How do I talk to my teenager?

Scream

Communicating with a teenager can be like banging your head against a brick wall. The parent/teen rivalry has not changed from when I was a teen, but accepting that being a teenager today is different from years ago and so too is the way we communicate. Communicating with your teenager doesn’t mean you have to go out and learn all the new slang (although sometimes that does help a little), it is understanding where they are coming from so the communication between parent and child stays alive.

When you think your teenager won’t listen to you, or you have tried everything to make your teen listen, and things are still not working, maybe it’s time to take advice from the teen’s themselves. Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg has often talked about teens wanting to be treated with respect, wanting to be treated like adults and often feel that they are not being listened to. This of course, must go both ways for a successful connection.

[Read more…]

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If I stay – movie review

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If I Stay was a really touching movie. Since I’m a teenage girl I found myself really emotionally invested in the characters. I fell in love with Adam as Mia did. I cried, multiple times, all throughout the movie. As a real “sook” (as mum likes to refer to me) I always seem to find myself crying over any sort of hard-hitting emotional scene.

Since I am a real nerd, I did my research. I have loved Chloe Moretz for ages and my love for her has been reaffirmed in If I stay. She was a real standout and perfectly captured Mia’s character. Although Mia was the main character, I think the casting overall was great. Jamie Blackley (Adam, Mia’s love interest) whilst being incredibly good looking, was an amazing Adam. He really took on his character and made him alive.

My only problem with the film was the plot changes. It was overall true to the novel but I felt the few things they did change were too important to the story to have been changed. The main point they changed that was pointless was keeping a character alive longer than needed. It didn’t make any difference to the movie and only confused fans of the book.

If I Stay was a heart wrenching movie that is in the same category as favourite movies such as The Notebook and The Fault in Our Stars. I do, however, think that the director had so much potential but failed to fulfil it properly. There was so much that could have been done with the movie. Despite that, I did really enjoy If I Stay and hope they make a movie out of the second book, Where She Went.

Ash

Look, I liked the movie but I just couldn’t love it. I shed a little tear every now and then (nothing at all like The fault in our stars ) but I struggled with the emotional attachment. I also struggled with connecting with the characters in the book too, even more so than in the movie. I do not often say the movie is better than the book, but in this case I would happily say that if you had a choice to either read the book or watch the movie, I say go the movie.

Even though Ash and I are worlds apart in age ( OK maybe not worlds but a little different), we often share similar taste in lots of books and movies. This is one time I must say we are worlds apart. Love you Ash but this was just not for me.

cheers natalie

Movie Review – “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

The movie adaptation of Gone Girl was simply spectacular. Considering I only read the book, by Gillian Flynn, quite recently, I can say that the movie was very accurate. Before I watched the movie I was really worried about how they would pull off the complicated plot. Now I think it’s safe to say that I was worried over nothing.

For me, the standout of the movie was the casting. Amy, portrayed by Rosamund Pike, and Nick, portrayed by Ben Affleck, were simply superb. I think that they really channeled the characters created by Gillian. Whilst watching the movie you truly believed that they were Nick and Amy. Laray Madfield has done a brilliant job of finding actors who not only look, but were the characters.

As well as the casting, I thought that the overall plot was incredible. It didn’t lose anything important from the novel and didn’t have any major plot changes (unlike some movies). My grandma watched the movie with us and hadn’t read the book. We both loved it. I thought it had just the right amount of change to keep fans of the book on the edge of their seats.

Despite the fact that I knew what happened, I was kept in suspense the entire time. A few times I had to remind myself of what happened because I found myself being persuaded by what the movie wants you to think happened. I loved that I felt as if the whole story was unfurling right in front of my eyes. Watching Gone Girl made you feel very sane and rather normal.  Ashxxx

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What an amazing movie “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn was. The movie was very close to the book so I don’t want to say much for those who have not read the book. But even if you haven’t read the book, go see the movie as the twists and turns will shock you.

The movie is based on a young couple Amy and Nick, who are celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. Every year Amy plays a game on their anniversary leaving clues for Nick to find about their life, making it into a sort of treasure hunt. The day of the anniversary is the day Amy disappears from the family home under suspicious circumstances. The police become involved when clues are found surrounding her disappearance and all evidence is looking like Nick is responsible for her murder. The only problem is there is no body. This is when the story becomes intriguing and where I will stop writing.

The movie was full of suspense, intrigue, romance, violence and sex. I am not sure I would take a 14 year old to see this movie (yes I did take Ashlea) but I was unaware of how graphic it was.

cheers natalie xxx

Book Review – “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman

imagesIf I Stay, by Gayle Forman, is basically one of the most heart wrenching novels I’ve ever read. I got so attached to Mia, the protagonist, and cried anytime she had an even remotely sad thought. I fell in love with Adam, her boyfriend, as her entire relationship played out before me from the beginning.

The book is written a bit weirdly. Mia’s family died in a car crash. Mia was also in the car and was critically injured. The story follows Mia as she makes the decision whether or not she decides to stay on earth and live or whether she wants to die and join her family. The story is set in two different times, Mia reliving her past (whether with Adam or her family) and Mia as she watches herself undergo surgery.

The story is like an emotional roller-coaster. One second I was laughing at a funny memory and the next I am crying after Mia receives heartbreaking news. I cried for a good fifty percent of the book (but that might have something to do with the fact that I am apparently a big sook who cries at everything). The novel is so well written it’s really hard to remember that I am not Mia.

I think that If I Stay is appropriate for people over the age of twelve purely because of the overwhelming tear factor I felt throughout the whole book. I also think it is directed more towards girls mainly because I can’t see either my brother or my dad enjoying it. I think this is a “chick flick” book like The Notebook or My Sisters Keeper.

💕ash

If I stay by Gayle Forman is book based around how one decision can have a major impact on your life. The main character Mia, a senior school student, is involved in a car accident where her life has been affected in irreparable  ways. It is ultimately up to Mia to decide whether she dies or whether she lives.

Mia’s inner soul is watching over her body in the hospital, analysing the life she had and the life she will have if she lives. Her interactions with her boyfriend Adam, her family members and her best friend Kim, aid in her making the ultimate decision, one I hope never to make.

Yes it was an emotional book but I found I couldn’t relate to the characters in the first half of the book and only began to understand them in the later half. It was an easy read, even though it contained serious themes. Would recommend it but be ready for a slow start.

cheers natalie

 

Check out my other site – http://www.PreciousMemoriesByNatalie.com.au

Teenagers and stress…

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I don’t remember stressing about much as a teenager but one thing I know made me feel sick in the stomach was exams. Even though Ashlea is not quite doing exams, she must complete end of term testing in all her subjects. I haven’t seen a change in her behaviour, in fact, she seems to thrive on the testing and loves getting her results.

When teenagers are dealt with a difficult or an uncommon situation, how do they handle this in our busy world of technology? There is nowhere to hide now, and many teenagers feel the pressure ( or the perceived pressure) unsure of how to handle their emotions.

Teenagers see themselves through other people, constantly comparing. Friends are a major influence on teenagers and many will mimic their peers when it comes to handling stress. The last thing we want as parents is to find children turning to alcohol, drugs or other substances to elevate stress. Parents are still major influences on young teenagers and if they see their parents unable to cope with daily stresses, often the child will develop the same coping mechanism. Asking for help when the situation becomes too difficult is essential when dealing with stress and allowing the teenager to understand that there is always someone who can take on some of their burden. Some quick ways to handle stressful situations:

  1. Taking 10 deep breaths before taking any action.

  2. Sleeping on the problem makes the mind clearer.

  3. Taking time out, gene to go for a walk without distractions can help clear the mind.

Another great way to communicate with a teenager on handling stress is to have boundaries in place. As a parent, it is our job to set up the safest learning environment possible, giving our children the highest chance to succeed. This environment requires boundaries, safe and secure boundaries which children may try to move, but overall feel a sense of security within them.

Finally, try to put the situation into perspective for the child. Often they see only the one event which is causing them stress. It is our role as parents to show them the bigger picture, guiding them in the direction of their goals with as minimal of stress as possible.

How do you teach your teenager to handle stress?

cheers natalie

Book Review – “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is one of those novels that takes a bit to get into, but once you’re hooked there is no setting it down. I found the first half of the book slow and quite difficult for me to read. I think this is because the first half of the book is basically a big lead up to the second half. Once you hit the half way mark, you hit the really interesting part that makes you seriously think about everything that is happening in the book.

This is the first mystery book that I have ever read and frankly, I loved it. I loved the constant thinking you had to do to figure out what happened to Amy. I loved analysing the characters and the reasons and motives behind every single thing they do. The second half of the book had me on the edge of my seat and constantly made me second guess the theories I was positive were correct.

The characters were the type of characters who developed as you read. For the first few chapters you really didn’t know much about Amy and Nick which was one of the first things that really bored me in the beginning. It gradually built up the storyline until finally, around that amazing half way point I keep mentioning, you get a major plot twist that basically refused to let you stop reading.

Once I had finished Gone Girl, I was in shock at the ending. As per the rest of the book, every theory I had about the ending was wrong. I’m not sure whether this says more about the authors writing skills or about my obviously terrible sense of judgement. I really enjoyed the book though, despite its slow beginning. Hopefully, mum and I will be able to read her other books and review them at a later date.
Ash xxx

I love doing book reviews as reading is such a passion for both Ashlea and myself. It also brings us closer together as it gives us a common interest and another line of communication. Now that’s off my chest, let’s discuss the book.

I read this book while away on a family holiday to Bali and can recommend it as a perfect, light holiday read.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is her third novel and, for me, the best so far. The book is set in Missouri and is based around an imperfect marriage facade. Nick and Amy have been married for 5 years and from an outsiders point of view, seem to have a perfect marriage. When Amy unexpectedly disappears, all evidence points to Nick.

When the police find Amy’s diary, Nick realises just how poor their marriage was. If Nick didn’t kill his wife Amy, then who was responsible? Nick and his twin sister set out to find what really happened to Amy.

Gillian is a wonderful mystery writer and keeps the suspense through out the novel. ‘Gone Girl’ has many twists and turns to keep you deeply enthralled in the storyline.
Cheers Natalie

Related reviews of Gone Girl
seejy.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/book-review-go
http://margotmcgovern.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/book-review-gone-girl-by-gillian-flynn/
http://reviewedbymarkleonard.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/finchers-gone-girl/

Malaysian Airlines tragedy…

5606422-16x9-220x1245606220-16x9-220x124graphic-showing-range-of-buk-missiles-and-altitude-of-mh17-dataAs I’m sure everyone knows by now, there has been a Malaysian Airlines plane that has been bombed straight out of the air in the Ukrainian air space. I am absolutely disgusted by what has happened because to me, it seems so inhumane. People who are willing to bomb a plane full of people (knowingly or not) are barely worth a second thought except to let them pay the price for their disturbing actions.

The MH17 carried 28 Australians who all perished in the missile attack ,which through no fault of our own, brings Australia into their war. The plane had 295 people on board, all of whom are without a second doubt dead. Even though all these people have died in one go, the thing that haunts me the most is the fact that not a single distress call was made by a single person on board the plane, meaning that everyone on board died instantly.

I think that all the excuses we have been hearing about why the missile was launched are totally bogus. I have heard that they thought the plane was either a supply carrier or filled with spies, either of which would result in deaths no matter what. I think that the whole ordeal is something that could have been avoided ( by Malaysian airlines). I don’t know much about what is going in between Russia and Ukraine, but I do know that no war is a good war.

💕ash

Such a tragic topic to discuss but one which cannot be avoided. Australia is generally a peaceful country and one many people from other countries would love to have the opportunity to come and settle. When a tragedy such as the Malaysian airlines missile attack occurs, and so many of our innocent people were targeted, we can no longer claim to be neutral. It is unfair on the Australian population who want to remain at arm’s length on what is happening in other war-torn countries, but this horrific event only proves that the world is a small place.

We are in this together, whether we like it or not, but how can the world ever get along?

I hate war ( like so many others) and I hate discussing it. However, it is out of my control when a world event like this happens and my children are asking me questions like WHY? I just don’t know why and I do not understand how people can have such disregard for human life. The passengers on the plane were just like you and I, living their lives peacefully, hoping to stay healthy and happy, spending precious time with loved ones.

Was there a baby on board who was giggling while being held tightly by mum? Was there a young child on board colouring in a picture, careful not to go outside the lines? Were there school mates leaving home for the first time to explore the wonderful world around them?  Was there a newly wed couple, beginning their new life together, dreaming of all life’s possibilities? Was there a retired couple, cherishing the time together they deserve having worked all their lives for this moment? Just normal every day people who were struck down because someone decided it was a good idea.

I have struggled talking about this event as it is so far out of my league. My children are confused, as am I, and we would like answers on why life has become a throw away commodity. Life is there to be valued, every single one, not discarded as pawn in a war over land. Have you discussed war with your children?

cheers natalie

Related Topics

http://vickynanjappa.com/2014/07/19/is-it-safe-to-fly/

http://sperrydox.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/458/

http://rachelfurolo.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/stepping-back-from-tragedy/

 

Are your children resilient?

IMG_0250Recently at a girlfriends house, I had my tarot cards read (secretly I love this stuff but can be a closed book when they are trying to open me up). My cards revealed that I need to let go of the reins a little and let my children make their own mistakes. I thought I was doing this but now I look back, I do try to protect them from being hurt or rejected, which may not always be the best way about it.

This got me thinking about how my children would handle a major set back in their lives. Are my children strong enough to handle rejection? Can my children pick themselves up after being knocked down and have a stronger ‘I can do it’ attitude? Are my children resilient?

As parents we do not want to see our children fail at anything, especially when they have worked hard to achieve it. As parents we know that failure or rejection is a part of life and at some stage everyone is going to have to face it. So as parents, we should be allowing our children to experience failure when they are young so they are more equipped to handle it when they are older.

I am definitely a person who looks at the world with the glass half full. Every now and then, the glass appears to be half empty but that usually only lasts a day or so. Recently I had a down 48 hours resulting from a few things that happened all at once. I cried for what I had lost, I felt sorry for myself for what I hadn’t achieved, I complained about how hard I work yet still not getting what I wanted and I cried again for failing. Once these emotions passed, I took back control of what I could and I let go what I could not change.

Baby steps is the way I will approach this. Letting my children feel rejection, not just understanding it, is the first step. When they do not succeed, I will allow them to feel the pain of failing before I try to step in to patch things up. I hope by doing this while they are still young, it will build a resilience to be able to pick themselves up and be strong enough to keep going when things get tough.

How do you help your children to resilient?

cheers natalie 

 

Since I’m only fourteen, I haven’t really faced anything that has made me want to give up what I’m doing. As well as this, I have, luckily, never had to experience something as horrible as some people have in the world. However, after talking to mum about my next big life event (year 12 exams), I have been forced to consider how I would react if I didn’t get the grades I needed to do what I want to do with my life (law school).

Obviously year twelve is a while a way but after talking to mum I was actually at a loss as to how I would react if I scored poorly in my exams. At the moment, if anything big happened to me I would most likely just brush it off and continue on with my life but something as big as exams, I have no idea how I would react. Unlike the mundane problems that I face today, if I failed my VCE, or even if I didn’t quite do as well as I would have liked, it would affect the rest of my life.

You have to score high marks to get into a university course for law so if I didn’t do as well I would never have my dream of becoming a lawyer. I think that it would be extremely hard for me to move on and do something different if I didn’t get my desired marks because if would drastically affect the future I want. Personally, I think that would be something that I would never really be able to let go of because it has been a dream of mine for years.

Of course, I would be able to move on with my life. It’s not like I would just give up and become a hermit who lives on fast food, I don’t think I could ever do that. If I couldn’t become a lawyer it would be a major setback in my future goals but I’m sure that I could bounce back (eventually) and find another dream to set my sights on. It would be hard, failing in something that can affect you’re whole future, but I don’t think I would ever let something stop me from living my life out happily.  

see ya Ashlea xx

Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying is probably the most real issue in my life at the moment. I personally have never been cyber bullied but I have close friends who have. Cyber bullying is basically when someone uses the internet to bully someone. I think it is the most cruel form of bullying because not only is it cowardly, it never truly goes away. Anything that is online is around forever and can be accessed by anybody.

I think that we don’t get educated properly in schools about cyber bullying. We get told what can happen and we all know just how serious it can be but I know that I never really took it seriously until I saw first hand just how real cyber bullying is. I think that teenagers aren’t properly made to understand that it can and does happen to anyone. I felt as if I wasn’t nearly as informed about the realities of cyber bullying as I should have been.

When we are being taught about cyber bullying, I think that we should see more real stories about people who have been affected from all different types of cyber bullying. Teenagers need to see that cyber bullying comes in many different forms not just teasing and hurtful messages. Bullying can also be spreading rumours or doing anything that is purposely meant to hurt the other person involved. People need to know that anything that they find hurtful online IS classified as cyber bullying.

As much as it’s a bore to listen to the lectures on online safety, they are totally important. There are so many situations where people don’t feel safe online which then leads to them not feeling safe in other areas of their life. Almost losing a friend to cyber bullying has opened my eyes to the dark side of the internet and although that hasn’t limited the amount of time I send online, it has made me wary of people on the internet.

Thanks Ash xxx

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WOW Ashlea, what profound words. Hearing this directly from the people adults are trying to teach is amazing. Are we not informing our children of the real dangers of cyber bullying?

As I sit here at my mac and type away, I can be anyone I want to be. If I am in a bad mood, I can vent my anger to the world via the blog. If someone has annoyed me, I can tell the world via either of my websites and show the world just how ripped off I feel. I can pretend to be a princess, flirtatious, bold, confident – in fact I can be anything I choose. It is easy to pretend when it is only my and my computer.

Ashlea’s generation has grown up with computers as another appendage, a natural extension of themselves. Deciding what is real online and what may be potentially harmful is not easy, especially if all you have ever known is life with the internet.

Let’s teach our children better social etiquette, both online and in person. If you would not say it to the persons face, one on one, then you do not say it online for everyone to read. It is a cowardice act and one that should be tolerated. Our children are too precious.

cheers natalie xxx

Short Story Competition

Selfish Hunger

 

‘Dear Mum,

You don’t understand me. You have never understood me. I try so hard to be the perfect child and I’m good at it. But you just don’t see me. Whenever Sarah does anything, and I mean anything, you comment, you praise her. I hate Sarah sometimes and that’s your fault too.

I tried running away last time but that didn’t work. So this time I am going all the way. Life is just too hard and I don’t want to be a part of it anymore. I know you won’t really care cause you will still have Sarah.

Bye Mum,

From your ‘not favourite daughter’ Amber.’

 

It’s time. I have had this letter hidden in my school diary for two weeks, afraid to finally accept my defeat. I can’t understand why the person who is supposed to be closest to me is so blind to my pain. She is too busy with her own life to even care about mine. I can’t keep going like this, I won’t keep going. It’s ruining my life.

The first time is hardest. I’m a straight-A student. I am pretty-ish. I have blonde long hair. I think I’m a good friend, maybe a little bossy at times, but overall fun to be around. If I’m honest, I am not fat but maybe a couple of kilos over weight. In general terms, I’m OK.

Sarah is my older sister, by only 15 months but she is perfect – if there is such a thing. She is taller than me. She is prettier than me, even when she wears her cool pink glasses. I would be smarter but no one thinks that is very special. And one thing that is for sure, she is skinnier than me. Mum thinks she is perfect and makes it obvious that she loves her the most. Why am I so hard to love?

It all began a few months ago. School was over and I had walked home on my own as my best friend and I were fighting. It was the worse fight ever and I wanted to run away and hide. I needed something, anything to make me feel better. The bright lights of the supermarket shocked me back to reality, not recalling entering the store in the first place. Unsure why I was here, I wondered up and down the aisles, oblivious to everything around me.

It wasn’t until I stood in the freezer section and spotted the frozen donuts did I know what I wanted to do. My heart began racing as saliva spurted into my mouth, making the desire more intense. This would make me feel important, feel special, so I took the donuts from the freezer, eyes darting around me, while placing them in my school bag. The adrenaline pulsated through my body as I swiftly made my exit from the store without suspicion. I did it. I took my first step to freedom.

I inhaled the four donuts before I had reached my front door. Still on a high from stealing, the concealed wound inside me had temporarily been filled. As I walked past the mirror in my bedroom, the disgust, the hatred began bubbling to the surface. I was pathetic. I was fat. I was nothing.

I needed the donuts to escape my body as I ran to the toilet. I needed this pain to go away as it was pulling me down, trying to pull me under. With my head in the toilet bowl, I retched. Nothing. Again I retched, the noise echoing through the little room. Nothing. Get out of my body I thought. Again and again I tried, perspiration accumulating under my armpits and my eyes immersed in liquid.

I couldn’t even get this right. I left the toilet and returned with a pencil. I shoved the pencil deep into my throat, scratching the lining but penetrating deep enough to cause the reaction necessary. Again and again I injected the pencil deep into my throat until the contents of my stomach was empty. Slumping to the floor, an overwhelming sense of perfection came over me. It was like I had elevated to a higher status in society, I was actually someone. Sheer exhaustion took over my body as I lied on my bed, slumber pulling me in.

The first time hurt the most but I have never looked back. The euphoric feeling I get from each session, allows me to get through days when life is just too hard. I feel prettier, I feel skinnier. I feel like I am finally someone of importance.

I’d like to think I am now an expert at throwing up quietly. I no longer need a pencil to get deep into my throat – that is only for beginners. I know precisely where to place my fingers so my body can react accordingly. I am proud of this fact.

It never occurred to me that what I was doing was wrong or even harmful to my body. It never occurred to me that there was even a name to what I was doing. I gorged myself to fill a void, an emptiness that began as hunger pains but grew into obsessive cravings. This would invade my body, penetrating my mind until I could no longer focus on anything else. Then I simply fixed the problem.

But the disgust that follows from these sessions and the self-loathing feels like a knife is cutting into me. My body goes into auto mode. It knows what has to be done so the hatred can be eliminated and the euphoric feeling of thinnest takes its place. This is my drug of choice. This is where my rush occurs. This is when I know I am someone special, someone who is lovable and someone who has earned their place in society.

I didn’t do this everyday, but almost. The high I gained from each session started to last for less and less time. I made excuses to myself about why I was doing it – ‘My friends do like me’ or ‘Mum doesn’t care anyway’ or ‘If I was just a little bit skinnier I would be more popular’. Each time I would think of a different reason as to why I was doing what I was doing.

My weight didn’t change though. I wasn’t getting skinnier as I had hoped. I wasn’t getting that gaunt look on my face that I desired. From the outside nothing was changing. I woke up every morning and looked at myself in the mirror but all I saw was a predictable girl. I dressed the same, looked the same and in front of everyone, I ate the same.

 

From the inside everything was being torn apart. I was sending my body on a roller coaster of highs and lows in such extremes that I was exhausted. The internal torment was my ally and it was the only thing in my life that I could rely on.

I have tried to stop. It wasn’t because I was thinking about the damage I was doing to my body. It wasn’t because of the damage I was doing to my life. It was because no one had noticed how much I had changed; even though I thought I had.

It was a normal day at school. Sitting in the class having a joke with my best friend, I actually felt happy. The teacher had her back to the room as she wrote the lessons workload on the blackboard, white dust from the chalk falling to the ground. Kids were talking, mostly amongst themselves as we waited for instructions. I had my best friends full attention, something that didn’t always happen. We were laughing about what one of the cool boys said to us before school.

As the noise took over the classroom, the teacher appeared oblivious to the rising volume; I began to take in my surroundings. Here I was in a room full of kids that categorised me in the popular group. I had a best friend who made feel special (most of the time). I had a boyfriend who put me on a pedestal (most of the time). What was I chasing? I was so desperate to change, to be something other than myself that I never stopped to look at what I had already.

I was tired of my internal hostility. I was beginning to feel desperate to share my secret with someone. The thought of verbalising what I was doing was embarrassing. It struck to me that I was not normal. If what I was doing was normal then I should have told me best friend a long time ago. But I knew she would not understand. How could I make her understand that I needed this to make me feel superior and important?

Looking around the room, I wondered if anyone else was like me. All the different faces, different personalities mixing together, surely there was at least one other person who thought the way I thought.

Trent, with his surfy blonde hair and gorgeous blue eyes, never had a care in the world. He played football at lunchtime with his friends; had the coolest parents ever; and had a girlfriend (me) who would do anything for him. There was no way Trent would ever do anything to harm his body. I could never tell him as he would definitely dump me.

Eliza, with her skinny legs and big boobs, never had to worry about being a strong and independent woman. Everyone wanted to be her friend, always being picked first in any activities at school. Other girls wanted to be her friend, wishing she chose them to be best friend but I was lucky, as she chose me. I realised if I told her she would lose respect for me and pick another skinnier, prettier girl to be her best friend.

Mandy, with her perfect facial features and bubbly personality, she was someone you either loved or hated. She was my friend and most of the time I loved her, even when she was annoyingly perfect. Telling her about my inner demons was an absolute no no. She would cringe and exclude me from her inner circle immediately.

So it was just my inner thoughts and me. I was the only person at school, or at least in my grade, that felt so inferior to everyone else. I was surrounded by people who knew themselves well enough and were confident in their own skin. I squirmed at the thought of my own skin, hiding the truth from everyone I knew.

I tried to not compare my life to those around me but it was difficult. Everyone seemed to have life sorted out, whereas I was struggling understanding where I actually fit in. I knew I needed to stay thin to stay in the popular crowd. I knew I needed to be happy to be popular. I knew I needed to have no major issues to keep my boyfriend. These things were facts. Trying to keep all these things together at the one time is what was bringing me down.

So I gave up purging and throwing up. And for a while I felt better within myself. I didn’t get thinner but I also didn’t gain any weight, so a tick to the first fact. I felt happier when I woke every morning, like the major stress in my life had been taken away and I was behaving like a carefree child again. Fact two now also had a tick. Finally, without any major hang-ups in my life to keep secret from my boyfriend, he had no reason to want to leave me. The final fact was ticked off.

However, one day I woke up and the sun wasn’t shinning as much as it use to. Getting out of bed wasn’t something I wanted to do. I wanted to avoid school, avoid my best friend and especially avoid my boyfriend.

The day before was a normal day at school, a quick kiss with Trent before the first bell went, a giggle with Eliza on the way to class and a bitch about one of the girls who always wanted to steal our boyfriends. At recess we all hung out down the far end of the oval to repeat the mornings ritual of kissing, giggling and bitching. A perfect day at school.

When the topic of food came up, I kept my mouth shut. I hated to talk about food. I hated to eat food in front of people just in case they thought I was too fat and shouldn’t be eating what I was eating. When Trent said he hated eating fruit but was glad I ate lots of fruit, I didn’t know what he meant. When Eliza asked the question I was thinking, Trent had replied in a joking manner he didn’t want a fat girlfriend. The entire group laughed at his joke. I just sat there.

The little confidence I had started to build inside crumbled with a few little words. No matter how hard I tried, I was never going to really fit in with my friends. With a small smile on my face, I tried to join in on the joke but internally I was screaming. All I wanted to do was run from the circle and never return.

That afternoon when I got home, I ate an entire packet of barbeque shape biscuits, barely stopping to chew properly as the jaggered edges ripped my throat on the way down. When the packet was finished, I reached for a choc chip muesli bar – gone. Next I opened the tin of milo, eating spoonful after spoonful until most of the tin had disappeared.

This is the feeling I remember, the feeling of disgust, of patheticness. It was time to hurt myself once again. I deserved it. As I closed the door to the toilet, I realised I missed the high I got after each session. I missed feeling important and I missed feeling like this made me better than those around me.

With my fingers down my throat, retching only once, I began releasing my internal emotions. Every time my fingers went back for more, I could feel my body getting lighter and my mood euphoric. I was back to where I belonged. I was home again. Ten minutes later, I was in bed and asleep, exhaustion over ruling my body.

When the sun rose the following day and it was not as bright, I knew I was heading into a form of depression. I had been trying to avoid this for over a year but I wasn’t strong enough. It only took a few joking words from someone I cared about to drag be back into my own selfish world. I had returned but this time I didn’t want to leave.

The house was quiet as I wrote a letter to Mum. It was only my thoughts that I could hear. I couldn’t spend the rest of my life in this state. It wasn’t fair on my best friend, it wasn’t fair on my boyfriend and it wasn’t fair on my mum. As I finished the letter, sealing it up in an envelope, it dawned on me that it also wasn’t fair on ME.

 

 

 

 

 

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