Under the SurfaceIt's precarious really, no matter the amount of make-up, you can never be beautiful. No matter the sublime surgery, you incessantly wish you were someone else. To always know that you can never find love because hidden underneath the happy personality, you know you'll never be worth keeping. It's called dysmorphic disorder, my disease. There are treatments in Arizona, but they won't help. I am a beast.
Tripping down the hall, I stammered, "What—what do you mean?" For months now, Mom and Dad had been dropping hints that something big was coming. Never imagining that it would be for this, I was unprepared.
"We can't be moving! Not for this." From around the corner, Mom answered, "We're starting over." No amount of arguing, or crying, or begging, or promising that I was "Beautiful" would change anything. We were moving.
That night, my mom found me lying in bed, eyes transfixed on the snow that had just begun to serenade my window. This is my only home. She explained to me that in California they have treatments for girls like me. For beasts. She says it will change things. That I can be me again. I used to be free, free of insecurities. Happy, but happiness is hard to hold onto. The girl I used to be, she fell so low into the ever open trench of hatred and disappointments, that she's choked on her own thoughts. She can't find her way back to the surface.
I had never before been anywhere but Nebraska, Let alone a beach where everything is public, and people can read your every thought. Stating that, you can fathom the horrid adventure that was my first day of high school, in California.
(I'm supposed to keep a journal and write in it for an hour a day so my therapist can see if my treatments are working)
Side effects: Headache, hiccups, sweating, and the gut-wrenching feeling of stupidity that my parents moved all the way out here for this. Here goes:
School is no place for me. I don't know if I have a place anymore. Maybe that trench finally closed up. Maybe I'm stuck like this, forever. There's no one to build you up. They take it literally here, every man for himself. Unless your name is Ridley Conner. We won't venture there with you. This isn't my diary, this is treatment.
High school. Eight hours of your life everyday for four years that you can never take back. For some, it's the best days of their life, floating on the surface. For others, like me, you aren't necessarily wallowing around on the floor, but this certainly won't be your peak. For Ridley Conner, however, this is all she has. One day, when she's old and lazy, she'll look back on the "good old days." The good old days where guys trip over themselves to see you, when you didn't have to worry about anything but your make-up. It's typical really, the new girl, being bullied by a girl like her. Prom Queen, Valedictorian, Student Council President, head cheerleader, you name it. Everything in Nebraska was modest. No one yelled profanity when they broke a nail, everyone always wore clothes. Let me rephrase, that sounded odd. The girls here wear "clothes," it's just, when they do, they're falling out of them or they're barely hanging on. So you can picture the looks the new girl from Nebraska got as she entered the school in jeans and a T-shirt. The people here, they're different, addicted to attention, and drowning in their need for more.
Side effects: Numb
Treatment days suck. Big time. All I can do is sit there and listen to the melancholy clicking of the medicine as it runs through the IV for 3 hours.
Running to first period this morning, I was tripped because Ridley Conner's foot just so happened to extend itself whenever I was around her. Much to my surprise though, as I was rushing to pick up my books, a girl in an ACDC shirt, black Converse, and red jeans bent over to introduce herself as she helped me get my clutter off the ground.
"I'm Rachel, you're new huh?"
Still choking down the shock, I stammered, "Yeah, I'm um—I'm Lizzie."
Tossing back her long, brunette, curly hair, she laughed. "Don't mind Ridley, she's pure carnivore. So, when she sees fresh meat, she has to give her foot time to spaz. Then, and only then, can she move on with crushing your hopes and dreams of making it to class on time."
That was the first time anyone had even talked to me in California, let alone make me laugh.
My hair looked good today. I usually hate my hair. Your treatments might be working after all.
Side effects: Wanting more treatments. That can't be good.
Rachel and I have become best friends over the course of three months. She knows about my disease and accepts me for it. She takes me to church with her sometimes and tells me about how, if I asked Jesus to come into my heart, then I wouldn't need treatments. I want what she has. She doesn't care about what ANYONE thinks about her, she lives her life the way she wants to. Being around her has changed my view on many things. I was never an adventurer, I would've never eaten processed meat or listened to country music without being tripped in the hallway. Sometimes, people search for inner beauty. I'm working on that, considering I'm not the prettiest crayon in the box.
The treatments are helping, I'm done obsessing over how fat I am. Honestly, because I'm not. I now understand that not everything is perfect and that you can't judge your happiness based off of someone else's. What matters the most is how you view yourself. Remember the girl at the bottom of the trench? She's slowly making her way to the surface, to happiness.
Side effects: Craving happiness. You can't do this...Not now.
You're taking it all away from me.
After all of the time, effort, and money my family has spent helping your business and trying to cure me, you're going to call it quits at the first sign of sunlight? Even after I've just acquired peace? What did my Mother say? I can't handle this. I can't go back to ugly. Pretty is a completely different universe, where children laugh, no one cares what anyone else thinks, you're free to dance in the rain, and no one holds regrets. Why rip the ground out from under me when I'm still learning to fly?
After 30 minutes of agony in the lobby, we finally got invited back to hear the verdict from the doctor.
"We have something to tell you," announced Dad as everyone in the room turned their attention to me.
"What now?" Dreading the moments ahead, I couldn't even bear to make eye contact.
"There was never a cure."
What? There was never a cure? What does this mean? What have they been shoving into my arm and making my family pay for then? Did I ever have a disease?
Trying to silence the voices in my head, I asked, "What?"
The doctor decided this was as good a time as any to step in and say, "We never actually had a cure. The 'treatments' we've been transmitting to you have just been water. This was a test to see that if a girl believed that there was a cure, that she could cure herself by looking for the positive aspects about herself. Therefore, we have come to the conclusion that our theory was correct. Based off of your journal entries and the way you have changed, you've cured yourself."
I now believe that I can do things all on my own. I don't remember what happened next. I felt like I could breathe for the first time in a long while, like I had not only floated to the surface of happiness, but like I was so far above happiness that I was flying. Aware that I was higher than any roller coaster had ever been, or any skyscraper, and loving the fall.
I know now why Rachel was always so ecstatic no matter the situation and why Christians are the definition of love. There is no better feeling than knowing that the creator of the entire world thought of you when He placed the stars in the sky, and when His son died on the cross for us. I know now that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that whether the world agrees or not, you're beautiful, because you're you. Not because of the treatments or the make-up, because of who you are. I've found a new ocean in which to sink. This one though, is not scary, or dark, or cold. This is the ocean of grace, forgiveness, love, and renewal. You know, the ones you see on National Geographic that are so breathtaking that they are surreal. This ocean is Jesus, and it's better. No matter how hard you try, it never gives in, and it never lets you go.
So while you're down here, you might as well enjoy the view.