When I went into junior high school, I cut almost all of my hair off. It had been the first time I have ever cut my hair. I had this long, curly, dark brown hair that I had my cousin cut completely off for me. And then I added purple streaks to it.
I looked like a little boy…
The school I went to had uniforms when I attended it. You could wear black, khaki, or tan pants, and a white, black, or red shirt. So, naturally, I wore all black. I didn’t really look like the other students and immediately felt like I didn’t really belong there.
I remember students asking me if I was a boy or a girl. I also remembered being asked if I was goth more times than I can count, and I wasn’t even sure what that was at the time. That though wasn’t nearly as bad as being told that wearing make-up wouldn’t help anything. You don’t always have to be bluntly told you look like a dike to know what a fellow peer thinks of your appearance. In a math class I had, a boy even asked me my bra size as a joke. I just laughed, embarrassed.
I was also being told that I’d end up flipping burgers for a living repeatedly, by someone I felt should be more on my side. I struggled with grades because I never really wanted to be in school. It wasn’t enjoyable for me. And I guess some people can’t relate to that no matter how common it is. I knew this particular person never believed in me, and I just never figured out how to cope with that. Not at that age anyway.
Teachers didn’t believe in me either. I got caught drawing in class once by one of my English teachers. She bluntly asked me if I honestly thought my art was worth pursuing, and oh yeah, where did I get all that paper. I also had a math teacher lean over my desk in class and whisper in my ear that I shouldn’t be proud of the C I got her class. C’s weren’t that good. This didn’t change in high school either.
To top it off, I lost someone I loved. My grandma felt like the only real person I could talk to. I remember being able to walk next door, go right into my grandparent’s house and being able to talk to her. I would talk about everything, pour my heart out and she would just listen. It was so relieving to have had her there. There is so much about that woman that I am grateful for and will never forget, but she is entirely different topic of her own.
My grandma got sick when I was in this already nightmare of a school. She got diagnosed with cancer, and later during surgery, was cut by the doctor. I thought at the time that it was Cirrhosis of the Liver. She passed away during the Christmas season while I was in eighth grade, and I was not the same after that.
I was changing during that too. I was starting to write dark, depressing, suicidal poems (my mom always encouraged me to write, but that is also a different topic). I would cut myself with safety pins during the lunch periods, or under the desks in class. I was asking for answers for why these things were happening to me, and I was being told that I would never get an explanation; I would not be granted the wish of understanding because I wasn’t really Christian or Catholic. I was a lair and a sinner, and I was going to Hell. I began to really question my thoughts and beliefs, and eventually came to the conclusion that I didn’t believe in God. I figured he had his chance to prove himself to me and failed.
While I was attending junior high school, I let my hair grow out. I continued that going into regular high school. I grew it out until it started hitting the top of my pants, and I dyed it black, red, and purple numerous times in various ways. I also took on the goth and punk style people decided to label me as. I was gifted a trench coat, and wore that on a regular basis. I allowed myself to do what I felt like, but that didn’t change the constant feelings of not belonging or feeling understood. I felt out-casted by peers, rejected by family, and misunderstood by friends.
I had to go through all of that first before I could explain why Marilyn Manson and his music is so important to me.
My freshman year in high school was a difficult year. I had just lost my grandma the Christmas season before, and I was dealing with a lot of rejection and neglect with half of my family, not to mention what was now the normal interactions I had with peers and teachers. It was at this time that I discovered Marilyn Manson. I had heard his remake of Sweet Dreams and was determined to find more of his music. Thankfully someone I knew then happened to have, what I now know is, his Mechanical Animals album. I memorized his name then and bought my first Marilyn Manson CD, The Golden Age Of Grotesque. I was in relief and obsession. I felt like his music had a sound and the words for all the things I was feeling and going through. Later, another friend I had gifted me his book, The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell, and that book is still one of the most important books in my life.
The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell gave me the ability to truly connect and relate to the person that Marilyn Manson was. It was the first time I realized I wasn’t alone. That book, along with the music, gave me a shoulder to lean on. Marilyn Manson made me feel OK with myself for the first time. It was finally OK for me to be me. He was misunderstood, rejected, even violated at similar, if not exact, same times as myself, and it gave me a relief I have never felt.
To this day, I still listen to him and read his book. It all helps me remember what I love and encourages me to do what I want to do with my life. I know what my struggles have been and the reasons for them, and I believed that I have the ability to look back at those and see them because of things I’ve read in that book. It has all contributed to the things I have believed and thought, as well things I believe and think now.
Marilyn Manson, as well as many other things I will write about in the future, has helped me gain a deeper understanding, acceptance, and love for myself. I read a quote of his that said, “I never said be me. I said be you, but better.” Misunderstood or not, being my best me is what I strive to be and he encourages me to do so.
©S.T. Dec. 13, 13 (Edits made Feb. 19, 17)