“I’m not a victim.”
“I don’t want to be a victim.”
“Being a victim gives them all the power.”
“I’m sick of everyone playing the victim card and not taking responsibility for their own lives and actions.”
All of these words run thru my mind this morning as I write this post. They make me not want to write it, but I know I have to. This is one that won’t go away. One that is always with me. One that I can’t shake no matter what I do. One that keeps presenting itself in my life, even today. There’s no escaping it.
I hope it will spark a conversation among my friends. I am fortunate to have friends of all ages who can hopefully shed some light on this. I even have some Facebook “friends” who witnessed these events or were even on the giving side, so to speak. I hope you will all chime in. Maybe someone will have some answers or insight I haven’t thought of.
I guess some background is in order. I was always the brain when I was growing up and was far from the beauty. I was a very awkward, short, mousy girl – very much the ugly duckling. I had glasses, but wouldn’t wear them because people made fun.
As long as I can remember, people were making fun. Today there is a little bit more of a spotlight on bullying because of school shootings. Back then, it was just as prevalent – if not more so -, but not much was done about it.
I guess some amount of bullying and teasing is to be expected with growing up. That’s not the type of bullying I’m talking about. I’m talking about the type when an entire class or group joins together.
Let me give you some examples. These are far from all of them, but will give you an idea of what I’m talking about. I will limit myself to 4, although there are far more of them.
1. When I was about to enter the sixth grade, my parents decided we should move to a small town. We began school at a private school that only had one class for each grade. Before long, it started. I was the butt of pranks, called names, set up on false dates – you name it. I even remember a boy who said he really wanted to “date” me – whatever that is in 6th grade -, but he was embarrassed to be seen with me. He said he really liked me and would be my boyfriend in secret, but no one could know. He had another girlfriend that was his “public” girlfriend.
I went home from school everyday and went straight to my bedroom to cry. I was miserable. The teachers wouldn’t do anything. I remember one of them even telling me it was to be suspected with kids our age. They acted like it was no big deal.
When Mom and Dad decided enough was enough and moved us back home, the kids in my class had a celebration. By then, it was the entire class against me. They would come up to me and ask me if I was coming back next year. When I said “no”, they would jump up and down and yell “Yes!” and the whole class would scream and clap. The teacher just sat there silent.
2. That summer I went to camp. My best friend from my old school was there and told all of the girls in the cabin (a good 30+ group) what had happened to me at my new school. At first they were sympathetic. Then it started again. I don’t want to go into everything that was done and said, but it resulted in me begging my parents to pick me up early from camp and the camp counselors and staff having to have a meeting with the entire cabin telling them to leave me alone.
3. After a year home in my old school, where everything had changed of course, the folks decided my brother and I should attend private school. What an adjustment it was! I went directly into honors algebra having never taken pre-algebra. I worked my behind off to get a C, when I had always received A’s in public school. However, some things didn’t change.
The bullying continued, although it did abate a bit. It was certainly more manageable than having the entire class in on it. However, the worst part was that two teachers got in on the act – two teachers in the arts. That’s right – the arts, my world. These were two people who, of all people, should have been encouraging me.
I’m not going to name names or even departments (and I ask that any of my friends who respond to this please don’t name names either), but one of these teachers liked to make fun of me in front of the whole class. I remember one time when this person made fun of how I did my hair, and everyone laughed. After that, everyone made fun of my hair.
The other teacher (again, in the arts) made me cry practically every day and told me I had no talent and I’d never amount to anything. Again, this was in front of EVERYONE, including a lot of parents, and nothing was done.
4. Most recently, I was bullied by an adult female who told me and others that because of my job in the theatre (which I founded and run by the way) that I should not be able to go out locally. I should only be able to drive an hour away where people don’t know me. I was also told by this person that because I am a busty person I should wear high necklines and turtlenecks at all times because it distracts men.
Since when do we, as women, become responsible for protecting men from their own thoughts?! But that is a whole other blog. It’s coming, believe me.
Having said all of these negative things, I do want to stress that I have had incredibly positive people in my life as well. We have a tendency to focus on the negative and indeed there are many choices for me on this subject, but I did have many positive teachers in my life. I even remember 2 fellow high school students who stood up for me. It took a lot of courage, but they did and I will never forget it.
My questions to anyone reading this…
1. Why? Sure, we can use the raging hormones excuse, but that certainly doesn’t apply to the teachers. What really makes people do this?
2. Is it too late for apologies? I certainly don’t think so. There’s one person I sure wish I could apologize to. It’s the only time I remember turning the tables and becoming the bully, and I feel absolutely horrible for doing that.
3. What can be done? Will anything work? I can tell you what won’t work – ignoring them and violence. I was brought up in the “ignore them and they will go away” theory, which I will NOT be teaching my kids. For those of you with kids, what are you teaching them?
4. Is there something that draws this back to you and makes it a continuing issue in one’s life? Why does it keep presenting itself in mine, even when I’ve changed and am no longer quiet about it?
I often wonder if the bullying is why I have depression issues. I will wake up sad sometimes and not know why. It’s to the point of being crippling at times. It’s hard to believe that I was a baby and toddler who always woke up smiling, and now I dread mornings more than anything.
I see pictures of me from school or family events where I should be happy, but at best I have a forced smile. As much as I love doing pinup work, I am still learning to like having my picture taken. I hate looking at pictures of myself because there are some where I can still see that deep hurt coming thru.
I know it’s why I have male friends instead of female friends, and that in itself creates more problems. I can’t tell you how many times I hear, “She’s only hanging out with the guys because she’s trying to pick one up or get attention”. Unfortunately, there are also other accusations that I won’t repeat here, none of which are true.
I hate to say it, but I hear it from men and women. It’s mostly women, but I do hear it from the occasional man. What’s wrong with saying “She’s friends with men because they don’t stab her in the back” or “She’s friends with men because they call it like it is and don’t play games”?
And that brings up another question… Why do women treat each other like this? That’s one I will never understand either. I don’t think we all need to sit around the campfire and sing “Kumbaya”, but just show enough respect to your gender to not cut each other down, ladies!
Lots of questions. And yes, I’m rambling. I don’t think anyone will understand how hard it was for me to write this or even pose the questions, but I hope some of you will give me your opinion on this. It’s something I feel very strongly about and I would love to do something about, even if it’s just preventing someone else from going thru it.