I think almost everyone who is an adult can remember be bullied as a kid at least once or twice. I have been reflecting being bullied. I was bullied on an off through junior high. I remember being afraid, and trying to figure out how avoid be hurt. I remember the feelings of being powerless, very alone, helpless and complete insignificance.
In grade school I was one of those kids who was a little pudgy with no athletic talent. I was always one of the last kids chosen for everything and it was a referendum on my classmates opinion of me. I most hated it when we played dodge ball. Even at that age three or four kids would all hammer me with the ball simultaneously. My gym teacher favored the athletic kids and had hands off attitude. So this happened over and over. I think it was her favorite game. I knew I grew to hate that game, and gym class.
By the time I left grade school and move to junior high it had moved from just happening in gym class to an ever-present threat. In junior high cliques became much more clearly defined; the jocks, the studious kids, the in crowd, the out crowd, the town kids, the country kids, the families with money, and the families without. The caste system of pre-teens, that they only understand. I fell in into several of the lesser classes, which did not bear well for me. I became the object of a tough redhead tomboy. She and her gang of followers became my bane of my existence. I was constantly roughed up, in that subtle way that no one wants to acknowledge, pushing, shoving, hitting, name calling and threatening. In junior high I started to be sick from school so I would not have have to be tormented. Like the young boy in the Bully, documentary, I loved school,English, reading and all the sciences, but being bullied would make my school days miserable. It eventually cumulated with the redhead promising to beat me up after school. She announced this around the the school, my peers and others were lining up to watch me be whipped. I avoid the confrontation for days, staying late, leaving early, skipping school, and taking alternate routes home. Ultimately the fight happened. A group of students waited with my bully for me to leave school property. That day became etched in my mind. I can remember the dress I was wearing, my shoes, the kids screaming, my hair being pulled and taste of my bloody nose. I can feel yet the fear of what ifs…what if her friends helped her pound me, what if I need to go to the hospital, what would my parents say, what if I couldn’t get free, what would happen next?
I had a friend who did not abandon me. She stood there screaming for me to get out. She was that one voice, that one person who was concern with my and my survival. She ultimately got me in the house of family who’s yard was the fight ring.
After the fight there was a sort of uneasy truce. I wasn’t picked on as viciously as before. Somewhere in me I suddenly found an a survival instinct…survival in spite of it all. I wish I could tell those kids who are being bullied today how or where I found that instinct. I wish I could share with them that pivotal moment when I knew the only person who needed to believe in me was me. I wish I could help them find the understanding that you can’t control what others think or do, but you can control how you think and react. But I can’t, because I don’t know how it happened to me. It changed my life in so many ways and allowed me to survive and even thrive. I pray for the kids who are bullied today, for them to find a way not just to survive, but the thrive and reach their fullest potential.