Thursday, June 29, 2006

My Apologies to June

Seventh grade was perhaps the worst year of my life. I was the object of bullying by a group of girls who knew exactly how to inflict the most pain. Until now I have never talked about this with my teachers, my parents, or my friends. But finally I have to write it down.

Being 13 is a hard time for everyone. Your body is changing, your hormones are raging, and you are always vying for a place in the societal pecking order. It’s a time when someone who isn’t just like the others sticks out and begs to be dumped on. That would have been me. I was a smart kid who never got in trouble, who made all A’s, who was an overachiever, who still had short permed hair – the kind of kid other kids love to hate. Most of the taunting took place as we hung around outside waiting to be let back into our junior high classrooms after lunch. This group of piss-ass girls not only said awful things about me, but they also included my father in their insults. What was most discouraging to me was watching people who had been my friends for years just stand there or even join in. It wasn’t us against them, but rather me against them. Fortunately this never occurred in earlier grades or after 7th grade. It was as though they got it out of their system, but I can never forget that time.

Yesterday as I thought about this, I also remembered with shame what happened next. I am normally a person who goes out of my way not to hurt others, but instead I found myself seizing on a similar situation and becoming the bully. June was a girl in our class who was a little short on mental ability but long on imagination. As she told story after story about her fantastic older brother, I knew she was lying through her teeth because I had known her family years earlier and was well aware that she had no older brother! The story about how he had just broken his leg caused me to initiate a collection to send get-well flowers. I’m not sure what happened next, but ultimately there were tears and confessions on June’s part. I had felt so vindicated as I controlled that situation, but like such a shit when it finally was over.

I hope June has no memories of this today because we really don’t need hurtful childhood memories to occupy our adult minds. I keep wondering how I will view that group of teenage bullies when I see them next year at our 40th high school reunion. I’m sure they will all be there. After all, they were the most popular girls in the class.

When you were an adolescent, were you ever bullied or did you ever hurt someone else and later regret it?

8 Comments:

Blogger Jamy said...

I wouldn't say I was bullied, but I was teased pretty consistently either in regular school or Sunday school (or both) all the way through junior high. I would get upset (though I rarely cried), fight back and it never helped.

I don't think I ever bullied anyone, but I did cause a lot of grief for a girl in junior high out of a misguided need to be truthful. My actions led to a lot of teasing of her by everyone else. It's a long story, so I'll save it for my blog.

Everything got a lot better after jr. high--I headed straight to college and skipped high school all together.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The exact same scenario happened to me, around the same time of middle-school. All of the genders were reversed, but essentially, a group of guys picked on me regularly, and later in the school year I pushed the burden onto someone else, humiliating and then beating a less-gifted kid. I still feel awful about it. I know he remembers it, too.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

In my 7th grade Ohio History class, I sat in front of Donna Beadle, a girl who regularly kicked my chair, knocked my purse off the back and flicked my head with her pen. She never said a word to me. I never had another class with her. It wasn't traditional bullying but it had me in tears by the end of just about every class.

I cannot imagine being the subject of regular, merciless taunting. That was bad enough.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Pagan Marbury said...

"...we really don’t need hurtful childhood memories to occupy our adult minds..."

That is a beautiful sentiment.

I wouldn't go back to junior high or high school for all the money in the world. Not for one week.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

No, not really...guess I was very lucky. I had lots of friends and yet was still humble and very loyal to my friends. I was shy until about high school. I was what we called "Brown noses" in gr. 7 since I worked very hard and got excellent marks. Sounds like we would have been friends!

3:09 PM  
Blogger RennyBA said...

All things must past and sometimes thats a reliefe, so I am glad you wrote it out of your mind. Have a great end to your week and fill your mind with joy as I will: gone golfing in the Nordic!

5:19 PM  
Anonymous mekoehler said...

Thank you for this story Barbara. I read it with alot of interest, relating my experience in 6th grade bullied, related to my looks. I now say the name 'kdog' publically, because I was so embarssed hearing it as a kid.
Now I think how 'creative' my classmates were in making up such a name.. Forgiveness! still mainfesting in many area.

Funny now, I hold more messages internally stated by adults, rather than my classmates and my looks.
I was blessed to have a group of friends support me. Today still the same.
What I see with you is your ablity to keep dialogue with others, regardless of their background. That is a strength for sure!

8:08 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I suppose I am glad to find out that I was not alone, but I totally agree with Pagan -- I wouldn't want to repeat most of my early life. Life is much better today.

7:27 AM  

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