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December 30, 2011
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There's a difference between darkness and nothingness. Darkness is being a temporary resident of rock bottom, a shadowy state of melancholy that's only motivated by the fact that you can only go up from there. Dark can be converted to light, slowly but surely, so that we have a glimmer of hope. Nothingness? It's being totally numb to the reality surrounding you. It can only be reversed if you put your entire soul into making something out of nothing. Trust me, I would know.
I didn't have a bad home life. In fact, my family was one of the strongest I had known at the time. I got reasonably good grades, barely ever faltering on an exam. I even had a few people I called my friends, who I thought would stick with me for the longest while. That was when I, an eleven year old girl whose parents sheltered her as well as they could, was introduced to the online universe of cyber-bullying. Soon, after my peers put up this façade of courage on the Internet, the assumed culprits began to bring this into reality. Paranoia began to set in, and the cowardice I had succumbed to online followed me into the real world, defensive beyond belief.
Suicide was an option. Sure, it was only one choice, but the decision was not one that should have been crossing the mind of a mere middle-school student. Shortly after the bullying worked its way into my actual life, I took it upon myself to keep journals. They were like normal diary entries, addressed to the paper figment I thought would help my problems. The only difference I had in my heartfelt words was that I asked questions. Not rhetorical ones like, "can you believe that," or, "isn't that so unfair?" I asked things that I needed answers to, not the consolation of putting it down in ink, things that should not have been coming out of my pen. "Is my existence really that important?" "Do people actually like me?" "Should I take my life?" Looking back, I'm genuinely frightened by how deep I had fallen into the morbidity of self-hatred. I was scared of myself.
I have vivid remembrances of the cutting, sitting alone at the foot of my bed. The room is barely lit, some loud music blaring in an attempt to mask my many fearful screams and yelps. I favored bass-bumping techno and the hoarse screeches of screamo tracks. Light from my radio's neon blue wiring bounded off my slanted ceiling, an almost alien appearance. The dim gleam of a dull pair of scissors or a hardly sanitary push-pin would always do the trick. I remember grazing the first object over my pale forearms, blood sneaking through the broken skin, pinkish raised lines patterning them when I woke the next day. On several traumatizing occasions, I would experience nightmares, but I guess to a masochist they're just plain old dreams. I remember picturing it; I had severed too far into my frail flesh and bled out into a puddle of black-red crusted blood, caked in the gashes of my wrists. My skin was like papier-mâché, fragile and ripping like a bit of apricot tissue paper on my crackling bone. This was a regular habit for me, like someone biting their nails or twirling their hair. I scratched the skin's surface with enough pressure to burn and bleed, squeezing out a few tears, but lightly enough to not appear suspicious when I didn't wear long sleeves. I was a brilliant plan, really.
When I was in seventh grade, I had perfected this act of hiding my scars until the torment of my peers just became too much to bear. The words people threw at me were vulgar and angry, fueled by an extreme distaste for me. I was deemed a whore, a slut, and a liar. In actuality, I was an honest virgin. I was called a lesbian and an idiot, when I had a steady boyfriend at the time and maintained honor roll all year. People referred to me as a loathsome pig and a fat cow. However, the most hurtful was just one word: ugly. I knew I was plain. I knew I was overweight. I even knew I had a crooked nose and bushy eyebrows, but that's an insult of character in reference to an unattractive personality. People began to gossip and avoid me intentionally, so I began to fade away as a mute being sitting in the desk right near the door. The only sounds I emitted were the answers to questions teachers forced me to answer and the whistling of air through my nostrils. I walked alone in the hallways, and as I brushed past my classmates, I either saw looks of contempt or looks of pity. This went on for a while, until the plan itself disintegrated around me. The jig was up. I needed professional help.
The unraveling of my suicidal tendencies began to make its way to the forefront of my life during a class exercise. People knew me as a violent person because that was the only trait they wanted to believe was true of me. We were discussing bullying in my period six-seven Middle School Issues course, a mandatory class that was futile because ninety-five percent of middle school kids are issue-free. In this discussion, we had to pair up with up a partner and conduct a skit about how bullying was wrong. There were an odd number of kids. Guess who was alone. Naturally an outcast, I instead crafted a letter of terror I endured. It was nothing eloquent, really. It was enough, however, to get me a one-way ticket to the guidance office.
After countless visits to the small room, as well as a large portion of psychiatric help, I gained one sliver of confidence and the interpretation that I actually had some sanity. I was extremely damaged, but it's not like I was unable to be saved. I tried so hard to turn my life around, not for my loved ones, not for my peers, but because I was tired of living solely in a state of nothingness. My nothingness was now something, a little something, but nonetheless a something. I could nourish and grow it. I could change my life for good.
I went back to read those journals from several years ago. My wants and needs were so selfish, like I thought a flimsy notebook's yellowed pages could be seen by God, who could grant me the happiness I deserved. I realized these "letters," these journal entries were subconsciously written because I was alone in the world, crying out so desperately for someone to hear me, for someone to exhibit to me that everything would be okay. It was like I was trying to reach out to someone I knew couldn't hear me, but someone could. No one could see my scrawl on the faded blue lines of the composition book, but it was visible to God. The reason he didn't help me because the Lord's no Kevorkian. He wasn't going to assist me in a death wish when he put me here in the first place. My presence was apparently beneficial if my soul refused to be taken.
It's sort of like an out-of-body experience. I remembered seeing a white light once in my sleep, and I knew I had to be here to help kids that were how I used to be. Okay, it sounds a little sketchy, but it's the truth. Without even knowing it, I wrote a correspondence to God and instead of writing back, he kept me alive. It's that darkness versus nothingness thing again. Once I saw that light, I knew I crossed over from being nothing to finding the worth I so greatly sought after. The scars have since faded and have been replaced with ink emblems. A chapped, bitten frown has been turned to a smile. Most importantly, though, the nothing has turned into something.
Scholastic submission. Memoir. FTW.
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