Brenna from Five Awesome YA Fans joins us for It Gets Better Week!
My story starts out almost 20 years ago. I was born to a man and a woman who lived in a large house. They had two other children, a son and a daughter, by the time I was three. Our life was seemingly perfect. My mother was a travel agent and owned the local newspaper, but somehow always found time to volunteer with our preschool. My father was a photographer and also volunteered with our preschool. My siblings and I had all the toys we could ever want, a pool to swim in, and a big yard to run around in. But no story is perfect, and mine is no exception.
When I was six years old, my parents announced they were getting a divorce. When I was 8 years old, my dad brought a man home -- a boyfriend, he said. When I was 9 years old, my mom remarried. The man she married -- Jason -- was, and still is, one of the most horrible people I’ve ever met. He was abusive to me, my siblings, and, most of all, to my mother. While these were all huge moments in my life, I never realized it at the time. My parents divorce seemed like an exciting thing -- I’d have two houses, and, best of all, two Christmases! I didn’t understand the concept of ‘gay’, and, to me, it seemed normal because I’d never been told otherwise. My mom’s marriage to Jason was horrible, but for many years, it was all I knew. A day without fighting seemed odd to me. Because of this, there isn’t an exact moment I can pinpoint and say ‘That’s where it all went downhill’. It all just sort of all built up until it collapsed in a giant pile of debris with me underneath it all.
I can’t remember when I first thought about harming myself, but I do know I first acted on it in 7th grade. It started with the hair tie I would wear around my wrist every day. I would snap it against my skin until the area became red and inflamed. Gradually, it escalated to actual cuts that would bleed and leave scars -- scars I still have today. I would always use a safety pin to hurt myself because I enjoyed the irony of it. For years no one noticed, no one cared enough to notice, and I didn’t care enough about anyone to tell them. It was my own secret, my own escape from reality. I felt pride when I looked at my cuts. To me, they were each a story -- that time mom and Jason fought on my sister’s birthday, that time a friend didn’t show up to school on my big day, that time I got my heart broken. I can still look at the scars today and tell you what each one was a result of.
Finally, in May of 2007, my dad started to notice. I had recently gone through my first real breakup, and he began to realize that something was terribly wrong. It was hard for me to even fake my smiles anymore. In a moment I regretted for years afterwards, I let my guard down and my long-sleeve shirt slipped up my arm, revealing my cuts. My dad saw them and immediately took me to the doctor to get me on anti-depressants and signed me up for weekly therapy sessions. While I regretted that moment for a long time, I eventually realized that that moment of weakness was what saved my life. I don’t have a single doubt in my mind that, without the help I received as a result of that moment, I would not be alive today. Because of that moment I’m happy again, because of that moment my mom got the courage to leave Jason, because of that moment I’m a better person, and, most importantly, because of that moment, I realized that IT GETS BETTER!
Not every bully is that kid in class. Sometimes it’s the person you have to go home to every day. Even worse, sometimes that bully is yourself. Remember that, no matter what, you deserve the best in your life and you have the power to give it to yourself. Getting help is hard, but asking for it could save your life. And, trust me, your life is worth saving.
I encourage you to think of your life as one of those really great books -- you know, the kind where you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen next and you keep turning the page because you just have to find out. Every character has something to overcome, but if you stick it out until the very end, I’m sure you’ll find that everything turns out great.
Teen to teen peer counseling hotline: 1-877-YOUTHLINE
Hopeline: 1-800-442-HOPE - http://www.hopeline.com/
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255