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.