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I was sick.
Sometimes, I look back, and I don’t know if it was the disease eating me from the inside out, or the depression. Or maybe a combination of both. But in retrospect, it seems so impossible for a simplistic, self-provoked disease to do that to someone. The stillness, the unwillingness to breathe or someone might actually realize you were alive. When all you wanted was to sit in the background, go unnoticed, and for the first time in your life, you were getting noticed. But not because of the drastic new haircut you got, or because you started wearing makeup, or because you bought a new designer purse. It was because you were sick. But the worst thing? The very worst? Was the pity. Oh, that poor girl. Oh, maybe I should talk to her…because there’s something wrong with her. Didn’t they know? Didn’t they know it would make it worse? Just make me want to not even want to live? Oh wait. I didn’t want to live. Living meant having people stare at you. Meant making an effort to raise your head off the pillow in the morning. Life, life as Armie Callahan meant being pitied.
Let’s backtrack a bit.
It all started in the fall of my second grade year. I had just turned seven, and up until that point, I was the happy, spunky, crazy little kid who loved to smile and talk, and made friends everywhere she went. I remember as if it were yesterday. Mom dropped me off at home, and I started my homework on the kitchen counter when I heard my brother call my name.
My head shot up, and I blinked. “Yeah?”
“I need you for a quick second. Can you come here?”
I walked quickly over to his room, and knocked on the closed door. I told him I was coming in, and when he acquiesced, I reached up, turned the knob, and opened the door up to my brother. Even at that time, my brother was a good-looking boy. A little gothic, but good-looking. Tall, jet black hair, beautiful brown eyes, a mole on his left cheek. That was my brother. When I opened the door, he was sitting in a white t-shirt and some boxers, with a strange thing coming out of the hole in his underwear. Instinctively, I looked up, not wanting to stare, thinking that whatever it was, it was probably rude to look. I looked at him, swallowed awkwardly, and asked him what he needed. He laughed.
“Oh, Armie. It’s okay. You can stare. Look, when I do this, it does a little treat.”
He rubbed it up and down for a couple of minutes, and at one point, he stopped, made a funny noise, and a strange smelling white liquid came leaking out of the top. I was kind of mesmerized.
I did as he asked, and came and sat by him, never taking my eyes off of it.
“What is it?” I asked. He laughed again.
“Let’s just call it my pet. Here.” He grabbed my hand and wrapped my fingers around it. “Rub it up and down like I did. Then, for more fun, suck on it.”
I rubbed on it, but looked at him as I did it. “Suck on it? Why?”
“It’ll do more tricks.” He put his hand behind my head, and pushed it down towards his pet. I gently sucked on it. It tasted a little salty, and I could barely fit it in my mouth.
“Look at me, but keep going.”
He was seventeen, and I wasn’t about to disrespect him, so I complied.
“Don’t tell mom, Armie, and I’ll give you a chocolate bar, ok?”
“Ooh! Be careful. Richard is sensitive.”
That was our game, for the next few weeks, he would call me in, and we would play until he made a couple little sounds, and then we drove to Ralphs and got me any candy I wanted. One day though, we played for an entire hour, and he didn’t make his usual sound. He got really frustrated, and then calmly asked me to take off my pajama bottoms. I did so, and he pulled down my undies.
I was scared, but laid down on the carpet. It hurt my back a little, and it was a little scratchy. He put one leg over my body, and the other on the other side of my body. I remember squealing a little, because I was scared.
“Be quiet. I’m going to ride you.”
“We’re playing horsie?” I asked. He smiled.
The pain was excruciating. Like every bone in my body was splitting into shards, and my legs were being snapped in half. I remember grabbing the door frame, and vaguely hearing his making the loudest sound I had ever heard. Through my vision that was blurred with pain, I saw him stand up, and put on his clothes.
“No more playing for today, Armie. Ready to go get your candy bar? But I was already gone. The world went dark, and I passed out on his bedroom floor.
Not for many more years, did I ever tell someone about Abram. When I was in the fifth grade, I told a boy about it, and though he promised me he wouldn’t tell anybody, he told his mom, and child protective services came to my school to talk to me. I didn’t tell them anything and kept my mouth shut. But they called my home. Every day. And every day I would run into the house as soon as I got in from school and deleted every message on the machine. Eventually,they came to my house and spoke to my parents. There was a lot of crying, and my mom kept on saying, “not my daughter”. Abram was long gone and we hadn’t heard from him since his eighteenth birthday. Later, they explained everything that happened, and I realized it. I lost my virginity. At seven. I was raped. By my brother. I cried for a long time after that too. Nothing was going to be the same. I lived in a small town, and everybody soon came to learn me as “that poor girl”. And from that moment on, I becamed part of an elite group of the pitied.
The very next year, my dad became diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was told he didn’t have much time. It didn’t seem real to me. There was so much work then. Chemotherapy. Hospital visits. And I just wanted to fade away. I had barely any friends, and I felt like no one loved me. I went on a series of rampages with different guys from high schools who were looking to get laid, and I was more than willing to be a vessel. At least I would feel something. But the year after that, the sex stopped. Why? His name was Max Jacobsen. And I thought I wanted to marry him. He was perfect. A talented percussionist in band, big, beautiful green eyes, soft brown hair, and he was nice to me every time I talked to him. I was going to be there forever and always, through everything for him, and was going to grow old with him. So I told him. And it was bad. He told me that I was creepy and that he hated me. I don’t think people understand the true meaning of the word hate. It’s most definitely the most powerful word on the planet. And from then on, I hated him. On the outside at least. Within my mind, I still thought I was going to marry him and have adorable kids that would run around the back yard with our beagle. In the eighth grade, he got worse. He and his “posse” would taunt me. They called me names every day. Some days I was a chode, or a whore, and other days I was ugly and untalented. But one day, he said it, “You stupid fat whore.”
That word, to this day, makes me want to cry and tear at the walls. So when went home that day, that’s exactly what I did. I screamed. Cried. Scratched at the walls in my bedroom. And then I remembered something. Throwing up makes you skinnier. It made sense. Throwing up. You’re giving up all you eat and more. And maybe, maybe if I was skinnier, Max would love me. He would apologize for all the horrible things he said and we’d love each other for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer. So I opened my door, crawled to the bathroom and danced a tonsil tango. I vomited easily to my surprise. I shoved two fingers down my throat and continued until I thought I couldn’t throw up anymore. I felt…accomplished. Something inside applauded this action, and I couldn’t wait to do it again. So I did. And the next day, and the next, and every day after that for five months until one day, my mom started talking to me about my day, and I threw up on her shoes. She screamed a little, and then asked me what was wrong. But I fell to the floor and fainted. I woke up this time in the hospital. My eyes fluttered open, and as soon as I was aware of where I was, I sat up.
“Mom?” I said, I felt like it was a little painful to talk, and my voice was hoarse.
She was sitting in a chair next to my bedside, her brown hair a little grayer, and her big blue eyes a little duller. She jolted awake, saw that I was too, and called a nurse.
“Mom? What’s wrong with me? Why am I here?”
She bit her lip for a second, and then exploded.
“ARMIE! I didn’t understand why you were getting so skinny. I kept feeding you, but you seemed to get skinnier, and so I fed you more and that didn’t work either. You’re BULIMIC?! What possessed you to have the thought of throwing up to lose weight cross your mind? What is wrong with you?” She instantly clamped her hand onto her mouth, but it was done. Even my own mother thought I wasn’t perfect. I was about to say something really dramatic when the nurse walked in with her horribly cheery scrubs.
“Ms. Armie. Good to see you’re finally awake.”
“What’s wrong with me?”
“We’ll have Dr. Lawrence talk to you.”
“Yes. He is your doctor.”
After that, she checked my temperature did other weird things with my IV poles, and then left. Later that day, Dr. Lawrence came in and explained to me the situation. My bulimia had made my stomach acid had burned the walls of my throat. The walls were damaged badly, and surgery was done on them almost immediately when I came to the hospital. My body was so used to throwing up, it started to vomit on its own which explained why I threw up on my moms shoes. I wasn’t supposed to be talking much, and I’d have to do several sessions of physical and mental therapy in order to fully recover. I think he also asked me some questions but I didn’t answer anything. I just cried. And cried. He eventually left, and I eventually stopped crying, but it was still there. This lingering feeling. I couldn’t cry anymore, but the world outside me was blurry and nothing seemed right. I was a stupid, sick, whore who was sitting in a hospital bed, getting ready to go to rehab. For months after that, even when I went back to school, I was just pitied. Stared at. Even Max didn’t taunt me for the first few months. But I sat in the back, stared blankly at the people, and didn’t even pretend to listen. I didn’t think, I didn’t breathe, I didn’t want to be alive.
In those few months, I attempted suicide and failed miserably. With the help of a therapist, I reevaluated my life. It was all wrong. My friends, the people I thought I could trust, my ideas. I made a pact with myself of five things.
5. Quit smoking and doing drugs.
4. Find someone who will love you for your soul- not your body.
3. Find a passion.
1. Fall off the face of the earth for a while.
And I did. I didn’t talk to anybody for the entire summer after that. I let go of my friends, patched up the enemies I made, including Max, smoked my last cigarette, ate three square meals a day, and cleaned up my act. In my freshman year of highschool, I fell in love with an amazing boy who learned my past, acceepted it, and loved me all the same. To him, I wasn’t Armie The Sad Girl, I was Armie, the beautiful, and smart, and perfect. He helped me through the hard times when my father passed away that year, and tutored me when I needed it. But most importantly, I found my passion in life that year. Marching band. I woke up at 5 AM every morning, so excited to put on my marching band shoes and create something kind of magical. People there liked me for me, and slowly, through band, I found the happy, geeky girl that I grew up with. And for the first time in my life since the second grade, I felt truly at ease. What can I say? Sometimes pain is the only way to find true happiness. You may ask me, what IS happiness to you? Have you figure it out? My answer?
Yes. For me, happiness is simple. Playing World of Warcraft with my boyfriend, marching band during first semester, and LOVING MYSELF.