Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day 8: Hell

Day 8: Hell

In today's topic, we are supposed to write about someone who made our lives hell, or treated us like shite.

When I was a freshman in high school, I took an art class. We sat 4 or 5 to a large table and would work on our individual projects in a group setting. This was my favourite part of the day for a while, but after a couple of weeks, I noticed the girls I had been sitting with starting to whisper... and I could tell they were constructing some sort of plan. They were awestruck by a sophomore girl who sat with us, who was more than a trouble maker. She was a fucking menace. She wasn't an A-list sophomore, or even a B-list sophomore, so I wasn't really sure what they saw in her.

She was kind of big and scary though, so maybe they were just focused on survival, and grateful that she hadn't targeted them.

It started out simplistically enough. They would pass a mean note here and there, write something cruel on my project, etc. I thought about moving to a different table, but that was contingent on other people being willing to switch a spot with me, due to space issues. We did need room to work on our drawings/paintings, and other projects. No one wanted to switch spots with me, and the teacher wouldn't enforce it. Gee... I wonder why? Of course, now as an adult it does make sense to me. Who would want to deal with her? And still, why wasn't anything ever done about her?

It kept getting worse.

Before long, because they weren't getting enough of a rise out of me as a result of the minor cruelty they started with, she and her minions had resorted to discreet torture. They would do things like pull my hair when no one was paying attention. They would wait until the teacher went into her office, and force my face down into my project, and smear it around. They would take the scissors and cut chunks from my hair. It was really curly, so it wasn't very easy to tell what they had done, but I could. I could always tell, and it was the kind of torture I saw when I had to wash my hair. The kind of torture that would make me think of those bitches even when they weren't around.

One day, I had left the table briefly to grab some supplies. School pictures had just come out, and I had a Ziploc bag of my own photos in my school bag that I had written on the backs of to give to friends. One of these girls found them, got my wallet out, threw all of the pictures that were in my wallet away, and filled the slots with my own school photo, showing it to everyone, and saying: "Wow, look at this! She's so full of herself, that all she has in her wallet are photos of herself!"

I had to dig through the trash can to get my pictures back, and of course I was made fun of heavily for that. Some were ruined because someone had dumped tempra paint in there not long before.

I really don't know why I didn't do anything more about this. I guess it was due to the fact that I was scared, and a kid, and had no skills in this area. They completely freaked me out. It finally did get to the point where I said something to the teacher, and asked if I could be moved to a different class altogether, but that didn't work, either, so I was basically just stuck with these stupid, mean girls until the semester ended.

It really sucked that what should have been my favourite, fun, elective class was my own personal hell. And if I opted for truancy; even if I just ducked into honors study with some of my friends, I ended up in detention. I had a good chance of running into these girls there, anyway.

I never really talked about this with anyone. It was so humiliating that I just wanted to get out of there and go somewhere safer where I actually did have friends who wouldn't do that to me. But, I also figured the people who were nice to me wouldn't want to be friends with me anymore if they knew what these girls were doing to me, because who wants to be associated with that? I could barely admit to myself what was happening, let alone utter the description of it to another human being. Would they start doing the same thing to me, or would they desert me because they didn't want to be friends with a freak?

This experience along with a few others, (I'm ashamed to admit,) has stayed with me, and I have allowed it to affect me. I am still afraid of people. I never know what they might do, or say. I don't trust people right away, and I probably never will. It takes a LOT to earn that from me, and this is partially why.

I have heard many times over that bullying is the sort of thing people do when they feel inadequate. They need to affect power over another person, so they feel a little better about themselves. I understand that. It does make sense to me in a way. The memory of this pain is somewhat lessened knowing the above. Only somewhat, however, because when the bullying turns into something physical; literally painful, and humiliating, it's not a memory that is easy to let go of. Certainly, I can understand feelings of inadequacy. I have certainly felt them, but I have never felt the need to torture another person as a result. Knowing how it feels to be on the receiving end could be why. This pains stays with you, and it changes you. It changes your outlook on other people, yourself, and sometimes life in general. For me, it felt like I'd been put in my place. So, to avoid more pain, both physical and emotional, I should probably just stay there so as not to stir up any more trouble.

I don't allow the latter to happen as often now, thankfully, but at the time, it was how I reacted, and how I survived.

Did these people ever come back to thank me later for making them feel more adequate? Did they thank me for allowing them to feel more powerful, or more respected? No. No, they did not. So why am I holding on to this stupid pain? They got what they wanted, and probably don't even remember this crap.

I'm working on this one. I'll probably always be working on this one.



  1. Oh Hedy, this makes my heart hurt!! Makes my heart ache to know that no one did anything, that no one even tried to reach you, that no one tried to stop it or stand up when they saw it. I remember those days in school when teachers felt that it was all 'part of the experience of growing up and the kids have to sort it out'. So often those jerk kids get away with it and become jerk adults as well.

    So many kids are afraid of turning the attention onto themselves and that they will stand alone if they stand up. What they don't understand is that everyone is waiting for that one person to stand up so that they all. I raise my kids to always stand up out of love. My heart sings whenever they would come home and tell me how they would stand in front of a group of kids tormenting one kid and tell them how terrible they were being. One act of love can change someone forever!

    It takes 5 positives to erase 1 negative....
    * You are beautiful
    * You crack me up
    * I see a strong woman inside of you that these pains and sruggles have help to refine
    * No one can be perfect but you are the perfect you at this moment and always will be
    * Know that life is a journey, a constant learning and you are amazing for sharing this journey and learning with us.


  2. Oh, Hedy, that's terrible! Those elective classes were always such a mixed bag, with half the kids there just because they had to take something and they thought it would be easy. Then they get bored and amuse themselves by targeting someone. That is really awful how they treated you.

    This made me think of a friend I had in jr. high who was very tall and bigger than others and somehow I thought that she would be more confident and mature as a result! Of course she was very self conscious and socially awkward and hid behind jokes and a silly nickname. I thought she was great, though, and remained friends with her even though my other friends didn't like her. Now I wonder if she went through anything like that when I wasn't around.

    IME, people who bully remember it forever and have a lingering guilt that never goes away until they deal with it. Or they don't deal with it and just become very bitter people who don't enjoy life.