Today I have a personal experience from author Kelly Gorman. Just reading one bully story is hard to do. But reading many, and sharing these stories and experiences with you isn't an easy thing to do. I receive stories and can't help but get tears running down my cheeks because I know that they are true. I only hope that in doing this, it helps make a difference.
Odd One Out
There were three of them, and they were no strangers to me. I was the easy target, as my dad so often pointed out. I had no repertoire of sassy comebacks, I dressed a bit oddly, and I was in and out of the hospital for surgery and asthma.
I also had an anger management issue, which stemmed from this bullying and likely made it more fun for them. They'd target me just to see what I'd do.
So I guess I was the odd one out.
The boys had bullied me off and on for my seven years of primary school. They had gotten the balls from the classroom. My grade seven teacher had them on the ends of all the chairs so they would not make noise or scratch the floor.
I can't remember if I had my bike already, or if I had to endure a hail of tennis balls while I unlocked it. Either way, the result was them chasing me, trying to peg me with tennis balls while I outstripped them on my bike.
I realized in my first loop, as the wind blew through my hair, that I had forgotten my helmet in the classroom. So I had to make loops of the school and wait for them to get bored. If I rode ahead, dumped my bike at the entrance, and raced in for my helmet, I thought they might either steal my bike or simply wait for me around it in ambush.
So I made loops of the school grounds, keeping just outside of good aiming range from them. A variation of keeping your enemy closer. There were a few parts of the school circuits that were a bit rocky on a bike, but I managed. I also collected some of the balls they threw. I did this first because I felt bad for the teacher, whose tennis balls they were, but then I realized that they'd run out of ammunition if I continued to do that.
I don't remember being that upset. Perhaps by then it had become such a norm that it was more of an inconvenience than an insult.
I don't know if the boys got more than a stern talking-to. I do remember that the teacher was still there when I returned the balls to his class. And you know what? Telling him, and my parents, what had happened made me feel even worse. Like I was a wimp for tattling or something.
Its a vicious cycle, and it still affects me today. Even two years ago I felt shame in everything I did. I got really depressed. Its better now, but I still get these feelings of low self esteem. I have learned to recognise them and reverse that negative thinking, but it is a process.