The following excerpts are from The Me Nobody Knew by Shannon McLinden. ‡†‡†‡†‡†‡†
Girls are vicious. If one girl is upset and jealous, you can bet 10 more will join the bandwagon by the end of the day. There were more female fights then male fights at my school. And these were not so-called cat fights. One girl was usually wearing brass knuckles, and the two girls would just beat the hell out of each other. I could have sworn I'd get an ulcer from worrying about whether I'd get beat up.
Things all around just never seemed to go my way. And every one of those things piled in my mind like junk stuffed in a closet, just, waiting for the door to open so it could tumble out in a ferocious wave. ‡†‡†‡†‡†‡†
Alcohol made it easier for me to talk to people about my feelings. Starting in seventh grade, my friends and I would sneak liquor out of our parents' wine cabinets and bring it in hair spray bottles to our slumber parties. Someone would alwyas pull out a pack of cigarettes, and we smoked and drank and talked about who the good-looking boys were. Eventually we'd all pass out on the floor.
Yes, it is true. When we have suffered so much, we have started to die. We just get tired, so tired. And as I learned - we are reborn.
I liked everybody and everybody seemed to like me. Seemed is the important word here, though, because you never knew, when your back was turned, what opinions would be rudely whispered about you.
"Shannon," somebody tell me with a bucket of sarcasm, "Kari and Jill saw Nikki stare you down this morning. They said you said you saw Nikki kiss Scott last week, and Nikki is pissed. She said Scott said not to tell anyone and she told you because she thought you wouldn't tell anyone and you did and now Scott is mad and his girlfriend found out and now she's mad at Nikki so Nikki said she is going to kick your ass."
Did you understand that? Neither did I. What a freaking mess. No wonder I was a basket case.
Days after nights like that, sometimes Amy and I would skip school. We would get to school, walk through the front doors, and stop. We'd look around and say, "I don't feel like being her. Let's leave." Then we'd walk to my house and call our moms at work. We'd tell them we didn't feel well and they needed to call the school.
We weren't really lying. Amy and I skipped when we were depressed. We couldn't have concentrated anyway. How can you enjoy English when you don't enjoy waking up in the morning?
I particularly recall one time, seeing so much blood on this one poor girl. How can I watch someone suffer like this and not try to stop the fight? The scene seemed to move in slow motion, the sound blurred. As the crowd moved on with the fight, I stood still, felling them push past me. And I threw up. Right there on the curb. I deserve this. What kind of person have I become?
Well, fighting was the least of our bad actions. Most of what my friends and I did was in secret. Parents had no idea. My friends were football players. cheerleaders, honor roll students. I was even voted student of the month! To most parents, we were all poster children for wholesomeness. But secretly, we were the bad crowd.
It's true, some other kids were worse. There were plenty of dropouts,hardcore law breakers, "juvie" junkies. But we had access to those people, and to the alcohol, acid, speed, and marijuana they always seemed to have around. We knew older losers, too - bar owners, and people who made or sold drugs.
We were the kind of kids that parents would have warned their kids against - had they known. We had the grades, the activities, and the cahrm that made us seem like the "good kids." At heart, we were good kids. We just wanted to fit in. We wanted to be the best(which was usually the worst): the best drunk, the best fighter, the best partier.
At school, fights were scheduled as usual. Every now and then some got kicked out of class for making crude jokes, letting off fart bombs, or swearing at the teacher. Meanwhile, teachers never saw the guys and girls popping speed into their moths like it was Luden's cough drops, or the people hanging out in the bathroom between classes, swinging from pocket-sized bottles of Jim Beam or smoking hand-rolled weed.
That same week, my friend Tricia got off her bus and walked to her locker with a sort of glazed-over look in her eyes. She had her hands clasped behind her neck like she was stressed or something. When she dropped her hands out from under her long hair, we could see strips of blood soaked gauze around her wrists, dangling where she'd unwrapped them. She fell to the ground, crying. We all knew Tricia's father hit her a lot and told her she was worthless. Still, we never thought she'd try to commit.
Tell me not to worry.
Tell me not to cry.
Tell me joy won't go away.
Promise dreams don't die.
Tell me that I'm pretty.
Tell me not to frown.
Tell me I'm not ugly.
Promise I can stand my ground.
Tell me that I can/
Tell me that I should.
Tell me to always stand.
Promise you knew I could.
Tell me death won't live.
Tell me life won't die.
Tell me to take what I give.
Promise you'll teach me to try.
Tell me where my futer ends.
Tell me of later plans.
Tell me where the road bends.
Promise to tell me what you can.
~ Shannon McLainden
A plea from a 12-yr-old me to the 21-yr-old me I thought I'd never become.