Jennifer Aniston's heartbreaking childhood is far, far sadder than the supportive, glitzy and glamorous one I had imagined.
She had a lot to learn before she became the household Hollywood actress everybody knows and loves. She had a lot to learn about herself, her family, and what she wanted to stand for.
At school, our kind-hearted Jennifer was tormented by anxieties about her intelligence. "I thought I wasn't smart," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "I just couldn't retain anything."
At home things were even worse. Her mother bullied her into believing she wasn't pretty enough. "She was very critical of me. Because she was a model, she was gorgeous, stunning. I wasn't. I never was."
We can all empathize with how Jennifer felt because we've all been there in our own lives. We've all felt insecure about ourselves; we've all been made to feel small and worthless by others.
Now, the gorgeous Hollywood star has some inspiring advice for all of us.
It wasn't until her early 20s that Jennifer, now 45, received closure about her difficulties at school.
"I went to get a prescription for glasses," she says. "I had to wear these Buddy Holly glasses. One had a blue lens and one had a red lens. And I had to read a paragraph, and they gave me a quiz, gave me 10 questions based on what I'd just read, and I think I got three right. Then they put a computer on my eyes, showing where my eyes went when I read. My eyes would jump four words and go back two words, and I also had a little bit of a lazy eye, like a crossed eye, which they always have to correct in photos."
When the results came back, the problem was revealed: she was dyslexic.
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects our ability to spell and read accurately and fluently. It impacts on virtually all aspects of our life - memory, organization and sequencing skills, as well literacy and numeracy.
Aniston says the diagnosis made her painful school memories easier to understand and rationalize.
"I thought I wasn't smart, I just couldn't retain anything. [Then] I had this great discovery," she says. "I felt like all of my childhood trauma-dies, tragedies, dramas were explained."
But her relationship with her mother remained fraught.
"She [her mother] had a temper. I can't tolerate that. If I get upset, I will discuss things. I will never scream and get hysterical.
"One time, I raised my voice to my mother, and I screamed at her, and she looked at me and burst out laughing. She was laughing at me [for] screaming back. And it was like a punch in my stomach."
After decades of personal anxiety and heated confrontations with her mother, Aniston's advice to the haters is:
“I always thought, if you’re angry you just don’t say anything, I would come out passive, things would come out passively." she says,
"But it doesn’t have to be black or white. You don’t have to be a hysterical human being and have veins pop- ping out of your neck and turn bright red and terrify people — or else keep quiet and put your head in the sand.
“I used to loathe confrontation. Loathe it. It was absolute. I understood anger, but I didn’t know that you should express it."
I think we can all agree Jennifer has it right: however hard it may be sometimes, we should never lose our temper with the people that annoy and belittle us; neither, though, should we passively accept that that is all we're worth.
We love you, Jen!
Watch some of Aniston's best moments in Friends.
Aniston's latest film, Cake, is set for release January 23, 2015.