Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Maybe I do just need to write

An old classmate from my grade school just got in touch with me on myspace. It is always nice to hear from people, and he's doing well... living in the midwest married with 4 kids. Oddly enough, when he said I looked the same as always, it evoked in me a feeling of panic. How we've all grown up and changed since then, and how I do NOT want to be that little girl that I was.

But there's a part of me that will always be back in grade school.

You see, it's definitely got me thinking. I really really hated my school. I loved learning and got good grades, in fact the areas I excelled in literally kept me alive when I had no desire to go on. There were a group of us that were actually sent up to the next class for all the major classes; such as math, reading, science, etc. My school was small. And I mean SMALL. 100 kids from kindergarten through eighth grade. Our grade had 14 boys and 6 girls, a few of whom were good friends, a few of whom decided when to be my friend and when to backstab. I got used to being picked on. I hated grade school, and even more hated myself.

The worse things got at school, the harder I worked at my academics, music, and art. Every day when I got on the bus a group of guys would mock me and smash their noses, telling me how flat my face was. And if I was in a fight with a particular friend, she knew right where to get me. One time when she was trying to impress the guys, she smashed her face against the seat and said, "look, I'm Becci!" I was constantly being told it looked like my face had been run into by a semi truck. A girl that was quite a bit older than me would make fun of my clothes (we had no money for nice clothes). One time in particular I had gotten a pair of purple pants for Christmas. I loved them, and hardly ever having new things, I was so happy to have these pretty new purple pants. This girl mocked me loudly, saying it just looked like someone had picked their nose and wiped it on my pants. On many occasions, I didn't want to go to school, sometimes didn't even want to get up in the morning.

I was tired of sitting in class just waiting for that moment, the moment when someone would secretly do something mean; like make a pig out of modeling clay and pass it around the room whispering that it was me. When I would cry or say something out loud, I would be the one getting in trouble instead of the people who made life miserable for me.

It got so bad that a couple of the guys making fun of me all those years crossed the line from poking fun to sexual harassment. I told, they got suspended, and I went to school with them until the end of the school year. People would avoid me on the stairs saying that if they touched me I would report them. I became invisible. Sometimes I still feel the sting of those days. It got even worse, so after that year I was pulled out of that school district and put in the other one nearest us.

But I carried these things with me. And they caused a lot of problems. When I went to my new school, it felt so nice to be liked (at least by some people) that I did a lot of things that ended up messing up my life. I would drink or smoke to impress. I would cut myself to numb the pain I couldn't escape from. Not that I would change my life. A lot of who I am now stems from the things I have been through. But the constant feelings of ugliness caused me to tend toward an eating disorder for several years, something I overcame with God's help shortly before meeting my husband. Years of struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide have also melted away with the Lord's gentle healing.

But there is still that part of me that wants to try to please everyone, even though I know I can't. That part of me that caves with the slightest bit of opposition... I call it the spineless me. The part of me that says I'm too dumb to go to nursing school even though I know I'm smart. The part of me that wonders if everyone sees me the way those people used to see me... as ugly and useless. The part of me that makes it hard to believe my husband when he says I'm gorgeous.

And the part of me that hates me.

Words can be strong, so use them well. If only kids could understand the power they have in how they treat their peers. And now that I have a daughter, how can I protect her from those things? How can I make her life better? Or can I? Maybe, just maybe, mothering is more about being there through the crap than it is about preventing it. Because Lord knows I can't be everywhere all the time. Sometimes I just have to give up and say there's nothing more to do. Just trust that the lessons we learn are valuable, even if we have to learn them through isolation, persecution, loss, bad choices, or whatever else life throws our way.

And slowly I have begun to see possibility rather than dread. I'm seeing that I AM somebody, that I have worthwhile things to say. That I matter to a lot of people, and that I could be a damn good nurse if I really want to. That I can love God and still have flaws, and He won't kick me to the curb if I screw up. The thing that has kept me from going to college is fear mainly. Fear that I'll mess it all up once I put it into practice.

But I'm tired of being held by fear. I'm not going to let it hold me any more, even if I have to fight it.

Here's to possibility.

10 comments:

Tonya said...

wow what an amazing post. I commend you for posting it! I know how difficult it must have been for you. Children are so cruel and don't realise the damage they can cause to someone else. I personally was never teased in school but I did get into alot of fights defending people that were. It always really bugged me to see such ignorant people hurt others.. even way back then!

As I was reading your post I was thinking to myself "This couldn't possibly have been happening to Becci????"

Becci, you are beautiful and I cannot imagine anyone teasing or saying stuff like that to you. Sure sounds to me like there were alot of jealous people in your school because there is no way any of those taunts would apply to you!

You can do this nursing thing and you will.. I am glad you are letting go of the fears and just stepping out and showing the world what you are made of!! Good for you girl!

Roberta said...

Wow Becci, what a powerful post. It actually brought tears to my eyes, and brought back memories of my school years. School was not fun for me, and like you, it damaged my self-image forever. It is so hard to forget the things that kids said to me, and how it made me feel. You are a beautiful person inside and out, and you can do anything you set your mind to!! I worry about my kids too, going through the teasing and hurtful ridicule. Ever since my oldest daughter was little, I have always told my children how beautiful, smart and special they are. Some people tell me I shouldn't, that it will make them conceited, but I want to get to them before the children start to hurt them with hateful words. I want my kids to know that no matter what other people say, they are awesome.

pipsylou said...

you hit the nail head-on: Maybe, just maybe, mothering is more about being there through the crap than it is about preventing it.

Rachel
pipsylou.typepad.com

my4kids said...

Becci I can't beleive people teased you so bad. I think you are very pretty! I had similar problems in school though and moving all the time didn't help. I also ended up charging another boy in high school with sexual harrasment but it didn't really help.
You can do nursing if that is what you want. Don't underestimate yourself you'de be good at it.

Anonymous said...

Wow what a great post. I too was teased and bullied at school. I always felt ugly and not worth anything. But the one thing that got me through is my family, I remember my mum saying to me "you are very beautiful and you are a great person and in life the only people's opinions you should care about is ours"
If I am blessed with children I will always remember to tell them that.
I truly hope that you don't let fear hold you back from your dreams. I am sure you will make a wonderful nurse. And to all those people that put you through that horrible time - if only they could see you now - a wife, a mother and beautiful inside and out.


A reader all the way from Australia

purple_kangaroo said...

Oh, Becci. Big, big hugs. I, too, can't believe kids would find anything in your face to tease you about; you are lovely.

I'm glad God has brought so much growth and healing into your life, and I pray it will continue.

Renae said...

Becci,

I'm sorry I've been so out of touch! I'm trying to catch up on blogs right now.

My heart aches for what you went through in school - I had similar experiences. Thankfully you survived from these experiences, learned from them and now you are stronger for it.

I think you will make an amazing nurse! Go for it! If you need encouragement, just yell! I went to college right after high school and sometimes wish I'd have waited - I'm so proud of you for figuring out what you want to do - and going for it!

Renae

The Princess said...

Wow Becci, your post gives me goosebumps. Obviously I to feel the sting of my past, and as you have pointed out, very similiar. We too were poor so my Grandmother would handmake all my dresses. I went to a private school so we HAD to wear dresses. I got teased a lot for it but still to this day I believe my dress is the prettiest.

I don't understand why God allows little children to be treated so poorly. I have to believe though that out of such unkindness and pain He can develop us into the compassionate adults He needs us to be to help others. Of course I wish He could do that a simpler way, but I believe it's those experiences that will allow you to show compassion to the least who deserve it.

So, yes, you are right, we are long lost from somewhere, huh!?

sarah said...

This is an amazing post; thank you so much for sharing such personal memories with us--I think so many of us can relate to some degree or another from our own childhood. I recall being chased home from school by the bigger boys and having them throw thumbtacks at me when I wouldn't kiss them.

I'm not a Christian myself, but I am glad you found peace through your relationship with G-d and that it gives you the strength to see your beauty and goodness despite the negative messages you were sent as a child. I mean, look at Dorothy--how could she have come from anything that wasn't beautiful and good?!! :-)

(((Hugs))))

mom said...

Hi Becci. This is your mom speaking.

You are beautiful, always were beautiful, and always WILL be beautiful. Kids can be mean. Really mean. I have always tried to tell you that jealousy comes in many forms. Ridicule is one of them.

And about bullying.
There are times when kids need to learn to stand up for themselves. And there are times when the teachers need to quit ignoring the little wolfpacks that can form with their apathy given the situation. Too much goes on that is never dealt with. If the little wolfpacks are the leaders for the future, oh, help...

You go, girl, get your degree. But know that even a degree doesn't make you any more valued and loved by your family and true friends. I wish you the best on this and want to help however I can.

Love, Mom