I received this story from a woman who shares that she is a 50-year-old grandmother and wanted to share her story here. As I promised when I started this website, this is a place to share and to let others know they are not alone. Sometimes sharing a story is easy, sometimes it is not. What I do notice is that the raw emotional feelings of when we were bullied come out as we write about these experiences. It is my hope that this is both helpful and cathartic to those that write and those that read the stories. Be warned as you read this that this story contains this person’s raw emotions and feelings and you’ll know when you read it that it is real still to this person. Here’s a very powerful story from one someone who chose to contribute their story. Be warned, although the language is edited by permission of the author, it is still a PG-13 story. ~ Alan Eisenberg
I grew up in Milwaukie, Oregon, which was then, and still is, a very poor, rather squalid, working class area just outside of Portland. In fact they refer to that whole area these days as ‘Felony Flats’. My family was a mess. I spent the first three years of my school career in Catholic school, and the next nine years in the public school system. All that time I was bullied.
Having been bullied is something I need to come out about. Maybe some kid will read this and grab a few pointers about how to survive until they can get away from the vile, substandard, hopeless snake pit full of dull norms, moral cowardice and future real estate salespersons that is the American school system. Feel free to pass this along, but be warned: it is not politically correct, and it is not the typical adult ‘just tough it out’ sophistry that people my age are supposed to pass along when talking to kids. It’s real, and ‘real’ is not pretty.I’m not going to dumb this down or lie.
I was the goat. I was the kid in class that everyone could mistreat,
and did. I was the kid that all the adults disliked and ignored.
Anything you did to me you did with impunity, in front of anyone you
pleased, without a care in the world for any reprisal or punishment
whatsoever. I was that kid. It started in first grade and continued up
until I started Jr. High. Bear in mind that the things I’m going to
recount were perpetrated by little children, little grade school aged children, ON a little child. Parents? Your precious angels are capable of being bloodthirsty little hyenas. If you look away, you collude. I was hit. Shoved. Cursed. Struck with tree limbs and dirt clods and pieces of pavement and rocks. I had traps laid for me, where some kid would pretend to be my friend and lure me to some secluded place where a group of others would ratpack me. One group of kids tried to catch me by the neck with a rope. I had animal excrement thrown at me many, many times. I was hunted around the neighborhood by huge packs of kids, on bicycles, running, screaming ‘Kill her! Get her!’ I couldn’t go swimming unsupervised; not at someones’ house and not at a publicpool. I cannot tell you how many times kids tried to drown me, holding me under, taking turns.
This kind of thing went on every day. Every single day. It happened in
front of adults, who would simply turn their backs. It happened in
front of teachers at school, who either turned their backs or made me
spend recess in the classroom. It happened in front of my parents, who
did nothing to hide their utter contempt of me, who did nothing to
prevent it, and who blamed me, to my face and to anyone who happened
to be present, because I was being spoiled and sensitive and weak.
That I was just doing this for attention. That I was deliberately
inviting other kids to bully me because I liked the attention. Yes
School was its own kind of hell. Summers were worse. At least in
school there were rooms to hide in and doors that closed behind me. In
the summertime if I was out in the open I was prey. The only way I
could go outside my yard was to either sneak out at night or wait
until it was Sunday, when all those good little children were in
I spent the majority of my childhood hiding. From everyone. I spent
that entire time in a constant state of mortal fear. And that’s no
exaggeration. I had absolutely no backup whatsoever. Any adult who
took my side was actively discouraged from doing so by my parents, who
took pains to explain to them what a contemptible, sick, bad, weak,
lazy little girl I really was. Once again, this is no exaggeration.
None of it.
By the time sixth grade rolled around I had perfected the art of
judging when it was relatively safe for me to be seen, and how, and
where. The vigilance was constant. I cried in school every day. I went
home and cried every single day. All the adults in my life were either
sick to death of me or had been so thoroughly co-opted by my parents
that they worked at ignoring what was going in in the name of not
feeding into my perceived sick attempts to get attention.
To this day it horrifies me to think that most of the children
responsible for the worst of the bullying actually went on to have children of their own. Most of the other kids in on it were simply going along with the crowd and acting out whatever aberrant group behavior dynamic was happening. But some of those children, more of them than you’d think, were absolutely fiendish… calculating, unrestrained, gleeful little psychopaths. I always wondered what their parents would have done if they’d known that their darling little angels spent recess kneeling on a little girls chest wiping dog crap in her face and trying to force it in her mouth, or trying to pull down her underpants and shove sticks or pencils into her crotch. I remember looking up into the glittering eyes and hectic faces, the spitty red lips and fast breathing, and being repelled and horrified and feeling terror beyond belief. It was like rape. It was like being attacked by demons. And I wonder of any one of the group of kids standing around in a circle laughing and jeering, watching all this happen to me, ever remembers any of this at all. Or what they think of their own participation, if they do.
The adults, when they deigned to notice, wrote it off as ‘kid stuff’.
I cannot tell you how many times I heard that hateful, dismissive
phrase. “Oh, it’s just kids being kids. One of these days she’ll figure
it out but I guess she just has to learn it the hard way!”
The first time I ever thought of suicide was when I was six years old.
I thought of suicide every single day. The first time I realized that
God was not there was when I was six years old. God still isn’t there,
but I no longer expect it either, which is a huge relief. Adults lie
about God to children. God will fix everything. Nothing happens to you
without a reason, and the reason I was given was that I was being
punished. I was told to pray. I was told to ask God for forgiveness.
That was supposed to fix everything. All it did was take the
complaints out of their ears.
The reason that all this happened to me was because of two things:
First of all, I was raised by extremely disturbed, antisocial people,
and my earliest behaviors were all centered around trying to placate
and please people who simply were not going to be placated or pleased
by anything except the opportunity to bully someone. I learned how to
be a bully magnet, in other words. A perfect one. By their lights,
when I was being ‘good’, I was being a victim. I was trained to be a
specialist at drawing out the worst behaviors out of the worst people.
And I was no charming little girl to be around either. When I was very
little I acted out many of their behaviors. No, I was not a nice or a
pleasant little girl.
Secondly, I had juvenile onset clinical depression. I would go in one
sweeping moment, apropos of nothing at all, from feeling normal to
barely able to think or move, and I can remember these episodes
occurring when I was as young as four years old. As I got older they
would happen more frequently and would last longer each time. My only
defense was to simply ‘blank out’ and become inert. This did nothing
whatsoever to further my career as ‘nice’ or ‘pleasant’.
Everyone learns that survival of adversity is a matter of inner
strength and perseverance and bravery and clean living and moral
rightness. And if your name is Meg, Jo, Beth or Amy that might in fact
be the case…but here in the real world the only thing that counts is
what you DO. No psychopathic ten-year old is going to stop and reflect
on the error of their ways in the face of their victims courage. A
psychopathic ten-year old is going to continue to gleefully smack the
crap out of that victim and to enlist all her little friends to come
help. Children love a victim. A victim is someone upon whom they can
act out their anger and take out their frustrated powerlessness. A
victim is someone who has even less power than they have. This same
dynamic plays out for adults too. Ever noticed? It also explains why
girls are by far the most horrifyingly evil, sadistic, calculated and
most of all SNEAKY bullies that walk. Society still has a long way to
go, and there is nothing angrier or more frustrated than a thwarted
little girl. Give that same the leadership of some deranged little
psycho and a secluded spot on the playground and your darling
daughters think nothing of stabbing that kid on the ground with a
sharpened pencil. In the breasts.
I was not the worst case of a bullied child at that school. There was
one boy who got it worse than me. There were two other girls who were shunned for being poor and smelling like urine. I have to say though that I hold the dubious distinction of having been the most hated girl at Seth Llewelling 1968-1971. Go me!
The thing-the ONE thing- that saved me was anger. And how did I
discover that buried beneath everything I had learned and everything I
was going through?
I went through puberty.
Nothing releases the floodgates of hell like a few extra squirts of
estrogen, folks. I’m telling you!
And boy, did I know all about acting out anger. I learned from
PROFESSIONALS. My whole childhood was like a textbook. And I
practiced. Yes, I actually practiced. In a mirror. I looked back on my
own history and thought about what had worked and why. I read all
kinds of things I should not have to pick up as many swear words and
put downs as I could. I studied movies for devastating lines. I plotted
out sneaky tricks and pranks. I began paying a lot of attention to
vandalism and the tools of that trade. I laid plots for revenge. Most
importantly, I mapped escape routes and devised convincing alibis. The
day I first set off to Jr. High my feeling was “There is no way in
hell that I’m going down without a fight. F*** them ALL.”
As important as this decision was, there was another aspect to it that
is possibly more important than simply the declaration of war. You
see, there was no doubt in my mind that I WAS going down. There was no
other fate for the person I was then. As I laid my plans, I had also,
as a consequence of finding out just how much anger and hate I was
filled with and capable of putting into action, come to the
realization of who I was. I finally faced and accepted, with the worst
grace and the worst motives in the world, myself as I was. There was
no ‘love’ involved. Self love played no part in that whatsoever. I did
not like who I was. Frankly, I was not at that point a lovable person.
But that acceptance, THE SIMPLE FACT OF THAT ACCEPTANCE OF WHO I WAS,
resigned and grim and negative though it was, was in fact the most important thing I ever did in my life. And it’s important that I make that as plain as possible here.
Your inner motives are secondary to your ACTUAL DEEDS. The fact of acceptance. That you HAVE ACCEPTED. No matter what you are or how you feel about yourself or what brought you to that place is all aside the point! Having accepted yourself will lead you to great things. Having accepted yourself, as s#*&ty as you might be, will actually lead you out of the darkness. It will lead to good things. It will lead you to a better self. It will lead you to the rest of your life.
All you have to do to get there is survive. Your inner reasons for surviving don’t have to be pure. Revenge is a perfectly good reason. In fact it’s a great reason. So is hatred. And anger. My reason, back then, was that I wanted to live long enough to see my parents get old and die, which is certainly less than noble or pure. AND IT WORKED LIKE A CHARM.
You only have to find something that you want more than you want to die. It doesn’t have to be nice.
Nobility or purity of motive play no part in survival whatsoever. You don’t NEED nobility or purity! There is no RIGHT way to survive! That you DO survive is the only thing that’s important! Nobility and purity of motive are luxuries of the privileged and the protected. They’re superfluous. Not necessary. Aside the point. They don’t matter a damned bit more for the privileged and the protected than they do for the victimized and the abused.
ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS SURVIVE.
ANY WAY YOU CAN.
Now, I never expected for a moment that I would survive past my 18th birthday anyway. I have a chronic lung condition that was severe enough to put my life expectancy at about 18 to 21 years (that is, if the people who ‘loved’ me didn’t take me out first.) But I was determined as hell that when I did go out, I was going to go out trailing a wake of nuclear-level devastation. People wouldn’t just be sorry….people were going to be MADE SORRY. By ME.
And they were.
And IT WAS GREAT!
I am a 50 year old woman with five grandkids. I have been married for close to 22 years to an amazing Biker. I am thought of by most as a relatively nice, unassuming, average little lady. I’m a housewife. I grow sunflowers. And yet to this day some of the proudest moments of my life are when I set the school bathroom on fire…spit on the chair of the boy who’d come up and grabbed my breasts hard enough to leave marks, just before he sat down (to the delight of all his ‘friends’)…took a magic marker, disguised my handwriting and wrote even viler crap on the walls about the b!&$es who were tormenting me than they were writing about yours truly. I am proud of all the times I snotted off to the teachers who played to the popular kids and mistreated everyone else. I am proud of vandalizing their cars, their purses and their desks. I am proud of devising the most disgusting rumours imaginable about the people who took such glee in starting them about me. And nobody ever wanted to get on the wrong side of my sense of humor once I developed the ability to make up phrases and nicknames that STUCK.
This all began to take on momentum. Soon I thought nothing of snotting off to anyone who irritated me, despite who they were, despite their threats. I knew how to duck their threats. I had no problem whatsoever running from a fight. Oh HELL no. I was no fighter. I’d skip a class, hide, duck around corners, I had no problem with that. Pain HURTS. Many’s the day I took a later bus or walked home to avoid people who were waiting beat me up. Was it cowardly? It was. Did I get called a pussy? I did. But I didn’t get beat up either, which I figured was the more important issue at hand. And after all, ‘pussy’ was the least of what I’d already been called. That, and the expletive ‘pussy’ was a minor weapon in MY arsenal.
I ended Jr. High with the reputation as a flaming b!*ch; meaner than cats$&t. I was avoided. I was feared. And I started to make friends. Real friends. The bullying stopped. Gradually, but after word got around that I was taking less s%&t than before, it cut off sharply and just kept on diminishing.
It took six months. And when I got to the point that I took no s%&t whatsoever, the bullying STOPPED. Oddest of all, when it did flare up, the teachers suddenly began to step in and do their jobs.
I swear to God this actually happened.
It was the damnedest thing.
I did not treat my first friends very well…I thought they must all be snivelling victims like I was who were simply drawn to my acting out and who would probably desert me as soon as I stopped being amusing and dangerous. I got rid of them first.
But I made more.
And people started to like me!
By the time I hit high school I had quite the reputation as a dangerous, though amusing, nutcase. I dressed outrageously. I said and did outrageous things. I was not by far the most outrageous, disturbed or amusing person in school, but I was among their number, and for the most part I still kept my head pretty low. I am proud to say that never once did I stoop to bullying, that I stuck up for people who were being bullied, and that I never started s%$t. I just FINISHED IT.
And all of this was done without resorting to interpersonal violence. I mean, God help your locker and God help your car if you f*&%ed with me, but I didn’t smack anyone around….for what that’s worth in light of all the property damage I caused. I dunno.
I arranged my classes so that I graduated half a year earlier than the rest of my class. I did not attend graduation. The day I graduated high school I walked out the front doors, turned around and flipped the place off with both hands. I will never forget that day. I went down to Perry’s drug store and caught a bus home in a daze. I walked around in a daze for a week before it all finally hit me: I never had to go back to that place EVER, EVER, EVER AGAIN. IT WAS OVER FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.
It was immediately better.
It was far from perfect. I had two bad relationships and five years of therapy ahead of me before all the monsters from my past were slain. But I swear on John Cleese and H.P. Lovecraft that the worst day of my adult life (and I’ve had some doozies; you don’t just stop being a hateful b!*ch and I inflicted a lot of pain on myself and others) was still better than the best day of being nine years old. Or any day of any age between 1960 and 1978. Because I was out of prison. I had got the f*#k out of Dodge. My tour of duty in Vietnam was over. I was free.
I AM free.