Both of us learning that lie, that I wasn’t pretty, is actually what tore us apart when we were young. Like I said, we were very close when we were little, but then, I believe, when he was in fourth or fifth grade things changed. I think it was when he became interested in girls, and they him, that he felt so much pity for me, he couldn’t even look at me.
I can remember mornings, actually feeling intimidated by him, almost frightened by him. Each morning before school for about six years. We would get ready for school while my parents slept. I guess it probably started when I was in first or second grade because I would get dressed, brush my teeth, and then make a bowl of cereal. My brother and I would sit at our small kitchen table, eating our cereal, just three feet apart, and he would never talk to me, not a word. You’ve all heard of “uncomfortable silence,” this would have been called “fearful silence” for me. He would stare at the side of the cereal box, you know, where all the ingredients and nutrition is written.
You may be thinking, “Give him a break, he was reading it while he was eating.” We ate Cheerios every morning throughout all the years we went to grammar and middle school together;. there is not five years worth of literature written on the side of the cereal box. He just wouldn’t look at me. It was so quiet; I was so afraid to make any noise at all. I would let my cereal sit as long as I could so it would get soggy and not be too loud and crunchy when I ate it. Even now, I cannot tolerate the sound of someone eating cereal. Not only cereal, any chewing or crunching. I learned recently—from Kelly Ripa on Live with Kelly and Michael—that this is actually a real disease called “misophonia.” It’s a real thing! It makes me feel very uncomfortable, brings back the anxiety of those mornings I guess. You might be thinking it, “Why didn’t I just eat first and get dressed while he ate?” I know why; it’s gonna sound crazy, but it was because I loved him so much. I always wanted to be with him; I wanted to talk like him, watch the same shows as him. I wanted to be just like him. You know, if we didn’t eat out of the same cereal box, I’d probably pretend to read the side of my cereal box too. Just to be like him!
The lie that my brother, Tiffany, and I had learned, was confirmed and reinforced. It was now a “fact” to us and it had taken over my mind, my life. Far too many people don’t realize that these lies that children are told while their personalities are being developed contribute to a large part of who they eventually become. In my case, it shaped the way I felt about myself, my priorities, my confidence, even the way I viewed the people around me. As I grew older, I was no longer able to define myself. Yes, when I looked in the mirror or at pictures I would see the ugly face that I had grown to hate; but when I was in a social setting, I would use the people, most importantly, the boys or men, to determine how I felt about myself each day. If they showed negative attention, like if they were rude or mean, I felt very ugly and unattractive, and I would lose what little confidence I had for that day. Unless they changed their feelings or attitude towards me, I stayed that way. I was unable to change the way I felt about myself. On the other hand, if they gave me positive attention, if they were complimentary or kind, even if it was just to get me into bed as I got older—and by older I mean eleven years old—I felt pretty and happy, confident. I would be in a great mood. It wasn’t just a mood either. Of course, everyone feels better when they get compliments, and hurt if they’re insulted, but with me, and others who have BDD, it will ruin your day or your night. It even ruined some entire weekends for me. If I wasn’t able to find another man to re-define the way I felt about myself, the feeling stuck. Self-love, the whole attitude of, “Forget him, I’m great and I know it!” didn’t exist with me back then.
That is one of the main reasons why I am telling you all this. For you parents, you can never tell your child they are beautiful, brilliant, spectacular too often. That is where they will develop that attitude of self love and self worth from. That attitude is a must in order to have a happy life. You can’t allow others to have the power to “make” or “break” your spirit. Unfortunately, more often than not, they will break your spirit. You can’t depend on other people for your happiness. You cannot let other people define you. Self-love and self-confidence are as important in life as food and water are. Yes, the lack of food and water will kill you quicker, but living without self-love and self-confidence will eventually kill you. Whether you commit suicide, over- or under-eat yourself to death, accidentally overdose on drugs or alcohol, eventually it will kill you.
For me, sex was my “drug of choice.” I became addicted to sex by age twelve; it was the only thing that made me feel good because it was the only time I ever felt “pretty.” Obviously, by the Grace of God, it didn’t kill me, that’s one of the reasons why I feel I have to tell my story. Nobody calls girls like me “sick,” or feels sorry for us for having low self-esteem, they call us “sluts” or “whores” and I hope I can help change that for young girls suffering with this disease.
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Genre – Biographies & Memoirs / Self-Help
Rating – R
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