By Meg O’Connell – Worth Living Ambassador for Newfoundland and Labrador
If you ever met me, or seen me, or even knew me really well, you would never guess that I was someone who dealt with such harsh conditions as I have. You would see me the way that I want to be seen, the happy go lucky girl who doesn’t have a care in the world. To many people I was that girl, but it was only a façade. I may be like that now, but I wasn’t always.
I knew from a very young age I didn’t fit in with the rest of the kids on the playground. When my family and I moved from Ontario to Nova Scotia, this feeling only became more prominent. Nobody liked the new kid, no matter where you moved. It didn’t matter what I did, or how I acted to try to fit in, I was always left out, and bullied. My neighbours were the worst. The family of five kids were relentless. I was the number one target on their hit list everyday, and they never failed to deliver laughter on the bus ride to school, at school, or even if I was riding my bike on the street. I would hear them yell out “FISH EYES” as they were playing with the rest of the kids on our road. One time on the bus they took an old pair of dirty underwear and held it up on the bus and yelled out to everyone that it was mine. Everyone, and I mean everyone on the bus was laughing at me. I began to cry, and I ran into the office as soon as I got to the school, but like all schools’ “bullying polices” nothing was done. And the parents of the children did nothing as well. We lived in Nova Scotia for five years until it finally came to an end when my grandmother passed away and we were on our way to Newfoundland.
A fresh start, it sounded so promising. But yet, all good things must come to an end. My high school experience was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with despite the horrible journey I had to get there. I made friends as quickly as I lost them. Someone in the school decided that they didn’t like me and started a rumour that I was saying bad things about my new found friends, and just like that I was on my own again. Listening to people whisper about how much of a bitch I was, in class right behind me, watching them point from across the room when I walked in, and the never failing “accidental bumps” in gym class that of course were not meant to bring me to the ground in a good little friendly basketball game, or at least that’s what they told the teacher.
I sat in the bathroom stalls for lunch and recess for months, calling my parents begging them for just one more move, so I could just get away from this place. However, this did not happen, and I was forced to go to school with hundreds of people I didn’t talk to every single day. It would almost be better to have felt non-existent and ignored, but that wasn’t about to happen. In a small town, and honestly anywhere, people need something to talk about, and I was it.
Things slightly differed when I realized there was a “reject” table I could sit at in the upstairs of the building away from where all the other students were. They were the loveliest people, it made me feel like I wasn’t the only one who had nobody to talk to. And I am forever grateful to have met them.
After a couple years I became friends with Jess, she also had been excluded/ messed with by other friends, and she was fed up with dealing with people like that. Around this time, I met Ry who later became my boyfriend for a year and a half. While we were dating he would barely leave his house unless it was to go to the movies. It is modest to say he had some mental issues. When I left to attend Memorial University an hour drive from where I live things only got worse. I was trapped, I wasn’t allowed to go the gym and not tell him, I wasn’t allowed to go hangout with my friends because they were “sluts” yet, he had never even met them. It was tough. But in late November 2015 I was only beginning to come to realize what tough actually was, this is when Ry told me he had been diagnosed with cancer. There was a spot on his liver and he would start going for treatments every Tuesday and Thursday.
My whole world was collapsing, I loved Ry, I would do anything for him. And now it felt like I was about to lose the one person I held dearest to me. As the semester at Memorial went on I became more and more stressed, with my studies, trying to see Ry on weekends, and not being able to go out and do anything to cope with everything that was going on around me, without being yelled at by the very person that I was so stressed about losing in the first place.
In February he told me that his treatments were going to be more frequent, so I slowly starting to see less and less of him. It felt as if he was trying to ween me off of loving him. Valentines Day was the last day I saw him when he decided to drop the bomb on me that he wouldn’t be able to see me anymore because of all the treatments, he told me that he didn’t want me to visit him in the hospital because he didn’t want me to see him like that. And somehow I believed it. A couple of weeks went by of my begging to see him, and he consciously refusing. Until one day we were fighting about something stupid, and he simply stopped replying. The next weekend I saw that he was at a party on social media, and the he never had cancer at all. I was later informed by mutual friends that all the “treatments” he was having was actually code for him smoking weed at his friends’ house everyday, while I was in at school everyday crying, praying he was getting better. I had finally been shown the truth, and I have now come to realize that it was for the best. I have not heard from him since.
But the thing is that I don’t regret meeting him, or any of the people that bullied me, or any of the people that left me, when they said they wouldn’t. All of these hardships that I have gone through have made me the person I am today. I am strong, I am kind, I am compassionate. I can relate to so many different people through my experiences.
Since then I have opened myself up to so many different people. I have gone on so many amazing adventures, and have laughed with people I never thought I would. I’m not scared of what’s out there! IM HAPPY BEING ME. I’m so happy to be alive and to be able to see the world in a different light, when at certain points in my life I didn’t even know there was one still out there worth living. And the thing is that, if you’re scared, that’s fine. It is what you do to overcome those obstacles no matter what they are! It is up to you. Look at what I went through? Would you ever think I would end up where I am today? I certainly didn’t think so. But guess what, “You are meant to fight. When you are sick your body fights for its right to function. When you hold your breath, your body fights for its right to breathe. There are billions of tiny events from the surface of your skin down to the very cells of your body that have to happen in order for you to simply be sitting here today. If your most minuscule parts haven’t given up yet, why should you?”