The Bald Phoenix

None of us ever really ask to be different.  We never anticipate the things we're going to love or find joy in, but there will always be those who look down on us - see us as weak, as targets.  I was bullied from 1st grade all the way until my senior year of High School.  Jake, Rebecca, and Hal thought it was fun to torment me and mock me for my love of horses and my love of reading and my knowledge of history.  They were cruel and hurtful, constantly.  I spent every waking second in books, escaping my reality, wishing I could be like the heroes I read about with their powers and abilities- no one bullied them!  As my body grew and changed I hid it in baggy clothing because they called me 'ugly' and 'fat' and I still struggle with my self image more than 10 - years later.  But things really didn't get bad until my Freshman year of high school.

In an attempt to escape my tormentors, I had chosen a private girls school, thinking that because no one knew me, things might be different.  A new school, a fresh start, or so I thought.  These girls had been raised in families with money and had been in private school their whole life.  I was the black sheep - a deeply conflicted child still debating god and life filled with anger and pain.  I wasn't one of them, and they made that very clear to me.  It started with moving my chair at lunch, or moving my lunch bag to another table.  No one said a word ever - I would ask where my stuff was - thinking I could trust my class mates.  They would shrug and laugh, or just ignore me.

That wasn't where it ended though.  Social media was just beginning to take its hold - and the amount of myspace messages I got from people I knew and who I didn't even know told me constantly how worthless I was, that they didn't want a lesbian in the locker room with them, that I was a worthless freak, how ugly and fat I was....  Rumors spread that I practiced witch craft and talked to the devil (all because of the music I liked).  There was one time when I didn't go to school for 10 days, knowing that Maureen and her cronies would be waiting to continue their assault.  And even when we brought this all to the attention of the counselor and head mistress (we'd even printed all the messages I had received) they did nothing.  They swept the matter under the rug - because I was just a financial aid student, and they were trust-fund kids.  In fact, the school even asked me not to return the following year.

Returning to public school was even harder - but that was mostly because I was once again among the wolves who had tormented me in my elementary years.  I place on the varsity soccer team and the varsity ice hockey team (co-ed) where on the field or ice people were my friends and teammates, but off the field it was like I didn't exist.  I had no confidence in myself because no matter how hard I tried no one wanted anything to do with me.  It didn't help that my 'best friend' was shallow and self centered, doing her best to suppress my confidence to boost her ego. That lack of confidence and a desperate need for love and affection (driven by abandonment issues I had developed over the years) allowed me to be coerced into situations that now I would never put myself into.

But the bullying doesn't end once you're out of school - it only ends when you prove to yourself that you are everything you said you could ever be.  I have been a state beauty queen two times - 2012, 2013 - and I got there by taking those voice that said "You'll never be anything more than euclid trash" and saying to myself "I'll prove you all wrong."  It may be bad now, and it may hurt like hell, but there will ALWAYS be someone out there who will understand you and help you.  If you just reach out your hand - someone will be there to grasp it.

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