Monday, August 2, 2010

Revisiting an old skeleton

You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you. ~ Eric Hoffer

How often do we get to come face to face with our childhood bully? Rather, how many of you actually HAD a childhood bully?

Oh I had plenty. The joys of growing up middle class! You are mixed in with all sorts of kids, from all sorts of backgrounds and unfortunately, if you have an open heart ~ bless you - someone is going to try to break your spirit.

I have a very interesting opportunity coming up. I am going home this weekend. I am very excited about seeing some old friends. I think revisiting people from your childhood is so therapeutic for some people. It's been well over 20 years since I have seen a few of these people, and right at 20 for others. 

One of my dearest friends from high school has invited me to her house on Saturday night. I am thrilled to be able to reunite with some good people, in a relaxing atmosphere. Today I got a glimpse of the invite list (by default of course, a FB message was sent to everyone.) I happened to scroll the list of names and honestly I do not recognize a few - BUT - one name stood out in particular. Oh yes.. my 7th grade bully.

Oh the irony.

Okay - first of all - this is not a problem at all. I am 37 years old, and honestly cannot remember seeing her in high school - so technically, it's been about 25 years or so since I have even seen this girl. BUT - I would be lying if I did not have to take a deep breath when I read this person's name. I am actually laughing out loud right now, because it goes to show that for one - those experiences are deeply ingrained in us forever, and two- we are all still 12 years old at heart.

Background on this atrocity: the middle school I attended was not the one all of my friends from elementary school went to. I moved to a different school district and ended up at school with a different set of kids. For my friends from my hometown reading this - I went to Union Elementary School (we originally lived on Pineworth Rd - near Lake Tobo) and my school fed into Central High School. We moved to Crystal Lake and I ended up at Ballard A & Southwest.

I knew 2 people total at that school. I was quiet (painfully shy). My activities included: ballet, theater and church. That was it. I met girls who for one smoked, some smoked pot, many would drink alcohol, and others were already having sex. At this point - I had never even had a boyfriend much less a first kiss! It took everything I had to throw away my Barbie dolls in the 6th grade (I replaced that with music.) 12 years old for me was completely different than for the other girls at my school.

A few weeks into my school I had a handful of new friends. One day, before I got on the school bus to return home - one girl (who will remain nameless) sent a message to me. It was on a note and it said, " I am going to kick your butt tomorrow after school. You were warned."


At the time - I was like- "WHAT??" Who IS this person - and why ME? But for a bully - I don't think it really mattered. I was the new kid, with no tight circle, and this trashy little girl singled me out.

Needless to say - this happened off and on for a couple of weeks.... and this girl was a no show for the "moment." Nothing EVER happened. However, I lived in absolute FEAR for my "butt" (lol) for weeks.

Finally.. I guess either she saw I ended up making friends, or she found someone else to terrorize. Who knows?

What I find interesting, if everyone heads down memory lane Saturday night, and let's say this person asks - "Did we know each other?" lol - what do I say, "Oh yeah - you were that skinny girl with the mullet who threatened my life daily?" LOL

Oh the joys of the tween years.

As I was volunteering with the church youth this weekend, I looked around and wondered if any of the kids were victims of a bully? I think about my little niece who goes to school for the first time one week from now - will someone pick on her and make her cry? I just can't STAND to think of that happening.

As for me, my last episode of bullying took place in the 8th grade with a girl in my neighborhood who tried to break me down by picking on me about the way I dressed. A typical "mean girl" if you will. I remember finally standing up to her - and honestly, that summer - I must have blossomed into another girl, gained some confidence, figured out the hair and makeup thing and became the girl I was meant to be.

8th Grade

17 years old - Senior Picture
Don't laugh - aqua net was my best friend - AND that was the style, thank you very much. ;-)

Growing up a girl in America is hard work. You learn so much about femininity and how to conduct yourself from 1st - 12th grade. Only 12 years of your life - and a HUGE chunk of how you will turn out takes place. At least that small chunk of self-esteem.

I am so glad it ended the way it did. But I think so often about some of the socially awkward kids I meet through various avenues. I want to just hug them and say - IT WILL WORK ITSELF OUT.

I will ask you again - did you have a bully? How did you handle it?

As for me, I will revisit that old skeleton and put that memory to bed once and for all. The funny thing is, she is probably a delightful person now. LOL .... or not. ;-)

PS - I think we all still walk around with that 12 year old girl inside. What do you think?


Flora said...

How awful for anyone to have to go through that, it's bad enough you gotta figure out your place in life let alone having to deal with someone bullying you too!!!
You are a beautiful woman so I guess the bully was just jealous!!!
I wanted to come over and Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving such a wonderful comment, it's always a pleasure making new friends, Thanks again!!!

Bossy Betty said...

Loved this post! Your observation about growing up as a female in America is spot ON.

Incredible that your bully would be there on FB.

Love the lighting on the second picture. Very dramatic! Aqua Net was my friend too.

cheeky curves said...

Great post, never really got bullied although a few tried, alway gave as good as I got, that generally ended the realtionship if you can call it a realtionship.
thank you for sharing your story

Rapunzel said...

First of all, you were beautiful and still are!

Yes, we do walk around with that gangly, insecure little girl inside of us. We just need to remind ourselves, and her, that we are grown-up now, with lots of life experience and skills to cope with the "bullies" of the world. I bet the grown-up bully feels terrible about what she did but her 12-year-old girl had her own insecurities and fears, she just expressed them differently.

I'm anxious to hear about the meeting!


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