So I went to ballet school, with other girls I’d known from my extra dancing classes, thinking I knew them. I mean, they all seemed nice, and I knew them from before. Nothing really could go wrong, could it?
A lot of them ignored me to make new friends, some of them outright bullied me, and the lovely foreign students couldn’t speak English very well. I was alone in a sea of other people. That utopian vision of dance school crumbled pretty quickly.
On top of that, the teacher we had decided she really didn’t like me, and the bullying began from that side, too. She made me feel like the laziest, the slowest, and the most stupid in class. I went from having a lot of faith in my own dancing to being terrified to lift my leg any higher than 90 degrees.
My new boyfriend was very supportive. He sat up when I cried on the phone, listened to me woes patiently, even had his mum on the phone- she was a counsellor, so of course she knew what she was doing. And little by little, he stopped me talking to the people who might have been able to fix it all- my mum and dad. He replaced them with him, telling me not to trust them because they didn’t know what was best for me, and he really did. He loved me. How could I doubt that?
I became convinced they didn’t love me. I was awake most of the night crying to start with, and then the unexplainable tiredness came, and I started to take sick days. Out came the comforting scissor blade again, and I’d hide the cuts beneath pointe shoe ribbons and my thickest pairs of tights.
The bullying, the taunting, the loneliness and ostracisation just continued. Again, I didn’t deal with it normally- out came the crippling self- hatred again, and cutting was used to punish myself for hurting everyone. (An aside- In a weird way, I want those days back now. At least I’d know why I still cut).
Eventually, my boyfriend decided he wasn’t going to deal with me, help me or even just support me any more. My cuts disgusted him. My broken dream annoyed him. He blamed everything on my parents never being there enough to see how badly I was in need of help, and that night was the first of my attempts on my life. I used those scissors to carve into my wrists, and I ran away into a freezing November night. I had spent less than three months there before I’d crashed. A new record, I think.