Thursday, May 17, 2018

An Ode To Page

Once upon a time, awkward twelve-year-old Natalie got into seventh grade orchestra with very few of the people she had been in orchestra with in elementary school. Having had a summer of frankly the beginnings of puberty and all the "joys" that come with it, she was a silent observer of her orch dork friends.

Page is one friend I can remember how I became friends with her. Although, even though I do remember it really wasn't anything specific. It was just: boom, hey we are totally friends now!

I remember admitting this to Page once, that when I first met her I wanted to be like her. She was hilarious and popular. She had awesome pool parties, which when I was invited to her first one I was honored to my very core. I became her shadow in orchestra and she always accepted my presence without any fanfare--which I loved because my telltale blush would have exploded across my face had she pointed me out. And if that had happened, I might not have been brave enough to return.

Our orchestra class played so many pranks on our high strung teacher that I'm sure we were the reason she quit several years later...we hadn't set the best example for the following classes who continued the pranks. They were never cruel just fun...but when you prank someone who doesn't know how to take a joke, I suppose they could appear cruel. Ms (I'll just call her this) did rip up a tissue box once, her face on fire and her eyes bulging to find the timer we had hidden in there (that was the last time we used the timer...she kept it under too close a watch).

Yet, it connected us.

At the end of eighth grade I remember sitting with Page and two other girls playing M.A.S.H. We had decided the first chair viola player--Pete--was going to marry Aunt Jemimah (yes, the syrup brand) and have thousands of pancake babies which they would adopt to McDonalds. (Man, we were such thirteen-year-olds). We reminisced about the Ching-Chong-Brothers (a band with Pete, another kid Flynn and a girl Lilly). At one point I liked both Pete and Flynn.

Side note: Flynn was the one kid I knew who ever asked me to dance at these gatherings called Stake Dances. It was right before he was going to move to another state--which at the time made me really sad. Yet, I felt honored to be asked to dance with him at his last dance in Arizona. Like I said, the smallest things can make someone so happy; and feel good about themselves as well. Especially because everyone knew Flynn was in love with a different girl.

Page and I grew closer in high school. We really connected when I started watching Vampire Diaries so I could understand what she and another kid were talking about. She was the one person in high school who read the very first version of the first book I had ever completed.

She called it our drug deal. I would print ten pages at a time and bring them in a folder for her to read in the orchestra room at lunch, and when we couldn't go to the orchestra room, I did my best to exchange it sneakily at the lunch table so my friends wouldn't ask about it. They never did (which sorta made me sad. I really wanted them to be interested in my writing, but it's my own fault for not telling them. I eventually told Layla and she loved it.), but I bet they only would have asked because of how awkward I was acting.

I clung to Page during the hardest time in high school where I felt I was so utterly different from my original friend group that I didn't know how to hang out with them at lunch anymore. It sucked when Page didn't make it to school, but it was good too. I needed to have my eyes open to remember my friends still liked me for who I was, even if I assumed they didn't. (My mind wasn't really in a good place, which is why Layla and Page were such saints to have stayed friends with me).

Then Junior Year came and Page told me she was going to do online school and wouldn't even be in orchestra anymore.

I cried for several days straight. She was gone for about a month.

In that month, I asked Layla if she would care if I went to the choir room to hang out--that was where they always went. Page and I either walked around school or went to the orchestra room. I really shouldn't have been surprised at how welcome everyone was. I was, after all, their friend. Even if I didn't entirely fit in. I always stuck close to Layla though, always praying she didn't find me annoying.

Note: if any of you have ever had a shadow. Always be kind. I eventually got a few of my own and once I realized what was happening I did my best to be kind. You don't exactly have to be your shadow's friend, but you do need to be their cheerleader. If you've never been a shadow yourself, I don't think you can ever understand how hard it is to finally learn you don't need to be a shadow.

Suddenly (and on a particularly hard day too), Page was in orchestra again. (Truly, and yes this is my religious beliefs coming out here but my religion is at the core of who I am: I believe God sent Page back to me. He knew I couldn't survive without her). Her online school said they would give her credit for the rest of Junior Year Orchestra. It was really the only time I ever saw her, but it was the best time of the day. I always looked forward to orchestra.

The power of a good friend is something that often goes unrealized.

When you realize it, make sure you tell that friend just how freaking awesome they are.

I also started looking forward to spending lunch in the choir room with my original friend group. I was still silent, but I've always been more of a listener anyways. And these kids were funny, simply being allowed in their presence was enough for me. And I got invited to most of their parties which was cool, and good for me. I never wanted to leave the house and Mom always had to remind me I always have fun when I go. And I did.

I hope it hasn't sounded like I've bashed on this friend group. Truly, they were very nice to me. My issues were very much internal and I would assume at times I wasn't wanted. Yeah...I unfortunately let my insecurities get in the way of what possibly could have been closer friendships.

I've kept in decent touch with Page since graduating. She's always been a rock I know I can call and verbal vomit too, even if it's been more than six months since we've talked.

This is one thing I love most about Page. As you know from earlier blog posts, I am a Latter Day Saint (LDS, aka Mormon). In high school...well life in general, the world at large assumes certain things about my religion that aren't true and frankly hurtful to an awkward teenager. Page was never like that. She wasn't my only non-member friend (and whether someone is a member of my religion has never mattered to me EVER) but she was my only non-member friend that didn't judge me for my religion. The others I know never did on purpose...but...things come back to you when you talk behind others back. And most things were said as these friends tried to fit in with others...which is also sad. Bashing on anyone in anyway should never be a way to fit in.

I'm not one to just randomly talk religion with anyone, even now, but sometimes I needed to talk about the drama with the girls at church and Page always listened. She never judged and although she didn't always know what to say, she always supported me.

One of the most nerve racking things I've ever done was give her a Book of Mormon. I didn't want her to think I was trying to convert her--because again that's an assumption made by a lot of people when copies of the Book of Mormon are given out. It was the end of Junior Year and I knew I wouldn't see her for a while. Neither of us was doing orchestra Senior year so I had no idea when I would actually see her again.

I just wanted to give her something that made me happy. Honestly, my faith in God was the core foundation that kept me from being destroyed by high school (is still the core of who I am now). I put the book in a gift bag with tissue paper because the only time I saw her was at school, and I didn't want any of our classmates making fun of her for having this book. I also didn't want to get made fun of myself.

Not that kids were awful towards the LDS at my school, but it happened often enough I didn't want Page to be embarrassed by my gift. I told her in the letter I had wrapped with the book and even in person. "Please remember I'm just giving this to you, because this is something that makes me happy."

I wanted to give my friend who had coaxed me off the edge of suicide (unbeknownst to her and again the reason why I believe God led us to be friends) something that made my life valuable and brought joy to me even in the hardest of times. I will be grateful to the end of my days for her gracious acceptance of the Book of Mormon, and even her follow up text saying something like, "Thank you for giving me something that you obviously care so much about."

Like I said, I could not care less what religion anyone belongs to, but I am so grateful that my best friend respected me enough and knew me well enough, to understand my intention was to only give her something that brought me joy. She didn't assume I was trying to make her a Mormon. She knew all I wanted was to show her how my religion gave me joy and helped me through every trial of my life, and that I wanted to share this joy with her.

So as the title says: this is an Ode to Page. A beautiful woman who has stayed with me through thick and thin and has accepted me wholly as I am: anxiety, religion, quirks and all. She's truly an amazing woman. Anyone would be honored to call her friend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Wonder

There is a Ted Talk about a writer for Disney who talks about why he wanted to become a writer. At three years old, his mother took him to see Bambi and he was filled with WONDER.

In one of my creative writing classes, my professor sat on one of the desks. One foot was propped on the chair, his hands clasped with his elbow resting on his elevated knee. He looked each of us in the eye and said, "You cannot write about the fantastical if you cannot find wonder in the unfantastical."

Funny how even after all the lessons I have learned in my life, this is one I'm still learning. Graduating college is an amazing milestone, but I think I was expecting things to get a little easier. And they have, in some ways and in other ways not so much.

Each stage of life holds something different, and I have forgotten to look for the WONDER of life these past few months.

I started writing a new story this last weekend...and the simple beauty of allowing myself to write bad and to write about the fantastical opened my eyes once again.

To the wonder of life.

May we never lose the wonder.

This life is hard. But we can't forget the good that has happened. May our trials never cloud our eyes from the WONDER that is life.

Never lose the wonder.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Summer Before College, Part 1

So you know, once upon a time... I was the world's largest worry wart.

I graduated high school and was free of stress for about...three days. At the time I was a nanny for two amazing, brilliant girls--but I also needed a second job to save up for college. I don't remember how long it took--but it couldn't have been for long (but at the time felt like ages) but I got a job at a cleaning business. 

I was a hot mess though, before I found that job. It's embarrassing when I look back on it. My parents would tell me to not worry so much about it...but, ha. I would worry whether I wanted to or not. 

This job though... I can't remember the name of the company--which I wouldn't say anyways, another reminder is that I will always change names--but it was one of the hardest jobs I have ever done.

Not because of cleaning. Mom taught me how to clean, and how to clean well. I had no issues with the actual cleaning.

It was the people. You learn a lot about people when you clean their house.

I'll break this story into two parts, though. Let's start with the clients.

Most were fine, but others were...horrendous. The most we went to one place was once a week. Most however, were every other week.

And those every other week (and even our once a month clients) often did not clean in between those times. I would be embarrassed if my house ever looked like some of the ones I cleaned. Who knew a bathroom could look like a black hole...one I could turn back to white. *shiver*

We went to deep clean an interior designers house who had so many nick-nacks around it looked tacky...and a bit trashy. I had to dust all of them, naturally. I could have cared less, but the lady was shadowing behind me altering each thing I just dusted. We weren't allowed to touch these tiny squares on the wall because they were $700 each yet they were hideous and looked like they could be from Walmart. I mean, to each their own. But if you're going to stalk me whilst I clean your house, why don't you do it yourself?

There was also a dedicated man cave in the basement and she had to wake her teenage son and his girlfriend so we could come and clean down there. Maybe it's just me, but who knowingly let's their teenage child have sex with their girlfriend in their man-cave basement? Yeah, I had a lot of issues with that place. They were condescending as hell. As if cleaning is a poor man's job. If there's anything I learned--there's no such thing as a poor man's job. A job is a job. If you need money, take what you can get (well...don't go selling drugs, but get a respectable job that isn't shady).

About a month in, my cousin--let's call him Ron--started working with me. Good thing too. Unless we were deep cleaning, we were only in pairs. And... I was either with a woman who was in the beginning stages of dementia or a girl shorter and weaker than me.

Do you get where I'm going with this?

Most people weren't home when we were cleaning, but some were. I didn't like that for multiple reasons...

Yet, when Ron started working with me, I felt loads safer. 

And almost the minute he started working there, we were sent to a beautiful home with these instructions: Don't go into the locked room near the entrance, this client will pay with cash, and act dumb if he comes home.

I was dumb enough to not think too deeply into this.

The client did have a locked room near the entrance, and the smell hit us like an airborne torpedo. Ron and I tucked the cash into the client's folder, and I cleaned up his breakfast which had been scrambled with some weed, and I brushed off the crack on his glass coffee table. Ron called me back and we grimaced at the mirror over his bed. We cleaned as fast as we could--but you can only go so fast.

I was back in the kitchen when the guy comes home. My heart started racing and I was ready to scream if he got too close to me. He overall ignored me, and he went right to his freezer. He pulled out a huge zip lock back filled with multiple tiny bags. Guess what they were filled with?

Crack.

Then this guy comes over and gives the head nod, asking. "So do you have it for me?"

They go outside. About twenty minutes later the client returns and smiles at me. I smile back, internally screaming. Ron wasn't done, so I was pretending to scrub the oven more. When Ron finished we high tailed it out of there, the client staring after us while sitting on his couch.

We told our boss, and she said we couldn't report the issue because we entered his private home and what-not.

Again, had I not been so young and dumb I wouldn't have listened. But I was intimidated by my boss...and didn't want that crack dealer coming after me...

More on this lovely job next time.

What I want to end with is this. I don't care where you are. If you don't feel safe at your job, at home, out in public, you feel free to leave and get yourself somewhere safe. You do it for your own sake, and especially so if for other's sake. You don't have any obligation to be anywhere you don't feel safe, no matter who tells you otherwise.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A Note to Remember

Hello. Long time no see, I know.

The thing is, I just graduated with my bachelors! Freedom! (Sort of, haha) Hence the lack of my presence on the blogger web.

I just wanted to remind those who read this blog, that even though I am writing about the harder parts of my past, this is really the only place I look at them (other than in counseling). I love my life, and want to remember the good. However, if I had known there was someone else out there going through something similar to what I was going through--and I found some good people at times--I think certain struggles I had wouldn't have felt so heavy...so scary.

So, again, I am writing this to explore the possibilities why my anxiety started, why I was prime for abuse.

But my life is good. I'm grateful for who I am today, and I couldn't be as strong as I am now if not for the hard--and wonderful--parts of my past.

So I may be focusing on the hard parts here, but know I am happy. I am strong. And I really hope this blog helps others--at least in some form.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Graduation, Smaduation

Yay for Senior Year!

Way back in Freshman Year, I wanted to graduate early. Had I gone through with it, I would have bypassed a ton of crap in High School, but I’m glad I didn’t. In fact, I think had I graduated early life would have been worse. I had Layla and Page as friends instead of my being a total social outcast because I was so ahead in school.

Anyways. Senior Year!

Page had gone to online school Junior Year, but had come back for orchestra—thank the stars.

This year I also dropped out of orchestra. No longer was it a safe haven. My teacher had started going a bit crazy and on the cranky side. The Robot had followed us (my orchestra peeps) to the highest level of orchestra. What sealed the deal was if I didn’t take orchestra, I could have a half day all year long.

Half days were the best! I only had four classes and seminary, then I was done for the day.

Mom often took my out to lunch. It was seriously a blast.

Yet…Senior Year was the year our English Teachers had us apply to colleges.

I had planned on going to ASU. Dad really wanted me to go, and if I did I could live at home.

Then I looked at tuition and changed my mind.

So where should I attend college?

I had decided I wanted to go into Physical Therapy my junior year, so it was when I found BYU-Idaho had a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program, I finally made my decision. At the time, making the choice was fine. It wasn’t real in my head just yet…

College applications were done in the first semester. I didn’t think about them until I got letters at the end of senior year.

So here’s what happens in between:

Remember how I told you about the surprise I had about The Robot Senior Year?

I had the unfortunate experience our having Anatomy and Physiology together.

And other Junior Jerk Wad (JJW) who fueled her hateful fire.

What I write next wasn’t directed toward me, but it’s an experience which will resonate with me for the rest of my life.

And empower my life long mantra too: “Always be kind and never treat others as most have treated me.”

This year I saw the true colors of The Robot.

My teacher stepped out of the classroom for who remembers why, and JJW and The Robot took this as the opportunity to spew their poison.

Those two imbeciles talked about how there wasn’t an option for an Honors Anatomy class. Then expanded on how this class was too easy for them, and anyone not in Honors were idiots and wouldn’t, in fact, get anywhere in life. That they should just give up now—for they would be the ones living on the streets or flipping burgers.

My teacher walked in at this last part and laid it on them.

Man, it felt awesome to watch them endure the rage of my teacher.

The whole class had been physically cringing at their conversation.

And for the rest of that semester, JJW and The Robot were pariahs to the rest of the class. Why shouldn’t they be? With the tone of voice they were using, and the base words, they were basically telling everyone who wasn’t in Honors to kill themselves because their life wouldn’t have any substance in the future. (One of them said something along the lines about how they would kill themselves had they not been as smart as they were).

I think The Robot saw me smiling at her while the teacher yelled. We were put together in a group once, and I remember saying something about what her and JJW had said, basically reinforcing what my teacher said. Needless to say, The Robot was never disrespectful to me again.

The rest of Senior Year went relatively well. I was in a sort of a daze, refusing to believe my adolescent life was about to end. That soon, I would have to be an adult all on my own and move two states away.

I was decently social. I only hung out with Layla and our friend group about once a month, and did what I wanted at home—which was mostly writing and hanging out with family.

Then Prom came.

Despite how I had done my best to talk to more people at school and put myself out there, even asking my long time crush to Morp—a girl ask guy dance—no one cared to help me get a date for Prom.

Worst thing is?

There were two.

If you haven’t guessed, I am LDS (aka Mormon). There was the school Prom and a Mormon Prom.

All the girls talked with each other about getting dates for one another. When I was around, I mentioned I how I wanted to go. I don’t remember the name of the kid I wanted to go with, but…apparently I went unheard. (I am also, to this day, of mind where the man should traditionally ask the girl out, unless it’s explicitly a girl ask guy dance; and I was not going to appear desperate enough for a date to ask a guy).

All of my “friends” went to both Proms.

BOTH DANCES.

WITH DIFFERENT GUYS.

Without even thinking about trying to help me get a date.

The Sunday after school Prom, all my friends wore their gorgeous, princess dresses to church. Dresses I always wanted to wear and have, but would never get the chance because no one saw me.

I was invisible despite my efforts to be visible that year.

Mom took me home because I couldn’t stop crying. I hated how weak I was. Hated how much I was affected by this.

I told myself I wouldn’t be. The night of both dances I told myself I was happy I didn’t get asked; that I rather be home alone and doing my own thing—which was writing and balling my eyes out.

I am really awesome at lying to myself.

Until now, I never felt anger toward my friends for leaving me out of things. For deciding because sometimes I chose to hang out with my cousins instead, it meant I never wanted to hang out with them so they stopped inviting and paying attention to me.

I never realize how much it hurt until I saw them laughing, in their dream dresses reminiscing about an experience I would never have.

My entire body shook from the pain of being unseen and unloved.

My breaths racked through my ribs, my lungs fighting for oxygen. My head pounded and my mind screamed at me how worthless and ugly I was. Because why else did I not get asked out?

When I got asked to the Homecoming dance that year, I thought someone was playing a joke on me. Thankfully, he wasn’t.

But shouldn’t that tell somebody something?

I went home and slept.

I had finally figured out why I loved to write.

I could control every aspect of the world I created, and since I infused myself into the main character, I could be myself. I could be social, seen, and loved by those outside my family.

The first version of the first book I ever wrote is an intense demonstration of how alone I felt at school. It’s printed and stored away in my memory box in congratulations of completing my first book ever, but thinking back on it…now I’m not sure I want to keep it.

The rest of Senior Year, I put on a face. I smiled and laughed with my friends, pretending I was happy and wasn’t hurting.

I had gone numb.

I don’t think I seriously considered suicide that year, but it certainly crossed my mind, especially after the Prom incident. The fact I thought about killing myself over something so stupid as to being left out of Prom made me so mad I shoved the thoughts deep down into the recesses of my mind and promised myself I would become visible in my college years and never have to suffer the pain of high school. I would make a life for myself where no one would forget me.

In a moment of weakness, I wrote Layla a letter begging her not to forget me.

I fear people forgetting me. So long had I been invisible, I didn’t want my one friend who stayed true to me since kindergarten to forget my existence completely.

I went to one graduation party. It was a pool party. It was fun, I guess, but…*shrug* at this point it was clear to me they didn’t care whether I was there or not. I’m sure it was just the prompting of their parents to not make me a complete exile.

So long I had been screaming for people to see me, but because I never explicitly told anyone they never knew. How could they know?

But didn’t they see me? Didn’t they see the agony in my eyes? The false stretch of my smile?

No, because I was—am—really good at pretending I’m okay when I’m not, and no one tried to see beyond the fa├žade.

At graduation itself I was ecstatic. When I was called and sat back down, freedom washed over me. I would never have to interact with anyone from high school ever again. Although I was sad I was losing Layla, she had more fun with her other friends than she ever had with me. I no longer had to feel left out, because I was the one leaving everyone behind.

I was the one leaving.

I was the one in control.

I was the one shutting them out from my life forever.

And it felt powerful to finally feel like I was in control of something.

The minute everyone threw their caps into the air was the moment I made my escape. I basically ran in my sexy, strappy heels and in my red shiny dress (I looked GOOD) from the premises. In my attempt to locate my family I walked around in circles. I smiled and said congratulations to others but quickly left to find my family. I gave Amanda a hug, because even though we grew apart after my sophomore year, at least she continued to see me.

When I finally found my family, it was like I finally entered a safe haven, and freedom became a reality.

Always and Forever,
Natalie Carroll

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

“I’m not hungry. I’m too fat. I’m too fat.”

High school is really where all the insecurities become wildfires, crackling and shattering every teenager’s insides.

Everyone in my friend group decided they weren’t skinny enough, and started going on some pretty serious diets. Lunch turned into a competition on how little they could eat and a conversation about how much they would exercises and what they chose to no longer eat.

Now, this is coming from a bunch of girls who were not only skinny, but fit too. The person who really affected me the most though, was Layla. She lost all her baby fat and was one of the most gorgeous girls on campus. Boys loved her, and yet…she didn’t think she was good enough. How could I possibly think I was good enough if I was nothing compared to her? I don’t blame Layla and didn’t blame her then. I made my own decisions, but these thoughts are what led me to my actions.

Long before this diet fad happened, an unbidden thought would always claw at the threads of my mind whenever I was with these girls.

“I’m the fattest one here.”

This thought came every day, and it only got worse when my beautiful skinny friends decided they weren’t skinny enough. Mind you, these are the girls who always get the guys. Who went on a million dates and got sweet kisses from handsome boys.

I’m twenty one and still haven’t been kissed.

So around this time my friends, decided they were ugly and fat was the same time my only male friend thus far ignored my very presence. And the year I wasn’t asked to any school dances.

My messed up, anxiety-ridden, hormone flaring teenage brain concluded I was doing something wrong. Despite the fact I had sworn off sweets for an entire year and had been successful so far, and that I had been running and increasing distance every day, I wasn’t losing any weight.

So I stopped eating.

Dad took me to school in the early mornings. Mom was asleep, and I usually ate breakfast when Dad was back in his room. Skipping breakfast was easy.

I had a small sandwich at school because I didn’t want my friends to be aware of my inner turmoil, but as I reflect on this terrible decision, the better thing to do would have been to eat dinner.

I continued to run… Since I ate heartily my whole life, I never knew what hunger pains felt like. I also didn’t know how they felt on top of expending a bunch of energy either. I cried every time I ran because of my aching stomach. Yet, I had a mantra to keep me moving, to keep my legs pumping even though I had no energy but my own muscle mass to expend.

My mantra?

“I’m not hungry. I’m too fat. I’m too fat.”

24/7 this mantra filled my thoughts.

And guess what.

I didn’t lose any weight.

Turns out some people bloat when they don’t intake enough nutrients. My body retained water as much as it could because I didn’t limit myself on how much water I drank. With bloating and water weight, I didn’t lose anything. Not even inches.

Clearly, I was never meant to be beautiful.

This was the first time thoughts of suicide entered my mind.

When I thought of disappearing before, it was thoughts of running away and starting a life where no one knew me…I didn’t want to die.

Even when these thoughts came I didn’t want to die. Yet, I couldn’t imagine God would want me to live in such pain every day. The pain of being invisible. The pain of not being good enough. The pain of not being smart enough.

Again, I didn’t want to die and I managed to send these thoughts away. Mainly because the thoughts scared me. I’ve always been told suicide is the ultimate form of selfishness…and I believe it still…but what really turned me away from it—at this point anyways—were my dreams for the future. Surely, life wouldn’t be as awful as it is in high school.

My parents around this time bought me this stupid expensive watch that would track your exercise with GPS and what not (this is way before fitbits and the Apple Watch).

I used it once.

And hated it.

Mom stopped me one day and asked me why I wasn’t using my watch. I broke down and told her how the watch just proved how fat I was. How I wasn’t exercising well enough or eating healthy enough. It was the very evidence I would never look the way I wanted to.

My poor mother started crying whilst explaining how beautiful I was. How much I was worth.

I didn’t believe her. In fact, to this day I still don’t believe the compliments my family gives me (I’m working on this, and I’ve improved tons. I can now entertain the idea that maybe, just maybe, there is some truth to what they say—I know they think what they say is true, but as to whether I believe it’s actually is true is what I’m learning to accept).

Family has to tell you things you want to hear. A true family member won’t degrade you by telling you you’re fat or stupid. So these comments, these compliments and heartfelt truths coming from my family held no merit in my head.

Because no one outside my family saw the things they did. My only male friend left me, and I lost significant chunk in my ability to be noticed by my intelligence, and no guy wanted to ask me to a school dance.

Mom began to notice I wasn’t eating dinner, how when I “did” I only ate a bite or two.

I am so grateful for my mother, but I did hate her when she called me out on it. How she kept telling me I was beautiful and didn’t need to starve myself to get people to notice me. I told her she didn’t understand because she was such a babe and got all the boys when she was my age.

Yet, it broke my heart when she started crying. When she told me I broke her trust.

Man that hurt more than my hunger pains.

It hurt, but I still wasn’t convinced to stop.

Only when she told me how if I continued I wouldn’t be able to have children did she break through my tornado thoughts. So I did some research. Male or female, when suffering from anorexia nervosa and allow it to get out of hand will become infertile. When we stop providing our bodies with nutrients, our body starts to each away at our fat stores, then our muscles, and eventually our organs until we eventually die. If we don’t feed our body, our body starts eating itself.

Mom made me chart the food I ate. I had to sign it off and turn it into her every night.

I hated it.

She also started inviting family members over for dinner every night so unless I wanted my whole extended family to know I was anorexic, I had to eat.

Man, mothers know way too well how their kids work.

Although I started eating again, I still wasn’t okay with my body. I’m not sure I ever will be, but I am happy with who I am. And if people can’t see past my body, then they are missing out on the amazing, beautiful person on the inside.


Always and Forever,
Natalie Carroll

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Lost Friend

Each summer, starting before my Freshman year, I participated in a week camp called Especially For Youth (EFY). This was where a lot of LDS youth and youth interested in the LDS religion got together and went to classes and got tours of various religious sights over the summer. This was honestly my favorite time of the year. I was away from everyone at school and no one knew me, or my brand as the “Quiet One.”

Had my school friends been there, they wouldn’t have recognized me. I talked and talked and talked. I got to know so many kids and made so many friends over those four weeks those four summers.

The EFY after my sophomore year, was one of the best I attended. It prepared me for Junior Year.

I label Junior Year as the “Year I Stopped Caring.”

I still stressed about grades and school, but I stopped caring what others thought about me, well at least for the first semester. I should change the label to “The Semester I Stopped Caring,” but the first one is stuck in my head, so let’s just ignore the inaccuracy.

Hehe. I think back on this and laugh at myself. I started going to school looking like a scrub. I didn’t even try. No make-up and basketball shorts and ponytails for days. It was a wonderful feeling, a freeing feeling in the social aspect. I actually stopped for the most part hanging out with friends outside of school. I simply wasn’t interested anymore, and they had stopped inviting me. Again, I didn’t care. I went home early almost every day because I could. My classes were stupid easy, and… I didn’t need or want to be at school.

The administration finally sent a letter to my parents telling me I couldn’t miss anymore school. Mom and I thought it was hilarious, because I still had A’s straight across. It wasn’t like I was failing anything, so why bother telling me I need to come?

It was only when they said I couldn’t officially move on to Senior Year if I kept missing school I finally stopped asking Mom to come and get me.

So, the reason I could go home so often, was because I had dropped out of my Honors Physics class. At the time, I felt like the ultimate failure, but now I realize it was one of the smartest decisions I made.

Remember my anxiety and how the only time I was seen was because people saw me as smart?

Well…this backfired on me in Honors Physics.

My teacher was incredible. If I could remember his name (it was a strange one), I would probably send him a letter telling him how awesome he is. He and my Honors Biology teacher from Freshman year helped me learn how to cope with what I thought was merely test anxiety—not a whole pit of other neurological issues. They taught me how to breathe deeply and not to think about failure, but rather envision how I will succeed. They were kind and understanding. I wish I could have let them know more about how they helped me.

All right, back to the story.

Until this point, I excelled in every subject I tried. I am not being pompous, I’m stating a fact. I was good at school because I spent forever and a day studying and honing my skills.

Yet, not matter how much I worked at Physics; how I utilized my aunt and my uncle as tutors, or spent my lunch hours in the Physics classroom, I could not comprehend the majority of it. Sure, if fascinated me, but man…this was the hardest class I had ever taken.

It took me HOURS to finish ONE Physics problem at home. There was a kid in the class who I would sometimes call and ask for help. He actually called me once and being ashamed at not living up to the title of “Smart One,” I faked through the question we worked on together.

I was afraid if he didn’t think I was smart, he would stop hanging out with me. He was new to the school, and I had invited him to sit with me and my friends at lunch. I mean, what teenage boy will refuse to sit with a whole bunch of cute girls during lunch? Plus, he didn’t know anything about me. Perfect situation right?

He was my friend until right before I dropped the class. He found friends he got along with better, and I was happy for him. Honestly. Although, I didn’t appreciate how I became invisible to him the minute I dropped class. Suddenly…I was no longer worth paying attention to. And yes, I made the effort to see him and talk to him, but no…he became friends with the pompous jerk who believed himself better and smarter than everyone else. Unfortunately, this turned my short time, only male friend I ever had (up until my 8th semester in college) into a jerk too. Still, he’s a brilliant kid and has gone on to better places and he does have a good heart.

It just sucks that he broke mine. I wasn’t interested in dating him, sure he was way cute, but I honestly just wanted a male friend. Had he stayed my friend, maybe something would have happened, but I doubted it. There was a dance coming up, and despite my being his only friend at this point and my directly asking if he was going, he said no. His excuse? He had too much homework to worry about. This shouldn’t have surprised me, because as I said in my previous posts, males hardly pay attention to me. I thought because I was his first friend in the school, the first one who was kind and talked to him, he would see me differently…but the pompous jerk changed his mind. Want to know how?

Physics class.

I was in a group project with pompous jerk (we’ll call him PJ). I don’t know how he knew, but he knew I was struggling in this class. Since people expected me to be the smart one, I acted like nothing was wrong, but PJ somehow knew. And oh, how he loves to prey on those dumber than him—I watched him do so since I first met him.

He was a male, Asian reincarnation of the white, ginger female Robot.

During this project we had to set up a ramp. We were to predict the trajectory of a marble launched from the ramp and where it would land. I wasn’t even DOING a physics problem when PJ decided it was time to belittle me.

My grandmother and Aunt Lynn are amazing quilt makers. I have helped them set up frame after frame since I was old enough understand how quilt clamps work. These clamps kept the corners of the wooden frame together, and we would twist the clamp so tight, it was near impossible for the frame to move.

In order to set up our marble ramp, we had to use a quilt clamp to secure part of the track. PJ, being the lovely person he was, handed me the clamp and told me to secure it whilst giving everyone else part of the actual physics problem to do.

Of course, he had to watch me instead of focusing on his contribution. As I was lining the clamp up, making sure it wouldn’t interfere with the marble’s course, PJ glared down his bulbous nose at me and said, “You’re doing it wrong.” and proceeded to tell me how to use the quilt clamp.

I was crouched at the side of the table, clamp still in hand. Sure I had taken some extra time to secure it, because our teacher was adamant about how precise we needed to be. As PJ spoke in such a condescending tone, our whole group stopped and stared at him.

My heart was racing, and I’m sure my face was as red as Arizona is hot, but I told him to stop treating me like I was stupid and I knew how to secure a quilt clamp.

(Wow, thinking back on these things, I was actually pretty brave when I needed to be. Go past Natalie!)

PJ rolled his eyes and we all went back to work. I was simmering with irritation, and PJ continued to treat me like an idiot.

Want to know what the best thing was? My prediction was right and his was way off. And yet, we nearly failed this group project because CLEARLY PJ was smarter than me and his answer was guaranteed to be correct.

I’ve come to despise people like PJ. They think they have to belittle others to lift themselves up. People like PJ will never find happiness, because happiness only comes when you lift others up, NOT yourself.

After this escapade, a girl in my group stopped me before Physics class the next day. She thanked me for standing up to PJ. She had been wanting to for a long time, but wasn’t brave enough.

No one, it seems, was brave enough to knock PJ off his high horse. Here’s the kid who took away the only true male friend I ever had thus far and turned him into a PJ 2.0

I dropped Physics because of the amount of stress it was causing me. I was miserable. I cried myself to sleep every night (yeah, dumb, but remember, people only noticed me because I was smart). I was beyond terrified to drop this class. Seriously, I began shaking at the mere thought.

If I dropped, people would know I was stupid. Know I wasn’t good enough. I would lose the only thing people saw of value in me—my intelligence.

In the end, my body made the decision for me. Now, this next part may be a little TMI, but if you want to understand the extent of my anxiety (which at the time I didn’t realize was what I had, I thought I was just an excessive worry wart), then keep reading.

I started finding blood in my stool. Excessive blood. Even when I didn’t use the restroom for lovely number two, blood was still in my pants. And no, it wasn’t because I was on my period. My stomach was constantly aching, but due to my high pain tolerance, I didn’t tell my parents until several weeks after I found the blood spots and the amount had increased significantly. (Mom was not happy about this, and lectured me about how I need to be more aware of my health, and sometimes sucking it up isn’t the best option—no matter if I have a high pain tolerance). I went to the hospital, and at age 16 I had to have a colonoscopy and an endoscopy.

I had stressed so much, I caused the inner lining of my stomach to thin—which was the cause of the bleeding. I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, from which I will deal with for the rest of my life…

All due to Honors Physics and my anxiety.

This goes to show how detrimental stress is on the body.

Despite my fears, I knew it was the right thing to drop this class. My doctor said if I continued to have such stress, I would soon suffer from chronic ulcers in my stomach. This terrified me.

With two fears to balance, I almost chose to stay in Physics, but thankfully had the foresight to look ahead. Would staying in Honors Physics and having stomach ulcers be worth it?

Ultimately, I decided no.

So I dropped.

I went in class for the mid-term and did everything I could to avoid my Physics teacher’s eyes. Man, I was ashamed. I sat hunched in my desk and finished my test as quickly as was possible for my addled brain. With my head ducked, I turned in my exam and nearly ran from the classroom. My teacher made note to say goodbye—I don’t know if at this point he knew I dropped, but I knew. I simply shrugged and left.

The minute I hit the hall, tears threatened to fall. Only, my friend came out. He gave me a hug and wished me a fun Winter break. I wished him one as well. By now he had stopped sitting with me at lunch and sat with PJ and his fellow jerks, so I was surprised he even took the time to seek me out.

He texted me once the next semester asking why I missed class, when I told him I dropped, I didn’t hear anything from him afterward. He also stopped acknowledging me at school when his friends were around. He would give a small smile if he were alone, but no longer did we exchange words.

I had been praying for a guy friend. It was fun while he was there, but again, he reminded me I wasn’t worth his time in the end. I became invisible once more. My value had been decreased because I dropped my Honors class. My stigma of being smart for the rest of Junior year was dampened, and I did my best to not let it get to me.

But having my thin access to attention and my only guy friend I’ve ever had leave me at the same time really crushed my self-esteem.

Again thoughts of whether school or life was worth it came to surface…and I stopped eating.



Always and Forever,



Natalie Carroll

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