“The Dream” (Shattered Image Book Excerpt)

Brian-Cuban-8193-1Brian Cuban is a an author whose  best-selling book “Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder” chronicles his first-hand experiences living with, and recovering from childhood bullying, eating disorders and Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD) and drug addiction.  Brian speaks regularly to about his recovery and breaking the male eating disorder stigma.  You can purchase Shattered Image here   If you would like Brian to speak to your university, group or organization please email alana@arlangroup.com

I have recurring dreams. Scenes from law school, struggles with addiction, and failed relationships are in constant re-run.  They are vivid and colorful. Like full length movies played out in my subconscious . They say this is common with recovering addicts. That’s what they say.

This particular dream begins as I arrive at a party. I’m by myself as I walk into a dark, empty room. I am embarrassed and alone. I don’t want to be alone. Even in my dream,I can feel the emptiness in my stomach. The ache of loneliness and isolation. I want to be accepted and popular. I know high school classmates will be showing up, and I want to be included in their fun. I order a diet coke. The bartender tells me they do not serve it. He offers me a Jack Daniels and Diet-Coke, my drink of choice pre-sobriety. I take the drink from him but I can’t raise the glass to my mouth. My arm won’t move.. I go to the bathroom to do a line of coke. I’m can’t snort it. The cocaine is just out of reach of the straw. The white powder vaporizing into the ether of the dream. There is always a barrier keeping me from drawing anything into my blood that will transform me into the Brian I want to see in the mirror every morning. Attractive, slim and confident. The Brian I never see. Sometimes I wake up with the familiar, peculiar smell of cocaine in my nose, the smell of ether and baby laxative. They say that is a sign of recovery. So they say.

I am walking through the room. I see a high school classmate. He said he was my friend. Before he and others assaulted me and tore my pants off.  Exposing my fat, ugly body to the world.  He is sixteen, I am fifty-one. He wants nothing to do with me. He makes fun of my weight. I run to to the bathroom and  look in the mirror.  I am no longer a heavy teenager. I am a grown, mature adult. Why is he making fun of my weight? Doesn’t he see me? The room is filling up. More high school classmates. More bullies of my childhood. They are all teens. How did I get so old? I ask “Can I join your group?” They all laugh and otherwise ignore me. I am right here! You know me! The room gets darker.  I can no longer see them. The familiar feeling, the familiar ache. The loneliness. An empty, gut-wrenching void. Wanting to scream in my dream with only a guttural groan emanating from my sleeping mouth.  Dream shifts. I am standing up against the gym wall at the high school dance, wishing someone would talk to me. They are back. My childhood bullies appear again. . They start pulling at and tearing my clothes, exposing me. I am crying. I am screaming. Why Don’t You Like Me!  They laugh in response. I am awake. The ache is still with me. The nighttime remnants of a once shattered image. It will fade. Hopefully a different re-run tomorrow night.

Dreams fade to morning, and morning brings with it decisions that will have consequences for both the mind and body. The choices I make through the day can leave me feeling calm and happy by sundown, or feeling like I’m still stuck in a nightmare. But this feeling is not a dream. It is the reality of Body Dysmorphic Disorder.


10 Comments For This Post

  1. planolawyer Says:

    Such pain. It's painful to read. Am so sorry your journey has been so hard.

  2. bcuban Says:

    No harder then many other journeys but hopefully I can use my experience to help some others who are going through the same issues.

  3. Heather Says:

    That was intense; there’s so much emotion behind the words, and it definitely evokes feeling out of the reader. Can’t wait to read more!

  4. FMcG (1 comments.) Says:

    Funny to me I never saw you suffering during our encounters during our youth yet I'm sure the same bullies tried to bully us all during high school. I can relate to the common denominator of the adolescent starting to realize some people only feel better when they demean others. Glad to see you write to inspire and express empathy toward everyone who is or has struggled through these types of issues to realize it gets better and most people are not like the psychopathic imbeciles that try to ruin our self image during our formative years.
    Nice work Brian.

  5. bcuban Says:

    I was a big "internalizer" Frank. Kept it to myself. Good to hear from you!

  6. julie Says:

    Your strength is to be admired and your determination to heal as well as share will in fact help the hearts of so many who ache deeply in silence…I am proud of you, and not mere words to make you feel good, but the truth is you are handsome and exude light…..

  7. Dede Says:

    I have a 18 year old beautiful daughter who is bulimic, addicted to Meth and heroine ..she just got out of rehab and has already left home…I tell myself she’s not ready to stay clean and it has to be her choice but I am terrified for her life. She is 6’foot gorgeous girl everyday someone tells her but she never believes them. Thank you for sharing your story

    Heartbroken and worried mother

  8. Ivana (2 comments.) Says:

    Please tell any young, college-aged folks struggling to look up the program and sober community of The Center for Students in Recovery at the University of Texas at Austin. We are one of a very small number of programs that build an empowering, healing community around our students and young folks in the community who are either in recovery or seeking recovery. http://www.utexas.edu/student/studentaffairs/reco
    You do not have to be an enrolled student to be part of our incredible community, and attend meetings.

    We are also bringing our program to the other UT System schools.

    Thanks for sharing your story, I look forward to reading it. Perhaps one day you could come speak to our students!

  9. Ivana (2 comments.) Says:

    And by the way I am free of anorexia/bulimia and drug addiction for over 8 years now, one day at a time :-) Being able to pass this gift on to the campus of UT is the greatest gift I've ever known!

  10. Janice Says:

    I was just told about this book and intend to get it for my son and I will read it too. My son is on the autism spectrum, which we didn't find out until he was 22. He is 24 now. He was diagnosed with BDD, OCD, depression, ADHD and anxiety. The BDD has taken over. I worry so much about him. He has suicidal thoughts and today was another one of those days. He works out non-stop it seems. His weight went up and down. He got big so no one would pick on him anymore and now he's "normal" sized and he looks really great but he doesn't see it. He says he is worthless. He is in so much pain emotionally. I hope reading your book he won't feel so alone. I hurt for him. And wish so much I could help him.

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