I look back to how I used to treat myself, how I used to act and the way I reacted to certain things, and I honestly cringe. When you exist just to exist, when you hate being alive but do it anyway for the people you love, your vision of life becomes skewed. Life was anything but beautiful and I hated every single minute of it. I remember sitting on my mom’s porch, staring at the sunset and wishing for something to take me away. I constantly planned on running away. California, Louisiana, Florida, down the street hidden behind the dumpster, all the places I would have rather been. I hated where I was, I hated WHO I was, but I couldn't change either thing. I felt so trapped and alone in my own home. I grew into my insecurities. I grew silent and sad and craved affection and escape.
So now, when I look at that, I regret it. How can you grow around something that made you who you are today? It left such a large hole and now I have to fill it.
When the hole was building, starting my sophomore year, I remember the caving sensation in my chest. Kind of like a black hole. It sucked the light and joy out of everything. At first, I thought I was just sad. Everyone gets sad, and that’s okay, so I thought nothing of it. But when it didn’t end, and I would wake up already hating the day. Once I stopped laughing, I knew I was a goner. That feeling kept growing. I remember feeling so upset and disappointed in myself. “How could you let yourself get so bad?” I’d ask myself. “Why do you suck so bad?” I would completely tear myself down because I thought I was being stupid for being upset over seemingly nothing at all. At this point, my parents had gotten their divorce and I moved in with my mom in her small apartment, where I slept on the floor in the living room and had to go to school with my back aching. (Such a strange thing to be grateful for a bed, but I am now and always will be). The hole kept growing, it grew and grew every night as I stared at the ceiling and wished, again and again, to be somewhere other than on the floor with my head underneath a bookshelf.
The hole grew and I grew angry. I couldn’t control anything in my life other than my appearance. I didn’t take care of myself. I hardly brushed my hair, never washed my face, and didn’t let myself eat or sleep. I thought I didn’t deserve it. At lunch I would buy a cookie and a drink and laugh off the comments about anorexia with “I eat at home, I had a huge breakfast!” but I didn’t. I didn’t eat at home, I never ate breakfast, I hated food and hated the thought of having to eat food. The relationship between food and I was simple: I ate because I had to. Food was not enjoyable to me and wasn’t for a long time. I lost a lot of weight. I remember being so afraid to eat in front of people. I thought if they saw me eat a lot (since I was starving all the time), they’d think I was fat and gross. Even today, I worry about how people perceive the way I’m eating.
The hole, at this point, had taken over my chest and stomach and began to take over my head. I sincerely thought every person secretly hated my guts. I would stare at myself in the mirror, directly into my own eyes, and tell myself “everyone hates you. I hate you. It would be so much easier if you didn’t exist.” I believed myself wholeheartedly. Crazy. I remember going to sleep with the hope that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning. Life sucked. Life sucked and I hated every moment of my existence. It got so bad that I pushed people away and didn’t ask for help; in my head, if people didn’t like me anymore, they wouldn’t have cared if I died. I remember trying to plan exactly HOW I would’ve died. I thought pills would be good because hanging myself scared me and I didn’t want to drown or shoot myself. I would have probably snuck alcohol and downed it all before swallowing all the pills and dying. I would write rough drafts of notes everywhere: the margins of my notes, scraps of paper, the notes on my phone. In those notes, I would apologize and say I couldn’t do it anymore, that I felt so lonely and had felt that way for years and couldn’t see myself waking up anymore. Then I would cry and erase the note or crumple the paper or backspace until the note page was blank again. A constant cycle.
Eventually, the hole grew and I wasn’t Angie anymore. I felt empty and stupid and wrong all the time. Senior year was supposed to be good. I was supposed to get accepted to a college and be at the top of my class and win prom queen and have a good time. Life had other plans. I kept getting more sad. I realized that I was average at almost everything and bad at everything else. I was in a relationship that I shouldn’t have been in, I was still struggling at home. It was so weird to walk around with my friends and know that they didn’t know one thing. They saw me as happy Angie and didn’t pry any further. At graduation, I realized that I needed to plan for my future. How do you plan for the future, how do you live a life that you hadn’t planned for? So I applied to college, got accepted, planned to go and didn’t, and instead went to community college. I was broken up with over text, a two-year relationship gone in three seconds. My friends had everything figured out and I still didn’t know what I was doing. I still felt empty.
However, there can be good to every story. I think we all know that by now. I am sitting here writing this, and that is proof that I survived. In college, I made new friends and got closer to my older ones. I talked to people and failed to date until I realized I had a crush on an old friend from band and miraculously got with him and fell in love. I know what I’m doing, I know where I’m going. I look back at high school and remember the loneliness and emptiness of it all and compare it to how I feel today. The opposite of lonely, the opposite of empty.
I used to feel so empty. At times I thought my chest would cave in on itself. But now? Now I feel full. I feel so full of life and love for myself and others and so full of happiness that I could BURST! Everything is beautiful to me now. The smallest things excite me. I am growing into who I needed when I was younger; that is the person I am going to be. Life is beautiful and I am so grateful that I am around to enjoy it.