Did you guys check out yesterday’s book review? Tammy Farrell was gracious enough to let me read an advanced copy of her first ever published book, The Darkness of Light. The book was fantastic and you can bet I will be getting a copy on my bookshelf by the end of January. I’m a sucker for the whole historical fantasy thing. Mix in some mythology and I’m hooked. If you guys are interested, there’s a chance I may have a giveaway for an electronic copy of her book in the near future. I’ll keep you all posted.
This is the much-anticipated Part Two of my bullying story. I highly recommend you read Part One (Friday’s Posts) before going further. Keep in mind this is the story of my average day. Some where worse, some where better. As time went on, the bullying decreased and I was left to overcome my own scars. However, this isn’t really about me at all. This is the story of every bullied child. As I said before, this is average. Those children, too, face worser days and better days. Experience life as they know it every school day and ask yourself if it would be worth the risk to stand up for them.
Wrapping your arms around the ball, you tell them you want to play with it. As you suspect, the statement makes little difference. The resolve is in their eyes. They will take it. Using all the strength in your tiny body, you grip tightly as the arms of half a dozen peers grab, scratch and rip at you. It was only a matter of time before the ball was loose enough from them to snag.
They walk away, laughing, with the ball they wrenched from you. Somewhere inside your soul, you feel proud you did not give up. Still, the strongest feeling you have is defeat, as you walk outside to play without the ball. You and your friend play alone at recess, playing games you’ve made up. Sometimes you bring a deck of cards and practice shuffling. No one else ever approaches you.
When recess is over, classes resume. They are the same as they are every day. You again throw yourself into your studies. Old enough to understand what college is, you know that is your only ticket out of this mess. There you can reinvent yourself. There you can find a group of people just as weird as you. There you can live out life without fear of harassment. All you have to do is survive this next decade….
When school is over, you line up for the bus. It drives to a large parking lot with dozens of buses. You get off and walk to the one headed to your home. Standing in line, you try to appear nonchalant. In reality, you are trying to be hyper aware of everything around you. Do you have all your belongings? Is anyone touching your bag? Who’s behind and in front of you? Do they notice you? Is anyone on the bus? You’ll never forget the time one of your peers spat on you out the bus window. It had rained, and you weren’t sure if what you felt were just raindrops. It was the laughter that tipped you off. Always the laughter. Laughter is never a good omen.
The trip home is similar to the morning bus ride. After a whole day spent staring at books, you sometimes enjoy the escape of your Gameboy.
When the bus lets you off, you walk home, making a point to avoid other peers. There are only a couple blocks between the bus stop and your house, but those few blocks are out of the eyes of any adult or supervisor. You ignore the laughter and attempt to appear calm. You pray no one will stand in your path. No one will chase you. Just get home. Don’t run home. If you run, they will know they have won. Just walk, but walk fast. You just need to get home.
Finally in the safe haven of your home, you again go through the motions. Homework gets done and dinner is eaten. Eventually, you throw yourself into the escape of a good book or video game. Here is a place where there is no fear of disturbance. From the safety of your basement, you can fully immerse yourself and wonder into a world where you are strong enough to defeat your enemies.
Someday, you tell yourself, I will be strong enough to defeat my enemies.
(I’m writing during a slow period at work. A co-worker came to chat and asked me why my eyes are red)
Eventually, it is time for bed. Your sanctuary is darkened and you hide under layers of blankets. As is your custom, you pray to God. You list all the people you care about, including the poor, the sick and all that have less than you, wishing them well. In doing so, you remind yourself that there are plenty of people out there who are worse off than you. There are also people in my life who care for me. You can’t deny that.
As the darkness stretches on, there are other things you can’t deny. How you wished had more friends. How desperately you wished life was different. The prayer’s tone changes as you beg whatever deity will listen. Can you bring you just one more friend? Is it too much to ask to have at two people your own age who like you?
Maybe it is too much to ask. After all, these people wouldn’t laugh at you if there wasn’t something to laugh at. You are weird. You are broken. You are worthless. Deeper into the despair you fall, begging through your tears that tomorrow will be different. Please, let no one harass you tomorrow. May they all leave you alone.
Long ago, you learned how to cry silently, letting your face contort with your emotions so you won’t cry out. The room eventually blurs, view through your tears. The last thought you have before you drift to sleep is how unworthy you are. Unworthy of the things in this room. Unworthy of the blankets that cover you. Unworthy of the loved ones you burden.
Your face relaxes. As your face relaxes and the last of your tears pour out, you wonder why you are allowed to live.
You wake up to the sound of your mother’s voice telling you to get out of bed. By the third time she calls, you have finally stubble into the bathroom. After going through the usual routines, you sit for breakfast. When everything you need has been securely gathered in your backpack, you walk out the door towards the bus stop.
This is based on my average childhood experiences during grade school. It is meant to depict how I thought and felt during an average middle school day. This is who I was after being bullied for many years. This was my struggle to survive. I do not mean to undermine the experiences of others who have been bullied. There are people who had it and who still have it worse than I did. My hope is to build understanding of the emotional turmoil that results from bullying. Through that understanding, I hope more people stand up to bullies and speak out when they see someone bullying another.