As a chubby, poor Pagan I pretty much had it coming, right? (TW: depression, self injury)

That's how it seemed for me anyway.

I was about six when I first experienced bullying. In the first grade I was slightly taller and much thinner than my classmates. It wasn't all that bad then - six-year-olds don't have much in the way of an arsenal of insults other than the likes of "meaniehead".

Then in the third grade I started gaining weight. A LOT of weight. Halfway through the year I was a far cry from the skinny first-grader I used to be. Kids in my class were much more imaginative about their insults. I quickly knew the "fatty, fatty two by four" song by heart. My classmates would step on my long hair and force me to stay on the ground and pummel me with verbal abuse after knocking my books down.

Age nine was the first time I thought about suicide. I would rather die than go to school and face the bullies in my class that I was too afraid to tell my mom about. 

In the sixth grade I moved to another school district, hoping it would help me redefine myself. It didn't. I was still shy and very sensitive and I was seen as a target. My few friends helped me make it through the next four years with my sanity intact, but not without some damage. The relentless groups of girls were out to get me and on multiple occasions I had been humiliated by the ones that lived in public housing and felt like they needed to prove themselves. The entire school was "black vs white" and I was on the losing "team". Racism, fat shaming and group fighting abound, and school authority did nothing. I fell into a deep, dark, spiraling depression and even started cutting myself. I felt numb from the abuse and wanted to feel something

In tenth grade I moved yet again, to the school I graduated from. I was bound and determined to change how people perceived me. From the beginning it became clear to me that it was nearly impossible to get people to like me. I was automatically, inexplicably, labeled as the weird one, but at least I was in good company thanks to one amazing guy named Josh that has a big heart and decided to take a chance on a new kid. My new friends were just as 'weird' as I was and I finally felt like I belonged, at least while I was around them. Still, outside my group of friends, I was avoided like the plague but I held my head up high and I never let them see it bothered me. 

Four days before my 17th birthday, when I was in the 11th grade, one of my best friends asked me out (we've been together for almost 6 years now and married for 3 years) and bullies in school finally left me alone, at least to my face. After so many years of being alone and feeling empty and hopeless, I had some peace . They were afraid of who I was with, and they didn't want to mess with me. Shortly thereafter I "came out of the broom closet", as it were, and people finally knew I was Wiccan. Then began the jokes about casting spells. I used that to my advantage and that soon stopped after a few side comments that I responded to with "don't tempt me". 

I got pregnant in the last semester of my senior year and immediately people accused me of faking. I never told my husband but people would literally push me around and poke me in the stomach to get a response from me. Since I was fat, no one thought anyone would actually want to have sex with me, I guess. It wasn't until I had ultrasounds to show people that people backed off the physical attacks - but then people started saying I cast a spell to get pregnant, and my husband was under some kind of curse. One of my husband's friends even had his foot to my stomach one morning on the bus when I told him to turn his music off (I can't stand rap music and I got a lot of migraines while I was pregnant). 

I finally graduated when I was 24 weeks pregnant, and my son was born that following September, in 2009. He is 3 1/2 years old now, and I'm trying to create an environment for him that I never had - he needs to know that  bullying, of any kind, is wrong and he needs to love himself enough to be able to stand up for himself and others if he ever sees it or experiences it. Bullying is inexcusable - how many kids are going to kill themselves before something is done?

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