I entered my 9th grade year in high school at the age of 14, and never anticipated that my time spent in that world would permanently scar me. Almost immediately in the start of the school year, a senior asked me out and his best friend, also a senior, asked out my best friend since fifth grade, who was also a freshman. Both of these guys were runners on the school's cross country and indoor and field track teams, and I in my naievity had no idea how to judge character and see that they weren't very nice people. This was my first dating experience, and one that was very short lived - possibly lasting a month? I don't recall exactly, but my best friend continued to see that guy for quite awhile. And, it lead to the end of our friendship.
It also lead to her boyfriend's bullying of me, which began while she was seeing him and it was something that she thought was cute. It wasn't cute. It began with him making fun of me and evolved into his group of male friends (all runners on the same teams) making fun of me, lead by him, for any little thing. It didn't matter what I did or did not do, looked like or didn't look like. I was there to be ridiculed and heckled, called names and intimidated, made to feel ugly and worthless. For what? So they could laugh. That seemed to be their ultimate goal - laughter. They even went so far as to come onto my parents' property one night around Christmas to "carol." But, I wasn't home. I was playing volleyball on the JV team and was at an away game. I was also being bullied by two large and ugly girls on the Varsity Team during this same time. Why? Because I didn't understand the hierarchy of spiking volleyballs during practice and held onto a ball when I was "supposed" to pass it back to the varsity side of the net.
These girls were also leaders of their packs and lead their crews through the halls, noting which classes I was in and when and would lean into the classrooms through the doors and verbally threaten to kick my ass in front of teachers. All because of a volleyball. Only one teacher told them to quit, but they didn't.
So, the day after the group of guys caroled on my parents' lawn and ran away when my sister turned on the porch light to see who was there, the boyfriend of my former best friend sent his sister (who was now my former best friend's new best friend) to ask if I enjoyed the carolers?
"What carolers?" was my response.
"My brother and his friends went to your house to carol last night," she said.
"I wasn't there." And I became angry. "You tell your brother that he was trespassing and that he is going to cross the line one day. You tell him when he does, he'll be very sorry."
She shrugged her shoulders and walked away.
Soon after that I had another away game with the team and had to go to the locker room to get my stuff. Outside of the girls' locker room, in the hallway, the boys' indoor track team was goofing off, waiting for their practice to begin. My friend on the team told me to wait on her, that she would go with me, but I said, no, I'd go ahead and get my stuff. I came down the stairs to the hallway and saw the group of guys tossing around a small ball and felt my stomach tighten. My instinct said to go back upstairs and wait on my friend, but I thought, "No, I'll be fine."
I walked through the group of boys, went into the locker room, got my stuff, and headed back out, incredibly nervous. I decided to just walk fast and get out of there as soon as I could. As I started to walk out of the door, the boys were playing football with small ball and had lined up in formation just outside of the door. My former best friend's boyfriend was the quarterback and was facing me. I got as close to the wall away from him as I could and right when I passed him, he called for the play to begin, grabbed the ball, and in order to pass it in the proper stance, looked down, put out his left leg, caught my right ankle, tripped me, and sent me flying onto the hard linoleum floor. I felt piercing pain in my right knee and left side of my pelvis as these two points took the impact. My skirt flew up and I was also on my period - not that they saw anything I would imagine, but still...
"OH!" they all yelled out as I hit the floor and they began to laugh. "I won't let him see me cry," I said to myself. I got up, went back into the locker room and sobbed out of pain, humiliation, and fear. My friend made it downstairs, saw me, ran and got the varsity coach of whom I was not a favorite. They walked me out into the hallway and by this time, the boys were lined up along the wall, bending over, doing stretches. The boy who tripped me looked up and smiled at me as I passed by.
After the Emergency Room and continued follow up with a specialist, it was determined that I had a dislocated knee cap (the varsity coach didn't believe it and made me practice anyway - I was such a powerless person then). The extent of the injury was such that the orthopedist said reminded him of someone who had been in a car accident at 65 miles per hour and had their knee jammed against the dashboard. My pelvis hurt for months. To this day, I have an indentation below my right knee cap that was not there before. I didn't wear shorts or short skirts for about ten years.
Any repercussions for him? No. Why? He was the nephew of the Superintendent of Schools and of a well-to-do family.
Any repercussions for me? Absolutely. The girls on the volleyball team became more vicious and his friends all labeled me a liar and taunted me in the halls, saying I was making the whole thing up - that he didn't trip me but that I fell over his leg and was just embarrassed. He was the victim of a lying little bitch's hate. My own father said that I had no credibility. My mother believed me, but what did that matter when the whole world had turned against me and I had no friends save for a few who really knew me? As for the bully, he just focused on other girls and finally left me alone. Did I mention he never bullied other guys?
I wanted to kill him. I contemplated it for months. My parents had a pistol in the house and I could have found it. I didn't think it would take much to shoot him. I would have had to figure out to load it and aiming wouldn't have been too difficult. I gave it great thought and planned it out - where I would do it, what time of day, how I would get him there, what I would say to him before I shot him in the head. But, first I would shoot him in the knee. Then, the pelvis. Maybe that's all I would do and just leave him to writhe there in pain?
So why didn't I? Because deep down, I didn't want to be like him. I didn't want to be like what I hated and wished dead.
What would I say to those who are bullied? Find some little piece of quiet for yourself and know that you are loved. Even if you don't feel love from your family and you feel like you have no friends, you are loved by someone out there who is waiting to meet you and be your friend. This is not permanent and "this, too, shall pass." I promise.
To those who say that bullying only made them stronger? You are validating the torturous act of bullying with that statement. You are saying that it is acceptable to bully others because it builds character and makes a weak person stronger when in actuality it does nothing of the sort. It does the complete opposite. Bullying did not make me stronger. It did make me more compassionate and aware of the innate rights of others to treated with dignity, honor, and respect.
I wish I had never endured that emotional, psychological, and physical torture that was bullying. But, I did. It was what it was and the consequences are what they are, and that's the reality of it.