K got sick, he fell because he couldn’t feel his feet. They said he had a disease called Guillain-Barré which is a rare condition caused by an illness that weakens the muscles due to an attack on the central nervous system. The disease progressed until he was unable to use his legs or hands and he had to be in a wheelchair. He couldn’t do much for himself, he couldn’t even light his own cigarettes. We had to switch rooms because he couldn’t get the wheelchair into his room and my room was closer to the bathroom. I was very mean to him, I would taunt him and call him all sorts of names because he couldn’t get to me. Our older brother, D, was no longer living at home and I was thankful for that but I was still very angry and depressed. I took it out on K and my parents. I guess I wanted to punish the rest of the family because nobody did anything to save me.
After I completed middle school my parents decided we needed to move to a larger house that was also handicap accessible for K. My parents let me pick out the biggest room aside from theirs and got me a rescue dog to try to cheer me up, it didn’t work and the dog didn’t really take to me anyway. One day my mom took me to enroll in my new school. It was so far out in the country or so I thought. I was floored when I saw it, it was the smallest school I’d ever seen and it had a gravel parking lot. When we went in I thought we must have traveled back in time because the kids clothing and hairstyles were seriously out-dated. I was used to a large suburban school full of yuppies! The guidance counselor was shocked when we told her where our new house was, she wondered who was moving into the mansions up there. What?? Anyway, all this gave me an idea, what if I transformed myself and put on a different personality when I started this new school?
That’s exactly what I did. I somehow convinced my parents that they should turn over the check from Social Security each month that came for me because my dad had died. I don’t remember how but it worked and I immediately went shopping for a new wardrobe. I picked up all kinds of designer stuff, trendy clothes, several watches, tons of shoes and all new makeup and Chanel perfume. I practiced being a different person, having imaginary conversations with potential popular friends. Coming up with an interesting back story of my made up popularity.
I walked into school on that first day as a total stranger to myself. I had on makeup and complete designer outfit down to the piece de résistance…trendy tennis shoes. I held my head high and smiled at anyone I thought was “cool” or “cute” in some way. Of course, I didn’t really know who I was dealing with, the kids there were different from the ones at my old school. Within hours of starting my day a girl accosted me and threatened to beat me up. She told me that I thought I was hot stuff and called me a whore. This statement sent me in a spiral of anger and depression, I ran away to the bathroom until the bell rang and wiped some of the makeup off. I thought maybe she could tell that it was fake and that I wasn’t a virgin and maybe I was a whore.
I had to go to the gymnasium with all the other freshman to do some testing. I was freaked out, I didn’t know anyone and wasn’t sure who I was going to sit with. I was looking around and out of the blue a girl waves me over to her table, she is there with a few other girls but I didn’t really notice because this girl was the prettiest girl I had ever seen in person. I went to sit with her and she introduced herself, L. She started talking to me about moving back there and so she was kind of new too. She talked a lot and asked a lot of questions. I felt compelled to be myself with her but I also tried to stay positive and “bubbly” like her. I didn’t know it at the time but she would become my best friend.
Later that day I met another one of my best friends. G was in my algebra class and it was split by lunch so she asked if I wanted to eat with her. Turns out she knows everyone and she is pretty and cool so I said yes. We hit it off and it made me feel a lot better to have someone to talk to at lunch instead of sitting by myself. She was in a couple of my classes so that made it even better.
I quickly became friends with many of the kids in my class as well as some upperclassman. I went to school events and joined some clubs, I even had a date for homecoming. I truly believed that people only liked me because they didn’t know the real me or what happened to me. Everyday I would go home I would start to feel depressed and angry. I continued to act out at home and treat my parents terribly. I tried with all my might to keep anyone at school from seeing the real me. I became very anxious about everything and I never said anything but I always felt like I was on the edge of a breakdown. I made everyone at school love, I made them laugh and think I was strong and confident. It just wasn’t real.