This was written on my blog in 2008.
School was this horrible.fucking.experience. Not because I wasn’t a good student. Being scared to death of not pleasing the adults around me assured my 4.0 status from the get-go.
I was a victim of bullies.
It began slowly and early.
Children watch and wait to see who is the weakest, the quietest, the one who has something that is easily pointed out as inferior. They begin their campaign with the friend at the desk next to them. Once there is a consensus they jump.
I was an obvious choice. I was over weight, as I am now. I was quiet and desperately wanted to be liked so I would never stand up for myself in fear of angering further the perp or their friends, as I am now.
And… I had an abusive mother.
My mother didn’t believe in washing clothes after wearing once. Or twice. My mother, as well as my father were heavy smokers. I can imagine now just how badly I must have smelled. Everytime I smell cigarette smoke on a child I get a violent reaction in my stomach and it sends my heart into near tachycardia.
My mother also didn’t believe in washing hair more than once every 7-10 days. Bad enough in a child but imagine as I grew into puberty. Once I remember being pummeled with rotting tomatoes on the way home from school and being nearly hysterical by the time I was home because I was certain she would be angry at me for messing up my hair and wouldn’t wash my hair until I was “due”. As I got older (upper grades of elementary) I would hurry home on Thursday because she had joined a bowling team and she didn’t get home for 30 minutes after I got home. I could wash and dry and pretend it never happened before she walked in the door. God bless bowling.
In my last months of 6th grade, (elementary still) my only friend moved a few blocks away and next door to a family with a 15 year old boy. The story of what happened with that boy is a topic all unto itself and deserves a post of it’s own as well as years of therapy. But from the outside it was just another thing the “in crowd” could attach to me. We were all growing into sexual beings at that age. In a staunch Mormon community. There were good girls, priesthood worthy boys, wild boys, and sluts. I carried my black sheep status into high school with every negative label they could attach to me. Boys were teased if they showed interest. Yet they all bragged about “getting it”. The girls were just mean. The ones who weren’t would apologize to me because their mothers wouldn’t let them hang out with me. After all, a girl like “that” did everything.
Eventually I had had enough. I fabricated a threat against myself in a note and stuck it in the slats of my locker. When I “found” it I broke down crying. The note wasn’t real (no one ever, until now, knew that) but the tears were. Years of tears. I was done. Finished. I wanted to die. Disappear. Curl up in a corner and rock, forever.
I finished the next 3 years of school through visiting teachers in social isolation.
THAT was school for me.
Today I registered for school. I am studing Pharmacology. I start in March. It will take me 22 months to get my Associate’s degree. I had to take a valium just to get there. From 1987 to 2006 I hid inside marriage, being the dutiful wife until I knew I would die if I didn’t “confess”. For a year now I have been putting it off hoping my life would take me in a different direction. I finally realized it was never going to happen. Before I live in a cardboard box I MUST learn to take care of myself. This is my last chance.
Carrie whispers to me
School walls steal my breath
Bullies loom beyond my peripheral
Humiliation echoes, echoes, echoes…
I am a student again.
I read this and I remember just as clearly as I did when I was young, just how bad the bullying was.
I finished Pharm Tech school in 2009 and could not for the life of me find a job in my line of work. I call it “pretend school”. It prepped me for real school. I am forever indebted to that pricey experience (mistake) because I got over my fear of speaking in front of people. I accept the gift with open arms.
Time and counseling moved on and I am now a few credits shy of getting my Associates degree in Sociology and making the step toward BSU, working to get into the Social Work program. I am again feeling that insidious fear. Quite frankly, I am surprised that it has dared to show back up. Starting school (again) was scary but I know how to do it now. The switch of schools is what is freaking me out. CWI is a wonderful place to get my generals but BSU looks as if I get too close to the buildings it will come alive and eat me. Which makes me laugh for two reasons, one, buildings only do that in your mind and two, I may never get free of CWI. Why? Math + Synesthesia. For some reason (tongue in cheek) they won’t let me out of school without mastering College Algebra and Stats. Weird, right? But August is coming and I am going into a math lab that is going to help me get to be able to pass. Yes, I am nervous. No, I am not defeated. I also no long idolize Carrie as I did for so long in my younger days. So here is to the absence of perceived demons! I also humble myself to the Math gods and ask to please help me to quiet the noise in my head of the 3rd grade orchestra so that I can make this my last push to graduate and walk inside BSU and finish my business.