Not many people know about the most difficult time in my life. In fact, I hid myself from the world as much as possible so that no one would know what I was going through. It was in the year 2012 that it began. I spent many sleepless nights wondering what to do, crying on my Momma’s shoulder and desperately searching for an answer to my problem. Why me?! I often asked. I’m sure many of you can relate to what I went through. Most people deal with this at some point in their life, but for me, I never imaged it happening, especially at my age. It came later than most, and full force to top it off. I avoided mirrors, hated pictures, and as horrible as this sounds, I couldn’t stand myself. I felt like a monster roaming this earth without a clue about why I was going through this. It was as if my world came crashing down on me all at once. I had severe acne at the age of 20 and it was the most difficult time in my life.
What’s written below is background on my life and some personal information and pictures. I ask that you read this with a kind heart and non-judgmental thoughts.
From the delicate age of 8 years old, I decided to pursue a dream. I wanted to be on the big screen, and God willing, I ended up there. I was a performer from birth (or at least that’s what I like to think), and nothing was holding me back from making my dream a reality. I found an agent and began my acting career at 8 years old. No, I was never forced to do this – in fact, it was quite the opposite. My parents gave me their support and allowed me to experience some of the greatest years of my life. Boy, if only I knew what excitement and joy this new career was going to bring to my life.
Here are some of my first headshots:
This post is not going to go into great detail about my acting career, but I’d like to share with you some of my experiences as a young actress.
I can still remember the day I got the phone call from my agent when I booked a life changing role, and the best experience in my acting career. I was in Toronto, sitting in the lobby of a voice recording studio, waiting patiently for my name to be called. I don’t recall the role I was recording for that day, (I was in Toronto 3 or 4 times a week sometimes for auditions or bookings), but I do remember when the phone rang. It was for me. I answered it and heard my agents voice on the other end. My heart started thumping. I knew she had good news.
“Melanie, do you want to be Becky Murtaugh?” She asked. Tears began to run down my cheeks.
“Because you got the role!”
The excitement and disbelief of this moment filled my entire being. I was going to play Becky in the movie Cheaper By The Dozen 2. Although this wasn’t my first role on the big screen, it was definitely one of the most exciting. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with Hillary Duff, Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Eugene Levy, Carmen Electra, and all the amazing cast and crew from Cheaper By The Dozen?! The names were not few of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars in this film. I was about to make memories that would last a lifetime and experience a reality that was only once a dream.
Life Point: Do you have a dream that seems unreachable? I certainly never imaged to be able to watch myself on tv one day, but anything is possible. You are the person another person is looking for. You are the best one for the job. You are the only one who can fulfill your purpose. Don’t live someone else’s dream, go out and live your own.
Some pictures on set of Cheaper By The Dozen 2:
Ever since that movie, most people saw (and/or see) me in the spotlight. They envision me having it all and wonder how much money I make… I never liked that question, “how much money do you make?”. It was one I would avoid answering, and the only question that really bothered me. Money was never something we talked a lot about growing up. I was always under the impression that it didn’t matter how much money you make, as long as you are happy and doing what you love, that’s all that matters. For the most part, I know that people would only ask out of curiosity, and this is totally understandable. It was the ones who poked and prodded for an answer that really bothered me. Momma always taught me it’s rude to ask others how much money they make or have, and I wasn’t going to hang out with people who cared more about my bank account than me as a person. I would politely tell them, “I don’t share that with others” and then find my real friends, who were few.
True friendship was hard for me to come by. I always admired the “groups of friends” in high school, and secretly wished to be part of them. I always felt a bit like a ping-pong ball, bouncing back and forth from person to person. It was hard for me to find friends, and to this day I still have very few. I never really understood why, but I have an inclination it has to do with the fact that I really am not a dramatic person. I avoid drama at all cost, and in high school, drama seems to be the focus of everyone’s conversations. Besides having few close friends, I was and still am very content with my friendships. I have discovered in time that it is better to have a few true friends than many friends who are only there when they want something from you. What a great gift it is to have even only one friend you can share your heart with, who listens and cares for the person you are inside. Momma always taught me that true friendship is hard to come by. Boy was Momma ever right.
By the time I was in high school, my acting career was slowing down, and I began to enjoy my life as a normal teenager. My skin was never an issue for me at this time in my life. In my younger years, I started to develop a bit of acne, and this wasn’t good for the “screen.” To be blatantly honest, I saw a dermatologist at a young age and he had me on antibiotics and then birth control to keep me from having acne. I wasn’t into “health” then, and didn’t realize the effects of these kind of pills. All I wanted was to have clear skin, and clear skin is what I had! I didn’t realize how bad it could have been, until I decided my health is more important than my appearance and I no longer wanted to be on the pill.
I was really getting into health during my high school years and began to learn about (and feel) the negative effects of birth control. Besides the fact I was a hormonal mess, depressed and gaining weight from the pill, I hated pumping my body with synthetic hormones and just wanted to be me. I wanted to be the real me – not some crazy person who always felt like she was riding a roller coaster with her emotions. No one could have prepared me for the pain that was soon to come after the pill. It wasn’t long before I discovered the pill was only working as a band-aide, covering up a problem that eventually would find its way out.
My clear skin
This is probably going to be one of the most difficult things for me to share. My hope is that you will see that life is not always perfect, even for people who have been in the spotlight. But I do have to say this – as difficult as this was for me, it taught me some wonderful lessons, not to mention it brought me closer to my now-husband who loved me more the uglier I got (or at least felt about myself). He never saw my skin issues, and comforted me when I was at my lowest point. I really would not change a thing about what I went through, because it really made me realize that life is not about how you look, or how other people see you on the outside. You begin to realize the people who love you the most through these difficult times in life. It is so important to see the beauty in even the most difficult times in your life, because there is reason we go through them. Part of the reason I feel that I experienced this is to share my story with you. I hope you find it helps you in some way…
When it all began…
It was my first year of college – a time when girls wants to feel beautiful, mature and a woman (not a little girl going through “puberty”). I was not feeling any of these things that I so desperately wanted. I felt horrible. I can’t even say how many hours I spent on the computer trying to figure out what to do. I tried no dairy, no sugar, cleanses, homeopathic doctors, herbs, vitamins, allergy testing, changing my pillow cases nightly, not wearing any makeup (even when I wanted to cover up so bad). I seriously was at my wits end trying to heal my body. I finally realized that God has allowed this to happen for a reason, and I need to stop stressing because everything will be okay. Although I knew it would not last forever, it certainly felt that way at the time. I can remember sitting in the walk-in clinic for hours one night because I decided I was going back on birth control. I couldn’t take it anymore and I wasn’t waiting one more week to see my doctor. After seeing the walk-in clinic doctor, who really didn’t even know what to do or what pill to give me, I eventually threw the pills in the garbage and decided I was going to tough it out, no matter how bad my skin got or how ugly I felt.
Most people don’t know I suffered through this because I would avoid seeing people from my past. The only ones who really knew were my college friends who only knew me this way (without wearing a speck of makeup every day). I was so scared of what the people who knew me from before would think; Poor Melanie, she can’t be an actress with that skin. Or, what happened to her?! Silly, I know. But that’s how I felt and I am not going to lie about it.
I eventually decided to try some products I found online. It was my last hope. The products I tried started to work (although I don’t believe they “cured” me). There was so much more going on inside of me that I believe was causing my body to react on the outside. It wasn’t the food I was eating or the way I was sleeping. I believe it was coming from within (spiritual if you may), and a way for God to show me “something isn’t right in my life.” Once I turned to Him to show me the way, He really healed me – from the inside out. Once I really starting seeking Him and let go of all the other things, I found clarity and peace…
1 Corinthians 14:33 (KJV)
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…
My acne was still there for a while, but I didn’t care anymore. That is when it started to go away. I stopped caring about what I looked like and what people thought, and started to see myself the way God sees me; I am beautiful, loved and adored by the creator of the universe. What is better than that?
With all of that being said, I know that there is a reason I went through this. I know I have a story to tell and a way to relate to so many more people than I ever could have before going through this. So now I ask you, please, when you look at someone going through an apparent issue, try to see them the way God sees them, and look beyond appearance. Love them for who they really are, not who they appear to be. Oh, and most importantly, love yourself the same way.
Below is a link to the pictures from the most difficult time in my life. Thanks to God I no longer suffer with this, although I still have the scars to remind me and the occasional breakout. I am so grateful He brought me out of it, and with more beauty than I could have had before it all. By my wedding day in June 2013, my skin was so clear it was a miracle. I wasn’t doing anything different than before when I had severe acne, or using any products anymore for my skin. I felt better than I have in my entire life, and it’s all because of the grace of God. I continue to place my faith in Jesus Christ, no matter what life may throw at me. Remember this:
1 Corinthians 10:13 (The Message)
13 No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.