It occurred to me tonight while I sat in bed doing line edits of the last 50 pages or so of Black Desert that I’ve been struggling with a real blow to my self-esteem for some time now. It started when I fled Chicago, and got worse in December, despite a book contract, my own apartment, and a now manageable credit card debt.

I’ve spent the last few weeks corresponding with folks online, looking to setup more dates, but instead of feeling like it’s a fun thing, it feels like a chore. Like I’m desperate for people to like me. And all the ones I really like don’t like me back, and then I run around in a tizzy, running through all the bullshit stuff I was told during my last breakup, and I beat myself up. I tell myself that if I was just thinner, or hotter, or even more accomplished, at this point, that I would be loved and desired.

The funny thing is, it’s not that I’m *not* loved and desired. I certainly am. Just not by the folks I desire. And that’s a tough thing for anybody. That’s life.

I’ve spent the last couple of years in a perpetual state of dating. I forgot what it was like to just be me, funny as that may sound. I got used to playing the part of me, of being strong, wise-cracking Kameron in the frumpy clothes, the one who made up for her bad haircut with her great personality. I got used to giving the appearance of being strong and self-reliant and gung-ho all the time.

And you know, it gets tiring sometimes, being me. Especially when I don’t know who me is anymore.

I was talking to Stephanie about how I think I’m ready now to get a dog, and she quoted something from a movie about these recovering addicts who were asking their counselor when they could start dating again, and the guy said, “First, get a small plant. If you can take care of the plant for 6 months and it doesn’t die, get a small animal. And if you can take good care of that small animal for 6 months, and you’re plant’s still alive and in good shape, then you’re ready to date.”

Provided, of course, that you don’t live in Ohio.

And you know, I have a lot of living plants, many of which I brought from Chicago, and I’m taking care of myself again, and soon I’ll start looking for just the right dog. But here’s the thing, I think.

I was in a relationship when I got sick. Bounced into another one immediately after that, then stumbled into another immediately after that. No breaks. No “just me.” It was a crazy, wild time after taking six years off from dating all together. Suddenly there was all this dating, and then craziness, sickness, all rolled into one.

There hasn’t been a lot of “let’s just think about the future that has just me and my chronic illness in it.” I haven’t spent a lot of time on that future, really. I don’t know what it will look like. I still don’t know what I can do. I’m still struggling to understand a lot of the secondary shit that comes with being a t1 diabetic. I have nightmares now about my eyes bleeding. I wake up some mornings terrified because there seems to be poor circulation in my leg, and does this mean it’s going to be chopped off? And afternoon exercise often terrifies me to the point of inaction. I hate having low sugar. I hate that it makes me weepy and full of self-hatred.

When there’s something rotten inside of you, you tend to bash at things on the exterior, things you can actually see. It didn’t help that I dated somebody who bashed me about how I looked, too, and used it as one of the lame reasons we should break up, and when I’m weepy and full of self-hatred, it all comes rushing back, and I want to claw myself apart. I’m too fat, I’m too tall, I’m too ugly, I’m ill-shaped. I hate myself in all the ways I’ve taught myself not to hate myself. And then I hate myself for hating myself.

What I want, instead, are long, warm summer nights. Line edits. Book contracts. Projects. Leisurely bike rides. I want to just not think. I want to stop thinking all together. And for me, that generally involves socializing very little with strangers for a good long while, so I don’t look for the measure of my worth in their eyes, thinking they’re a mirror, making me up, reflecting me back.

I don’t look strangers in the eye very often. People think it’s rude. But I do it because I’m afraid of what I’ll see. I’m afraid I’ll see how they look at me, I’ll see myself, reflected back, and I’m terrified I won’t like what I see.

I don’t know, sometimes, what’s rotten inside of me, what it is that I hate so much. I try so hard to be good, to be better. And the default, it seems to me, is just so rotten. I want to tear it out.

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