Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Coming to Grips with School Abuse @ 38 Yrs Old

I may have mentioned that I'm bipolar. I may not, however, have added that I'm mostly home bound and cannot work outside the house, even after being treated as a youngster (and force-fed "make it better" pills, incidentally). Like many folks, I was born with my brain the way it is - heterosexual, bipolar, a furry: all of it. But it sure didn't help that I suffered from some horrific abuse from the moment I was out of my mother's care and into the public school system.

My mother took care to keep me with her often, seeing as she was by herself for a period after divorcing my biological father when I was but two years old. This was awesome, and I have a very deep bond with her as a result... but it wasn't good that she kept me from other kids. She was well-meaning, but whenever I'd have interest, she'd put the other children down, saying they were "dirty" or "wild" and I shouldn't play with them. When we eventually moved into my grandfather's home (the only one I'd ever known until my husband and I moved into the one we have now), I played for a bit with the kids next door. I didn't understand why my mother screamed and I got into trouble when we played certain games (mud pies, etc), because the other parents smiled at us when we did! So, to put it simply: I wasn't around kids much as a kid. I was an adult. I didn't understand kids, my brain worked in a different way. As a kid myself, I thought this was what everyone thought like, and I thought it was right.

Imagine a child that doesn't know how to interact with kids being shoved into a room full of them. One, by the way, that had never been separated from her mother.

I cried.

Logically, you'd think 'of course you did,' but here's the kicker: no one else did. They looked at me strangely. I was marked as "different" ... and it was only Kindergarten.

I think that's what started everything. I got off on the wrong foot, and I never did get "on" the damned thing. Oh, in the beginning, parents told their kids they had to invite "the whole class" to birthday parties, so I'd get invited. But excuse me, being the one kid everyone ignored when she was terrified of being at a new and scary place without her mother - what experience was that? I remember crying at the one I went to and going home early, with, of course, everyone marking me as "even more weird".

By the way, the anti-depression pills I was forced to take as a teen burned my brain out, memory-wise. I can only see parts of things from the past, mostly bad, and I can't recall teacher's names or events like most people can. I suppose it's just as well, seeing as how many bad experiences I had. It's enough to throw me into panic attacks to this very day, at age 38.

I still wake up with nightmares that I have to go to school.

I want folks to understand that every day I went to school was a nightmare itself. I started out by thinking if I could be very good, I'd get noticed at least by the teachers. But one teacher in first grade told my mother (she told me this many years later) that one day at a Parent-Teacher conference she asked my mother, "oh, was she here today?" I was invisible (and unrewarded), even though I was silent and did my best to do everything I was supposed to do. Other kids that acted up got stickers and prizes and stuff. I never did because I was too good, being raised as a adult that understood "always obey the rules". What I did get was slapped down the minute I did a single thing that was "wrong", even though I did something by accident. The kid next to me that did the same thing 20 times a day got praised for sitting still for 5 minutes, though.

Anyway, I want people to know that I was sick every night because I had to go to school the next day. I couldn't sleep (I have terrible insomnia to this day) and then I would wake up and damn near throw up every single morning. I was in constant terror of "going back", even when it was a holiday or the weekend. And here's another reason why: in Middle School, the kids on the bus decided to harass me further than not letting me sit down and screaming insulting names in my ear. They thought it would be clever to throw things at me. It started with little wads of paper and ended up at weed-stickers that made me skin bloody and hurt, and small rocks and stones.

Every morning and afternoon, I got stoned by the kids on the bus. 

The bus driver didn't care. The school was informed - apparently they didn't care, because nothing was done except to make me the last stop and first drop off (meaning I only had 10-15 minutes on the bus instead of the whole trip). And that was Middle School. I started getting bouts of low blood pressure mixed with panic attacks and depression, and began fainting up to 20 times a day. This solved the school problem for awhile and I was home-schooled for a bit while my worried family tried to figure out what was wrong with me. The big problem occurred when they found out what it was, however. I was diagnosed as "depressed".

My family instantly did all the things they weren't supposed to do: blame me, try and tell me to "get over it", and put enormous amounts of pressure on me to, and I quote, "tell them what the problem was".  How the @#$% was I supposed to know? All I knew is that I was surrounded by badness and I couldn't win no matter what I tried. Everything I did was "wrong", I was told or shown by people's actions that I was ugly, fat, disgusting, weird, poor, stupid, smelly ... take your pick, I was called it. No matter that none of it was true, I believed it at the time, and that's what mattered. Plus, my house and family were the only sane place in my life, the only calm zone, and now my family hated me because I wouldn't tell them what was "wrong".

I'll admit I did something reprehensible at that point, but I did it to stop the madness. I didn't know what else to do, so I told a horrible lie about one of my best friends and a boy I truly, deeply cared about. It stopped the psychologist, psychiatrist and my family from picking at my head so hard all the time. But at what cost? I still hate myself for it, even though I can't see how I could have stopped everything. I tried countless times to tell them I didn't know why I was the way I was, that I didn't have an "incident" that "made" me the way I was! They didn't listen! 

That sucked.

And when I was forced back into the school system, nothing mattered. In fact, being the one that had been out for depression (and all the counselors knowing it) made everything worse. I was called in to the office at the slightest hint of "weird", which, by the way, meant blinking at the wrong time. The adults that went to that school think favorably on their time there because they didn't have the horrible life I had.

I always thought that I'd have my after-school NBC special moment.

You know what I'm talking about, right? The nerd that suddenly gets into the beauty pageant, or the dance, and all the girls help her instead of mock her and the boys realize she isn't so ugly after all. Where people her age suddenly treat her as a real human being with feelings. And that was my mistake. It's why I kept getting so terribly hurt. I expected it; I was raised to believe if you tried hard enough, it would happen, dammit. Instead what I got was being brave enough to say 'Y'know what? I do want to be the bride in our wedding at Health class" ...

... I'm sure you see where this is going.

No boy wanted to be the groom. Even the idiot that I was stupid enough to think that liked me (and I'd slept with, because of course I was trying to get any acceptance from people, remember)? He stood up and said something stupid like "I'd rather die".

No one helped.

No one spoke.

I still remember that, you know, guys? I'm struggling to make myself forgive everything - and yes, I've done shitty things I want to be forgiven about, too -- and it's hard. All I wanted was acceptance. I tried all the wrong ways, I guess, and I fumbled along the way by doing things to act out when I was seen as strange (the "who gives a shit, right? I'll show them weird, if they want it" attitude).

I didn't go to a single dance, of course no prom (although my class was the infamous "Dumpster Baby" prom, so... mixed feelings about that), and the only boy who asked me out first was the one I lied about. My mom said "no", by the way, to my only chance at normalcy there again - she thought I was too young although all the other kids were dating. I was "allowed" only the shit boys to date, like they were "good enough" for ugly me, even though they weren't and I knew it! (Again, all but they boy I wronged. I expect if things had gone right, we might have been together for a long time.)

I'm emotionally crippled, do not trust people, and still think I'm a piece of shit because I was told that so many, many times. It's hard for me to take any chances, because every time I did then, I was shot down and injured badly somehow. Now, I understand that a lot of where I am now is because I have illnesses besides the obvious crippling depression, but do you think all that didn't contribute? Depressed folks find it hard to "let go" of the past and we relive it constantly, often with the exact same feeling of pain that we had when it was happening.

It's hell. I was and am in hell, and you helped put me there. You all helped, even the ones that didn't do anything - you could have stopped something or even said a kind word. Why couldn't you have helped instead of hurt? Why me? And why, so many years later, are you all wearing rose-colored glasses and thinking I loved school as much as you did? Did you honestly not see my pain? How could you have not seen it, especially when things happened like in health class, right out in front of everyone?

38 years old, and I'm still struggling to come to grips with everything. I have to forgive myself and everyone involved in that past. Because I understand it's the past, and I should let go, but that doesn't help me when I hurt as much as I do now.

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