All this talk of suicides related to bullying of gay teens and college students makes my skin crawl. Being an outsider of any kind brings upon it teasing, harassment, bullying. I know because I ended up being an outsider coming into a closely knit seventh grade class of twenty. I know because I endured teasing, harassment, bullying – some of it that would absolutely not be tolerated in today’s schools.
The eighth grade girls tried to save me from the abuse, though the next year they went on to high school. In their place stood seventh grade girls joining forces with those in my own class to make my life pure hell.
Even though private slumber parties ended up with me in tears, I kept going. I wanted to be brave and show them I could put up with the crap they handed out.
Not every girl in the class teased, harassed, bullied. The important thing is that nobody tried to stop it. Nobody went to a teacher and said, this is happening and I think it is wrong and it should stop. Most of all, not even me.
Only when I began to experience daily stomachaches without apparent physical cause and with the end result of skipping lunch (and occasional other meals) did anyone reach out to me.
I couldn’t tell anyone the absolute worst harassment and bullying that came to haunt me, though. It makes me sick when I think about it, something so deep and dark. I couldn’t tell my own mother or sister, I don’t think I ever have. If I could not tell the female psychologist my parents found outside of school, I most certainly could not tell the male psychologist at the school. And for any therapist since, I could never divulge the secret that assisted in molding me into an even more timid adult than the shy and anxious child I had been.
I do not wish to go into detail for the sake of privacy – even the privacy of those who harassed and bullied – though I do believe in today’s world of cell phone cameras and Facebook, things could have been much worse.
Quite honestly, all of that could have sent me over the edge upon which I was already teetering.
What really sucks is that in some ways, the same teasing and bullying carry over into adult lives, something that is truly disheartening. Again, the internet makes this so much easier. Comment on a mother’s blog, a mother who just lost her young son to a congenital heart defect, that it was her fault for having him circumcised. Film a young man during his most intimate moments and post it for the world to see. These things are sickening and wrong and shouldn’t happen.
I wish I could say it gets better, though I just don’t know if it does. Maybe if we all try a little harder to be understanding of differences in our adult lives and try a little harder to teach the following generations that teasing, harassment, and bullying should not be tolerated. Maybe it will get better.
I was bullied too. Junior year was hell for me. It sucked. Could have been worse, sure, but at the time it was Pure Hell.
I was bullied mercilessly from kindergarten thru 7th grade. It sucked. A lot. And it screwed me up. A lot.
It does get better. I’ve found my own niche of fellow weirdos (hello!) and introspective, bookish people who get me the same way I get them. I go out of my way to avoid the bullies. And I hope I speak up for people if I see them getting bullied, but I’m not sure I always do. It’s something I’m working on, that being brave in the face of a mob. But yeah, it does get better.
I’m sorry that happened to you. It should never, ever happen to anyone.
I was bullied through high school by a group of girls who took it upon themselves to tell the world in many graphic terms that I was a total whore. Ironically, at the time it started, I was a virgin. It took until my divorce from a bully who also called me a whore or insinuated I was one, then three years of exploring my sexuality in the fringes and mainstream to come to accept myself and let go of that trauma. There were many times in my adolescence that I thought about suicide. I even planned my funeral so that those girls wouldn’t be invited. Thank goodness I had a great teacher who kept me on this side of the suicide line. She’s still my friend, although distantly.
Rachel – This is such an eloquent, touching post. Kudos to you for speaking/writing your story. Under the hurt and humiliation I sense a graceful wise voice that seemed to surface and become stronger from these experiences. Thank you for sharing your authenticity as that is what ultimately heals and helps others!
Childhood sucks! And it affects for our whole lives. I’m sorry that you feel still affected by what these people did to you. And I’m no different. I’m still affected by so much that happens. But I try to live life in a way that brings me enjoyment and honors the people I love now. Easier said than done, but it’s my goal.
And though I’ve only met you once (something I regret, honestly) I would have no idea that you carried this with you, or that you would have been bullied. You’re smart, perceptive, attractive, hilarious (in a very sly way that I can totally appreciate), and you’re compassionate. Maybe these are things you wouldn’t be today if those people had accepted you.
I think posts like this, shining light on the subject DOES help. You are helping. Make sure to give that young girl still in you a huge hug and tell her, you are OK.
What a well written, heartfelt post. I wish I had known how difficult things were for you at the time. I went through my own struggles during my grown up years and maybe I could have helped out.
For some kids, at least, it does get better. For me the bullying stopped in grade 10. I don’t know why it stopped; it just did. I have never had many friends, and I still don’t, but the few I do have are the most loyal ones. And that’s okay.