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Bullied: A Short Memoir

Updated on September 28, 2012
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I saw something awful today. I was dropping my son off at school, sitting in that line of cars, slowly creeping toward the door of the school, when I saw her. Adorable, be-ribboned, Disney-shirted, mean. That's right: a mean girl. A bully. As she perkily pranced toward the door, she shoved another girl aside and called her ugly. Sigh

I remember her. Well, not her specifically, but her ilk. I remember what it felt like to be on the receiving end of that shove. I'm 35 years old now. I haven't been in school for close to twenty years, but still I remember.

It started for me in fourth grade. Up until then, I was fairly unremarkable in my class. Just a sort of nerdy girl who read books too advanced for my grade level and had serious trouble remaining tidy for the entire day. Nothing particularly special. Until fourth grade. I've never really figured out what caused the shift in my classmates attitude towards me. There wasn't a incident that precipitated them turning on me. They just did. And when they did, things turned ugly fast. They tortured me. They moved their desks away from me in class so that I sat alone in a circle of empty space in the middle of the classroom. Girls who had been my friends for years hissed nasty things at me in the hallway. They even started a club in which the main requirement for joining was hating me. A girl who had been my best friend since I was four or five stabbed me in the leg with a compass point. And I never knew why.

I fought back. When they shoved me, I shoved them back. When my ex-best friend stabbed me, I broke her nose on her desk. It just made it worse. I was punished for fighting, for my attitude, for my weirdness. My teacher joined the fray on the bullies' side. She teased me relentlessly for my messy hair and disordered desk. She sat me in the trash can in the front of the room and rebraided my hair. She dumped the contents of my desk over my head. She called me names.

I fought back again, in a different way. I stopped doing all schoolwork. Instead I read. And read. And read. I read during class, during lunch, during recess. When my teacher figured out that I was doing nothing but reading, she tried to break me of it. For a week she made me sit in the hallway and do nothing but read. It was the best week of fourth grade. She didn't get it. I knew what I was doing. I wanted out of that school and the only way I could think of escaping was to refuse to do anything. It worked. When fourth grade ended, the school administrators suggested I might be happier in a different school. I agreed. And so I moved on.

Fifth grade went just fine. I made some friends, mostly did my work, and moved on to middle school without a bang. And then it started again. In sixth grade, it wasn't too bad. The bullying was fairly mild. Mostly name-calling and a bit of shoving in the hallway. Most of my teachers tried to stop any taunting in the classroom. And so sixth grade passed. And then came seventh.

Seventh grade was fourth grade all over again. Girls calling me names, stabbing me with pencils, pushing me down the stairs. This time was a little different because this time the boys joined in. I'm not pretty and the boys let me know that they had noticed. It hurt but not as much as the physical violence visited upon me by the girls. And again I had a teacher who joined in the bullying. She told me countless times that I brought it all on myself by being strange. It was in her class that a girl cut off a good four inches of my hair. It was misery.

These bullying incidents followed me throughout my school career, waxing and waning from year to year, even through high school. My parents did try to help. They talked to the teachers, sent me to therapy, encouraged me to fight back, but they never really understood. Luckily I found friends who help make it bearable in high school. Most of them had been on the receiving end of bullying themselves and understood the damage it does. Thank goodness for them. A lot of them are my best friends to this day. I survived. But not without scars.

When I saw that little bully today, it all came rushing back. I could feel the compass point in my leg, the scissors on my hair. It's all still there, inside me. It will never leave completely. But I have risen above it. I have forged on and made a life for myself. I have a wonderful husband and two great kids and I love them all more than anything. And today I can say I am fine. Sure I still carry those slings and arrows with me, but they no longer define me. Now I define me. I choose to like myself and to hell with anyone who doesn't agree. So I can tell you today, definitively: Yes, it does get better.

Have you been bullied?

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    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 4 years ago

      That is horrible! I am so sorry you had to go through all that misery. I am glad you have found happiness. Apparently the bullying today is different from the bullying when I was a child. Somebody would get on a bullying kick, he or she would get their ears knocked down and that was it for awhile. There were some kids who were natural bullies, but usually other kids would gang up on them and teach them to leave the weaker kids alone. It was a small town and they couldn't turn a whole class against someone. Some of us girls were bullied by boys five or more years our senior, so we learned to avoid them, but we did fight back. What I don't understand is where is all this hatred coming from today? How are these bullys going to treat their own children? I voted you up.

      Oh, one other thing, one of the worst bullies in school changed his ways after he grew up, and today he is one of the dearest people I know.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      I am so angry that that happened to you and it takes a lot to make me angry. I am outraged that a teacher would allow and participate in such abuse. I taught for 40 years and taught the kids that our classroom was a safe zone and that if anything happened any where on the bus or at school to let me know. And I dealt with it. The kids who came to me knew that i would not tolerate it for one minutes. I made it perfectly clear.

      And as you say, it does linger. I apologize for that teacher's behavior. I am so glad you survived and it made you stronger but that is a heck of a way to have it happen. Sending Angels to you and yours.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I am glad, Meg, that you found friends to help you through. I am glad you survived, because there are many talented, brilliant people who do not. It enrages me to read what you endured. It should never have happened, much less been encouraged by ignorant authority figures. It doesn't matter why it happens, there is no validity that makes it acceptable. It is born of small minded ignorance, jealousy, insecurity, pack animal hatred and/or mental illness. Unfortunately, it continues on an even larger scale, today, via the internet. Bullying has always been part of society, we know about it, we know the harm it does, and yet it continues. I have little hope that it will ever go away. Human beings are the cruelest animals, because despite knowing the harm bullying does, it has the viciousness of a team sport. Until there are severe consequences for bullying behavior, such as separating the bullies from civilized society via special schools were they are indoctrinated into civility through professional mental health services, it is essentially seen as accepted (disliked but tolerated behavior.) I am very sorry to hear that you were treated so badly. Thank you for making this problem so visually real by sharing your story.

    • Meg Davis profile image
      Author

      Meg Davis 4 years ago from Saint Louis, Missouri

      A few years ago I found myself working with one of the boys who bullied me in seventh grade. During a smoke break, he asked me if I remembered and incident in which the bullies made me cry and run out of the room. I did, of course. Then he apologized and said he couldn't believe he acted like that. People do change, thank goodness.

    • Meg Davis profile image
      Author

      Meg Davis 4 years ago from Saint Louis, Missouri

      Good for you! Teachers are meant to stand between kids and their bullies, not join in the fray.

    • Meg Davis profile image
      Author

      Meg Davis 4 years ago from Saint Louis, Missouri

      Thanks Amy. I'd also like to add that parents should be on the lookout for this kind of behavior in their kids and nip it in the bud.

    • Mom Kat profile image

      Mom Kat 4 years ago from USA

      Being the victim of bullying is harder than those who haven't been realize. It cuts deep and stays there long after the bullying stops. I'm sorry for the things you endured. I feel your pain. I've never understood why people hurt others as a way to feel more powerful. In my experience it has always felt better to lift others up...

      Anyway, great hub. You really did a good job.

    • Meg Davis profile image
      Author

      Meg Davis 4 years ago from Saint Louis, Missouri

      Thanks Mom Kat. I agree with you. I'd rather make people feel good than cut them down.

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 4 years ago from Spain

      Hi Meg. I was bullied too and it does leave it´s mark. I also missed out on a lot of schooling because of it, and I was too scared to tell anyone in case it made it worse. I still remember being so anxious about going to school, that I would try and make myself fall down the stairs at home so I could break something and not have to go to school.

      What on earth where your teachers doing letting you suffer like that, and even worse joining in, it´s truly disgusting. I am so pleased we both came through the other side and got over it.

    • Meg Davis profile image
      Author

      Meg Davis 4 years ago from Saint Louis, Missouri

      I tried to get out of school all the time. Once I actually made myself throw up so I could go home. And you're right, those teachers' behavior was reprehensible. A betrayal of trust. I'm glad you made it through, too. Now we are strong!

    • BobbiRant profile image

      BobbiRant 4 years ago from New York

      I think any of us would be hard pressed to find a school kid who has never been bullied, or even anyone in the work place who has not been. Bullies have been around since the beginning of time. I'm sure if we all think back, we can recall being bullied, no matter the era. Technology has made it simpler to stalk people more is all. Great hub.

    • Meg Davis profile image
      Author

      Meg Davis 4 years ago from Saint Louis, Missouri

      Too true, BobbiRant. It seems like there is always someone willing to cut others down to lift themselves up.

    • DayLeeWriter profile image

      Debra Cornelius 4 years ago from Georgia

      A 12 year old nephew commited suicide as a result of being bullied and his parents just won a lawsuit against a school system that did not take a stand against it even thought the child's parents repeatedly went to teachers and administration. The settlement does not cover their loss, but perhaps it did get a message through to the teachers and school officials who thought bullying was no big deal. Part of the settlement involves mandatory educational classes against bullying in all schools within the district. Thank you for sharing your experience, and I am glad you survived to remind others bullying is not an acceptable passage of youth!

    • bittoo 106 profile image

      bittoo 106 4 years ago

      I have been bullied and harassed for last 20 yrs by one person at work, and now another one had joined him and ganged up on me. This was too much. I am off work for last two months while company deals with this situation. Don't know what is going to be the final outcome, but can not go back until everyone is clear in their mind regarding bulling.

    • moneyfairy profile image

      moneyfairy 4 years ago

      Meg I am so sorry you had to go through that mean people suck. Even here on hub pages there have been some obnocious bullies but they hide behind mean words and the internet. I once flagged one of them and I'm the one that got cut off for a while, it just seems so unfair. But I guess on forums anyone can write anything they want and get away with it because it is public domain. I have learned to just ignore them. They make me so mad though sometimes. I was also bullied in highschool for being overweight and treated like a second class citizen.

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