I come home from the gym, take off my sweaty mildewy shirt and hang it over the edge of the laundry bin. I look down at my woolly protruding belly. It’s not your average almost-endearing type of belly, but rather one that hosts a large fold of skin that pools over my belt line even when I am thin (a parting gift from childhood obesity).

For much of my life I have hidden my body not only from others but from myself. I have not only avoided beaches, hot tubs and pools, but even the comfort of being shirtless on hot summer nights in the privacy of my own apartment.

Recently I have allowed myself to remain shirtless for longer stretches of time. My motives haven’t been conscious. I have simply been too depressed to notice. Now that I am aware I decide to place my large hands over my belly and rest them there for a minute. I breath in and out and let myself feel into it. I look down at my breasts with curiosity rather than disgust. I tearfully realize how pointless it is to fight this any longer. This is where I am encased and lashing out against it changes nothing. I’m too tired to continue this ceaseless war against myself.

I imagine myself onstage at one of those fitness competitions where the orange men with rippling muscles flex and inspire awe. I cradle my belly and turn sideways to give everyone a better view. I can feel the disgust as the audience boos and hisses. I draw power from my defiance, but I do not hate them. I understand that I am one of them: that I too have judgments and aesthetic preferences and that, therefore, I am no better or worse.

I feel slightly embarrassed at the silliness of my fantasy. But I also notice myself feeling prettier than I did a moment ago.

As I sit and stare at this entry I realize I am hesitant to share it. It feels vulnerable. It opens me up to judgment and derision. I imagine a wonderful friend of mine feeling protective of me for sharing something so personal publicly. But I don’t care. No amount of judgment could possibly surpass a lifetime of my own harsh criticisms and shame. The silver lining of that tragedy is that nobody can hurt me worse than I’ve already done—I am calloused. I tap my belly before hitting “publish” as a final act of joyful defiance.

It is raining outside and I look out the window that teases me with the possibility of a life lived. I haven’t checked my mailbox for days and I try to convince myself to care.

The idea of walking to it with linear purpose overwhelms me with boredom. I wonder: How many acrobatic back flips would it take to get there? How many balletic twirls? Flutters of my eyelashes? Sexy high heeled, hip swaying struts? Loud black-booted stomps?

I open up a spreadsheet, excited, for once, to do mathematics. I create columns, rows and categories; I measure distances and prepare formulas for calculations. I grow bored and wonder: how would these calculations go if my fingers were calloused, nail-bitten and strong? If they were long and slender with nails painted in eye-dazzling varnish? If they tapped with the the tickle of a ladybug’s legs?

Time passes. One more day without the mail.

Today I ate scrambled eggs with my fingers because I realized it would be rude for them to be eaten without first being touched. I imagined that I was seated at a large table with others who followed my lead. After eating, my guests joyfully smeared the egg remnants over the bodies of one another. Aroused by this, the touching led to kissing and everyone merged into a genderless sea of oily flesh. They erupted into mutual orgasm and proceeded to fall into a slumber at the table.

I gave my untouched utensils a cheeky grin and reveled in the Sadean mess I had created by neglecting them. Content that I had given my eggs their proper respect, I proceeded to wash the dishes.