Friday, October 12, 2012

Confession Time

This came up  last night on #GunBloggerConspiracy, so I might as well make it official and talk about on my blog:  I have body dysmorphic disorder.

I'm not going to get into the specifics of this, because it's taken me five years just to get to the point where I feel safe enough to mention this online, however vague it may be.

This is the real reason I hide my face and legal name. Yes, I get the added benefits of pen name, such as the ability to talk crap about my family without it blowing back on me, and the fact that those of you inclined to develop crushes on my can imagine me as your perfect fantasy without harsh photographic reality getting in the way.

But the brutal truth of the matter is that I think I am hideous, and am scared beyond reasonable measure that people will look at me and vomit. Or point and laugh. Or become enraged and want to hurt me.

This doesn't so much hurt me in daily life, because I couldn't give a shit what random people think -- mostly because I have a low opinion of people to begin with. But it's terrible when it comes to forming relationships, because it's the opinions of people who I like and respect that matter. It's like fear of rejection, only ramped up to a million.

In other words, I like persons but hate people. Conversely, the opinions of people don't bother me, but the opinions of persons do.

So normally this is something I can deal with on a regular basis, because I am effectively a shut-in hermit without any real-life friends. But then I read about the awesome hijinks that occurred at this year's Blogorado, and I ache. A deep, throbbing pain in the heart and the gut, like I'd been sucker-punched and dumped at the same time.

I desperately want to meet people who think I awesome, but at the same time the though of it is pants-shittingly terrifying. I am trapped between a need to protect myself and the need for human contact.

Before you ask: No, I'm not in therapy. I have no health insurance. We can't afford it, but neither is my family poor enough to be on assistance that I can get it for free. And frankly, given my family's attitudes about psychology and perceived weakness, I would quite honestly rather die than open myself up to the verbal abuse that would result if I admitted to them that I have this condition.

So I'm stuck. And that's why I am a writer:  I can create worlds where I am welcomed and not judged. I live inside my head because living inside my body is too painful. I want to be loved, but I am afraid of rejection, so I put on this mask to hide my face in the hopes that you come to love my anonymous heart and mind and soul.

I need help, but I can't bear to be looked at.


  1. I don't *think* you're awesome. I know it. 

  2. I feel badly for you. Good luck dealing with all the advice you're about to get. I got nothing.

  3. For what it's worth - very few of the bloggers are anything like I pictured them. Except Jay. He's just ... well, he's Jay. We're all normal people, with our own sets of peccadilloes and problems. Very few of us have model-hot significant others. Very few of us are hot, period. But I don't hang out with these people for their bodies; not by a long shot.

    I hang out with the gunbloggers (IRL and IRC) because they are people who accept me for who I am, tolerate my idiosyncrasies, let me be myself without painful criticism, and share many of the same interests. We're fat, skinny, curvy, bony, tall, short, hairy, smooth (especially Kelly), blue collar, white collar, dirty nails, manicures, and on the whole some pretty goddamn smart people.

    I can honestly say that the gunbloggers, on the whole, are the people I trust most with my life's ups and downs. When things are really going sideways in my life, I jump in channel, or email one of us.

    I can't "fix" your problems; that's on you. But I (and many others) will happily listen and offer advice if it's wanted. And we still love Erin Palette for who she is to us, as presented - a heart, a mind, and a person of passions. Not a simple body, with or without issues.

  4.  Zercool is 100% right...tho I DO hang out with him for his body!

    You are indeed a pretty-pretty princess, and don't let anybody else tell you otherwise!

  5. Erin, hugs!! I am with Zercool. I know people have made fun of me and whatnot, but the truth is the gun blogging community is one of the kindest most accepting I have ever been a part of. My Open Letter came across to some people as I didn't fit in other places, for me not true. I always fit in, but it wasn't until I came here did I realize how much of myself I had compromised to do so. I thought the old AGirl was me. She was but this place and these people have accepted me as Inhave grown and changed. I can't say that about others.

  6. And the other thing I forgot to mention: if you are happiest with a nom de plume and online persona and I never know who you really are and what you look like, that's fine too. There are people in channel that I don't know beyond a name on the screen; that's their choice. None of us will ever pressure you to tell more than you want to (and if they do, we're sic'ing Sal on them!), at whatever pace you want. It's all good.

  7. My IPad froze up...

    I have admired your outspokenness and writing for a long time. It takes courage to be real and to be honest.

    I pray that you find what you are looking for and that you have the courage to accept the friendship that is offered to you!

  8. The thing is, I *want* to meet you guys -- it just scares me senseless. In order for me not to worry, you'd have to be blindfolded when you met me. 

  9. ... leather or satin? ;-)

  10. Whatever you've got is fine by me. 

    Actually, it would probably be easier if *I* were the blindfolded one. Then I wouldn't see the expression on your faces when you saw me. I'd have to go by only what you said. 

  11. "I'm so glad to finally meet you! Want to shoot the Delicate Flower or the Pale Horse first?"

  12. Burlap?

    More seriously, our help is out here.  We can't wave a magic wand and fix things, but we can be there for you, even if it's as text or a voice on a a screen.

    Which does show the magical power of friendship. That people can connect and form communities even via such an abstraction.

    Life is scary, and look on the bright side, you have a bunch of *interesting* people that you want to meet but are scared to meet. 

    It beats the alternative: a bunch of dullards that you'd be afraid to meet.

  13. I have no idea what you're talking about. 

  14. I will never be a size 6 again, and there are crinkles around my eyes from the sun.  There are days I wake up and look like Rita Hayworth, and there are days I wake up and look more like Humphry Bogart.  All that matters is the one that loves me loves me for what is inside, for that is all that truly matters.

    We would love to have you join us, in all our imperfections for any of the little get togethers.   I'm thinking tactical slumber party one of these days, just a few of us gals, some home cooking, sleeping bags and Hoppes. There will be no "makeovers" but we might make some fresh .223.

  15. Oh god, this hurts in ways I can't explain in public. Expect an email soon. 

    It's all academic anyway, as I am so broke-ass poor I'd have to travel on someone else's dime. 

  16. The Delicate Flower:
    The Pale Horse:

  17. Delicate Flower, definitely. 

    Of course, I'd have to take my blindfold off before I could shoot it...  :(

  18. Well, technically speaking you wouldn't HAVE to... but it sure makes seeing the Eotech reticle a lot easier.

  19. People we think are awesome... hmmm... how about Erin Palette!? I live (literally) half-way around the world, I'm checking this blog almost daily, and I don't see that stopping any time soon.

  20. Hey Erin - That was brave of you.  Thanks for coming out.  


    I know it must be tough.  Well, I don't know at all, really.  I can imagine, and it sounds like it sucks great big donkey dicks.

    I really hope that things get better for you.  You seem like an intelligent, creative, caring person - a person that, face to face, I'd get along with just fine.

    You deserve some happiness.

    While not the exactly the same, I can tell you that it is possible to overcome deep depression and crippling social anxiety.  At least for me it was possible.  

    So I think there is some hope.  You are pretty damn stubborn and I think that is probably the key ingredient. :)

    - Ark

  21. I am proud of you, Erin.  And in any form, you are an adorable and mightily sassy soul and I'll dig in my heels and argue with anyone who says otherwise.  I've said it before and I'll say again that the gun blogger community is the most erudite and intelligent crowd I've ever encountered, and the first crowd of which I wanted to be a part.  I think you have a place here and speaking for myself, I accept and admire you.

  22. As a person who is not in the gun club, you come up in my google reader feed under RPG blogs, I am with the rest of the folks giving support. Too much of society is focused on what is visually pleasing and not on the holistic view of what makes a person truly beautiful. BTW love the photo for the profile.  

  23. FWIW, I haven't met a woman yet that wasn't fat and ugly, no matter how smokin' hot I thought they were. They all think they should lose some weight and they don't like their nose, or their hair, or their teeth, or blah blah blah. Fooey.

    Besides, anyone looks like a rock star holding a Mosin. :D

    But then again, I am one of those OFWGs that the plagarizing ass at TTAG is always talking about. :D

  24. I never needed a picture to tell that you're a beautiful lady. Neither has anyone else. I'll be praying for you. Remember where beauty resides....our hearts.

  25. That was my Anonymous comment....stupid Kindle...

  26.  agreed 100%.

    going to Pittsburgh was an eye-opener.  i was shocked that these people - many of whom had only met each other for the first time - were all so friendly with each other.  and even though i feel like the little lost misfit of the group (mostly self-imposed, i might add..), they were welcoming.  and nice.  and kind.  and thoughtful.  and laughed at my jokes (and my squeaking, particularly after Breda and i started the squeakingfit).

    if there were one group i'd consider worth meeting, it's this group.  these people are awesome, and i don't regret putting myself out there to meet them.

  27. i've had offers from bloggers who cruise through and want me to go along.  i missed out on Northcoast last year due to HOLYCRAPSTORM and i had one of the Virginia contingent offering to drive my ass north.

    this is what these people do for their own.  this is why they're awesome.  and you're one of these people, ergo by default you are awesome.

  28. girl,you can take that ground if you want.about 50 year is how long i been looking for a semi literate wonder i cant find them,they hide out like i do.
    Liberty Valance

  29. I can't imagine what it must have taken to come out with that.  It's only been recently that I've shown myself on the web (I look just like my gravatar, only not quite as good) , and no one cares.  I doubt if anyone is going to like you less no matter what you look like or THINK you look like.  I'm old, fat, bald, and talk too much, and people accept me.
    The important thing is that you do what you think you should do, not what the rest of us think you should do.

  30. OK--after reading this, I googled you, and loked at the photo on the side bar, etc.  You are much, much too young for me, but Ma'am, you are an attractive woman.  I understand it's a disorder.  but you know what?  I think that it's something our commercial industries inflict on women to make them spend more money!  Buy some more ammo, skip some make-up or accouterments, and go to the range--you'll be the gun hottie of the day, i assure you.

  31. Uh, any image you can Google of me is categorically NOT my real face. I have made ultra damn sure of that. What you find are images that I have used as avatars because they appeal to my sense of self. 

  32. Erin,

    I've been working in the health care profession for a while, and I know how debilitating something like this can be. The fact that you can acknowledge your condition is a good step in the right direction, but professional help is invaluable -- regardless of the social stigma. Not that you can't learn to live with it on your own, but that takes both strength of will and a good support network. It would appear as if you have some good components for the latter online. Don't knock the webz. I found my wife there. Strength is something you have to find in yourself.
    As for you online presence, I return to your blog on a regular basis, even though I don't find all of your posts to be of interest to me. Still, I always find your writing and topic-span to be refreshing, and your approach is often brilliant. Those friends you make here are made on the basis of you intellect. What's between your ears, to but it blunt. Your physical appearance will infinitely less important to these people; you have already not only made a first impression, but formed social bonds and relationships. In my experience, you have to be a proper dick to alienate friends made in this way.

    Sometimes you have to make a leap of faith, and hooking up with these people can well be the most important thing you do in your battle to conquer your demons.

    Best regards,

  33. Zercool, Brigid. and the others pretty much nailed it.  I've been trying to think of something cool to say.  But I ain't cool.  i'm simply a suburbanite in the gunblog world but. . .
    I'd like you to look down the line of names on the left.  They are writers, creators, artists all with an artist's senses and that means they perceive beyond the typical, and are among the most honest and accepting persons I have ever met or heard tell of.  And the most fun to be with.  Two in particular know me better than anyone other than my darling and even those two don't - well, didn't -- know that I dig.  Been there done that; rare days, still do.  Surface doesn't matter to them; they just take me as I am.  Although one writer did make me moderately good looking in a novel.Point is, this community takes you as is.  So will you pretty please come out and play?  We'll be here whenever you've a mind to.  Of course, you might not really want to look much at me.  That's cool.

  34.  Hey, it wouldn't matter to me if you looked like Heidi Klum or a troll, I've never really cared about how a person LOOKS, I care about what they are and you ARE awesome.

    I hope if there is another meetup in our neck of the woods - the Oklahoma fest comes to mind -that maybe you'll come out.  I would like you meet you.  I read your stuff all the time though I don't comment all that much, and you would fit right in.

    It is hard, but I also know that you are a pretty strong person and if anyone can work it through, it's you.

  35.  Well, we could do a gunblogger costume meetup.  Everyone in masks and outfits with guns.

    Now that would be blog worthy

  36. THAT... is a seriously cool idea. If everyone is (initially) anonymous, then that removes a lot of stress from the equation. 

    The next big question then is, "How the hell do I get there?"  Because I am broke-ass poor and can't afford to go anywhere further than southern Georgia. 

    I suppose I could do a fundraiser, but that strikes me as being exceedingly unsavory. 

    Of course, knowing Oleg, he and others would probably say "Shame and pride is a temporary inconvenience. Get over it."

  37. After a lifetime working with computers I am slowly making progress changing careers.  Oddly enough, I'm trying to become a minister.  After looking at the various possibilities, I decided that is probably the best path for me to help people.  It's been somewhat life changing already and in unexpected ways.

    Why do I bring this up?  Simple, I've learned enough about myself and my calling to realise that my future ministry is going to be to those who are being overlooked by society, those people and groups who you don't see articles about in the papers.  With my background I'm obviously going to support the nerds & geeks & otaku, but as I go through life I see a number of others who I think I can lend a kind ear to.  I've met a number of street entertainers who have their own sorts of disfunctionalities who are happy to be treated as people.  More recently I met a middle aged white guy who is on full disability from some fairly serious injuries, who also has Asperger's.  He's trapped in a world that really doesn't want him around.  Just by taking an hour or so to talk to him, I think I made a big difference in his outlook.

    The reason I'm telling you this is reassure you that there really are people out there who do care about you and who are willing to try to help.  Feel free to write me if you like.

  38.  Think you just answered your own question  :D

    Or, we could do it for you.  Seems like the gun world is pretty good at that.

  39. I'd much rather (the collective) you do it for me.  For all the compliments I've been getting about how "brave" I am to post this, I am awfully chickenshit about it. 

  40. Well you know I've always thought your outside self very nicely matches your clever, complex inside self and I hope you get the chance to gather up your favourite toys and attend one of these get togethers.
    After all the range practice you've gotten in it'd be a crime not to show off your skills amongst friends :-)

  41. I concur.  I think Erin can overcome anything...except the whole Pony obsession thing.  (But I'm the same way about penguins, so like I have room to talk.) 

  42. See... this is what happens when I slack off reading blogs... I discover a friend needs a hug and am late to the party.

    I've given up on people as a whole.  Overall I've been made fun of for my weight most of my life, even when I was actually in quite good physical condition.

    One day we'll meet and I think you'll be presently surprised that I don't run away in horror, I will just smile and say "hi", and then say... "wait, I thought you said you were ugly."  :)  I don't need to see a picture of you because your personality is awesome so obviously you must match it. :D

    You know where to find me if you ever want to vent or want to ask a question... as always I'm more than happy to listen and help a friend.

  43.  Pretty is only skin deep, real beauty comes from within - Erin, your views, your writings, and your behaviour show that you are a beautiful person.
    Most of the people I know aren't model material, but those who shine like a lighthouse through the sea of "pretties" are those I couldn't even describe, because I don't care about that.
    Some of the people I'm proud to know don't look nice, however they all have beautiful souls, and that's what really counts.

  44. I understand.

    Fortunately, my own bdd isn't as severe. I actually thought I would never be thin "enough". I remember being less than 7% body fat...and it wasn't good enough.

    You are more than the body you inhabit. I'm a tantric Buddhist, so I do believe your body is part of you, but it is only a part. And you are so much more.

    Be well.


  45. I think of appearance differently now.

    In the aftermath of my Heather Blake
    experience, I was talked into trying internet dating. I couldn't post a
    picture on the site, but of course I offered to send one.

    I did NOT look forward to it.

    importantly, everybody- even (insert name of most beautiful person you
    can think of) has been rejected because of his or her appearance on
    occasion, because no one's appearance appeals to everybody. But we don't
    know it- we just get dinged, no one ever says "You're too ugly to my

    But when we're chatting along fine, and she said send
    pictures- and the ding followed, I'd KNOW. Ouch! And it would happen,
    eventually. I'm no great beauty, and I must have done something really
    bad to Louis Daguerre in a previous life, because his invention is
    taking a terrible revenge. Pictures of me appear to be of someone
    entirely different, and uniformly goofy.

    And eventually, it did. (Actually it wasn't a ding, just silence. Some people are rude!)

    But here's the thing- I expected to be all sad, but it didn't bother me at all!

    Because I realised that what was rejected was- my parents' DNA!

    physical body- my appearance- is the ONE THING about me that I don't
    choose, cannot change, and in fact have absolutely nothing to do with!
    My manners, my interests, my outlook, my speech, what I wear, my
    physical fitness- all those things ARE mine and I control them. I can
    even dye my hair if I like.

    But my looks? They were made elsewhere, by people now dead, nine months before I was born.

    It was absolutely liberating.


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