Rosina wrote to me when she found out I was a victim of the Lexington, Massachusetts bullying system. She too was a bully victim from Lexington and shared with me her feelings of what it was like to deal with bullying in Lexington in the 70’s as I did. It is another case where being different certainly had an impact on her being picked on. Here’s Rosina’s story. ~Alan Eisenberg
I am a 51-year-old woman who was severely bullied for over 10 years in the Lexington school system from the time I entered first grade to the moment I dropped out of high school in the 10th grade.
How do I begin to tell my story, one of lost potential, shattered dreams and constant fear? It’s hard-no, impossible-to write this without crying…crying and sadness are a part of mylife, they have been since I was a child. They are part of me, yet strangely enough, I have alsoknown joy, hope and laughter. I always enjoyed being alone when I was younger. I always told
myself that some day, things will get better…that day never came despite what appeared tobe some successes.
I was happiest when we spent an entire month in my native country. Whenever we went it was alwaysduring the holidays and my birthday. There I was surrounded by so much love and acceptance. I had a big extended family and there were lots of parties and outings including going to the beach every day. I would go into a deep depression every time we had to leave and only got worse when we arrived home. I was terrified of having to go back to the horror that was my life; yet for some reason was unable to speak about it.
I had a number of things working against me. I was a very empathic, optimistic and sensitive child who never fought back. I also had a strange first and lastname, was born in S. America, had pierced ears(which I believe was a source of envy). I was made to wear clothes that were akin to a school uniform. My mother with all her best intentions, did not understand how important the clothes one wears are to fitting in at that age and was insistent that children should not be concerned with clothes when they are in school.
I was constantly taunted and ridiculed like all the others who have shared their bullying experiences. I endured verbal and psychological abuse, was ostracized and physically assaulted by both boys and girls on a daily basis.
I had things stolen from me. I was terrified and full of shame. I coped by eating and listening to music and going into a fantasy world. I never told anyone; not because I believed I deserved it; I think I just felt completely powerless to do anything about it and simply lost my voice. The abuse
was so obvious and the adults/teachers, administrators, etc. just turned a blind eye, so what else could I do?
In second grade I was bullied by a teacher. I remember one day while being read a story in class, the desks were set up in clusters of 4, the girl facing me looked ill. Suddenly, she vomited! I felt so badly for her and I remember telling kids about it-by no means in a negative way. The teacher drew me aside and made me stand alone, the object of ridicule. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she said to me so the entire class would hear: “You’re dangerous”.
Can you believe it, a second grader? On another occasion I had spilled some paint on the floor. I was terrified of telling her and told her in a trembling voice that some paint had been spilled. I remember the mean look on her face as she shouted at me: “How my dear, how”? I was not the only kid that day on their hands and knees, terrified, as we cleaned spilled paint.
I was put under the care of a counselor…I still have a letter that she typed back in 1971 when, as she said, I was “on the verge of womanhood”. It was addressed to my parents and in it she clearly stated that I was depressed and being treated badly. Sometime later I was told that I provoked it. I still vividly remember waiting in line for class with other kids in the hallway, 8 feet from the principal’s office, and being gang-sprayed with the fire extinguisher!
By the way, the walls were made of glass. I remember Michael S. and his younger brother Steven, two of the worst. Michael had the most vicious look on his face all the time, I endured tremendous physical pain as he punched me on the arm whenever he got the urge. I remember each time I could see it coming on…I just numbed out and adopted a frozen, deer-in-the-headlights type of stance. I was his punching bag, literally. I would
get followed home by girls who kept taunting me about my weight.
One day, I received a colorful, woolen poncho from Mexico that my mother’s aunt gave me as a gift. I loved it. Of course, I wore it to school. When it was time to go home, however, it had disappeared. My parents were called in after hours as we scoured the premises…it was found in the toilet. I dreaded gym time. I was a chunky kid and not very active physically. Is it any wonder that I became a dancer and yoga and Pilates instructor?
My parents divorced in 1972 and my mother become somewhat dependent on me. This of course exacerbated the problem. By this time I was in junior high school and finally begin skipping school, first by faking illness, it worked. I would go to the school nurse ant tell her I was throwing up. She let me go home. Later, I just stopped going altogether though I pretended to my mother that I was going.
Eventually they caught up with me. I don’t remember what happened but I know that my grades were not good, they hadn’t been for a very long time. How can anyone concentrate let alone learn when they are under constant fear, stress and anxiety? Despite this I managed to be a good reader, even devouring the unabridged edition of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” at age 13.
I want to briefly add here that as a teenager, I had to take care of my grandmother, who came to live with us when I was a teenager. That was very difficult and won’t go into detail here. All through high school I was under the care of guidance counselors and was being considered for “alternative education” under a Mass. law called “Chapter 766”. The bullying was never mentioned. I finally dropped out in 10th grade
and eventually got my GED.
I have always had difficulty with work because I was terrified of people, especially women. I am not a shy person but have a pervasive social phobia which has a strange way of manifesting itself. I did a lot of temp work because it allowed for a certain anonymity. I eventually went to
college and tried to fulfill my dream of studying music. I isolated a lot and struggled with severe depression. I left the Conservatory, telling myself that it would only be for a year.
I wanted to pursue dancing, which I did, but I struggled constantly. Later in life I concluded that all I could do was be an elder care giver. I eventually worked for a hospice as a CNA, this was after my mother passed away at home and I had just come back from spending 14 months traveling in the Middle East and Asia.
After 5 years of hospice work I tired of all the driving around to different homes taking care of dying people. I got a job working at a rehab hospital…little did I know that I would be revisiting my bullying experience at this horrible place. Ironically, I managed to stay for six and a half years until I was fired, thankfully. I was used to being abused.
I could go on but that would be unproductive. I have been on many antidepressants. 95% of them didn’t do a thing, the others were amazingly effective, I was like a new person, happy, hopeful, fearless and positive, yep, they truly were magic bullets. My life at present consists of barely being able to work, I am anxious depressed and isolated. I am trying many different things but find that the most difficult is the isolation. I hope that soon I can connect with other adult survivors of bullying.
Thank you for letting me ramble…I keep you all in my thoughts and prayers,