Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Bullying Realisations and My Experience at School

I was never a huge fan of school, as I'm sure is probably the case for most people. There were countless times that I faked sick, or actually, for the most part, did feel very sick in the mornings when I was suppose to be getting ready. If I'm honest, I don't know how many times were me making myself sick by getting so worked up, and how many were me actually feeling like I was going to throw up to start with, but I would do everything in my power to get out of going to school, and my parents, seeing me bawling my eyes out and obviously feeling like total shit for some reason or another, would often give in and just let me stay home. Sometimes I'd even hide until the bus went past and hope that mum was already at work or in too much of a hurry to get me ready and drive me in.

Occasionally, I would remain feeling sick and horrible for the rest of the day, but most of the time it would only be an hour or so until I felt completely fine, and my parents put this down to me faking it. I didn't really know myself if I had been faking it. I was sure I felt sick before, but now I was fine, so maybe I had just been playing it up after all. I didn't realise at the time, but when I look back on it now, I'm pretty positive that it was my anxiety making me feel sick. I did feel nauseous and dizzy, and I did feel like I was going to pass out, but once the perceived danger was gone, my body and my brain would start to relax and I would soon be skipping around the house feeling happy and healthy as ever, except for the cloud of guilt now hovering over my head.

Most of my life, I've been hearing horrible stories about school bullies. Whether from TV shows, books, or people I know. I always thought I got off pretty easy at school. I never got in a fight, nobody ever stole my lunch money, and I didn't have that one kid that I constantly had to hide from and try to avoid at all costs. I didn't think of myself as a victim of bullying. Sure, a lot of the time people didn't really seem to even notice that I existed, but they don't have a responsibility to give me their attention, and I am pretty sure that excluding a fellow student doesn't count as child neglect.

It wasn't until very recently that I realised I WAS bullied at school. Only, I hadn't thought about it that way, because the people who were bullying me were mostly the same people that I called my friends. There were plenty of lunchtimes when I would go back to class with somebody else's food on my clothes, or in my hair, because they thought it was funny to throw their unwanted lunch at me instead of putting it in a bin, or leaving it aside. They would even waste precious deliciousness on my humility. Cake frosting, spaghetti sauce, whatever would be the most uncomfortable for me, really.

Thinking back on it, there were indeed times that I tried to hide. Sometimes I would find a different spot to eat and hope that I could spend my lunchtime alone in peace, but they would usually find me and ask why I wasn't sitting with them and make me feel like I was being mean by avoiding them. I'd try to sit at a distance where I might have time to duck or dodge when I saw something being aimed at me, but they'd just wait until I wasn't looking, or move closer. The times I did manage to get through an entire lunchtime without having food thrown at me felt like a big success. Sometimes I even went the whole day without being target practice. Those were good days. Very good days. I could get on the bus, without fear of smelling like old food, without embarrassing smears on my clothes, go home and enjoy the rest of my seemingly fabulous day.

I vaguely recall some physical pain too. Not from getting beaten up, just trying to prove our strength and lack of sookiness, I suppose. Not that I had a choice in the matter. You can get punched in the arm while trying to take a sip from your popper, and if you flinch, you're a pussy, a weakling. It doesn't matter if you were caught off guard, or accidentally squirted so much juice into your mouth upon the impact that some came out your nose, and the entire inside of your face was now burning. You flinched. You are now the weakest in the group, and that makes you the target.

Wow, my friends were dicks. Friends. I am still referring to them by that word, even with these realisations. We did have good times, and I did enjoy hanging out with them when they weren't being mean to me, but I always had that fear whenever I was with them. I'd go to a birthday party, and some girl's mum would bring out some food. There's cheerios and tomato sauce. Yum, those look good. But I dare not go near them while the table is crowded. That is the one thing I will definitely have smeared on my face by the end of the day. Best just to stay back until everyone else has gotten theirs and moved aside. I would of course be left with all the ones that exploded and broke, and were now cold again, but that was a small price to pay in the attempt to keep my favourite party clothes devoid of stains.

I can't blame it all on them. I did try to avoid them and stand up for myself several times, but when it didn't work, I just gave up. I figured it was better to just deal with what was happening than to upset them and make it worse. Eventually, I started being mean too. I didn't throw food at people, or punch them when they were trying to eat their lunch, but I would say things sometimes. Things that were only meant as jokes, or being playful, but weren't always received as such. I like to think I didn't say anything that caused anyone significant feels, but when I think back on some of the small, seemingly insignificant comments that have given me complexes over the years, I can't help but wonder if I fucked up someone else's sense of self-worth in that way. I hope to god that I did not, and I apologize profusely if I did. Kids are stupid. They say stupid things, they do stupid things, and although most of the time they mean nothing of it, they can be unbelievably cruel.