Friday, October 15, 2010

The Bully Next Door

When I was nine, we moved to a new town. This wasn't an unusual occurrence. We moved a lot. This move was rougher because I would no longer be attending the tiny Christian school connected to our church. My family made up a large portion of the church and thus ensured that I had a place of prominence among my peers. Before that I wasn't popular but I wasn't picked on either. Mostly I was so strange the other kids just ignored me. They no doubt would be the same kids who picked on me in Jr. High but for some reason at the lower levels of elementary, I was just shunned. This didn't bother me much. I was in my own world anyway.

But our move brought me into direct contact with a whole new world of children's cruelty. It was so bad that even now when people talk about the "innocence and purity" of children I snicker. The children in this town were some of the nastiest people I've ever known. It began on the first day when I wore my favorite outfit. It was Kmart purchase. Beige dress pants with gold buttons, a cream dress shirt with a peter pan collar, and a crochet beige vest with gold buttons. I LOVED this outfit and, yes, looking back I realize it was hideous. But 

When I was introduced to the class, everyone laughed. And this was the only start. At the first recess, I was mocked. I was trying desperately hard to not cry because I sensed if I cried, it would be over. The lunch recess was where all hell broke loose. I couldn't hold back the tears, and then they knocked up the bullying a notch or two. Several students surrounded me, boys and girls, and began to yell insults at me. Then they started to push me around until I finally was shoved hard enough to fall into a mud puddle. My outfit was ruined, and to cap it off when we returned to the classroom, the teacher yelled at me for being dirty and wet. This happened every day. For months. Looking back, I wonder where in the adults were. I mean, wouldn't a teacher on recess duty noticed that a gang of fucking kids had surrounded another kid? I don't think I told my mom because there was a lot of crap going on in our lives, and I didn't want to worry her. I was the good kid who didn't cause problems.

One day I was at my grandparents visiting (they lived in the same town). I loved going to their house. It was my safe, warm space. My comfort space. I was helping my grandfather put leaves into the garbage bags when all of a sudden I heard the familiar taunts. I looked up, wiping my hair from my ears, to see the ringleader of the bullies with a friend. How ironic that he lived right across the road from my grandparents. He kept at it and I tried to ignore him. My grandfather encouraged me to ignore him. And I tired. But finally I couldn't take it. I was in my safe place and this little asshole was making fun of me. I ran at him, and put him in a headlock. I held on while he bucked and tried to shake my off. I didn't care. I wanted him to hurt. I wanted him to feel every bit of pain he had inflicted on me. I remember his friend screaming for me to let him go, and I kicked at the friend when he tired to touch me. My grandfather ended up pulling me off. The kid was chocking, his lips blue. I was sobbing and screaming obscenities at the kid. My grandfather carried me back to the house and gave me chocolate milk. I was shacking and terrified. I was scared about what would happen at school the next day. 

The next day everyone ignored me. I was now someone to be feared. I was crazy.

Looking back, I wonder how I survived this bullying. It stopped at that school but it continued at other schools. And remember we moved a lot. There was always something. I was fat. I had zits. I was dorky. I read too much. My clothes were crappy Kmart purchases. My hair was frizzy. There was always something. I learned to not let it show how much it hurt. I starved myself thin. I stole Clearasil to try to get rid of the zits. I hid in my books. 

Everyone told me to ignore it but years and years of being called ugly takes its toll on a person. My body became shaped by those words. Now, 30 years later, I still have moments when in the mirror I still see that girl who is fat, ugly and covered in acne. 


Leelee said...

I can sympathize.. that was my life too.. was wondering if this was the same school as well.. bastards all of them! But it shaped us into the brilliant women we are today...

Ginger As in Green Tea... said...

I'm pretty sure it was the same school! And you are totally hot and you rock so there:P