18 years, 10 months, 11 days.
That is how long I have faced this world- the cheerful, the gloomy, the downright cruel.
At least 12 of those years, I have been unhappy. That means that from the age of 6, I have been displeased, whether that be with myself or the world around me. Yes, that is a very young age to feel the way I felt, but I was able to disassociate myself with childhood thoughts at a young age. I began thinking like an adult early in life. Granted I wasn’t thinking about taking out mortgages or paying a phone bill, but I was questioning things with such an intellect that none of my peers could comprehend yet. I was by no means a brainiac baby, but I was definitely different.
The Early Years
I can remember being in kindergarten and looking at myself in a mirror. My hair was tangled and my lips chapped. Those who knew me then would expect nothing less. I ran my fingers through my curly hair and smiled at myself. “Looking good,” I would think. Little did I know that that was the last time I would be so confident in myself.
Not long after, I was bullied on the playground for having chapped lips. “Your lips look funny. That’s so weird,” I remember a classmate putting me down as we lined up to go down the spiral slide. That was the moment that I began the long cycle of self hatred and manipulation. Years went by where I would endlessly compare myself to my peers. I wanted to dress, act, and look like them. Maybe then I wouldn’t be weird, right?
Another vivid memory I have is seventh grade math class. The teacher had left the room, and my class began to run around and cause havoc just as any seventh grade class would. Students were getting out of their seats, writing inappropriate things on the smartboard, and throwing things across the room. One classmate of mine walked up to my friend and I. At first, he just made jokes about how we were the only students who weren’t getting out of our seats and being obnoxious. Then, after realizing that we weren’t offended, he began to pick on our appearances to get a rise out of us. What he said to me has stuck in my mind for the past 5 or so years.
“Hey, ginger! Have you ever made a gingerbread house? I mean, it makes sense because you’re a pasty ginger.”
Yeah, I know. It’s a lame little kid joke. But I had been bullied for years about my natural strawberry blonde hair and light skin tone. It had been so bad that I was actually driven to dye my hair more “natural” shades. This ultimately damaged my hair, and I am still working to get it back to a healthier condition. But I couldn’t find any other way to escape the name calling and ridicule that I would face every day. What hurt me the most was not that I was a ginger, but that the word “ginger” was meant in a derogatory manner and it would continue to be for years. To this day, I encounter people who use the same word in an effort to offend me and I can still feel young Meg’s heart breaking deep down.
Once high school rolled around, I felt slightly more confident. I entered my freshman year with my chin held high. Then it happened. I “loved” a boy for the first time. He was a senior wrestler, soccer player, singer, and he just so happened to be in my computer class. After months of getting to know each other, we began dating. The maturity difference between us was a huge roadblock, however. Not only that, but he did not respect our relationship like I did. So after months of being off and on, we finally cut ties for good. It hurt me immensely because he was the first boy I “loved.” I use quotes because after years of growing up, I realize that I did not love him. I loved only the idea of him. But since I thought I loved him, his absence in my life made me turn into a maniac. I wanted love. I wanted someone to give my attention to like I had once given to him. Something about loving someone gave me such a high. I craved love from someone that would not leave me like he did. So I spent my sophomore year looking for someone who would love me unconditionally. To many, my manhunt looked like I was “putting out.” That was far from the truth, but I couldn’t defend myself, as the evidence was too convincing. Hell, although I never did anything more than make out with a boy at that age, I was beginning to believe the rumors too.
Let’s go back to what I said earlier about me thinking differently than others my age. At this time in my life, I wanted to find the person I would spend forever with. I wanted to love someone and I wanted them to love me the same way. So while others were concentrated on “getting some,” I was focused on finding the one. That is why I was said to be “hopping from boy to boy.” I was eager to find the one who would love me unreservedly, but not many people recognized that.
So sophomore year came and went, filling my life with enemies and untrue rumors. Then, as I was beginning my junior year, I met someone who would forever change my life. We connected almost immediately and we began dating in October of 2015. He took care of me and always assured me that he would never do what any of the previous boys in my life had. I gave him my heart and my trust. I fell in love with him. I would tell all my friends about how perfect he was and how he made me want to change for the better. But then the worst thing imaginable happened. I developed anxiety and depression.
I believe half the reason for this was a medical condition I have called hypothyroidism. Side effects include depression, anxiety, and mood swings. So that’s great for relationships, right? Yeah, exactly.
But times became harder. I would cry hysterically and want to shut out the world. My poor boyfriend would have to watch me suffer. And the worst part of it all was that I didn’t know how he could help me. Sometimes I would need him to hold me and comfort me, while other times I couldn’t even stand him touching or looking at me. He learned, though. He spent months trying to figure out what I needed to feel better. Finally, we learned what it was. I just needed love. However, time went on and my mood swings and uncontrollable panic attacks took their toll on him. He finally left (I say “finally” because I think he should have left for his own good months earlier) after ten months of being with me.
Just as you could imagine, I did not take it well. I would cry myself to sleep for weeks, and had terrifying nightmares about him abandoning me. I would wake up in the middle of the night to dried tears on my cheeks. The thought of him broke my heart for months. Hearing his name would result in a painful heavy feeling in my stomach. Speaking his name burnt my lungs. Seeing pictures of him would make my eyes swell. It was like losing a part of me. And the worst part was knowing that he was better off without me even though I was not better off without him.
It was finally time for my last year of high school, and I couldn’t be more excited to leave. I planned to go through the motions until I had a diploma in my hand. That’s when I became friends with someone else. For the sake of this story, let’s call him Manbun. Those of you who know who I’m talking about are probably laughing hysterically about this choice of characterization.
But back to the story.
We had been classmates for as long as I can remember, but we were never really friends. We sat next to each other in freshman physical science and everyone told me we should date, but he was a jock, and I was still a gap-toothed loser. So I never tried anything with him. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a huge crush on him, though.
But senior year, we were given another chance, by fate or by God. We were both put into a creative writing class for our first semester. He was a super loud and outgoing type, and I was the opposite. Some would even go as far as to say he was the “bad boy” of our grade. He smoked, did drugs, and didn’t have the cleanest record at our school. But after a few weeks of getting to know each other, we connected. Our teacher partnered us up for a project and I, redeveloping a faint crush on him, flirted it up. He surprisingly reciprocated. Thus began the cycle of off-again, on-again, Meg and Manbun.
I fell in love with Manbun, I will admit, more than I loved the past boyfriend I had. We spent so much time together and he made me laugh so much more than anyone ever could. He was what I imagined my metaphorical “Prince Charming” to be like. He taught me how to love myself. I no longer hated myself or my appearance. I could finally look at myself in the mirror and smile. He worried about me and took care of me. On top of that, he would randomly play with my hair and rub my back for me. He wasn’t such a bad boy after all. Although he was great to me, some of our different morals got in the way of us maintaining a steady relationship. We ended in a terrible way, and to this day we rarely speak.
After we broke up, I could not look at myself the way I used to. I began pointing out every flaw I had. I would sit in front of a mirror for what seemed like forever, just to remind myself how hideous I am. I’d say to myself, “he didn’t love you because you’re ugly.” I couldn’t find any confidence within myself. I barely wanted to live.
Months have gone by since Manbun and I broke up, and I am slowly beginning to feel better about myself. A year has gone by since I lost the first boy I truly loved, and I no longer yearn for his return. Years have gone by since I was called a ginger, and I stopped dying my hair to hide from the truth. 18 years, 10 months, and 11 days have gone by since I began this wild journey, and not one single second of it is in vain.
My life is my story, and that is why I write. I share my story with others who may or may not know what I was or am going through. I encourage everyone to open up and find beauty within their struggles and triumphs.