I heard this morning that the movie Bully was able to shed the R rating and garner an NR rating. I would have taken my darling daughter either way...heck I might have even stood outside and bought tickets for any kiddo who wanted to see it.
As a teacher, I not only witnessed and stood up against bullies but I also left teaching because of a bully...one child and one adult. Even after two years, it makes me incredibly sad to know that I may never teach again because someone took his power issues out on me and I just could not handle it. This tragedy landed me in counseling where I eventually understood that behaviors from my childhood were still following me around.
As a child, I was bullied because of my weight and/or my crooked teeth. I think once I was even bullied because of my shoes. Nevertheless, because I so wanted everyone to like me, I may have never established boundaries, allowing almost anyone to mistreat me throughout life. The main instance of bullying that I can remember goes like this:
In third grade, my rotund body had grown more wide than tall and "my girls" had grown in overnight to their adult size. I was still a little girl so no one thought to introduce me to proper under garments. As a parent now, I don't think I could do that to a nine-year-old either so no judging myMama...she did the best she could with a sneak eater like me.
Keep in mind that this is also the year that I may or may not have beaten up a little boy in my class for trying to hit my sister.
I don't really recall having any close friends at that time and the pictures of my birthday party that year include a little girl from our day care, my siblings and our cousins. I am sure I had someone to see-saw with, and I can vaguely remember impressing someone with performing a back bend during recess one day (I laugh now because I remember making it over but not knowing how or being able to get back up). I can also remember wanting so badly to be friends with the "popular" girls that I made a point to pay at least one of them a compliment every single day...even if they were laughing at me or being ugly. To me, everyone was popular...at least more popular than me. I also remember having my first "crushes" on a little boy who had moved to our school and one who had been there since my kindergarten year.
Once upon a school day, it was physical fitness testing time in PE class. That, my friends, is the pudgy kid's nightmare week at school. Day one...run a mile being timed. Day two...how many sit ups can you do in 2 minutes. Day three...how many push ups can you do in 2 minutes. Day four....run a mile; this time do it in under 10 minutes for an A. Day five...height and weight checks. That's where it happened. I had already survived four days of torment and snickering at my lack of athleticism. What else could go wrong?
I remember thinking I was going to die on the spot because, as I waited my turn in line to be weighed and measured and found lacking, I saw that "Coach" had her pets (the popular girls) helping out with cleaning and filing in her office. As one coach weighed the kiddos in front of me, she would call out the numbers to "Coach" to write on our individual cards. NO WAY! I knew I was big...no popular kid had to be told to what extent...that would be turning the heat up in hell, people!
Just as I was about to faint in anxiety after stepping on the scale, I looked to the assistant coach with tears in my eyes mentally pleading with her not to say it out loud. Thank God she could read minds because she used her fingers to signal the offending numbers 1-1-5. At less than 5 feet tall that wasn't good but at least I didn't have to live with all the 70 and 80 pounders knowing. I breathed a sigh of relief and went to wait in my class's line to return to class.
This is when the New Boy came up to me, smiled and asked, "Hey! Are you okay?"
HOLY MIRACLE OF ALL THINGS WONDERFUL! He must like me! I put on my biggest smile and beamed, "Yes! Why do you ask?"
"Because I don't think I would want to live if I weighted 150 pounds?" and he burst into laughter along with everyone sitting within hearing distance.
I turned 10 shades of red and stammered, "Shut up!"
"Oh no! Don't make her mad! She will sit on you and then you're dead!" he laughed and brought out another round of laughter from his audience.
The coach's stealthiness must not have worked completely. I guess the little helper dears saw a 1 and 5 and knew I couldn't weigh 15 pounds. Their deduction skills to this day still amaze me.
I think that was the first time I ever thought I would be better off dead. I can remember day dreaming of falling off the monkey bars on my head and everyone being sorry that they had been so mean to me. My other day dream was that my parents would buy a new house in a different school district. I think that is also when my teacher started sending me to see the school counselor and my mother started taking me with her to Weight Watchers (because I was too young to officially enroll, we did it off the record).
Fast forward this bad, made-for-TV, after-school special around four years. MyMama and Daddy got me braces and spent a mint on making sure my teeth were not an issue. I shot up to my adult height overnight and the baby weight became more proportionate. I, however, would always think of myself as fat and unworthy.
It wouldn't be until I was a freshman majorette that I would finally find true and lasting friendships (and a support system for any bullying that continued). By my senior year I had even managed to find friends in all cliques at school. In college, away from the small town that knew me, I really got a taste of being on the "in" and had many friends and a few boyfriends. I think it is because I never changed the way I was as a person. To this day, I try to pay at least five compliments to people I encounter. I strive to be helpful and caring to everyone I meet. I married my best friend and biggest fan. And I was always surrounded by my family's love.
Because of that love, I wasn't irreparably harmed by my childhood. I wouldn't go through it again for all the tea in China, but I survived it. Life did get better. Even during the hardest times, I am reminded that because I didn't let it change me, I survive.
NOTE: Today, I am friends with several ladies that I grew up with. I know you gals read this sometimes. No stressing about this, okay? I have no memories of you abusing me in any way. Also, Mama, no stressing from you either...you were my best friend through it all, and I love you and all you have done to make me the woman I am today. <3J