At four I was shy, and I thought that was all. I was reading and speaking in full sentences, I thought I was normal.
But I couldn't make friends, I had just one. I wanted things a certain way, and while I was polite and quiet, I had trouble getting along with others.
At seven all that I wanted was to fit in. I had a brilliant imagination, but just the one friend. But he was a boy, and a year younger than me, and no one could understand why that was normal to me. It was more than just a crush, he was all that I had. Other than him, all that I had in the world was my cat. My sister was five, and thought I was odd. Mom never had time for us because of her job, and it was the same situation with dad.
By nine I loved horses more than life and wanted nothing more than to learn to ride. Mom had had a horse when she was my age, so why couldn't I? I didn't understand. By then I'd stopped caring about the bullying. I was slower than others with schoolwork, and dwelt in my own little world. I had next to no friends, though I'd started to get along with the other girls. That was the norm, the status quo. I thought it would help, but it didn't much.
Nine was the age that I started to notice that I truly was different from all of the others. The teacher's assistant was always hovering over me. This had been the case since grade two, and now into grade three. In the second half of that year, I began to notice that no one else had all the extra help with their work. The teachers started to really like my writing, but I was growing nervous. I felt something was wrong with me, and I began to fear that someone would notice. Looking back, the only thing that was wrong with me was what society said girls should be like. I didn't fit that mold properly. I never did, not even back then.
At ten I began to feel self conscious about my appearance. I got my first pair of glasses and immediately hated them. I felt I looked weird, which was truly weird about me, as I had a habit of wearing incredibly flamboyant mismatched clothes. Not out of necessity, but entirely from choice. But that was also the year that my style began to gradually change.
At eleven I knew for sure that something was wrong with me. My friends all got into the Fine Arts program at our school, but I did not. I was just as good, there was no difference. None that I could see. Something JUST HAD to be wrong with me. And to top it all off, the bullying hadn't stopped, it had just gotten worse. So when grade six started, it was a pure nightmare. I had no friends in my class, and there was a new kid on top. But he was anything but a friend. He was the exact opposite. Over the next three years at elementary school, I dreamed of getting out. Of getting away. I pretended I was a princess from another world with magic powers, hiding while I grew stronger, and someday I'd go home and free my people. That daydream was all that got me through those three years. I cred at school for the first time, and then swore I would never cry in front of another again. It made me feel week and exposed, and none of them were my friends. I had no one to tell. Up until then I hadn't exactly been close with my parents, why start at 12, or 13, or 14? I grew up knowing they loved me, but they didn't really connect with me. Not enough.
At fourteen the breakdown finally started. Years of being bullied, and isolated, and feeling like I didn't belong had been kept in for far too long. And now dad was going away, but to school. My childhood dreams of really being a family, a close family, a proper family like you see in the movies, began to fall apart, shattered dreams all around me. All I'd have to remember would be lonely afternoons with my books, and arguments night and day between the parents that to this day I can't help but marvel at as they are somehow still together despite the yelling and screaming over every little thing.
High school started that fall, and dad went out west to Saskatoon, and I realized that I had nothing left. I'd discovered a fondness for Lord of the Rings, and after finding fanfiction, I didn't mind the sudden loneliness quite so much. I no longer had friends, being in separate classes had ripped us apart. Not that they were really friends to being with. They pitied me and tolerated me. Or at least, that's what I've come to believe. I found drama club, and joined. It was the closest to feeling accepted that I'd felt in a long time. But I was shy and withdrawn, and couldn't quite pull myself out of my shell. Not even there.
And then the voices started. They were cruel and terrible, and I tried to block them out. I told myself it was just my overactive imagination. I told myself that I was fine. That for the first time in a long time, there was nothing wrong. Sure I was alone, but in that world of loneliness, no one was judging me anymore. No one was calling me four eyes, or slow, or stupid, or worthless. No one said I was unneeded.
No one else was, anyway.
Over the years, the voices of all the others had melted away leaving only one.
I didn't need the others tearing me down anymore.
Over the years, they had taught me that I was more than capable of doing it to myself.