“Skinny shit!” L laughed, as did all my other friends. I was clueless. What the hell did that even mean? I mean, I knew we were all friends, now. But it was only the next day and it seemed like they already had a private joke. The more I thought about it, the more I started to truly wonder what had been going on.
During tea time, we were all sitting on the bench, eating our snacks. I was too distracted, but I should have been excited now that I was friends with my enemy. She was off my back. Or so I thought.
We were partaking in general discussion of music we had seen on Rage over the weekend, when L got up and danced and sung “Skinny Shit!” My other friends laughed.
It was then that I knew – I was “Skinny Shit”. She, and all the other girls who I thought were my friends, were laughing at me. They were laughing at my weight. I looked down at my knees, they were bony. My wrists – tiny. I could easily wrap my hand around it, with the tips of my fingers hanging over. But that was as far as I got into that kind of thinking, I was too young to think of body image issues then.
I was frustrated for a multitude of reasons: how could all these girls laugh at me for something I couldn’t help? And I thought they were my friends. Here they were, probably calling each other after school and laughing about my weight. And they were blatantly calling me skinny shit, right to my face, and laughing about it.
I was 11! 11 years old. I was still a baby. And I didn’t know how to defend myself. I felt alone. I had no friends. I couldn’t trust anyone.
It was then that I knew I was truly fighting alone.
As my thoughts got darker, so did my expression. I stopped laughing, smiling – expressing any kind of emotion. I didn’t want to betray myself and I didn’t want to give those assholes any reason to pick on me. But I couldn’t really help that. As long as I’d show up to school, they’d have something to tear apart. And the best way I knew how to deal with it, was to stop emoting. Then I couldn’t feel anything. Nothing at all.
“My god, why don’t you smile?” My 7th grade teacher asked me, when the class erupted in laughter over something possibly hilarious in a novel we were reading. She had pointed me out of the entire class. I don’t know if she meant to make me look or feel like an idiot, or if she was just genuinely thinking aloud, but she did a great job at the former.
I would normally shrink into my chair, but I couldn’t speak. At first, I didn’t think she was talking to me. I looked around. I guess I hadn’t even noticed I wasn’t laughing or smiling. My face just wouldn’t go that way anymore. But I realised the entire class was now looking at me. I looked at them.
So – If I was myself, I got picked on. If I was quiet and tried to fly under the radar, I got picked on. I couldn’t do anything for people to just goddamn leave me alone.
They seemed uncomfortable, and my teacher moved on with the story without my answer. I eyeballed her, mad that she had even asked the question. I could tell she possibly felt bad because she didn’t look at me for the rest of the day. I wanted to yell at her and ask her why she picked me out like that? I didn’t ask for it from my peers, so I certainly didn’t want it from her. A supposed authority figure.
Over the coming weeks, I began to wonder: Why DON’T I smile? I mean, I know I had begun to feel so gloomy after everyone hated me, but I had gone so deep that I had forgotten why I wasn’t smiling. I was 12 – that’s the age where kids are supposed to smile and enjoy life, right? But I wasn’t. I was deeply depressed. And not only did I want to just bludgeon all those terrible girls for making my life a living hell, my mother was making life even worse.
Have you ever been water boarded? I have. My mother has water boarded me at least a handful of times. Once she did it when she shoved a block of soap so far up my mouth that I almost choked. I was in so much shock that I couldn’t resist what was happening to me.
I guess maybe you’d wonder what I did. For that particular time, I asked her why she even gave birth to me after she beat the shit out of me. And she beat the shit out of me because she came home to find me watching television, instead of working on my homework.
It was like that for most of my life. My mother would fly off the handle at the most mundane shit. I once had a friend over and got in trouble for laughing “too loud”. My mother yanked me out of the room by my wrist, pulled me so close to her face I thought she’d bite my nose off, and seethed “If I hear you laugh again, your friend is out of here.”.
If my friend had not been there, my mother most probably would have grabbed me by my hair, shoved me over the sink and shoved soap in my mouth with one hand whilst she splashed water up my nose with the other.
When I was 16, I finally got up the courage to tell my mother to go fuck herself. She said she’d remind me of what I said when she was on her death bed. I told her that I hoped she would, if she’d be so lucky for me to even come see her.