Listen, I’m not one to ever ask why me. Whether I’m being rear-ended in New Jersey or losing the Mega-Millions drawing after going out of my way to buy a ticket in an area where dental care is irrelevant, I accept my fate and move on. But every so often, I see a woman and ponder how it is she’s living my life.
There’s the former third-grade classmate who now works for a major network as VP of something important. She’s married to what appears to be a delightful man who recently received his MBA. They vacation in Greece and Aspen, their family photographs splashed across Facebook. And from what I can tell her hair never frizzes and she lacks a single cellulite dimple.
Then there’s the friend of a friend who left her husband for a dashing import. He’s talk, dark and handsome with an accent. On top of everything else, the man is both successful and generous. He’s sold not one but two businesses he built from the ground up and he’s active in various charities. I’m not sure if she has cellulite and but I’m pretty sure her hair might frizz. Or at least I’m hoping it does.
“I just think no matter how smart or witty I am, a man is ultimately settling to be with me because of my appearance,” I confess to my therapist.
I know this isn’t rational. I’m not physically deformed or morbidly obese. And even if I were, I still deserve to be loved unconditionally. Logically, I get it. But this not-good-enough demon long ago bitch slapped logic into submission.
“And then I get mad because, like, everything I hate about myself I can fix. If I ate less and worked out more, I could probably get down to a size 2.”
My therapist, seated by the window, reaches toward her desk and repositions the empty chair. I stare at the moss green cushion and the stitching that holds it together.
“Tell her,” she instructs, nodding to the chair.
“I can’t,” I whisper as I reach for another tissue.
“Because it’s hurtful. I mean, the only reason I exist is because she gave birth to me. And anyway it won’t matter. She never hears what I’m saying.”
“Man she has you brainwashed,” my therapist says as she stands up and takes a seat next to me on the sofa. “You can do it.”
I look at the chair, lower my head, bite my lip.
“Fine, I will,” she says. I feel her shift on the cushion. “How dare you tell me I’m never good enough! See what it did? I believed you. And now, now I have to undo all of the damage you did.”
I look toward the chair, then my therapist. I envy her ability to speak so firmly, express herself without fear. I look back at the empty desk chair and say something I wanted to say every time my mother signed me up for another diet program or proposed a gym membership for a birthday gift.
It’s a start.