Friday, November 19, 2010

Anti-Bullying.

Where was this when I was growing up?

I admit it. I was a nerd growing up. I didn't care much for fashion. I cared about my books and sports. I had 2 older brothers and was a Tom Boy. In 1st grade, I got glasses. I was very smart.

In school starting in kindergarten, I was teased daily. Made fun of. Pointed at. Beat up. Got gum stuck in my  hair. Spit at. 

Did a teacher do anything? The bus driver? What about when my parents complained? Still nothing.

I spent 7 years at grade school (k-6) being tormented but I loved learning so much, I didn't want to miss a day (talk about a nerd). There was 1 girl that led it all, AJ (her initials). AJ was in a popular clique and made sure people didn't like me. They'd make fun of Kim for being nice to me in 1st grade (she was in my Brownies troop and her mom was the leader and my mom helped out) until she wouldn't even speak to me outside of Brownies. I had a "best friend" in 4th & 5th grade named Nicole. She was popular, cute, trendy. Only catch, she wasn't allowed to be friends with me in school - I was her secret friend. Of course outside of school, we were inseparable but that didn't  matter. School is a whole other area of life.

That summer between grade and middle school, I got contacts, cut my hair and got some fashion sense. I went to Junior High and became popular! Can you believe that? Guys were falling over me and girls looked to me for fashion advise! OMG! 
What could ruin this new-found  life? I was date raped. I was afraid to tell anyone. I wasn't allowed at a boys house without his parents being home.  My dad dropped me and one of girl friends off at our middle school to practice for our basketball tryouts. Instead we walked to P's house (which is what we planned to do) and met him and his 2 friends and hung out for a bit. Skip the middle stuff - you dont' need details. But this was one of the times where ya think, "Gee, I should have listened to my parents." I couldn't have sad anything without marring myself in the process.

So, it lay low... life went on. Until High School. P suddenly felt a need to torment me and my family. He'd call and call me names to myself and to my brothers who wanted to beat the crap out of him. Lucky that these were pre-Caller-ID and *69. So, him and his friends would call and torment me and call me names like "slut" and "whore". They did this at school too. He told people I slept with him and I was easy (to put it lightly). So, here came more crap. At this point, I didn't care. I had a boyfriend who loved me. I had looks. I had brains. I had been-there-done-that and I didn't care anymore. Not that a teacher would  have stepped in anyway to help.
So i did my thing, stayed away from most people, kinda pulled away from school socialization as much as one could and just wanted out - to make a new start - I was college bound.

So, yeah. That's my life - well, the bullying parts.

I wrote this poem in college about how I would sit on this bench under this tree on the playground at school - just waiting for the time to pass to get back into class. I can feel that pain every time I think of that. I can feel that pain as I drive past that playground. I felt that pain when I learned kids were teasing my nephew at the same school I went to on that same playground.

Under the Tree
Sometimes, I wish I were blind
            Unable to see the faces of distaste
            The snickering grimaces
            The piercing stares.
Sometimes, I wish I were deaf
            Unable to hear their comments
            And the reaction of others to them
            The laughs that made me cry.
Sometimes, I wish I were invisible
To be an unreminder of my existence
            To never bother anyone
To avoid the abuse.
Sometimes, I wish children weren't so cruel
            Maybe then I'd be less callous
Maybe then I wouldn't ever have been called cold-hearted
Maybe I should have cared less about them and more about me.
I wrote this just trying to survive.
Starvation
I am drowning in my own desolation
My head barely above the surface of who I think I am
Beginning to believe I finally found myself
Actually realizing, I am more lost than before
Kicking and screaming, I remain unheard
I am the only one to hear my deafening cries
Self-abusing mutilation of flesh
Desperate attempts for attention
Marks embedded with falsification
Put there by the manifestation of my emotions
Constant reminders of my nature and mental state
My outside houses red to show I am alive
My insides are black and cold
I feel yet feel nothing at once
My head falls below the surface
The kicking and screaming cease into… Silence

I have forgiven most people in my life. I grew up. Most people change. People who I hated I am now friends with and people I held close, are nothing more than a speck in my life. I have often wondered if AJAJ but I do hate what she did to me.
So, could I forgive her?
I re-read my poetry. I looked at the scar on my wrist where I tried to kill myself. I looked at the pictures in the photo box of me alone. I think of that tree. I think of how she made me hate who I was - I hated the very things that Tommy holds dear. I wanted to be anyone other than me. I wished a had a disease that would make people feel sorry for me and care. I would have looked at my elementary school yearbook but I don't have it anymore. I hated it. 
So, no. I would NOT forgive her. She does not deserve ti be forgiven by me. I should not have had to deal with her crap for so many years of my life.

I am lucky in that I am here. I am alive. I have a lot of stuff to bare but I'm okay.

So I love the anti-bullying movement. It hits me in a spot I wish it didnt, but it hits me. I wish it were that easy though.

5 comments:

James'momma said...

Tara,
I love you. Unconditionally, love you. I wish I had known you to walk through the halls WITH you, so that you knew you'd always have a friend by your side.
I'm here.

Samantha Lee said...

Tara: Though I don't know you how Ellie knows you...what I do know about you I love! I was teased, tormented and picked on much of my schooling...unfortunately in a small town I went to the same schook k-12. I too am grateful for the anti-bullying...I just hope people in general take it seriously...including the parents of those doing the bullying.

smgrace said...

Tara - what an amazing person you are! I am glad you were not successful in the early years or the world would have lost an amazing person!!!!! I only knew you in HS as I don't think we went to the same elementary schools (same District) but I too had terrible memories of being picked on and bullied in gradeschool-high school. Although I was better and dealing when I got to high school (it was my family who was more messed up then) but your story and poetry really touched me!!!! I remember one day in first grade where I was sitting under a tree being picked on by a group of girls when I met my then best friend when she stepped in and was the only one who defended me or spoke to me. And I too had those friends which it was better seen outside of school, then talk to you inside at school. Those feelings hurt and you do what you can but now having kids of our own you relive it. Life is cruel, kids are too. I crings or am saddened when my 2 girls come home crying or have issues...it shouldn't be that way. HUGS!

Shauna said...

Tara, I'm so sorry to hear about your school ordeals and too am glad that many of our schools today have an anti-bullying program. I can understand your not wanting to forgive AJ for her sake. But what about your own sake? Forgiveness is not forgetting or letting someone off the hook. It is for you.....to let go of past hurts, not allowing them to continue hurting you and moving forward. You are worth that! :)

Susan said...

Tara,
You are an awesome person, I don't know how you do all that you manage to do. I wish we knew each other better than we do to live so close. And your nephew sounds like a good friend for Towns to meet. Your friend Shauna is right, forgiveness is for you, not the other person. The first step is the choice to forgive and then remembering that choice.It doesn't erase the past, but it frees you from the situation. And you ARE worth it. <3