Bullied and Moving On by pandorasecho

Bullied and Moving On

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 nothing. 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

So now 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.
oh, dixie, i wish you are near so i can hug you. your tale moved me to tears. i felt like i could kill those kids who did those things to you. since i was in grade school, i've always been involved in fights and always called to the principal's office because i hated it when bigger kids tried to bully the shorter, weaker kids. and what you say is true, those that should be protecting us would say that those kids are just joking. i am so proud that you were able to rise above those horrible experiences, as they either break or make you. i'm so glad it made you the strong, kindhearted and compassionate person that you are. good on you!
September 9th, 2014  
@summerfield Thank you. It still matters. And you know, I think we would have been friends even then. Now i have been lucky, facebook has allowed me to reconnect and realize how scared and scarred a lot of them were too, and how we have all grown and changed.
September 9th, 2014  
Your smile looks great, but your eyes a little sad. Either way, I think it is a cute picture. Those are awkward times in a little girls life
September 9th, 2014  
My gosh, yours is quite a story, Dixie. My son was bullied in grade school - I saw 2 little kids beating up on him after school and he did nothing to defend himself. He started to slip out of school and wander the streets of New York the minute after I dropped him off. It was a month before I found out that he was playing hookey. I had a fit and took him out of that school. Things got a little better. When I was in grade school no one could get away with bullying or acting meanly toward other classmates. The nuns would never allow tormenting to go on. So, restrictive as Catholic school was, it did protect me in some respects. What a terrible thing to go through as a child. How brave and comforting that you became the woman you are today.
September 9th, 2014  
Your eyes tell the story. I've just read a book this past weekend (a biography) about a child bullied throughout school. His escape was truancy. But his teacher was so cruel as well. I saw it during my own school days, a cruel teacher who bullied many of the children. How could he have ever helped those being bullied? He was a bully himself. I so agree with your proactive advice. In all my years of teaching a never saw a child succeed until you taught then self worth. It was always my first task of the new school year to unearth the gifts and talents each child held within and build on these. Keep up the good work.
September 9th, 2014  
Oh Dixie, I wish I could reach across the oceans and hug you right now.
September 10th, 2014  
We would have been friends, I just know it. (o: So glad you grew, learned and even understood. Just goes to show the people who saw you as a treasure, knew what they were talking about.
September 14th, 2014  
I wish I could give you real hug, too. The bullying that happens in schools disgusts me. It started getting worse during my last five years of teaching. The political correctness (at least, in my school district) that ruled the day kept teachers from taking action. My daughter was bullied in middle school. It was a horrible time for her and for me, trying to find solutions. When middle school ended, her school counselor suggested an all-girls, college prep, parochial high school. She needed a fresh start and the new school really worked for her. I'm so sorry you had to go through an awful elementary school experience and I'm so glad you overcame it, found friends and a true soulmate!
October 1st, 2014  
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