Self-Image, Part 3
At this point, dear reader, I wouldn’t fault you for deciding to check out. You’ve likely garnered enough information about my life, as retrospectively viewed through the lens of REBT, to where you can reasonably conclude that my self-image issues could have been resolved much sooner than they eventually were.
If you choose to dip out right now, I thank you for making it this far. For the rest of you who have decided to stay, I applaud your determination to learn from my mistakes so that you hopefully may improve the quality of your life in association with the lessons discussed herein.
Earlier, I alluded to how Jo-Jo and other members of the football team teased one another about penis length, girth, and, shape. Apparently, literal dick measuring contests weren’t reserved solely for all-male locker rooms.
On a number of occasions, I’ve been asked by prospective female dating companions, “So, are you black down there?” in regards to inquiry about whether or not my biracial genetics resulted in a large penis size. When dating in high school, I was surprised to learn how many size queens actually existed.
Both in my youth and adulthood, I’ve had females package check me—physically grabbing genitals to ascertain size. Unaware of the B-C connection, I didn’t know what circle of Dante’s Inferno applied to females who would reject a male based on his unit size, as I thought their Actions led to my Consequences:
(A) – In high school, a girl stated, “I only like boys who are packin’.” (B) – I believed, “She must accept me as I am! After all, I have more to offer than what’s between my legs, so she should consider more than just my dick size.” (C) – Because of my baseless belief, I self-disturbed into a gloomy disposition and developed a self-image issue related to penis size.
Not once in my entire life has someone calling me fat or ugly, or berating me for the size of my penis, ever led to a Consequence. Rather, each and every time I experienced discomfort in this regard it has been the direct result of what I Believed about the Action.
Applying this retrospective understanding, when the mother of a girl I dated ended our relationship, out of fear that we would one day have “nigger babies,” the insecurity about my racial identity (Consequence) wasn’t caused by the comment (Action). My Belief caused the reaction.
By that point, I had become proficient with the use of distraction techniques as a means of coping with discomfort associated with my beliefs. I found that humor was an effective way to deflect attention from one aspect of myself to something I considered easier to tolerate.
Some people consider use of humor to be an adaptive ego defense mechanism by allowing others to perceive the comical absurdity of challenging situations through use of humor to defend against painful material or to distract from discomfort. Apparently, I used this tool enough for one person to have written about it in my yearbook:
For instance, when people would joke about residual acne scarring, instead of enduring discomfort associated with my belief about the jeering I would avert attention to something less impactful, like my hair. Without the use of a lot of hair product, my naturally curly hair could fluff up into a fro.
I could tolerate jokes about my hair, because it was linked to the ethnic identity regarding the hip hop subculture with which I was more closely aligned. Briefly, I tried the activistic tactic of re-appropriation—reclaiming terms previously used in a disparaging way.
I called myself “Scarface”—a name popularized by the 1983 film of the same name and concerning lyricist Scarface—though this ploy didn’t work in my favor. I drew more attention by validating the term of belittlement than by using humorous distraction.
I was eventually kicked out of the home from the family who maintained legal guardianship of me, because of suspected sexual activity with my girlfriend, who I’ll call “Chipmunk,” as the mother of the family with whom I lived repeatedly yelled “stud” at me when being banished from her home.
I was conflicted about the event, because “stud” was a compliment and not an insult. Within the same week, Chipmunk broke up with me. She explained that she wasn’t as attracted to me as I was to her and she believed she had better options elsewhere.
I returned to the children’s home to live with my sister and her husband who were then serving as house parents. There, I became even more interested in bodybuilding and I loyally read MuscleMag and Flex to gain knowledge.
Many years later, in grad school, most of the literature I encountered in regards to body dysmorphic disorder centered on females. However, when I began exploring the sport of bodybuilding I realized how hyper-fixated on their bodies many men apparently were.
The common nutritional standard for competitors at the time was to eat like a king in the morning, prince in the afternoon, and pauper in the evening. Starvation in order to make weight for competitive shows was also an essential component of what I learned.
Additionally, I was given leftover “total bodybuilding system” supplements from my brother-in-law. Using isometric and plyometric exercises, I was able to attain mild success with my physique.
Mainly, my two-hour walk from the children’s home to school—with a total of four hours walking on days I couldn’t secure a ride—kept me in shape. Though I could’ve transferred to a high school only minutes away, I was a stubborn individual.
The term “aging out” refers to when a youth leaves a formal system of care designed to provide services below a certain age level, as I was aged out upon graduating high school. I then briefly moved back to Aurora.
There, I experienced major depressive disorder (MDD) symptoms which reverberated throughout my life since I was in third grade. Though I was significantly less fat, my acne and ingrown hairs were mostly controlled, and I managed to graduate, my self-image was severely impaired.
My situation reached a crisis level—when most resources and coping strategies have expired and a person’s psychological condition deteriorates to the point whereby risk of harm and/or the ability to care for oneself results. Those were unhealthy times, as more self-termination thoughts arose.
Would it surprise the reader to know that even then it was my Belief about the Action that caused the Consequence? Here’s how my mind poisoned itself:
(A) – I graduated and didn’t have a clearly defined path ahead of me, as my dad and I frequently engaged in verbal conflict, while I was separated from my usual support network. (B) – I believed, “Life is awful and it mustn’t be this way, because I don’t think I can stand another second of this misery!” (C) – Because of my rigid and unhealthy belief, I experienced symptoms consistent with MDD and contemplated self-deletion as a viable option.
Changing my physical appearance through various means never resolved the underlying psychological distress. There was no metaphorical bandage to be applied to the sunken chest wound from which I hemorrhaged unhealthy and unhelpful beliefs.
Unaware of the true cause of my pain and suffering, I concluded that it was my environment that caused my condition. At that, I moved back to Amarillo, joined the delayed entry program for the United States Marine Corps (USMC), and began training for boot camp.
Having been required to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) in high school, I rebelled by intentionally marking a single string of letters all the way down the answer sheet. Therefore, I was required to retake it when enlisting into the Corps.
Placing greater value on my performance, I achieved better results on the ASVAB the second time. Though the assessment is considered to test an individual’s skills and not intelligence quotient (IQ), the military purportedly uses the general technical (GT) section to infer intelligence.
Though I’d never had my IQ assessed, I scored a 105 on the GT section. I foolishly Believed, “I should’ve scored higher and because I didn’t, I’m stupid.” This unhelpful belief led to the Consequence of sorrow, disappointment, and frustration.
Nonetheless, I would rather have faced the possibility of eventual armed conflict against an enemy combatant than to have faced opposition from the enemy within—my poor self-image. An undesirable GT score was little more than an additional pebble on a proverbial mountain of stones.
Though people have various reasons for joining military service, I can truthfully say that a significant deciding factor for my enlistment related to death as a preferable outcome to life. After all, I wanted the mountain of misery off my chest.
Once in Amarillo, I began running like no previous time in my life. Surprisingly, I began to enjoy it. In competition with other poolees, many who participated in high school sports, I told myself, “I must be as good as, if not better, than them.”
In the Delayed Entry Program, I had approximately six months before shipping off for boot camp and I ran as much as I thought was necessary to outcompete the other guys during that time. I discovered that at a lighter body weight, I wasn’t terrible at running.
Additionally, upon moving back to Amarillo, I began a romantic relationship with a female I’ll call “Alex.” A sucker for love, I thought she was the woman I’d one day marry.
No amount of ridicule or provocation I experienced in Marine basic training compared to abuse I endured in childhood. Moreover, no insult or humiliation tactic used by drill instructors could overshadow the chronic self-disparaging content generated by my own mind.
Besides, I clung tightly to the scented letters Alex sent and I thought about how I would propose to her when graduated boot camp. Her postal mail photos motivated me when I was face down in the dirt, performing pushups until I couldn’t bend my arms afterwards.
Also, running prior to attending boot camp paid off, because I wasn’t designated a “fat body,” as were a number of other recruits. For such trainees, red stripes were marked on their clothes so that chow hall workers would serve reduced rations.
“Fat bodies” were often subjected to extra physical training (e.g., more pushups) and constant body-shaming—the action or practice of mocking or stigmatizing someone by making critical comments about the shape, size, or appearance of their body. This behavior was also used by fellow recruits.
Though a controversial opinion within my field, I think there’s an argument to be made for the utility of shame. As an example, in a military setting, members of a tactical team may need to rely on each team member’s abilities when facing imminent danger events.
In the Corps, when I served on two tactical teams, it was understood that a “fat ass” couldn’t perform physical tasks as well as fit team members. Therefore, shaming those who were nearing the upper edge of weight standards was widely accepted.
Rather than expressing concern for the mental health of an individual, collective members who comprised the teams had goals which overrode the singular member. Consequently, weight standards could mean the difference between success and failure—life or death.
For most of my time as a Marine, my weight hovered between the range of 180 and 190 lbs. Since I enjoyed running in the ‘90s and ‘00s, it was relatively easy to maintain my weight.
During that period, the minimum weight standard for a male of my height (71 inches) was 136 lbs., the maximum was 197 lbs., and the mass body fat percentage was 18 percent. Individual should, must, and ought standards are different from those related to an organization.
For instance, as a civilian, person X could remain wholly overweight and challenge self-disturbing must statements in order to achieve USA. However, in the military, person X is contractually bound to must standards and cannot change the organizational weight restrictions.
An activist may seek to challenge bureaucratic norms so that person X could serve in the military at any desirable weight. While there are positive, negative, and neutral elements relating to this approach, through REBT, I focus on changing oneself and increasing mental flexibility.
Therefore, one may not be able to change the Marine Corps, though can change oneself. Approximately three days from graduating boot camp, I received a Dear John letter from Alex—a letter written to a man by his romantic partner, informing him that the relationship is over.
Such letters are generally due to the partner having found another lover. Alex’s letter served as an Action with which my Belief was used to generate self-disturbing Consequences.
Nonetheless, my ability to endure the psychological rigors of boot camp led to resilience with Marine combat training and a military police (MP) course, as well. Regarding the latter, my acne and ingrown hair flare-ups resurfaced when training in Fort McClellan, Alabama, due to hazardous material contamination.
At that point, I’d been used to outbreaks during adolescence. Instead of rigidity, I adapted a flexible mindset and used a Stoic approach regarding the appearance of my skin, telling myself, “It is what it is.”
While in Okinawa, Japan, I maintained a relatively low body weight. Considered a “rabbit,” a particularly fast runner, I was able to achieve an 18-minute three-mile run for a physical fitness test (PFT) during which I got lost while running and still managed to achieve a “perfect” run time.
Similar to the cognitive dissonance I experienced when people like Spice complimented me, it was uncomfortable for me to receive praise from fellow Marines. Contrarily, contempt was more familiar to me.
Also, as was the case when living in the children’s home, it eventually became difficult to find a roommate who could tolerate my snoring. While this granted me the privilege of not having to share a room for a period of time, I was mocked by some fellow MPs for their ability to hear me snore several rooms away from my quarters.
Though I was celebrated for being a rabbit, because in relative terms I was physically fit, I was psychologically unwell. Years of traumatic event exposure, poor lifelong self-image, and an inability to adjust well in social settings all contributed to an ABC Model chain, as follows:
(A) – I masked MDD symptoms with a thin veneer of military competence, though I was unable to establish purpose and meaning or maintain substantially healthy relationships. (B) – I believed, “I shouldn’t be this broken and because I am, and even though I’ve undergone the change of becoming a Marine, I’ll likely never be good enough for anyone or anything.” (C) – Because of my catastrophizing belief, I experienced aggravation of MDD symptoms which coincided with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms—most of which I remained ignorant.
If you’re keeping score, dear reader, I’ve highlighted ADHD, MDD, and PTSD herein. Let’s add another acronym to the mix.
Throughout my USMC training experience, during violent apprehensions while conducting duties as an MP, and concerning a motor vehicle accident in Okinawa, I’ve been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI)—having sustained multiple concussive events.
As though it weren’t significant enough for my mom to have once caricatured someone who behaved as though he had “br-br-br-brain damage,” as she taunted, I’ve literally sustained damage to my brain. This, too, serves as an Action that doesn’t create a Consequence.
Somewhat humorously, when visiting a military physician for an injury to my arm, a doctor entered the patient room and immediately cast his attention to my forehead. He repeatedly pressed my brow until eventually asking, “What happened here? How did you injure your forehead?”
Not only was I nicknamed “Coaky” as a child, the size of my brow ridge baffled the physician. I’ve been said to have a “caveman,” “Neanderthal,” and “Cro-Magnon” head shape. My forehead protrusion wasn’t from a TBI event.
I earned a new self-disturbing belief about myself that day. Another one was collected when playing shirts versus skins—one team wears shirts while the other team goes shirtless—and I was on the skins group.
A female MP on the shirts team saw my hairy torso and immediately yelled, “Yuck!” Both the forehead and body hair situations (Actions) were accompanied by self-damning perceptions (Beliefs).
My ability to camouflage my self-image in Okinawa manifested in behavior I learned as a child. Just as other children supported me by returning to the fitness test field after having completed their runs, I often finished my PFT early and reran the course to support slower runners.
One may interpret my behavior as selfless, though in actuality it was my attempt to convince myself that I wasn’t as much of a POS as previously imagined. Sometimes I was successful at achieving the proof, other times not as much.
Transitioning from an MP to a Marine security guard (MSG) took considerable effort. I almost didn’t qualify for the diplomatic program after a suspicious psychologist expressed his reservations.
Nonetheless, I was accepted for service and when in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, my self-image issues continued. In all my years thus far, I’ve concluded that no matter the change to one’s external environment, it is the internal habitat that can make life inhospitable.
The Marine house in Rio had a personal gym and I used muscle training regimens which I discovered in Men’s Fitness and Muscle & Fitness magazines, as well as dancing through many nights at various clubs. Rather than aiming for a bodybuilder’s aesthetic, I wanted a practical approach to fitness.
In Rio, a whole new self-conscious factor arose. I was shamed by Marines for not assimilating with others who consumed substances of various kinds, as well as enjoying the company of sex workers.
I tasted whine and whiskey when offered it by my dad in childhood, drank a few sips of beer when a boy in elementary school offered it, sampled liquor during one of Tomasz’s parent’s parties, tried a wad of chewing tobacco at a summer camp after third grade, and took a puff of a cigarette in middle school.
Other than that, I’ve remained abstinent from alcohol, tobacco, and other recreational substances accept for caffeine. If one considers processed sugar to be a damaging substance, I also have lifelong overuse of it.
I’ve witnessed a number of family members destroy their lives with substance use, abuse, and dependence. As well, part of my PTSD trauma exposure is related to a parent who frequently abused me when intoxicated.
Throughout high school, when friends and acquaintances imbibed alcohol, snorted cocaine, smoked marijuana, dipped acid, and rolled on ecstasy, I was accepted for refraining from doing so. However, in Rio, I was singled out for my lack of participation in these activities.
The assistant detachment commander (“A/”) told me, “You aren’t trustworthy, because you don’t do what we do, so it’s like you have something on us.” I now realize that this was his iss-YOU (issue), not mine (iss-ME).
At the time, I internalized the matter in the form of an unforgiving Belief that produced unhelpful Consequences:
(A) – The A/ said, “You aren’t trustworthy, because you don’t do what we do, so it’s like you have something on us.” (B) – I believed, “I ought to be accepted even though I don’t drink or solicit piranhas.” (C) – Because of my irrational belief, I became disheartened and began passive-aggressively defying the A/.
I was so petty that I even intentionally dressed different than the other MSGs. If I wasn’t going to fit in due to abstention from substances and sex workers, I didn’t want to fit in otherwise—at least, that’s the nonsense I told myself.
How did my behavior—the result of my self-disturbing belief—serve me? I was transferred from Rio sooner than the allotted time on my orders. Who suffered from the foolish Consequence of my Belief? I did.
Adding insult to self-inflicted injury, the Rio detachment called the Lima, Peru detachment and blackballed me when I was flying to my new place of duty. Who was to blame for the chain of events that led to this outcome? Me.
As was the case in Rio, the Marine house in Lima has a personal gym, though it was almost three times bigger. That’s when I truly focused on what it meant to properly weight train, focusing on concentric and eccentric overload, hypertrophy, and range of motion.
As a form of escapism, and due in large part to other MSGs opting not to use the facility, I spent a significant amount of my free time in that gym. As well, I received a lot of cardiovascular exercise associated with raving.
No matter how well-developed my retrospective photos now look, at the time, I thought I was fat. The toxicity of my self-image led to mental self-castigation about perceived flaws in my physique.
Having only body image-related issues would’ve been an asset to my overall mental health when in Lima. However, with each unaddressed and compounded unhelpful belief about my self-worth, my psychological state gradually decompensated to a concerning degree.
I was returned stateside after serving only half my time in Lima. Similar to Ernest Hemingway’s quote about bankruptcy, my mental health deteriorated “gradually and then suddenly.”
There were periods of increased suicidal ideation at that time. Still, I believed I needed to carry the façade of a sergeant who had his shit together.
As a noncommissioned officer, the USMC used fitness reports to determine value, assess promotion potential, and to appraise performance. Under the “special information” section, these reports used height and weight to estimate the quality of Marines, as I used the rigid guidelines as extrinsic motivation and remained within expected fitness standards.
From leaving the MSG program in March 2001 to entering voluntary appellate leave in July 2003, after multiple administrative and punitive procedures, I experienced the effects of lifelong impoverished self-image. All of my woes were influenced by irrational beliefs.
From an activist perspective, one could make the claim that I was a victim of my circumstances—that because I was dealt an unfair hand in life, I was somehow owed clemency for the Consequence of Action I exhibited. However, I reject this victimhood narrative.
I don’t need benevolent discrimination—supposedly well-intentioned efforts to address discrimination by maintaining group X is inferior and in need of help with an expectation that this group will accommodate into an existing hierarchal order. After all, benevolent discrimination is still discriminatory.
Though it is true that I have led a difficult life, I’m not owed sympathy or automatic amnesty for poor behavioral reactions which originate from my beliefs about my circumstances. In other words, simply because I’ve had a poor self-image doesn’t give me an excuse to behave badly.
This, I understand at present. Regrettably, I learned this lesson much later in life than I hope the reader does. Alas, I use ULA as a method of not self-disturbing and to instead write a book-of-a-blogpost for helping others.
As well, I use UOA as a means of not disturbing myself for having participated in unhealthy eating behavior throughout my life. In MP school, it was common for Marines to engage in eating competitions wherein extra-large (XL) pizzas were consumed by individuals on a time limit.
In social settings, I’ve also participated in personally-unhealthy behavior such as eating massive amounts of ice cream for the rush it gave me. I even participated in an eating contest, competing against myself, when failing to finish a 72-oz. steak and assorted trimmings within an allotted one-hour time limit.
I currently use unconditional acceptance to stave off unnecessary shame. I wish I would’ve know how to practice this method during the many years I suffered the consequences of self-disturbing beliefs. Still, I’m not currently bothered by what I didn’t know then.
After going through difficult times following a legal course of action at my final duty station in San Diego, California, I briefly worked in undercover loss prevention while also keeping my overeating habits masked from others. I gained quite a bit of weight.
When would enough be enough? At what point would I finally realize that no amount of food I tossed down the virtually bottomless chasm of poor self-identity would ever pacify the agony I endured?
At my grandma’s house as a kid, I’d eat two or three plates of food and as many desserts as I could scarf down. On appellate leave, I consumed no less than two full meals per fast food visit while washing down everything with sugary beverages.
Even still, I used flawed reasoning to support my poor choices. I told myself that I needed to be large enough to subdue shoplifters visiting the major retailer at which I worked, so consuming two cheeseburgers, two large fries, two dessert items, and two large beverages was appropriate.
Only, it wasn’t. In reality, I was emotionally eating—consuming products as a way to suppress or soothe unpleasant emotions. These emotions were the Consequence of my self-disturbing Beliefs, such as:
· I’m not good enough.
· I can never recover from failure.
· I’m a POS!
· I’m a loser for having been kicked out of the Marine Corps.
· There’s no path to redemption, because I’ve ruined everything.
· Life hasn’t been fair to me!
· No one could possibly love a fuckup like me.
· I can’t stand living like this!
· I may as well keep behaving like this, because I’m comfortable with discomfort.
Even though I trained as an interrogator when serving as an MP, I didn’t think to examine whether or not the Bullshit I told myself was true or not. Without such investigation, I didn’t engage in the process of disputation—challenging the Bullshit associated with Actions I encountered that led to resulting Consequences.
Still struggling with a nonsense-influenced self-image, I moved back to Amarillo and began working in nuclear security. Noteworthy, I once again had purse and meaning—an actual reason to maintain my physical fitness.
Though continuing to experience MDD symptoms, I didn’t further agitate my condition with a self-disturbing attitude. There was a cause outside of me that was greater than my capacity to quit on myself and I used it for motivation.
Rather than using unhealthy weight loss techniques, I began running once again. No longer a rabbit; the physical activity was effective enough for the gradual shedding of body fat.
Since having first appreciated the process of running as a poolee, I’ve found that when I enjoy physical fitness I’m more likely to continue it. This may seem obvious to you, dear reader, though it was an enlightening realization for me.
I joined a running club with coworkers and I actually began to like how I looked. On and off since high school, this has been the case.
I’ll go for a period of time using healthy behavior to achieve and maintain an appropriate level of fitness. Then, during events I refer to a “falling down the proverbial stairs,” I completely self-sabotage my success.
I used to shame myself by asking why I would do such a thing. Over the years, I’ve learned that the what is more important than the why. I know what I’m doing when gorging on unhealthy items so it matters little to me about why I do it.
To illustrate this point, suppose you were walking through a public park and suddenly a mature-aged tiger pops out from behind a bush that is approximately 200 meters from you. The large cat has fixed its eyes on you and is beginning to run in your direction.
What do you imagine will be the first thought entering your mind? Do you think, “Why is this tiger in the park and now running towards me?” If so, what a wonderful meal you’ll make for the animal!
Though this is a hypothetical scenario, I presume you’ll instead think about what you can do about the danger you face. “What can I do to save myself?” is what my mind considers.
In this way, I don’t dwell on the why when falling down the proverbial stairs. I know what unhealthy behavior I use and how dangerous it is to my psychological and physiological health.
With the latter understanding, I can then take appropriate action. During my time working in the field of nuclear security, I faced one of the most significantly distressing periods of my life after a relatively lengthy romantic relationship dissolved.
I suspected the what was just ahead, as I could envision seeking eventual extinction through unhealthy binging. I could’ve crept to the edge of the staircase or run full speed at it. Instead of using a limiting binary option, I chose to go in the opposite direction.
I credit my stepmother with having saved my life when I experienced the most unpleasant breakup during adulthood. I’m not speaking hyperbolically, as she literally kept me alive through her unwavering support.
It was my stepmother, using tough love though with rational compassion, who brought me out of the abyss of situational depression. Though I’d had MDD episodes prior to that, divorce took my self-disturbing narratives for a wild and toxic ride.
As the reader may understand at this point in the blogpost, the rupture of my marital bond was merely the Action and it didn’t cause the Consequence of misery. Rather, it was what I Believed about the event led to the Consequence.
Ignorant of that fact, and with the emotional support of the single most influential person in my life (stepmom), I eventually transformed the momentum of chaos into a healthy direction that was influenced by routine, discipline, and motivation.
I won’t lie herein. It was an incredibly difficult process. My stepmom encouraged me to seek a college degree, use structure to shape my behavior, and stop pitying myself.
During each phone call, she would say, “This, too, shall pass.” My takeaway lesson was that time would inevitably elapse regardless of what I did in the meantime. I could stay stuck on my couch for weeks, seek vengeance, or get the fuck up and get to working on myself.
I chose the latter. Enrolling in an undergraduate program and using my experience as an MP, I began studying criminal justice administration.
Simultaneously, I worked fulltime at the nuclear weapons facility. Additionally, I made friends with a local bodybuilder and focused my efforts towards sculpting my body.
He introduced me to a woman who mainly dated bodybuilders and she taught me healthy and unhealthy methods for achieving a desired physique. With her counsel, I focused on “natty” means.
Two of my then-buddies were kicked out of the Corps for steroid-related crimes. While I have no problem with others using performance-enhancing drugs, I chose not to use them.
Though I experimented with creatine, protein, legal stimulants, and non-anabolic testosterone boosters, I wanted to see how far I could take my body through mostly natural means. This challenge was the effect of motivation—the antithesis of despair from my divorce.
Still, it’s worth noting that caffeine has a calming effect on my system and so stimulant use was a challenge. As it was legal at the time, I used ephedra products that contained 300 milligrams (mg) of caffeine and 20 mg of ephedra per pill.
Because my system rapidly processes stimulants and the effects wear off relatively quickly, I’d pop two of the pills. With 600 mg of caffeine and 40 mg of ephedra in my system, it was like I could feel my hair growing and teeth vibrating from the inside. I was high!
I’d tear through workouts like a wild animal and enjoy the soothing experience of my body’s counterbalance to the stimulants following workouts. To the skeptical reader who wonders about how healthy my behavior was, I don’t think there was much about those stimulants that was healthy for the average person.
I was that dipshit in the gym who had a permanent scowl and who would yell at the weights, saying things like, “That all you got, baby!?” It currently takes UOA and ULA to admit this.
Additionally, I balanced my carbohydrate intake with increased levels of protein, conducted cardiovascular training with allotted physical fitness breaks at work, performed weight training at the gym in the evening, and got as much sleep as my shift work allowed. My efforts paid off.
For the above photo, I shaved my body, posed, and captured the image of my sculpted body. As well, it’s obviously filtered. One may think I was satisfied with the results, though one would be mistaken.
I sculpted my exterior though little work was done on my interior. The “I” that represents one’s conscious perception of the self, others, and the world as a whole wasn’t captured in the photo.
Rather, I saw myself as I was in 2004, when relatively new to voluntary appellate leave. The “I” that gnawed at my perspective was depicted in the following photo:
Accepting compliments took some getting used to. Surprisingly, I found that the majority of praise I received was from other men and that a number of women told me they weren’t attracted to men who were “too fit.”
Still, there were other women who groped me, like Spice once had, as though they were checking the freshness of baked bread using a squeezing technique. I recall overly aggressive women feeling me up, asking for me to remove my shirt, and treating me as little more than an object.
I didn’t value that sort of attention, as I don’t care for sexually aggressive females. Nonetheless, I reasoned that my discomfort related to the experience was because I’d not received that much recognition since high school and perhaps something was wrong with me for my apprehensiveness.
It was at that stage in my life that I discovered I was extrinsically motivated. Making changes to improve my life for others (e.g., my stepmom) inspired me.
Conversely, if I sought to alter my experience for no one other than myself, I’d give up on my objective most of the time. Nonetheless, the attention I received was thought to make me uncomfortable.
A paradox may be defined as a proposition that, despite the perception of sound reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems self-contradictory. My self-image was unhealthy and so I sought to alter it, which paradoxically resulted in an unhealthy self-image.
I was motivated by attention and when I got it I didn’t like the experience. If only I’d known of the B-C connection back then, I likely could have changed my internal and external outcomes in a more meaningful way. To this, I now use ULA, because I can’t alter the past.
I continued my pursuit of physical fitness and steadily picked apart my results. Whereas a person may have been pleased to achieve six-pack abs, I instead criticized the flat appearance of my chest, boney protrusions from broken clavicles at birth, and underdeveloped deltoids.
It was my Belief system that was unhealthy. I maintained a recorded body composition by skinfold rather than electronic tally, as follows: Weight: 189 lbs.; lean weight 176.6 lbs.; fat weight 12.3 lbs.; and 6.6 percent fat.
I told myself, “I’m not good enough and don’t think I ever will be.” The Consequence of my Belief was that I was uncomfortable in my own skin, annoyed by attention from men, bitter with grabby women, and fearful that I’d never accept myself.
I received workout advice from a separate coworker who used to compete in bodybuilding shows and who had his bowel movements precisely scheduled. Yet another coworker who actively competed at that time, and who maintained 4 percent body fat year-round, also advised me.
I admired the discipline of those who controlled their bodies to an extreme degree. Still, practices within populations with such rigidity weren’t healthy for me. The more I improved and received feedback, further to the extreme my behavior was pushed. This was an iss-ME.
A friend with whom I served in Rio saw my shirtless photos and expressed surprise, because even when swimming in our pool at the Marine house, I’d always worn a shirt. He asked for a copy of my workout regimen and I decided not to send it, because I knew it was an unhealthy lifestyle.
Also, I briefly reconnected with Chipmunk during my topless photo phase and she said, “It must feel good now that I want you, but back then I didn’t.” I felt hollow inside, not grateful.
Feedback from those who once knew me only created additional Actions with more detrimental Beliefs which led to further unhealthy Consequences. If left uninterrupted, this form of layered unhelpful beliefs can take a toll on a person.
To cope with cognitive dissonance related to my paradox, I fell down the proverbial staircase of binge eating. To offset the effects of this behavior, I used unhealthy periods of fasting and overexertion through physical training.
It wasn’t uncommon for me to attend a 14-hour shift at my security job while consuming two foot-long submarine sandwiches, two bags of chips, a one lb. bag of assorted chocolates, and several energy drinks to wash it all down. Aware of how unhealthy this was, I hid my behavior from fellow security personnel.
In 2008, I began experiencing a number of medical issues. Under the advisement of my physician to stop supplementation and heavy lifting, and when beginning use of psychopharmacological treatment, I fell down the proverbial staircase and hit every step as hard as possible.
Black and white thinking is the tendency to view things in extremes and absolutes. A fitting example of this is in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, when character Ricky Bobby states, “If you ain’t first, you’re last,” having learned the axiom from his dad in childhood.
I was raised under similar precepts. For example, “You’re either a sinner or you aren’t,” I was taught. In the USMC, I was told, “You’re either a winner or a loser.”
These simplistic dictums resonated with me, because I didn’t think critically about such messages. Therefore, I used a similar attitude when being advised to drastically scale back my physical fitness regimen.
I told myself, “I’m either in this 100 percent or I’m not.” There was no balance. There was no alternative strategy. Per doctor’s orders, I couldn’t commit myself 100 percent. Therefore, I irrationally concluded, “I should give up on physical fitness.”
Two major routine shifts occurred at that time—1) I stopped working out altogether and 2) I began psychiatric medication (psych meds). Confounding these variables even more was that I ramped up binge eating, slept less, and stopped working while instead focusing full-time on education.
In 2008, I sought mental health treatment from a national veteran’s agency. Meeting with a social worker, the female expressed dismay with what I reported. Improperly using an A-C connection, I determined that I’d never again seek counseling from the agency.
I didn’t know of the B-C connection. I instead interpreted the social worker’s statement of shame as some ethereal meaning related to learning how to treat my own problems.
I reasoned that instead of taking my metaphorical car to a mechanic, I’d learn to become my own repairman. As such, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in 2009, and began graduate studies in a counseling program so that I could fix my own mental and emotional vehicle.
There, I learned of REBT. Studying the psychotherapeutic technique and actually practicing it are two separate matters. In essence, I learned how to replace a metaphorical transmission though I didn’t bother to use what I learned.
In a relatively short period of time, I became heavier than I’d ever been up until that point. To accommodate my unhealthy behavior, I purchased oversized clothing to hide my weight.
I invite the reader to consider my hypocrisy for a moment. In 2011, after graduating with a master’s degree in counseling and assuming the role of a qualified mental health professional, an Amarillo news station interviewed me in regards to ways to reduce holiday stress.
Using the now-popular itemized approach to improved mental health, I advocated the 3 P’s—planning, perspective, and patience. I stated of these measures, “Changing the way that you think which, in turn, will change the way that you behave.”
How many of those 3 P’s did I use in my life at the time? I was in the 250-lb. range. I didn’t plan to fall down the proverbial staircase, I lacked perspective as I tumbled downward, and patience with myself was nonexistent.
Yet, there I was on television telling locals how to be healthy. In the interview, I added, “People put unrealistic goals on themselves,” as my black and white thinking at the time certainly was an example of such ambition.
Dear reader, there were times during my lunch period in the field of mental health work that I rushed to fast food establishments and binged on meals for three people. My level of frustration tolerance was so low that I performed clichéd “eating my emotions” behavior.
Under the care of a different physician, I bitched, whined, moaned, and complained about my weight. My military veteran doctor used a no-nonsense approach to treatment and, all these years later, I’m grateful she didn’t sugarcoat her guidance:
I was obese. However, it wasn’t the weight with which I was frustrated. So, dear reader—and presuming you’ve been paying attention—what led to my Consequence of frustration?
(A) – I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t like my appearance, as I gained a significant amount of weight when no longer working out, beginning psych meds, eating in excess, lacking adequate sleep, and focusing on school. (B) – I believed, “I mustn’t look this way, and it’s the medication that is to blame. Fuck the pharmaceutical companies! ” (C) – Because of my irrational and inflexible beliefs, I experienced anger and frustration, as I whined to my physician.
My provider told me the truth during that session and I had an opportunity to heed her advisement. Her reference to me “not eating right” was grossly understated.
By that point, I was consuming no less than three meals per fast food visit. For instance, I’d order something like a triple cheeseburger, double cheeseburger, foot-long chili cheese dog, two large fries, one large onion ring order, two milkshakes, and a soft drink per visit.
For store-bought binging, I’d buy a regular large frozen pizza, a large thin crust pizza, an order of jalapeno poppers, three pints of ice cream, two energy drinks, and a soft drink. With either order, I’d inhale the food as quickly as possible and then ride the food high like I had at my grandma’s home when younger.
Also, I hid my behavior from the women I dated. Sleepovers were particularly challenging, because carrying that much excess fat on my body impacted intimacy.
Average penis size was the issue in high school and inability to maintain an erection due to poor circulation was a problem as an adult. My heart simply couldn’t circulate enough blood through my obese frame to sustain erections.
Additionally, my snoring intensified and this was taxing on romantic relationships. My self-disturbing Belief was that even in my unconscious state I was repulsive. The Consequence was impaired social functioning.
Instead of taking personal ownership and listening to my physician, I continued down the proverbial staircase. When would the madness stop? In 2012, I began graduate studies for social work.
My binge eating behavior ramped up even higher, as I was consuming four meals per fast food visit. As well, for store-purchased meals, I would eat no less than four pints of ice cream with two large frozen pizzas, a side item, and many energy drinks or canned coffees.
Make no mistake about it; I was high in anticipation of getting what I thought I wanted. If dopamine is released in anticipation of a pleasurable experience—not when a person receives the reward—I was high when seeking a massive influx of calories.
My stepmom is the person who taught me the concept of chasing the dragon—a reference relating to a person’s drug of choice being represented by a “dragon” and chasing it in regards to pursuit of pleasure associated with the initial stages of use or abuse. Her dragon reportedly once was heroin.
Before expanding upon this concept, it’s important to first understand what addition is. I hear people claiming to be “addicted” to a great number of things.
Someone may say, “I’m addicted to my phone,” though the individual may not experience withdrawal symptoms when separated from the device. As well, there may not be any significant social or occupational impairment related to use of the item.
Absurdly, I’ve heard people claim things like, “You can’t be addicted to food, because you need food to survive.” Simply because feeding is a necessity doesn’t mean the behavior one expresses, chemical reaction within the body, and habitual abuse associated with food cannot equate to an addiction.
It may be helpful to define terms. What is addiction?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences. It is considered a brain disorder, because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control.
Expanding upon this information, the American Psychological Association states:
Addiction is a state of psychological or physical dependence (or both) on the use of alcohol or other drugs. The term is often used as an equivalent term for substance dependence and sometimes applied to behavioral disorders, such as sexual, internet, and gambling addictions.
Adding to this standard, one source reports:
Food addiction has not yet been recognised in the DSM; however, the similarities between some feeding and eating disorders and substance-use disorders (SUDs) have been acknowledged. These similarities include the experience of cravings, reduced control over intake, increased impulsivity and altered reward-sensitivity.
Lastly, it is worth noting, as one source highlights:
Although the diagnosis of Food Addiction (FA) is not formally recognized, some studies showed that DSM-5 criteria for substance use disorder (SUD) might be transferable to FA.
Addressing the matter of whether or not food addiction is a legitimate condition, the literature on this topic varies. When dealing with complex systems, such as humans, simple solutions are unlikely to exist.
Personally, I consider an unhealthy relationship with food—that is, one’s unhelpful behavior that impacts social and occupational functioning—to be feasible problem. Other mental health practitioners are welcome to disagree.
When assessing clients for addiction-related behavior, I draw a distinction regarding use (i.e., consumption with an ability to stop and with little impairment), abuse (i.e., consumption with difficulty stopping and with significant impairment), and dependence (i.e., consumption with inability to stop and with significant impairment).
This begs the question as it pertains to the current post. Do I have a food addiction? I don’t have a diagnosed food-related condition. On the other hand, I maintain an abuse-related relationship with food, as it relates to binge eating and anorexia nervosa.
The next rational question is also worth addressing. Am I addicted to food? Aside from the necessity to sustain life, I experience highs in anticipation of overeating, lows immediately afterwards, and difficulty to control my behavior when willfully not engaging healthier strategies.
Though some models of addiction treatment require people to confess their powerlessness over addiction behavior, I’m uncertain about those approaches. What I can say of my own experience is that I generally give up on my resistance—and admit this is an iss-ME (my problem).
Aside from the acknowledged sampling of substances in my youth, I’ve opted not to use alcohol or drugs. One of my parents abused me on a near-daily basis when drunk and I observed the impact substances had on other family members to the degree by which I refuse that sort of addiction.
Nonetheless, I’m not better than these people, because I have unhealthy behavior when it comes to food. My drug of choice, as it were, is food. As such, my self-image is significantly impacted by my unhealthy behavior.
After each high I experienced from binge eating, I’d experience an inevitable low. After all, the body is in a state of continual homeostasis—seeking to attain equilibrium—and what goes up will come down, for the most part.
Still, I’d chase the dragon with full knowledge of my inability to catch it. It was a thrill to order a large quantity of food, a struggle to force it all down, and a fall to oblivion when descending to the depths of my lonesome suffering.
All the same, I’d chase the dragon again and again and again. There reached a point at which I even stopped lying to myself about what I was doing, as I’d order food for four adults—knowing I’d fall down the proverbial stairs for weeks or months thereafter; only getting up to again chase the dragon.
Additionally, there are times in my history when I avoided leaving my home, because I thought fast food marketing was “triggering” to me. Lying to myself, I thought I was a victim to the A-C connection.
I reasoned that beCAUSE I saw fast food signs (A), I wound up being “triggered” to cheat (C). However, the reality was that my underlying belief led to binge eating or seclusion.
I reinforced avoidance behavior each time I remained within my home for weeks at a time. I believed I was compelled to eat in an unhealthy way, so I should stay at home. Otherwise, I believed I must gorge on food.
Suppose I’d taken a different approach and reinforced my commitment not to allow cravings to drive my behavior. The more I would be able to demonstrate to myself that no fast food sign had power over me, the more likely I would be at shaping my behavior.
No sign ever controlled me. Rather, I justified my unhealthy behavior with the notion that I was helpless. Even through use of flawed reasoning, I used Bullshit to drive the Consequences I experienced.
Typically, I’d JUSTify my behavior by using “just” reasoning. I’d say to myself, “I’ll just order four large coffees with only two shots of espresso for two of the beverages, instead of double shots for all drinks, so that’s not bad.”
The spike of sugar would get me high for 30 to 45 minutes, followed thereafter by a calming effect from the caffeine. Who knows how such unhealthy behavior impacted my heart?
Moreover, there was a point at which hair on both legs—just below my calves—stopped growing. I likely sustained vein or artery damage from binging behavior.
Using unhelpful justification, I became well-acquainted with food delivery personnel and drive-thru staff at various eateries within my area. It wasn’t uncommon to be asked, “So, are y’all having a party with all this food, or what?” even though I was the only person present.
I’d lie, pay, and include a tip while shamefully maintaining rigid beliefs as I ate alone. Having recently watched The Whale, I was alarmed to witness how I could’ve wound up looking, had I not been conducting some form of physical exercise during periods of unhealthy binging.
Rather than whining about an actor’s portrayal of a fat person, because he wore a fat suit, I was grateful to witness the film knowing one less person in this world endured the ill effects of obesity—as the actor didn’t have to become the character. Of course, this isn’t how some people view the situation.
Some activists seek to force their beliefs upon others, complaining of fat suits while propping up scantily clad celebrities with obese proportions. They, irrationally demand that members of the public agree with the proposal of these people representing beauty. I’ll pass.
At no point during my heaviest weight would I demand that anyone tell me I was physically attractive. Though some people may fetishize obesity, and I have no problem with those who do, I’m unwilling to engage in acquiescence to temper tantrums for superficial validation.
Perhaps you think person X prancing around in lingerie is “beautiful.” Your thoughts ain’t my thoughts, so I don’t have to agree with your inner narrative. Personally, obesity isn’t something to which I’m attracted.
At any rate, in 2013, I entered into a relationship with a fellow social work student whom I’ll call “Marisela.” Extrinsically motivated, though still hiding my binging behavior from her, Marisela served as my motivation to lose weight.
As well, I hid other elements of my being. By that time, only a couple handfuls of people had ever seen my stuck together toes.
Most of the females I’ve dated remain unaware of this condition, because I hid this abnormal feature from them, as well. In 2014, while living together and reasoning that we may one day marry, I decided to inform Marisela of my toe situation.
Per Marisela’s request, I showed her my left foot and she responded by saying, “Eww!” Everything I’d ever imagined that could possibly go wrong when revealing my birth defect occurred that day.
Still, understanding the ABC Model, I realize that Marisela’s response wasn’t what bothered me. Rather, the B-C connection was at play. Here’s how it went:
(A) – The woman I loved, and with whom I was in love, said when I revealed a deformity, “Eww!” (B) – I believed, “This is terrible, because Marisela must accept me as I am!” (C) – Because of my unfounded belief, I became distraught and hid my feet from her throughout the rest of our relationship.
I was the source of my misery, not Marisela. Unfortunately, no matter how profusely she apologized, I didn’t forgive Marisela for violating my inflexible belief. That wasn’t a healthy way for either of us to live.
Had I practiced UOA, I would’ve been honest by telling myself, “Even though I’d like for Marisela to accept me as I am, I never really accepted my malformed toes. Therefore, why hold Marisela accountable for her reaction when not even I have exercised self-acceptance in the first place?”
After all, Marisela began the initial stages of dating when I was at my heaviest—283 lbs. At that time, I wore 3XL t-shirts—which looked like nightgowns—and oversized basketball shorts, because none of my other clothes fit me.
Even at this point in my timeline, I didn’t qualify for incel status. Though I cannot understand why any woman would have found me attractive in the 280-lb. range, I apparently was able to attract women who were relatively more conventionally attractive than me.
As was the case with a number of romantic partners before her, Marisela eventually became aware of my binging behavior. I remember her inquiring about the empty containers of ice cream, coffee cups, frozen pizza boxes, and other items she discovered in the trashcan.
I was concealing the behavior I knew would be considered unacceptable, much like a person addicted to alcohol may hide bottles or cans. Still, it wasn’t as though Marisela was stupid, because my body fat told the story of my behavior.
I was so large that the air cushion of one cross-trainer shoe abruptly deflated. Though I wouldn’t allow photos to be taken of me at that size, Marisela stuck with me while I committed to losing weight through healthy means.
The picture above was when I was between 250 to 260 lbs., quite aware of how heavy I was. I’d become winded when ascending and descending stairs, all of my major joints were in constant pain, and I was remarkably insecure about engaging in sexual intercourse.
In fact, Marisela never saw me with my shirt off. After her reaction to my toes, she also would no longer see me without socks on my feet. Hiding behavior was a clear indicator of how unhealthy I was at the time.
Aside from this, it’s worth noting that Marisela didn’t believe I had ADHD. In fact, she proposed that there was no such thing as ADHD to begin with.
Rather than using UOA in reference to her position, I disturbed myself by believing, “My girlfriend should support me and her denial of my condition represents betrayal.” Using this narrative, I began emotionally distancing myself from her.
In reality, Marisela never needed to believe as I did. Truly, I would’ve considered it a boring relationship had we agreed on everything. Disbelief in my mental health condition wasn’t an erasure of me. Marisela and I simply had a difference of opinion.
Though Marisela and I eventually parted ways, I continued focusing on improvement of my health. Well aware of how easy it would’ve been to simply reengage in anorexic behavior, I remained cautious not to lose weight using unhealthy means.
Although Marilyn Monroe is credited with the now-understood faux quote, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best,” I think of this internet pseudo-wisdom from a different perspective.
Being as large as I was when I met Marisela and decided to pursue a romantic relationship with her, what message was I sending her? Per my view, I was essentially saying, “I think you deserve a 283-lb. man,” someone who was unhealthy.
Is that how little I thought of Marisela or past romantic partners—that they deserved a man who could be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, heart attack, or other health conditions resulting from my eating habits? Must my partners have been subject to “handle me at my worst”?
Giving up on myself is one thing. However, did those women truly deserve to be treated with such little regard? Of course not!
Chipmunk was 110 lbs. when we were a couple in high school and I presented to her what I thought she deserved, which was weighing somewhere in the neighborhood of the 170s. Marisela was around 115 lbs. and I began talking to her at 283 lbs.
Marisela didn’t deserve the unhealthy behavior I offered in the form of an obese partner. On some level within the confines of my mind, I knew this and decided to match what I thought her worth to me was.
After Marisela and I parted ways, I continued to pursue what I thought I deserved. I wasn’t worth obesity. Punishing myself through overeating was unnecessarily harmful and I didn’t need to handle myself at my worst, though I did deserve better treatment.
I found that daily workouts resulted in improved mood and sleep quality, reduced sensitivity to heat (i.e., I sweat less), and afforded an opportunity for purpose (what to do) from which I derived meaning (worth). Also, reducing the frequency and size of cheat meals helped me.
I have little doubt that some people who read this will disturb themselves with a belief about my use of “cheat meals.” What you eat don’t make me shit. Likewise, my behavior doesn’t impact you.
I’ve tried fad diets, weight loss supplements, plant-based approaches to nutrition, and other intervention strategies—most of which provided varying results and proved ineffective for my lifestyle. Besides, these days, talking about nutrition and physical exercise is like discussing politics or religion.
I’m not declaring techniques I’ve employed as healthy or unhealthy for the general public. My use of 48-hour fasts, intermittent fasting at up to 18-hour intervals, and other restrictive methods aren’t practices I recommend to others.
By no means am I an “expert” at anything. I have no quick tips about how the reader may lose weight in a way that is healthy, effective, and lasting. For that, I invite the reader to seek appropriate resources elsewhere.
All the same, I address self-disturbing beliefs which contribute to suffering. This is a more expansive approach than focusing solely on body image.
Consider the example of a female friend of a friend who I met after Marisela. I expressed romantic interest and the woman opted not to consider me, because I wasn’t “rugged enough.”
Rather than allowing my beliefs about that experience to result in suffering, I challenged my unhelpful narratives. In this way, I was able to use USA, UOA, and ULA in order to arrive at a healthier outcome.
Eventually, I dipped below 200 lbs. and a longtime friend, who I’ll call “Cafécita,” expressed romantic interest in me. She remains the last person to whom I was romantically linked.
Cafécita and I discussed the self-image issues each of us experienced. Significantly younger than me, Cafécita ultimately decided not to pursue a romantic relationship.
Among her listed reasons why, Cafécita explained that she couldn’t imagine dating a bald man or someone as hairy as me, she despised beards and was a size queen, and her immigrant family was said not to accept black ancestry. What could I do other than unconditionally accept her decision?
I could have shaved my beard and body, though I wasn’t willing to undergo steps for addressing male pattern baldness. As well, there was nothing I could do about my penis size or DNA.
Rather than disturbing myself about the matter, I finally learned to use USA, UOA, and ULA. Fortunately, it was Marisela who taught me the value of a clean break—establishing a healthy boundary after a breakup, whereby neither party initiates contact for the foreseeable future.
As a wise decision to maintain a healthy self-image, I employed the clean break strategy with Cafécita. Successful at doing this, I managed to avoid self-disturbing into a catastrophic Luv(sic) condition.
Noteworthy, and though I reject group affiliation regarding the same, after Marisela I made the decision to practice voluntary celibacy (volcel) and employ the strategy of men going their own way (MGTOW). It is unknown as to how long I will continue this practice.
This is yet another factor as to why Cafécita and I likely wouldn’t have been successful at maintaining a deeper relationship. This, too, I take into account when shaping healthier beliefs about the situation.
At any rate, by accepting that I am an incredibly flawed human being, I understood that Cafécita was also imperfect. Moreover, life isn’t fair or perfect.
Though I may have wished I could be what Cafécita wanted; I may have desired for her to receive me with open arms; and I may think it would be nice if people didn’t maintain racial prejudice, I placed no conditions on any of these elements.
This is the essence of improved self-image. I accept myself, others, and life without rigid conditions.
I could use inflexible conditions in respect to the size of my head, webbed toes, clavicle protrusions, freckles, fluctuating socioeconomic status, acne, ingrown hairs, chipped teeth, penis size, weight, fingernails, race, hair or lack thereof, masculinity, snoring, body hair, or medical diagnoses.
Still, I’m not perfect, nor have I ever been, and nor will I ever be. No one is.
**References located on Self-Image, Part 4