I Understand Why People Have Never Liked Me
Generally speaking, people have never really liked me.
I realize that sounds like something to say to get reassurance from the reader — “That’s not true! Who wouldn’t like you?” And honestly, not too long ago that would’ve been my motive — I had a desperate need to be told that what I suspected about myself, what I myself had experienced— that the problem had been me all along — wasn’t actually true.
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. “ — Gloria Steinem
My Big Fat Miserable Childhood
I hated everything about being a kid. I was the only child of an unhappy marriage and our miserable little family unit dwelled in small-town Texas.
I was constantly physically uncomfortable — I’ve had hyperhidrosis since birth, which means my hands, feet, face, and armpits sweat uncontrollably, most of the time, regardless of temperature or environment, but it’s exacerbated by heat. In addition to being aggressively bitten by the mosquitoes that swarmed the air year-round, I was always hot, thus always sweaty. My sweat pooled in my open mosquito bites and stung. My body dared me to scratch myself bloody.
And then there was the fact that I didn’t really like being around other kids much. I found them intolerably loud and…physical. They were always screaming and running and kicking and jumping and I found all of that off-putting.
I generally found physical reality and everything about it off-putting.
My preference was to read. If other children had to be involved, I preferred elaborate games of make-believe with strict rules that I enforced. I wanted to teach them yoga. I could tolerate what would now be termed parallel play: “I’ll read over here while you do your thing over there. Quietly, please.” Otherwise, it just wasn’t fun for me.
By first grade, I had dueling obsessions: Little House on the Prairie and the British monarchy.
The smell of the Little House books still lingers in my mind (extra pulpy and resplendent with the aroma of the forest the pages had been). I begged my mom to sew long dresses with matching bonnets for…