Perfectly Unpretty

“It’s so hard to stay perfect, beautiful, clean
when there’s so much imperfection, ugliness, dirt just waiting to swallow you WHOLE”
(Painted by me, October 1999)

I have low self-esteem.

Always have.

A feeling of inadequacy so deeply rooted it overcomes anything remotely optimistic.

I have my suspicions. You know. Of how and when those seeds were sewn.

I have often felt the slot meant for me has yet to be created. Maybe it is up to me to make it. I don’t know.

Sometimes I feel like I am under water. I can see the surface. Almost reach it even. I can hear all the splendid sounds up there. But I just can’t seem to burst through. At times it is frustrating. Other times debilitating. Especially when the air runs out. GASP.

I do not know that I have ever felt pretty.

I do not know if I will ever reach the surface.


I prefer mutts.


Damaged goods.

The unwanted.

There is something in their struggle that endears them to us. Perhaps it makes us feel like heroes. And the champions of their cause. We feel needed. Emotionally employed. Or, perhaps, we feel comradery. Who knows.

My beloved cat (before we met) was found with his brother tied up in a garbage bag at the side of a highway. Then handed over to the local SPCA. Abandoned and barely a month old. His brother was adopted almost immediately. But not my soon-to-be kitty.

At that time I lived alone. Having unexpectedly and abruptly moved out of my parent’s house. It was an okay apartment. Small. Mine. Home. But in my few weeks there I found it hauntingly vacant. Bartending and waiting tables to make ends meet meant late nights (or really early mornings). It sucked coming home to that empty space.

One afternoon, after opening the restaurant and serving a brief lunch rush, I headed home. I drove my usual route. Then I passed my exit. And the next one.

In the haze of the July heat I arrived at the SPCA.

I walked in.

There he was. Alone. Against the wall. In a box. Hanging upside-down. Meowing his brains out.

They told me I didn’t want him: he is a holy terror, a troubled cat. He had been sectioned off because he didn’t get along well with the others. Hmm. Intriguing.

I asked to see him. And so, they locked the two of us in a small office. He ran around like a maniac. Who knew a few furry ounces could be comparable to a tornado! Then. Suddenly. He leapt from the desk to my shoulder. Tucked his head under my chin. Fell asleep. Small. Mine. Loved.

He is an amazing creature. Never a problem. No trouble. Delightful personality. Bit of a stooge, really. And a hero. Saved my life. On several occasions. Mostly diabetes related. I cannot believe he will be eleven years old in a few weeks. My dear friend, Terror. Better known as the Dude.

We did eventually rustle him up a side kick, though at times I am not so sure he is grateful. Another rescue. A puppy from WAY up north. Originally Justin. Renamed upon arrival by the wee one: Toby.

Family complete.


I love animals. Never have I felt awkward around them.


I feel awkward around people all the time. Even the ones I know. Really well.

I have always felt out of place. Even when a part of something.

Perhaps the years of torment and teasing are too entrenched. The wounds from words others wielded still there. No amount of time the cure. Too many off-hand comments from those who should protect from such things.

Too many whispers in the dark.

I still don’t know how to quiet them. Sometimes they are so far off I forget they exist. Sometimes the whispers are deafening.

Like the days it takes me over a dozen outfit changes to find something I am comfortable enough to exit the house in. Or the times I spend what feels like hours styling my hair only to pull it back into a ponytail. Collapse on the floor. And cry. No point in the make-up now. Not that I would know what to do with it.

I don’t have the dedication all of that takes. I don’t have the time. I don’t understand.

And that’s when I sink.

The surface starts to slip away. All the pretty, perfect faces through the looking glass. They begin to blur. Perfection never really achieved. That much is noticeable. Once you get far enough away. Then it all looks the same.


I work hard to be a well-rounded person. Really. I do. But I have moments of vanity.

Don’t we all?

Or am I alone in wanting to feel pretty?

Just once. A memory, a feeling to hold on to. I don’t have one. I don’t have that moment to look back on when I am feeling down. I don’t have a picture to look at and think, gosh, I really looked great that day. Hell. I don’t even have pictures of my city hall wedding. No big deal. I didn’t have the wedding I would have liked to have. Didn’t wear the dress I wanted to. My wedding dress isn’t white. It is gorgeous though. I bought it because I loved it. Had a total GIRL moment. Meh. Oh well. It was the dress I wanted to get married in. But it has not be worn. I don’t know if it ever will be. Probably. One day. I’ll put it on and go out in the rain. Run through the mud. Barefoot. I’ll feel pretty while I keep myself grounded.

At least I got the guy I wanted. J

And he thinks I’m pretty. I can tell. If I think about how he looks at me I will blush.

We are all works of art.

5 thoughts on “Perfectly Unpretty

  1. What a beautiful outpouring. So many things to remark upon. Underdog, the kitty rescue (what a sweetheart you BOTH are!) wanting to feel pretty. Thank you for telling me your story. You touched me.

  2. Pingback: Ugly People | A Soul is a Resilient Thing

  3. Pingback: The Piano | A Soul is a Resilient Thing

  4. You ARE blessed! “If I think about how he looks at me, I will blush.”

    (That is how my Fang looked at me. SO hard to give him up, if for that reason alone.)

    I love your fantasy plans for your as-yet-unworn wedding dress.

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