Friday, November 2, 2018

The Cheese Grates It: The Effects of Bullying Last a Lifetime

I'm now almost 54 years old, but the bullying that I endured all through school still affects me to this day.  I have always felt that I was hideously ugly. If I'm completely analytical about my appearance, I'm actually fairly ordinary-looking, but when one lives in a society which has a very narrow view of beauty and constant bullying is added to that, one learns to loathe one's physical appearance. I honestly don't like it when people compliment me on anything because my initial thought is that they are just trying to get something out of me.
When I was in the third grade, I was sexually assaulted by two of my female classmates. I was too ashamed to say anything.  Later, a boy in that same class pinned me up against the wall and told me that he was going to kill me with his pocket knife. I wet my pants, and when I went to the school nurse, she laughed at me and told me that I was being silly. This boy was very popular, and he was never punished.
Throughout school, the bullying that I endured often had sexual overtones. There were horrible rumors that I would have sex with any boy who wanted it. In fact, I was so naive that I thought a "bl*w j*b" was blowing in someone's ear, and I wondered why anyone found that sexy.  Boys would often grab my breasts or buttocks. The adults never did anything about it. In one math class, the teacher was sitting right there while my classmates said things like "she plays with herself" and "she'd play with her t*ts if she had any." Up until I turned 18 and realized that my breasts tended to get in the way when I was doing things, I hated my "flat chest." I actually have rather average-sized breasts, not that anyone should be bullying someone with smaller than average breasts.
I have never enjoyed sex, but once I got into high school, I allowed my boyfriend to take my virginity. He dumped me after that, and I ended up in the mental hospital over the weekend with a slew of unkind doctors and nurses looking down their noses at me. One nurse even told me that I was a freak and I would never be normal. To this day, I'm proud of my sixteen-year-old self who told her: "better a freak than a b*tch like you." I don't know how I found the strength in me, but I stood up to those jerks, and I tried to be helpful to the other patients who were in there with me. My roommate was a woman in her 50's who was so severely anorexic that all her bones were showing. She had trouble voicing her needs, so I tried to be her voice.
Remembering these things makes tears of anger come to my eyes, but they won't last long because the message that crying is weak was so deeply internalized. I have a lot of trouble crying. I didn't cry after the deaths of some of my close relatives. I didn't cry when I had to have my beloved rescue cat put to sleep on his sixth birthday due to kidney failure. It's not that it didn't matter. I've never recovered from it. There's a gaping wound in my heart that will never be filled. I get accused of being cold and uncaring because I don't cry, but I simply can't. Crying was a weakness that my bullies would exploit, so I never let them see me cry.
I have major mental illnesses (type 2 bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder which manifests as hoarding objects, not animals.) Any coping skills I have with these diseases have been developed on my own. "Mental health professionals" have only tried to medicate me into normalcy even though I do not respond well to psych meds. They make me manic and psychotic. Family members offer wisdom like "just stop being like that," "just stop thinking like that," "just stop looking for attention," and "just act normal."
I have been completely unsuccessful in life, and, if it weren't for my son, the honest truth is that I would have been long gone. My life has been a series of loss and disappointments. With the psych conditions I have, it would have been an uphill battle anyway, but with the self-loathing I learned from being bullied all through school, the battle became impossible.  
When my diabetes worsened, I became unable to work the difficult jobs and long hours that I had always prided myself on being able to work. I am now living in poverty. If it weren't for my son, I'd be homeless. I do not have hope for things getting better.
Bullying destroys lives, but all I ever heard is that it was my fault that I was bullied, and if I would just "act normal" and "ignore it," I wouldn't "bring it on" myself.

~The Cheese Hath Grated It~

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