One of the ideas I wanted to do on the Bullying Stories website is give people, myself included, a venue to share and release their personal stories of their struggle with bullying. I have found, for me, it is a cathartic and positive experience to release these stories so that they are out of my head and allow others to know they are not alone in their experiences. On that note, Leigh C. shared two stories of his personal bullying issues with me to share on the website. It is certainly a brave and difficult thing to do, but one I hope will help both Leigh and others in their quest to recover from the long-term effects that bullying has. Below is Leigh’s story. If you would like to share a story on this site, please email it to me at email@example.com. ~ Alan Eisenberg
PAIN AND SUFFERING
If two words could describe my life, it would be the ones that make up the very title of this story. I can also associate many other words that can summarize this miserable form of existence that I call my life: isolation, humiliation, disappointment, estrangement, contempt—endless words written on a mile-long list wrapped my mind like an ice-cold wet blanket. Who or what could be the very mainspring of my pain and suffering? The answer is simple: bullies. I can remember each and every bully’s ugly mug in my head crystal clear, although some of their names are vague. Their insolent smirks and sneers, mocking me; their obnoxious voices, taunting me; and their ostentatious words, belittling me, I can still see, hear and feel it all. Since kindergarten I have been at the brunt of being ignored, rebuffed, teased, robbed, harassed, even sexually harassed by some of the most of the most contemptuous and bigoted kids who have ever roamed the Earth.
From elementary school in New Hampshire, I was bullied for my ethnicity since Asians are not common within the state. Luckily, as some children got to know me, they no longer acknowledged me as “the Chinese kid”, they had the heart to look the other way and accept me as part of their own. In third grade, I had moved to California, where the diversity was high and my hopes were high on making some new friends…I bit off a little more than I could chew. No matter how hard I tried to attract others to me, few had wanted anything to do with me, let alone treat me as an equal. The worst was in middle school and in high school, where the thoughts of suicide clouded my mind, seemingly acknowledging the message they were supposedly sending to me, “We don’t want you here. Why don’t you go and kill yourself? No one will miss you. You’d be doing the world a favor by being dead.” The cruelty and ignorance of those kids were the very bane of my existence, yet if not for them, I wouldn’t have had done something that took a sharp detour in the very course of my life. I had done something that was the catalyst of unlimited pain and suffering, but also…growth.
It was Thursday, the day before Spring Break, after a tiring period of PE (my least favorite class to note) I arrived back into the body odor-laced locker room to get myself dressed into my school clothes. While minding my own business, something collided to the back of my head. I swung around glaring at a small, beady-eyed, black freshman who laughed at his little stunt of assault. With ire, I threw the footwear back at the little s#!t (word altered due to blog policy), deftly missing due to my terrible throwing skill. With my good mood ruined I turned back around to continue dressing, ignoring the ruckus the peanut circus was making. Suddenly, as glass bottle was thrown near my direction, barely missing me as it shattered across the tiled floor, my breath was lodged in my throat as the same idiot who possibly threw that thing guffawed along with his friends. Two emotions, fear and anger, streaked throughout my veins and nerves, I had no other choice but to carry an equalizer with me. As I returned to school after Spring Break, an 8-inch metal nail puller sat at the bottom of my backpack, burning a hole in it; it was my new security blanket, my insurance policy. The only time I had ever used that thing was to pry open a stuck drawer in my desk, hopefully I didn’t have to use it, not unless people were willing to dare mess with me. On Thursday, exactly TWO weeks from that day, during PE, I felt something hit the back of my head. Looking down at the foreign object, it was one thing, a shoe. My teeth and fists clenched, while my mind flashed back to that miserable little bastard who did the same thing two weeks ago. No doubt that he didn’t know his place and it was time I showed him it. With my anger tossing away my rationality and logic out the window, I reached into my backpack and yanked out the nail puller holding it to myself as I looked around wildly for the freshman punk who did it, but like a ghost, he wasn’t there. Some classmates stopped what they were doing and looked at me as though I had gone insane. Soon, the worst had happened, a PE teacher—a large and round man who had a loud voice—noticed and strode over to me and asked what I was doing. I tried to hide it at first, but realizing that the “cat” was finally out of the bag, I forked the nail puller over to him. He then gestured at me to come to his office and held me there for some time, telling me to explain why I brought a “crowbar” to school. After an indefinite amount of time, with my bus home certainly to have left by now, the fat-a$$ (word altered due to blog policy) PE teacher finally let me leave. I caught the very last bus leaving, the driver agreeing to drop me off at my intended destination. I never told my mother what happened, nor did she seem aware of it, but one thing was sure, I was not getting out of the woods.
Tomorrow came faster than I had expected, or I had wanted to for that matter. I calmly sat in my first period French class, my mind forcibly trying not to dwell on the events of yesterday. Suddenly a phone call came from the office, summoning me to the assistant principal’s office. Right then and there, a stone hit the bottom of my stomach, four letters “S-#-!-T” (word altered due to blog policy) appeared in my brain. Like the little dog leashed by the education system, I marched towards my ordered destination. The hallways seemed disturbingly much wider as I strode down to my doom, like the corridors of a prison. The assistant principal, whose ugly face and name I can still remember yet am unable to spell, pleasantly welcomed me. Soon, he got down to business, telling me of how he was informed by the PE teacher of what I did yesterday. He even presented to me the evidence, the very same nail puller that I had foolishly showed out in the open. From then on, he demanded that I explain myself and after telling him that the nail-puller was a means of protection—intimidation mainly—he immediately assumed that I would strike anyone with it and pressured me into admitting that accusation like a dirty cop would. With that, he concluded that he will call my mother to explain my situation and that I was to be suspended, and that there was a good chance that I would be expelled. It was as though the man had just poured liquid nitrogen all over my prone body as I sat helplessly in my seat. Then I did something I swore I will never ever do another human being again…I begged. I threw my whole body on his desk, with my hands clasped and tears brimming, I begged the assistant principle to spare me and NOT to call my mother and suspend me; needless to say, he wouldn’t have it. He then passed out a sheet of paper to me, ordering me to fill out everything that had happened while he called my mother. I could barely write out my confession coherently as my fingers were so cold, numb and sweaty, yet I managed to write down everything that he wanted to see. After that, he radioed the on-campus police officer to take me to his office so he can get a full recorded confession out of me. With absolutely no condition to resist, I complied, spilling out everything to the officer as he filled out the report. I was in such a broken state of mind that the officer had to tell me several times to speak out loud rather than making body gestures. When that part of the torture was over with, I arrived to the sight of my mother waiting for me; I almost fell into a swoon as I saw her face filled with two things, disappointment and sorrow. That day is the very one I wish to cut out with a knife, for it was the gateway into the most excruciating period of my life.
From then on, the cold month began, guilt, regret and self-hatred flooded my heart and soul froze it over. I didn’t feel like eating, talking, or hell, even doing much of anything during my suspension. I talked to my father about what happened, which of course, disappointed him, but I saw a fire in him that I had never seen before, for he agreed to work with his estranged ex-wife to let me attend school. My mother had managed to convince four of my teachers to send me my homework so that I can at least keep up with my grades. Hearing of my chaos, my aunt from Hawaii immediately flew over to care for me while my mom was busy at work. The week passed, and my mother received a call from school, and it made her break down into more tears. She was informed that I would be suspended indefinitely, no excuses. It was no doubt the school deemed me too much of a threat to keep in their grounds and decided to cut me off. Eventually, with no hope left in me, I just stopped caring. Noticing my passive attitude, my mother kept reminding me that I was “not on vacation”, but hell, like any other foolish kid I wished this would last forever; I was finally gone from that hellhole of a school. Yet at the same time, the guilt of committing one of the last things I would do, bringing a “weapon” to school, eat me from the inside out like a parasite. Every day as I sat at home, I considered using any of the household products to end my life. Like hanging myself by the ceiling lamp, or cutting myself with one of the kitchen knives, or raiding my mother’s medicine cabinet swallowing every pill I can find with a swig of alcohol. But…no, that was the coward’s way out, and I couldn’t bear giving my mother or family the scenario of finding my corpse on the floor. One day, I returned to the school to meet with Principal Carter and the assistant principal. For the first time in years, all three of us were together again, my mother and father put aside their hatred for each other to work together to defend me. As we talked, the possibility of me being expelled was definitely a reality, but not just from the school but from the district as well. If we wanted to present our case we were to talk to the director of human resources in the school district headquarters, Ms. Davila, apparently she would be able to help me. With our hopes high we—most reluctantly—thanked the two and phoned an appointment with Ms. Davila.
The day of the meeting with the director came sooner than I had anticipated. She was informed of our case and set up recording equipment for the interview for us, not what I had expected. What I didn’t expect was for the b!t@h (word altered due to blog policy) to hammer it into me about how I committed a crime by bringing a weapon to school and belittling my parents for defending me. At the end, she recommended that I be put into a continuation school, one where the delinquents and dropouts go to, a school not meant for a bright future. It was official, that woman saw me nothing more than just an obstinate brat I left the school district building not just disappointed, but disillusioned, to the point I don’t know if I deserve going to school anymore, let alone living among society. That woman, the one whom Carter assured me would help me through my expulsion, reneged on her duties as an educator. Every night, I pondered to myself why God takes pleasure in tormenting me so? The thoughts of suicide became worse and worse, as the scenarios of each gruesome death of how I deserved to inflict upon myself played again and again in my head like a Hollywood horror movie. The relationship between my mother and I took a sharp turn for the worst as her scolding devolved into shouting and screaming. In fact, some of the most hurtful things my ears and heart ever had to hear and feel came right from my own mother’s mouth. Even though I committed a misdemeanor, she repeatedly called me a felon, synonymous with criminal. Among other things, she accused me of not taking the situation seriously, saying that maybe I should’ve been locked up and have the keys thrown away. I couldn’t blame her for raging at me, she was having a hard time at work, and knowing that her own son would commit one of the last things she expected him to do was like adding hydrochloric acid to the wound. I took each and every one of her raves like a good, obedient little boy, drowning deeper and deeper in my sea of depression. Regardless, she still fought for me, pulling strings with one of the members of the school board so they can hear my plea to allow me to attend one of the better schools in the district. On the day of the meeting with the school board, I dressed myself up, dress shirt, tie, slacks and everything to make myself a model student. Arriving at the school district building yet again and accompanied with both of my parents we bravely entered the room where the school board and that accursed director, Ms. Davila, were waiting. I spoke by myself, acknowledging that what I did was wrong and that I would never do it again, begging for a second chance to redeem myself in a better school. When the meeting was over, it was like a 500-ton weight had been lifted from my shoulders, all I had to do was hear the verdict from the school board: was I to go to a better school? Or be sent to a rat-in-the-hole continuation school? When the answer came, I recanted my curse towards God, for the board allowed me to attend one of the better public schools within their district. The storm had passed, the worst was finally over.
I can’t say I‘ve gotten over this episode in my life, but like the old saying goes, “time heals all wounds”; but for me the scars still remain, etched into me like gruesome tattoos. Every person who had made me suffer, from the bullies to Principal Carter, the assistant principal, Davila, the P.E. teacher, and most of all, that freshman prick who started all of this, are all dead to me; and if any of them really are dead, then I won’t feel a sliver of pity. If I had encountered ANY of them in my life in the aftermaths of the incident, I’d be doing things to them that I feel should not be told in this story. However, they’re not worth it, the adults were only doing their job as “educators” and the bullies were no doubt thinking with their asses. This event opened my eyes to the flippant bureaucracy of the world and how there are those who are impervious to emotion and reason, who are more interested in the numbers of their paychecks than the numbers of kids who have committed suicide or had dropped out. To further note, just after I started my first day in my new school, my mother and I had another extreme episode, resulting into another period of hardship. I won’t go into it because this is just between the two of us, yet it was a part of these so-called series of unfortunate events. What I had done that spring day four years ago was not commit a misdemeanor, I made a recalcitrant act to change my life, to make my own decisions, to do whatever I wanted to do. It is an integral part of my memories that allows me to draw on my pain and suffering and turn it into strength and power. ~Leigh C.