I’ll be frank, I spent the best part of my life aspiring to be someone else. Idolizing what I know now as false idols of happiness. Dreaming of one day being able to look my bullies in the face and say, “ha ha!” look at me know! Usually daydreams of becoming famous with legions of adoring fans who hang on my every word, walking into a room looking fabulous while everyone turns to see me in all my wonderful glory. Again, so I can say to the bullies, “wish you knew me now?”
I spent so much time developing a plan for sweet revenge that all the while my whole life was slipping away from me. All these dreams involved me doing things which involved getting up off my ass and actually doing it! Instead I would retreat to my dark room, listen to music and wait for the day when I would be what I wanted. Popular, skinny, pretty and desirable. Rich, loved, admired.
There’s only so much waiting one can do. There comes a point when, in order to make things happen, you have to get the ball rolling yourself. Unfortunately for me, so many years of being taunted led to many years of mental health. Dark days spent hating everything about yourself has such an impact on your heart you don’t realize the long-term pain it can cause you and to others around you. I spent so much time hoping the people that didn’t give a toss about me or my feelings would notice me, I forgot about those who did. Getting this ball rolling proved to be a lot harder than I thought.
In order to grow you must cut back. In my case, a lot needed cutting. Eventually leading me half way across the world to England where I would plant myself for the next 15 years. Originally from Detroit Michigan, most of my childhood was spent finding new beginnings with my parents and young sister. We moved a fair bit but eventually finding home in Windsor, Ontario Canada. Part of my unique make up included an eclectic heritage of Lebanese and Native American Indian, with the roots of our tribe in Canada. Once in Canada, I believe this is where things started. I went from being confident to being “the new girl” at a school, that spoke a different language. Not all the time but it was intimidating to know most of the children I was now mixing with were bilingual. I had an unusual look and a funny accent which would plague me until I eventually graduated school. Of course, the road to graduation wasn’t easy. When I went from primary school to high school, I started to gain weight. Gaining weight, developing bad skin, and struggling to fit in to any group of friends was tricky. In my heart, I was a good person. A good friend. Of course, none of these matter when it comes to fitting in high school and rather than focusing on my good traits, I was relentlessly heckled and ridiculed for being overweight.
It got to a point where the bullying was so bad my only escape was through physical pain. I began to self-harm. It was only when I began to internally self-harm that the true nature of my illness began to come through. Years that followed are hard to remember. Not because I can’t but because they are still very painful and raw. I can look back now and see how much I wanted attention. Not in the spoiled sense but just to feel happy, wanted, I just wanted to fit in. My past loosely consists of drugs, doing stupid things to get those drugs and whatever would numb the pain of current life at the time. My parents were going through tough times, separation, and eventually divorce. Which didn’t help.
It’s difficult to pin point the moment I lost it. Those days are clouded into one and are mixture of things that happened at different times but somehow meld together into one big moment. I lost it bad. Enough was enough and that was that. I didn’t want to hear the taunts anymore. I didn’t want to hear the arguments anymore. I didn’t want to bury myself in false love anymore. I attempted suicide.
When I woke up I realized not only that I had failed but that I knocked something out of me that I carried for so many years. That little shit cloud that hung so low over my head was lifted and that voice in my head telling me I will never be good enough was quiet. For the moment, anyway.
Fast forward out of the dark and begin to make my way into the fog towards the light I now wanted. Discovering the internet tested my vulnerability eventually but lead me to another country in the hopes of finding my happy ending, or beginning rather. However, what waited for me was a different story.
Finding myself in a toxic relationship, trapped with nowhere to go. I find myself bullied once again only this time by the one person who should be protecting me. Having all the things I hated about myself physically and emotionally constantly brought up as if they were some sort of joke! Then panned off as light banter. I could feel myself slipping back to old ways. Doing stupid things so that I could feel anything other than dread. I was attacked.
That was it. In the months following, I needed rehabilitation with many doctors in order to be able to go out of the house. It had a last effect of my self-esteem and triggered old habits. The attack on me was physical and it destroyed many parts of my life as well as fuelling fire of already existing issues such as the self-harm.
Sometimes in order to be free from pain we have to endure it. I don’t like that saying, but it holds some truth. I had my fair share at this point. I didn’t want to live that way and I didn’t want my children seeing me that way. I picked them up and left behind everything, including my old self. I decided that I did not, in any circumstance, want my children to go through any part of what I did. In particular, my girls. Of course, it wasn’t that simple but basically, yeah, we just left.
My one goal is that my kids look to me and see that ‘mom is a bit weird, loud and has questionable fashion sense but she’s happy. She doesn’t let comments about her blue hair bother her! If she can do it, I can do it.’ I’m done trying to fit in to crowds, too old to play those games. If people see me and decide they don’t like me without getting to know me, that’s fine. I’m not going to stop my day and find out why. I have fare more important things to do with my time. Like learn how to make an axe on Minecraft.
Getting trapped in a self loathing cycle is destructive to yourself and your family. Cliched advice would tell you to “listen to your heart” and honestly I would too. However it’s not just your heart you listen too because can keep you in places you’re not happy with. Take yourself out of the moment, what ever it is that’s causing you pain. If you think “anything is better than this” that’s your cue! No matter how big your support network is, friends, family, colleagues. That decision is yours to make and often if you talk about it too much you will get someone who won’t agree. Too many cooks and all that jazz.
If you’re leaving a relationship, want to end an addiction, suffering with mental health, etc this is your first point of call. You’ll feel better already. Doctors, nurses, helplines are all great places to talk over your plans and seek advice to keep you safe and healthy. I would never say to someone to make a decision that would cause more harm than good, so please talk to one of these pro’s. You are about to start your life over again and grab it by the cojones, you want to be strong!
Find your strength, that fire in your gut that rumbles away, and channel it. This is the energy that will get you through those days when you start to doubt. They do come and sometimes it seems easier and less hassle to just give up. That’s when the strength kicks in and reminds you how much better life is going to be. The road is bumpy; it twists and turns but when it’s all over you emerge like a phoenix out of the ashes. Empowered, confident and strong.
My name is DeAnna. This is why I’m writing for the Just Be Revolution. I hope that through my experiences, I can encourage positive changes that empower those suffering out of their personal darkness. No one should feel any less worth because of someone else. I’m ready, are you?
DeAnna’s 'Blue Chameleon' blog series focuses on rebuilding self-confidence after suffering through difficult times. DeAnna lives in Cambridge, England with her family, cats and dog. She credits a portion of happiness to her partner, Pete, punctuation manager and chief spelling corrector of “cojones”.