A year ago, I was living in a home for boys suffering from body dysmorphia.
We could barely make it outside. We cut our nails outside. It became impossible to keep from stealing. Our hands were clumsy and awkward. Terrible words ran through our heads. Our voices left us, changed, even when we didn’t have colds, even if we had nothing to say.
We never had anything to say.
We gossiped. We heard things so well it bothered us. We played with our hair. We masturbated. We masturbated each other. We vegetated. We had stomach pains from anxiety disorders. We played sick to get out of things. We played plenty of basketball, table tennis, and video games.
We talked about girls, sometimes women. We criticized them. We cracked our jokes wide open, like supermarket eggs, all over the panicky heads and bodies of our victims. We were trying to be men: playing around, edging up against the law, getting under your skin, and staying there.
We ate cold cereal in the mornings and hot ready-made meals in the evenings. We drank healthy sodas. We smoked cigarettes. We smoked more cigarettes. We chain-smoked. We stubbed cigarettes out on the bottoms of our feet.
We slept. We mostly slept. Our dreams were harsh and critical.
Worried worms wriggled in the backyard. Daily medications were swallowed.
We stared at ourselves in the mirror. We made pretty faces. We were just looking.
We felt our stomachs. Our beer guts. Our biggest shame. I can’t even.
We were inappropriate and worried about our inappropriate bodies. We felt intense, detached, ugly, and fat. We were undesirable, unlikable, unwanted, and overly sensitive. We called ourselves chubby––chubby, and pathetic––because we were. We wanted perfect bodies in ten minutes, or less. We self-harmed if we didn’t get our way. We self-harmed anyway. We wanted our questions answered immediately.
We were freezing. We froze. We needed to thaw. We never thawed.
We were entertained by the cleverness of criminals. We hoped they would get away with it. We wanted to get away with it, too. We wanted to get away with everything. With life, with living. We would never become bankers, florists, librarians, auto racers, forest rangers, building contractors, sports reporters, feminists, or locksmiths. We didn’t enjoy work. We lacked ethics.
We were freaks. We were not going to grow up.