Meet my gremlin

I’ve had a really broken night, so could really do with spending the remaining 45 minutes before I go to pick X up from pre-school having a sleep. However, I’ve had a crappy morning (AKA failed clothes shopping trip) and my gremlin has been yelling in my ear all the way home from town to the point that I was holding back the tears as I turned into my street, barely able to swallow as my throat hurt so much from the effort of keeping it in. So, I really needed to come and blog. To let you meet my gremlin.

A few years ago, someone made a post on the Beyond Chocolate forum asking people what their gremlins looked like. I’d never thought about it before but my instinctive reaction was that my gremlin was Amanda Tanen from the TV show Ugly Betty (many apologies to Becki Newton who I am sure is lovely in real life!). Amanda is beautiful, shallow and extremely bitchy to other people. I could imagine her in my head, speaking to me, the way Amanda speaks to Betty. Constantly putting me down. Something that didn’t occur to me for ages after Amanda popped into my head as my gremlin personified was something else about her character. If you’ve seen the show, you’ll know that when Amanda’s stressed or depressed, she binge eats! A stereotypical bully – nasty and vindictive but also actually quite insecure underneath it all.

Now, Amanda’s still there in my head (long after what was one of my favourite TV shows has come to an end). Still representing every popular girl I wanted to look like but never would. But she’s not top dog any more. About a month or so back, I tweeted that I was feeling angry. I also made a blog post on the subject. The following day, whilst in the shower, I had a momentary realisation about my gremlin. A glimpse of her if you like. And it wasn’t Amanda.

The gremlin I saw was actually me. Not me now, but me as a child. And she was angry. So there you go. My gremlin is 11 years old. She has brown hair and blue eyes and is of average height and size for her age. Before the time when she stopped getting taller (at 5’3″) and started getting wider. She’s fairly bright and does well at school; enjoys it from an academic point of view. Socially speaking though, school is hell. She’s been bullied for the last couple of years and has been hoping that secondary school will provide a fresh start. A chance to be popular. Or at least left alone. And now, here she is in her first year at secondary school and has realised nothing’s changed. People are still mean to her and it’s probably going to be another 5-7 years of feeling like something you scrape of the bottom of your shoe. She has very few friends and her body is developing ahead of many of her peers’. Especially her breasts which make her horribly self-conscious.

Eleven years old and so very very lonely. Mum always seems to be working and there’s no dad or siblings around (one much-loved sister but an enormous age gap means she’s already well into her twenties at this point and living 150 miles away). And school sucks. And she’s spending her spare time in her head with her imaginary friends and imaginary siblings just to stop the loneliness. Or fantasising about what life will be like when she’s finally pretty and finally popular – whether she’s 15 or 25. She’s definitely going to get there one day and it’s going to feel amazing. And she’s discovered eating sweets and biscuits is a good distraction too. She’s pretending not to care, but really she’s angry. Angry with the world and angry with me.

So now she lives on my shoulder, still being angry. Telling me I should overeat because what’s the point of not? Nothing’s ever going to change! I was supposed to have ‘succeeded’ by now. I wasn’t still supposed to be this pathetic as a grown adult. How is she supposed to endure her childhood and teenage years knowing she only has me to become? Knowing that she doesn’t get to be pretty? That she doesn’t get to become one of the popular people or someone who oozes confidence? Not at 15 or 20 or 25 or 30…

I let that girl down and bloody hell is she angry about it! And she’s sick of staying quiet and pretending she doesn’t care; she wants to be heard! Just for once to feel like her feelings are important. And so she became my gremlin so that someone might listen. But all I hear is her yelling how pathetic I am and how I might as well keep stuffing my face because I’m never going to be pretty anyway and I’m never going to change and I’m not important enough or worthy enough to bother making an effort. I don’t deserve it.

I want to hate my gremlin. To yell at her and tell her to f*** off. But part of me feels sorry for her because she’s lonely and so desperately unhappy and just a child. And I’m also scared because she’s right. I didn’t change and I let her down. She deserves better and so do I.


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