A Lifetime

I wanted to share my story in hopes that it could give someone else hope that things can get better, and that they are not alone as I always thought I was.  I am 30 years old now but can still remember getting bullied as young as the age of 3 years old.  Not just by the other kids around be but by my daily sitter as well.  I can not say that my lifetime of being bullied has not left scars both physical and emotional.  But now as an adult can say that I truly believe it has made me a stronger person.

I never mentioned to my parents or brothers about my bullying until I got to be about the age of 5.  Because I never seemed to be able to get away from it.  I was teased at church, school, as well as at home by the other neighborhood kids.  I can still remember telling my parents and every time hearing the same response "It can't be that bad" or "They will stop next year".  Well, they never did, in fact things would only get worse.  In the 4th grade I had gotten so fed up with getting ignored by my teachers and getting told regularly by the principle and everyone else who had some authority that it had to be something I was doing to cause it all.  That all the kids wouldn't be doing all that I was claiming if I hadn't antagonized it myself.

Then in 1994 when I was just about to start the 5th grade my family moved across the country.  I immediately thought to myself, "WONDERFUL!  Now I can start fresh where no one knows me".  What I was really hoping was that I could finally for the first time in my life make a friend.  Come to find out though that just the complete opposite happened.  And things began to get much worse.  I now not only had my peers to worry about but my teacher(s) as well.  I was backed into the corner.  It also didn't help that everyone still called me the exact same names in Kentucky as they had all the way in California.  And it soon became physical when I entered middle school.  And I couldn't even go to my parents anymore because even they were starting to think I was telling wild tales of how bad it was getting to be.  Riding the school bus was a dangerous thing for me.  I would have to run as fast as I could home because I knew that if I didn't then I would surely run into trouble.  I can remember one incident very clearly of when I wasn't fast enough.  The neighborhood kids grabbed a hold of me to pin me on the ground only to shove a large ball of silly string doused in rubbing alcohol in my mouth and wanting me to swallow it.  I refused and took the beating instead.  Going home with cuts and bruises beginning to form and soaked in tears I remember the shock on my mom's face.  And still heard the same words from her that I had heard so many times before, "Things will get better".  I was at the time the first student at my eighth grade graduation that needed security to guide be due to threats I had received from some of my peers.

Entering high school my position was pretty well set at that point.  And so was my routine.  Walk to class as quickly as possible, sit in seat closest to door and against the back wall, look at the floor when I walk, and don't speak or look at anyone.  My self-esteem was extremely low, and I didn't trust anyone.  Not my teachers, counselors, principles, and definitely not my peers.  I nearly failed gym because I was too afraid to change in the locker room.  Due to one imparticular incident of another student kicking in the bathroom stall door and busting my nose and nearly knocking me out.  When I went to tell my teacher what had just happened his response was, "since I didn't see it happen I can't do anything about it", regardless of my bloody busted nose.

It became a daily activity for others to throw things, trip me, kick me, shove me, steal my things, and torment me relentlessly until I cracked, which I sometimes did.  One incident I can remember so clearly happened after school.  I was walking in the courtyard while another student that I knew very well would not leave me alone, and I couldn't take it anymore.  I spun around on my heels and punched him square in the nose.  I still to this day cannot believe what I had done.  I immediately took off running but I didn't get a good enough start because he soon gave me such a hard shove that I went flying forward and falling flat on my face on the asphalt, only to hear him say that if I ever touched him again he would kill me.  I have permanent hearing damage because of my bullying.  For four straight years I would receive trumpet blasts in my ears during my band class.

But out of all the compiled years of having this go on in my life I still can't forget the one thing that hurt the most.  It wasn't all the physical abuse that I suffered.  It wasn't even all the verbal.  But rather it was one simple phrase that spoke  mountains to me by my teacher of 4 years all throughout my high school years.  It summed it all up for me, and I must admit I still have trouble getting over even today over 10 years later.  My very last day of school and what would be what I thought the last time to see my teacher he said to me, "I'm really happy to see you go because you have been my least favorite student of all".  Eight years later I saw him again.  He was now my nephews band teacher.  And I couldn't believe that he could stand there and act like as if he had spoken those words to me so many years earlier.  I really wanted to give him a few choice words then and there but I bit my tongue, smiled, and politely walked out the auditorium and watched from outside, because I could not stand to be in the same room as him.

I can't say that I haven't been bullied as an adult in the work force, because I have.  But I can say that things have begun to get better.  And finally at the age of about 28 I had finally made my first friend.

Now when I run into people I used to know in high school and they approach me asking if I am so and so I immediately respond with no, they must have me mixed up with someone else.  I didn't go to school here.  One certain time this happened I can still remember her walking towards me.  I couldn't believe it.  She had been one of my worst instigators, and definitely a leader in all that had been done to me.  And of course she asked me if I was so and so and I spat out my same response as I had always done before.  But this time it was different.  She had called my bluff.  And what I heard her say I will never forget.  She had apologized and told me she was sincerely sorry for what her and all her friends had done to me in the past.  I was in utter total shock and couldn't speak at that point.  I remember just being able to stare and nod.  I never will forget that moment, but I'm still not ready to forgive completely.  But I can say that with those two simple yet big words of "I'm Sorry" will be with me forever and did heal a small portion of my damaged soul.  

And today at the age of 30 as I look back it is hurtful to remember all the troubles I have had to get through, but a portion of me is happy as well, because it has helped me become who I am today.  And I really believe I am stronger for it.  I took me a very long time to realize this, and if you asked me when I was that little girl ready the valentine's day cards that read "Ugly" and "Horse Face" and "I hate you" on them if I thought I would be who I am today I would have thought it to be crazy.  But now, I am a very determined individual that has a strong drive to achieve what I want and I don't give up.  No matter how rocky it can get, I keep trucking along, and I eventually make it to the other side.

I hope that my story can help some others to know that they are not alone like I thought I was, and that although things may not look very bright right now, "It will get better".  I guess my mom and dad were right all along.

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