpretty. It made things inconvenient. I knew it was ugly, but it didn’t feel awful. It was when we visited the Cards one summer when I was just coming into being a teenager that the picking felt noticeable to people who weren’t my mom and dad. I was standing with my hand resting on the counter when Sue picked it up and said “no one’s going to want to hold your hand if you keep doing that to your fingers!” It was a joke and meant lightly. But, I guess I held on to that “no one will want to hold your hand” in the way that a young girl might hold on to something that makes her ugly. And, since then, I haven’t felt beautiful. Not in an honest way. And I can’t imagine that anyone else might ever find me beautiful. That is, not if they saw me the way I am. I’m not beautiful without makeup. I can’t step out of my house without re-painting my face. And, if I’m honest with myself about this which I’m often not, it’s destroyed my sense of self. I sat at home all day to day pouring over my face: steaming it, applying poultices and garlic and lemon juice hoping that something that stung might magically zap the damage I’d done. I spent all day trying to heal myself because I feel disgusting. And every time I look in a mirror it hurts. And the person I think I would be were it not for this disorder would not have spent her day the way I just did. And half the time I don’t know what I’m thinking, why I do it, what’s going on with me. I never remember the reasons because I’m always trying to forget and run away and punish and I’ve become very good at what I do. And I’ve become very good at hiding. So much so, in fact, that this kind of confrontation of the state of myself is rare. And I wish it were over. But, I have really no hope. I’ve read so many stories about this thing that I have and I’ve spent so much time scrolling through pages of stories published on the internet. They’re all stories of finally feeling validated by the discovery of the disorder but they’re not successes. I’ve never seen a success story. Never seen someone who’s beaten it. And so, I’m scared. Because I don’t know who I am when this thing is a part of my life and I’m scared because part of me still believes that no one will ever love me because of my skin. And it’s childish but it’s been my whole world for the past half of my life. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up and the last before I go to sleep for the last 9 years of my life I’ve looked at myself and said “not good enough.” And no matter how much smarter and wiser I am now than I was when I was nine I still look in the mirror everyday and see not-good-enough. So, I have to stop because I don’t know who I am anymore. I won’t let myself get physically close to people, I don’t want people to see me when we kiss, I don’t go swimming and I love the water more than anything else in the world, I don’t like to go outside when it’s sunny, I can’t ever get too hot, and I can’t ever feel good enough because I chip away at myself everyday and I see the missing pieces of me every time I look in the mirror. I can’t do this anymore. Something has to change. And every time I look for answers I’m bombarded with suggestions I’ve already tried, things that feel like they’ll never help, and every time I try and fail I have less faith that the next thing I try will succeed. I really need help because I don’t want to continue to live this way.