Scars of My Past(2)

By: D. C. Renee

“What are you wearing? You shop at Thrifty?”

“Those overalls make you look like a cow.”

“Where do you get your hair cut? Haircuts for Losers?”

He never got physical with me, never harmed me—maybe shoved me out of his way once or twice—but he didn’t need to. His words hurt more than punches would have. He made me doubt myself; he made me feel ugly, fat, and like a loser. I rarely looked in the mirror because I hated what I saw.

I begged my parents to pick me up early from school, but realistically, they couldn’t because of their work schedules. I tried to miss school. “Please don’t make me go to school,” I told them. When they asked why, I told them I was being bullied by a boy. “Just ignore him,” they answered. They didn’t understand the emotional stress he was causing. I believed his words, believed I wasn’t worthy to breathe the same air as he was, believed I was the bane of everyone’s existence.

He got under my skin—every freaking time—and each time, it was worse. It’s not even that his taunting got worse; it’s that a little tiny piece of me died each time he bullied me. Slowly, he was chipping away at the fortress around my heart, and when the last brick fell, all his words rushed at my heart, overwhelming it.

It was at the end of my junior year when I felt my fight leave. I had been holding out, hoping my senior year would be different because he wouldn’t be there, but I just couldn’t make it to senior year. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I couldn’t stand my own skin.

It was the last time he taunted me, the last time I heard his words, but not the last time I heard them in my head. I couldn’t take it anymore. I came home and scrubbed my skin with scalding hot water, desperately trying to rub away his words that had seeped into my pores. I tried to rub away my very essence—me—from my own skin. I couldn’t stand who I was anymore. He’d done that, but I’d believed him.

I looked at myself in the mirror that day, and all I saw were his words—a bitch. A loser. An ugly, fat nobody.

I didn’t want to be that anymore. I didn’t want to look at myself in the mirror anymore. I threw the soap dispenser at the mirror, breaking into a million shards. When I picked up one jagged piece, I had only one thought—that I wanted the pain to end.

My parents found me passed out in the bathroom, blood dripping from the wounds on my wrists. They called 911, and I was rushed to the hospital.

I landed in the psych ward when I was released from suicide watch. I don’t know that I even wanted to die. I just wanted his voice in my head to shut up for a little while. I wanted to feel the pain of something else—something other than the words eating me from the inside out.

I spent almost a year in a therapy program, healing myself bit by bit. At first, I had done it for my parents because I knew it killed them to know I was hurting. They thought they’d failed me when they didn’t listen to my pleas. The truth was, they couldn’t understand unless they’d been in my shoes. I didn’t blame them, but I wanted to do this for them. Slowly, with time, I realized I was also doing it for me. I needed to learn how to be all right with myself, how to be in control of my emotions, and how to survive for me.

I missed my senior year of high school. Just another thing he took from me. I missed all the fun activities associated with the last year of being a minor. I didn’t mind, though, because I had needed that time away from life, away from my life. And a part of me was afraid to go back. I knew, logically, that he wouldn’t be there, but the ugly memories he left behind were still there. I knew I’d see his image taunting me as I walked down the hall, mocking me in my head and smirking at my discomfort. I couldn’t go back there, and therapy gave me a reprieve from that. But it also gave me so much more.

During that year, I found myself. I found who I needed to be to feel better about myself. I completed my GED while in the outreach program. I applied to colleges far, far away. And I vowed when I was done, I would be a different person.

That meant I changed who I was, both inside and out. I wore thick bracelets—leather bands—around my wrists to hide the permanent reminder of my former life. I worked out, and I slimmed down, found curves I didn’t know existed. My braces came off, and my teeth were like those of movie stars. I found the courage to switch from glasses to contacts. My doctor switched my acne cream, and it cleared up.

I also cut and highlighted my hair, learned how to style it, figured out how to wear the right makeup for my face, and dressed like I was into fashion. Amy, a friend in the program, had actually taught me these things. And we stayed friends long after both of us had left even though I was now literally across the country.

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