This is something I never like to get into, but I wanted to talk about it in case anyone else is going through the same thing. It's uncomfortable to think about and the pain I've been through has changed me as a person — I don't know whether I should hate the experiences I've been through or be grateful that they made me a stronger person. Either way, I know that I'm currently strong enough to write about it.
It began in elementary school.
I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. Even in a class of 25, I never felt accepted. It might be because of my issues with adoption or just the low self-esteem I've always had. I was never close to a group of kids, I was always scared that people thought I was weird, and it affected how I spoke and behaved around others.
Because of that, I was never close to anyone.
It got better in middle school when I met one of my best friends. She was the only one I ever really hung around and laughed with, but even while I was with her, I felt like I was walking on eggshells. I was scared that she would leave if I did anything weird or made a fool of myself.
Words can't describe the feeling of being hyper-focused on how others perceived me. I was so adamant about putting an image on for people that I forgot what I wanted for myself. My standards began growing higher and higher while my morale became lower and lower without me even realizing or understanding it. I was too young to realize how toxic my brain was becoming and it corrupted everything I was. I felt like even the breaths I took had to be calculated and timed so I would never breathe in a way people deemed 'weird'.
Everything was going by in a daze. I couldn't pay attention in school because I was so focused on if my handwriting was neat enough or if I would be considered a nerd for doing well in class. My grades dropped but I made sure to force myself to keep them at a mediocre level. It all became so numb.
I pushed the bad feelings away because I felt like no one would understand or care if I said anything. I didn't want anyone to feel burdened by my problems so I never told anyone how I felt, including my family.
However, my worst fear came true in seventh grade.
I was on the bus going home after another normal day at school. In the back of the bus, there were these older kids who were always loud and territorial about how "The back of the bus is for cool kids only." I didn't like those kids at all — it was very obvious. They were rude and ill-mannered and yet they were deemed "popular." I often would wear my annoyance on my sleeve and without a filter.
One day, I sat at the back of the bus with a girl I had become friends with over the fact that we were both adopted. She was the only person other than my best friend that I felt somewhat understood me. Then, someone threw a piece of crumpled paper at my head. It was one of the kids at the back of the bus. He was giving me this look that said, "Try me."
I still remembered how angry I was when he laughed at me. I didn't have any time to think about it before I threw the paper at his face and hit him. At that moment, I felt relief. I finally stood up for myself. For the first time in a long time, I felt a burning sense of pride for myself. But it left my system as quickly as it came.
He had stood up and with fury in his eyes, he yelled, "This is why your mother threw you away!"
Shame and shock replaced my pride and filled my system in less than a second. It took such a hold on me that I began crying my eyes out, despite the rules I had set up for myself to never be weak in public. He had voiced one of my deepest insecurities and told it to the world without warning. I felt so weak and stupid for crying on the bus the rest of the way home from just a sentence. I kept screaming in my head that he was right and I was a disgrace to the world.
The pain only grew worse the next day when the words "trash" and "thrown away" were scribbled on my locker in black ink. A week later, someone spray-painted my house with profanities. I would get picked on and made fun of wherever I went. Of course, some people felt pity for me and would even sometimes stand up for me. But it was too late. The damage was done.
Now, not only did I fall into a dark abyss of my insecurities and self-hatred, but the entire school knew about it.
Looking back, no one probably cared. Everyone would have been too focused on their problems to give a crap but my mindset was so toxic that I felt judgment that never existed in the first place. I couldn't even will myself out of bed in the morning because I found no motivation to do better for myself. I was content with laying in my bed until I died. I wish I could put into words about how dark and cold and scared I felt during this time but I can't. And it only got worse as I grew up.
The bullying had gotten so severe that I switched schools while going into eighth grade. Instead of a public school, I now went to a private, Catholic school where all the students had known each other since kindergarten. I knew I wasn't going to fit in at this school and I didn't have the motivation to try.
"I was broken."
"I didn't deserve to have a chance."
"I will always be alone."
The voices kept chanting those sentences in my head and when I had the chance to make friends, I always turned away out of fear.
Sometimes it would get to the point where the only relief I had would be to harm myself.
It wasn't just a cry for help or a desperate plea for attention. I really want people to understand that point the most. It was about control. The idea that I was in control of when I felt pain and how much I allowed myself to have.
Whether it be slicing a line into my skin or punching a wall until my hand was purple. The aspect of being in control of that pain was intoxicating. The voices began chanting, "You're doing something right," "This is good," or "This will make you feel better." Even though what I was doing was definitely not healthy for my body, the feeling of being in control of something in my life made it all better. The pain was worth the end product to me.
I remember the night I had snapped out of it. I had been preparing myself to down half a bottle of painkillers after the feelings inside me became too much. It's horrifying to think about how ready I was to end it all during that time because I know better now. I remember pouring the pills back in the bottle and sneaking them back into my parent's medicine cabinet. I decided that killing myself wasn't something that would make anything better and I snapped out of my thoughts for the first time in eight years. The next day, I told my parents about how toxic my mind had become. They were horrified and immediately put me into therapy.
I didn't write this article to ask for pity from people. I wanted the people who have gone through something similar to know that they aren't alone.
They don't need to fight this alone and that it's OK to admit that you have a problem. It's OK to ask for help and tell people that you're not OK. Lying about it and trying to overcome it alone is nearly impossible to do. It's like trying to be the doctor and the patient at the same time without knowing what's truly going to help you. You're not weak for needing help. You're strong to know when you need help.
Of all the things in this article that I want to get across to people going through the same thing, I want those two points to be the core. Please, if you're going through something as I did, ask for help. Break the cycle of self-torture. Because no one deserves to feel that way or go through something like that.