by Grace K. 7th
My first year of middle school changed my life. I pushed away plates of food, “I am not hungry,” I’d say. At night my stomach rumbled, begging for food. My ribs showed, and my weight was dropping at an unhealthy rate. But at that time, my weight wasn’t just my weight. It was my self worth. My gate was stiff, and I felt unworthy as I walked through school.
The girl who I thought was always there for me, left me. Pretending I meant nothing to her, acting as if I wasn’t there. Joining the group of kids who picked on people, throwing juicy tomatoes in the direction of anyone they didn’t approve of at the cafeteria tables. All these emotions bubbled up inside of me anger, sadness the broken, sinking feeling in my stomach. I began gossiping about how much I hated this new “popular” group. When they found out, they got permission to take me out of class to have “a talk with me”. I knew what was happening when they pulled my limp emotionless body out of advisory one afternoon. Right as one girl was about to holler at me, I started crying. Fat, cold tears dripping down my chin and soaking the knee of my blue jeans.
I am not sure why, but I just explained everything. About rehab centers and therapy, dropping scales and panic attacks. How I had marks on my arm, how I tried to crawl out my window one Sunday night. How I felt when my best friend left me. Their faces relaxed, and they just stared for a moment. Kai spoke up saying, “Sometimes I feel bad about the way I look.” I looked up. Never had it occurred to me that another person would feel a similar way, let alone a boy. Hearing that lifted weight off of my shoulders. “Your not ugly, Grace. I just want to tell you that you’re beautiful, and you don’t deserve what you’re going through.” His eyes turned big, and I knew he was telling the truth.
I’ve held that conversation with me for years. We think that we know someone, but the truth is we only know the version of them they've chosen to show us. People can have such an impact on you. Even the people you never expected to.
Oakland | East Bay, CA