Talking with my friend the other day she reminded me that human beings are social. The hardest thing you can do to a person is to cut them off from human contact. This brought back the hardest year and-a-half of my my life: 5th and 6th grade.
When Stephanie dumped me halfway through 5th grade by stealing my lunch box, I found myself alone: a social pariah. Oh I’m not saying we were officially going out–but our barbies were. One of our Barbies was a stripper, and the other wore boys clothes and they got it on on the regular. (Don’t judge) Plus we were so wrapped up in each other I didn’t notice how all other friends fell by the wayside. When she suddenly stopped hanging out with me it broke my heart, and I was totally unprepared to find myself persona non grata, friendless.
It was never entirely clear to me why the other kids picked on me. Maybe I wore all the wrong clothes–my Mom helped me pick them and she had no taste. Maybe it was because I was an only child, and didn’t know how to tease back–didn’t know that kids in groups often pick on each other, and it’s not the same as the abuse my parents flung at each other and sometimes at me.
I was having trouble in school, both wth the assignments, and with my teacher, who seemed to deliberately pick me out to squash any semblance of creativity I expressed. My Mom sided with her, of course, and it wasn’t until years later when she found out that a boy in the class used to go home crying–not for himself, but over the teacher’s treatment of me. Come to think of it, he was the only one who was nice to me for the next year-and-a-half. But I couldn’t be friends with him, since he was–you know–a boy.
I totally shut down through the end of sixth grade. Despite being raised Jewish, the only response I could think of to the bullying, mocking comments of my peers was stony, turn-the-other-cheek indifference. I lost myself in books awhile getting a D in English. Why bother? The world seemed bleak and cold and I felt like I had no value and no future.
Thank the Goddess that my Mom moved us to a new town and I started in a Middle School. I made friends quickly and kept them until high school. I think a part of me is always still expecting that rejection, though…ready to go stony and retreat deep inside at the slightest wrong word or judgmental look.
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