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With The Pull Of A String
I've only scared myself a few times in my life. Most of those times have come and gone without a second thought. But this one, it's stuck with me today. It's there in the back of my head every single day, trying so hard to poke through my wall and get back into my thoughts.
It was Grade 8 when I noticed that other girls were skinnier than me. I had been made fun of for years, for as long as I could remember. I would fall asleep crying at night thinking of the bullying that had been thrown my way that day. I started to believe I was a loser, that I wasn't pretty and that I was better off somewhere else. I looked around at the other girls in my class and saw the fun they were having, the laughter and the smiles. Things that were unfamiliar to me.
I had become used to the idea of not having friends. I was used to having guys not like me when I crushed so hard on them. I was used to it. I held the scars deep inside for no one but myself to see. I didn't want them to know they were affecting me. I just wanted to be left alone.
Gradually, I started to cut back on food. I cut back until meals consisted of nothing but a glass of water and the occasional apple to sustain my sometimes over-powering hunger. People started to notice me getting skinnier, and their fun started all over again. They had found something new to hold over my head, something new to torment me about. The majority of it was them thinking I was doing it for attention. But they were so wrong. I was vulnerable at school; I had nothing. But what I ate was something that was all mine. I could control everything to do with my eating habits. I controlled what I ate, how much I ate, and when I ate. Food was my puppet and I held the strings.
I had never been in control of something before and it made me feel strong against my tormenters. I had no power over them, no authority towards what they said to me. It was the opposite with my classmates; they pulled the strings and I moved accordingly. Knowing that something in my life was under my control made me feel a little better. I could withstand the blows they put towards me because I had something they could never take away from me, or in this case, make me do.
The thing I had chosen to take control of though, was not the right one. The bullies, the puppeteers, were still in control. They wanted me to hurt and when they pulled their strings, I did hurt. But now, I was hurting myself as well. It left them with less work because I was now the one who was doing the work. I couldn't see that though, and I wouldn't be able to. It had become somewhat of an obsession of mine, something I enjoyed doing. I saw the results every day and slowly drew myself in. I pulled away from my classmates, let their strings slowly break. I was becoming the person I wanted to be – skinny and pretty.
What I didn't know was skinny is not pretty. I had become ugly, and seeing it only made me angrier. My anger and desire caused a vicious cycle that would do me no good. I ate less and less, found reasons to skip dinner and breakfast, would “forget” to pack lunches. Anything I could do to make myself skinnier, I tried. I even tried taking my mom's diet pills, hoping I'd shed those last few pounds that would make me the pretty girl I wanted to see.
I went through this cycle, on and off, for two long years. I would come out of this state of wanting to be skinny and start eating again only to find myself constantly looking in the mirror and criticizing what I saw, wanting it to change. The desire to pull those strings became so strong that I was overwhelmed with the idea of eating. I had something in my life to control and that's what I thought I needed.
My ideas on eating changed, though. It was the summer of Grade 11 and I was having fun. I surrounded myself with friends who made me happy, and people I didn't have to compete with. Slowly at first, I started to cut the strings that I used to control my eating habits. I no longer wanted to be the puppeteer; instead, I wanted to live my life.
When that last string was finally cut, a new outlook came over me. I saw that I was exactly who I will always be and there is no changing that. I realized that I needed to accept myself the way I am, the beautiful person I knew I could be.
I look at myself now and see the struggles I have faced. On occasion, I still face those struggles but I am strong enough to overcome them. I have not only cut my own strings, though; I have also cut the strings that held me to those old classmates. Their words can no longer affect me; I have learned to let them bounce off me. Words are just said and can be ignored, but what can't be ignored is the new-found confidence that those years have given me.
I should thank those puppeteers; they helped make me the person I am today. I know who I am and I will never try to change myself. I am who I am, I now control every aspect of my life with just the pull of a string.