I sit and stare at the toilet bowl.
A guy I know is bulimic.
When we compliment him
I see the twist of agony in his eyes
as his brain reprograms it
to sound like an expensive lie
that costs him another tear
in his tattered dignity.
Friends hurry to him,
to reassure him, to love him.
They tell him how beautiful he is.
We didn't know him before,
but he's definitely not fat now.
We whisper things in concern like;
body dysmorphic disorder.
'I know you'll never believe me
but you are so gorgeous -
not just on the inside.' Not just.
And they're right, I join in,
because they are right to say it
because it happens to be true -
he is stunning. Not just on the outside.
And we want him to see himself
the way we see him, beautiful.
And I join in because
I've felt that strangle of pain
in my stomach, bowels and belly,
when someone used to tell me lies.
So I know how he feels.
Only, he is beautiful on the outside
and I'm not.
He's not seeing reality in the mirror
and I am.
And people rush to correct him
because the truth, when he sees it,
will make him happy -
but not for me.
Awkward silences and smiles,
because no one can lie that well -
I sit at the back while they cluck
around a beautiful, broken boy,
and ache because if I wasn't
disgusting, repulsive, ugly -
then they might do the same for me.
and they don't.
so I sit and stare at the toilet bowl.