I started blogging two years ago, and this is the story I've been wanting to tell every day since then. That's how scared I am of this topic. It isn't that I'm feeling particularly brave in writing and posting it now; I just feel that I need to get it out before I can try to move on from the recent effects it's having on me.
I was teased as a kid. From the start of primary school right to the end of high school, I was taunted and excluded and put down.
I was invited to parties purely as someone to make fun of. If I dared speak up in class, kids would call out names. (I wonder why every school report said, 'Megan needs to speak up more in class'?) If I made myself seen at lunchtime, I wouldn't hear the end of it (me and the library were good buddies). Girls at high school would write their nicknames for me on the board just before the teacher walked in.
For thirteen years I was made to feel worthless. I am so grateful that I have an amazing, supporting family. I would cry in the car on the way home every day, telling Mum and my sister about the worst of it. Best of all, I still showed up to school every day - just to prove that I was stronger than those bitches.
It took me a long time to move on from all that, but I did. I had some good friends at high school who proved I was worth liking, and whose loyalty I'll always appreciate. And as I left school I met Steve, and found that I was lovable too.
Fast forward to now. I've moved past all that, and upon meeting me people talk about me as confident and fun. People want to be friends with me these days.
But, you know, sometimes in life it's right when you think you're over something that it comes back and gives you a big kick in the guts.
Lately I've been having flashbacks of the taunting and teasing. I'm thirty-one, I'm happy - yet for almost half my life I constantly heard the message that I wasn't fit to be happy. Maybe that's where this is coming from: I've worked through a lot of stuff to reach a point of happiness, and now I find I don't believe I'm worth it anyway.
Whenever I'm feeling confident or like I'm good at something, I've been hearing their voices in my head, telling me not to be so stupid. Of course I'm not good. I'm just a loser. Who do I think I am to be thinking people like me? Why would they?
I found myself in the middle of a panic attack not long ago. I gave in to it, I believed it and I came straight home.
I had another one last week. I went out, and to see me or to hear me talking about it you'd think it was just some lighthearted fun - which it was, in the end. But to get there took me hours: a panic attack before leaving home, another while driving. The voices telling me I was just stupid; why was I going out, who was I to think I had new friends, they'd probably just invited me to taunt me once I arrived - ridiculous, illogical thoughts. They're not called logic attacks though, are they.
Once again I have to give all credit to Steve. I'd love to say I pushed through it, that I was determined not to give in, but I wasn't. I wanted to curl up in a ball and believe the doubts again. He said no. He encouraged me to get ready, to go out, and he talked me through it all on the phone while I was out. I was about to say where would I be without him... but I'll make myself panicky again.
But I did it. I went out, I got there and saw the friendly faces and knew I'd done the right thing.
There is no one in my life now that would treat me like that again. And I'd like to think that if they tried, well, let's just say I wouldn't want to be them.
This stuff, the bullying and taunting, it effects people for their whole lives. I'm not suggesting I would have been without my self-doubts or neuroses if I hadn't been teased, but it certainly hasn't helped me.
I'm not someone who feeds off the naysayers. I'm not the type to say they made me stronger or encouraged me to prove them wrong. They didn't. They set me back. But I got there in the end.
And I'll get there again.