Thankful for healing by pandorasecho

Thankful for healing

See this girl, awkward yes, different than most of my classmates, true, but not as ugly and stupid and obviously bad as I believed at the time.
True bullying makes you believe everyone else sees the reason you were targeted. It makes you believe there is no escape, that everyone is on the side of those tormenting you, and that those who you could ask for help won’t be able to do anything. It isolates you and makes you feel like asking for help will only increase the abuse that you must somehow deserve.
Not everyone who bullies you is the primary instigator. Some will just be almost as weak as you and be afraid that if they speak up the attack will turn on them. It is hard for anyone to willingly volunteer for that kind of abuse and it takes courage and the ability to see that bullies are afraid of groups. There is strength in numbers if other people can join together, which is precisely what the bully wants to avoid.
In grade school I started first grade not really knowing how to relate to other kids. I had a lot of grandparents, great-grandparents, great-Aunts and Uncles, but no siblings until just before I started school. I was severely pigeon-toed and the Dr. ordered dance classes but I failed drastically at dancing when I could barely walk. I was freckled and loud and tried to argue with the teacher who was teaching us to spell wrong, when I had started school already knowing how to read. The class was using a phonetic program that taught that school was spelled “Skwl” and I knew better. Cat was not Kat no matter what the teacher said. Not a good candidate for ITA learning!
In grade school, I had a battle every day. My things were stolen and destroyed or passed around from child to child with great drama and screams of “Dixie Fleas! Pass it on!” They pretended to spray my chair with disinfectant before anyone else would sit there. I came to believe I really did stink. I started not doing homework just so I could be kept after school so the kids who threatened to beat me up as I walked home would get bored and be gone.
When I was chased to my house and tried to hide between the screen door and the locked inner door as 4 older girls threatened to kill me, my mom drove up. In sweet voices they told her that “we don’t know what is wrong. We came by and she was just crying.” Mom thanked them for trying to help and I claimed I had just had a horrible head-ache.
Once I went to Jr. high it got better, and I had some friends from the other grade schools, but I still had kids who stole my PE clothes or cornered me and smeared raw eggs in my hair and poured cans of soda on me. Pretty girls would catch my eye and I would stare back, wondering what they knew that made them accepted, that I was missing, then they would snarl at me to stop staring.
I never quite got it right. Once the High School held an anti-bullying assembly with a movie about a boy who tried so hard to be invisible that he stepped off the bus and died of a heart-attack and when the school tried to find his friends, none of his classmates knew who he was. More kids told me “Hello” after that assembly than ever before but it only lasted a day. I too was learning to hide, I carried a book and sketch pad and I hid behind them all the time. I ate lunch in the art room and went straight home after school. I tried to be aloof so no-one would be able to tease me that no-one wanted to be my friend.
It made me a bad friend to the people who really were trying, because I was afraid it was a trap and then they would laugh, and I was convinced I really didn’t deserve a friend anyway.
How did I learn to move on?
First I had to move on. I could never have become the loving friend and Mom and wife and teacher and writer that I am now, had I stayed in that town. When I went away, I literally kept my head down and made no eye contact, and could not believe those other kids on the college campus were talking to me when they said “Hi” It took a lot of them to make me understand that there wasn’t some scarlet letter branding me an outcast. Then it took one very confident and loving friend to keep holding on even when I pushed away, and another, and the man who loved me and married me, and kept insisting I was a treasure. It took seeing my worth in a lot of other peoples eyes before I could see it in the mirror.
It took leaving home and creating my own home. It took living overseas in China for awhile and being in the minority and still making friends
So then I became a teacher of special ed. children and a Mom of loving men, and a writer of novels that are anti-bullying pro-loving and I have made a conscious choice to add to the love in this world

Looking at this picture I can still remember how insecure this girl was. I figured dressing up or getting my picture taken would just make people laugh because they would think I didn’t understand how hideous I was. Truly the grade school bullying had stopped by this time but the voices and laughter had been internalized to the point that I never tried to make new friends. I wish I could tell this girl how much better life was going to become in just two years. 16 year old Dixie was lonely and terrified of life but 18 year old Dixie was a college student with friends and my true love and a lot of hope.

I think often that the school experiences I had were bad enough that suicide seemed a hopeful option. Knowing I could kill myself meant that every day I lived through was because I chose to. Somehow that option gave me power and enough of a sense of control that I never gave up. Had I thought there was no escape I think I would have had to stop getting out of bed.

So now I tell kids, whenever you feel sick and hopeless, there comes a morning when you feel better. Suicide is only throwing away that chance to feel better.
So each year when school is starting again, and kids will be bullied again. What can we all do? Love each other, hold a hand, offer a smile and a validation of worth, refuse to be silent audiences any longer. Ask for and offer help.
There is more good than bad people in the world. That is why the bad ones are the news and the good ones are the norm.
Well Dixie this wonderful account of your horrific bullying should be read by everyone. How kids can be so cruel, it’s still a terrible ongoing scourge in schools today. How sad it makes me feel to read of your unhappy schooldays. Never mind you showed them in the end by having great friends, a wonderful husband, safe home life plus you teach others to be better folk. I wonder what sad lives your bullies are leading now & if any of them are ashamed…you’re so right too, the weak ones get pulled in too. I always think looking at your photos what a wonderful home you have made for your family. I do think schools do not do enough, surely they can see what’s going on? You were obviously far more intelligent than them!
Be Proud!
November 19th, 2022  
oh, dixie. my heart goes to you and that young person. i'm glad though that you have pulled yourself out of that darkness and showed yourself and the world what a grand person you really are. i have been bullied but i dared fight back and fought back for those that were bullied who were weak enough to retaliate. i was known to bully the bullies, even those boys and girls who were much bigger than myself. i always have had a sense of fairness and i never liked anyone to be at a disadvantage. i commend you and admire your perseverance and your efforts in seeing that others aren't bullied and to make them see and feel that each one of us is special in our own little ways. bravo. aces!
November 19th, 2022  
school was a cruel time - I had your exact colouring at that age, and was not allowed to grow my hair past my collar, while my sister had luxurious long blonde hair. I hear you!
thank you for sharing - so much more is able to be talked about today.
November 19th, 2022  
Such a heartbreaking story. I’m glad you were able to build a great life.
November 20th, 2022  
Your story is so familiar, and so sad. I am so glad that everything turned out great for you. I have always thought that the people that bully are so insecure with themselves that they feel a need to make other feel worthless. I love your freckles!!:)
November 20th, 2022  
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