I didn’t know Mike in middle school, but I knew his friend David, the one that I wrote about in my story “Me As The Bully“. David spoke to me several years ago about Mike and how he was also bullied terribly in Lexington, MA. I contacted Mike and now we talk often and he knows that he isn’t alone in the terrible bullying that happened to us in Lexington. Mike just finished authoring a book called “Growing Up Against All Odds”, which also talks about his bullying experiences in Lexington. I am so glad he chose to share some of his story here. Mike – You are brave and strong and I, for one, am proud of you! ~ Alan Eisenberg
My bullying experiences began at Clarke Junior High School in Lexington MA in the 7th grade in 1982. I had lived a relatively bullying-free existence up through elementary school and made some good friends. But it seemed like as soon as I walked through the doors of Clarke Junior High school on the 1st day of 7th grade, I immediately became a target. I wasn’t like the other kids and I was an easy target for ridicule. I talked differently with a lisp. I wore dorky clothes and had big, black, dorky glasses. People relentlessly mocked me about my glasses and my clothes but especially my speech. Instead of my real name, Michael, people called me SchMichael.
They knew I hated it. They knew it got under my skin. They said it to me whenever they interacted with me. They even wrote it in my yearbook. It really hurt me but I didn’t fight back against them. I was too scared and wasn’t confident enough in myself to fight back against the bullies. I was more concerned with gaining their approval and fitting in, rather than being an outsider. I wanted to be one of them. I wanted to be one of the popular kids. I didn’t want to be a nerd who was unpopular and ridiculed all the time. Not only was I getting bullied but my own friends abandoned me as well.
They didn’t want to hang out with someone who was unpopular because it would bring down their own reputation. I even had a friend write in my yearbook that it was ‘somewhat of a liability to know me’. In retrospect, I wish I had gone to the principal or my teachers for help, but I doubt they would have cared. Bullying was not really taken seriously as an issue back in the 1980s.
Instead I just raced home every day to be by myself. I hated being at school. I hated the bullies. I hated all my old friends abandoning me. I hated the fact that it was relentless and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. It actually got to the point where I began writing down how many times a day people would call me SchMichael.
So I rushed home every day after school, sat on the sofa and ate and watched The Flintstones and Match Game. Things got better in high school but the damage had been done. I was less trustful of people. I couldn’t look people in the eye. I had trouble communicating with people. I had trouble being social and getting involved in school activities. I was just very shy and withdrawn, which was a shame. I missed out on getting to know lots of people in high school and getting involved in many different types of activities.
I still felt like everyone was out to get me. These are issues I still have today although they’re far less severe than they used to be. Bullying is not something to be taken lightly. It can have lifelong effects and impact your relationships, your job, your social life and many other areas. I really feel as though it took me years to recover from my bullying experiences at Clarke Jr. High School and in some ways, I’ve never recovered.