I suppose I can share this now that enough time has ticked away. Now that there’s distance, I can wear certain scars on my sleeves. There’s a certain sense of pride that comes from having gone through some experience that didn’t break you. Maybe it didn’t make you stronger either, but at least it made you who you are.
Children are frequently bullied when they are young. This is nothing new. Countless statistics account for it. By today’s definition it would be fair to say that I’ve been bullied a lot – physically, verbally, emotionally.
Of course, at the time, and even now, I never really thought of it as bullying, but more of a right of passage. Of not fitting in. I was perpetually the “new girl” and perhaps that was for the best. The trick was to keep moving, and even now, I’m constantly restless.
Often you’re taught that when you’re bullied you must stand up for yourself and if you do, it would put a stop to it. That’s a lie. I have always stood up for myself, it’s just that no one else did. That’s really why bullying can go on – why wouldn’t it? I don’t even think that bullies are all victims of some sad upbringing. People are just cruel sometimes and derive joy from hurting the ones that can feel it most. I was one such person. Sensitive. Still am.
But, I digress.
There is one “bully” that sticks out within the hollows of my memory on occasion.
She had studied some martial arts form and was rather good at it, or so I am led to believe based on the blows she was capable of delivering.
I, on the other hand, was frail and had not yet come to possess curves.
She enjoyed spontaneously picking me up and throwing me to the ground. There might have been other torture I’ve had to endure, but I can’t recall anymore and would prefer not to toy with facts.
As it happens, outside of school, we both belonged to the same youth group. For some reason I was not picked on so badly there and even had some social standing in the ever-changing chain of girl popularity. There, I was untouchable.
A sleepover was organized and I was meant to go with my friend, but something was amiss.
“Don’t you see that she wants to go with her other friend,” said my foe, whilst sealing our fates together, “You’ll go with me.” She didn’t say it or do it to hurt me. I realized at that moment that she, too, felt like an undesirable.
And so, we ended up together.
Can you imagine, me and my violent bully, alone. Let’s call her DeeDee, since she cannot protest and I do not remember her actual name.
Surely enough, when we had settled into our headquarters for the night and the nice family we were staying with was no longer close enough to hear anything, DeeDee began to amuse herself again. She picked me up, too high for someone so small, and tossed me to the ground.
Now, the next moment came as a surprise to us both. Instead of crying from pain (and it was both painful and humiliating), I laughed. I couldn’t stop laughing. She did it again, and again I laughed. Even more, this time on purpose I think.
I don’t know why I laughed exactly. But I do know what I emotions I registered in DeeDee’s face. She was sad, lonely, scared, hurt (predictably, her parents were going through a rough divorce)… I didn’t see her as a bully anymore, but as a person who couldn’t cope.
Eventually, her picking me up and tossing me into fits of laughter became a tiresome game and we began to play other games. Kid games. And we talked.
When we were leaving the next day there was a silence. Neither of us knew what to say. There was nothing to be said. We had a weekend bond, but both knew it wasn’t going to last into the next day.
When we saw each other in school, we narrowly missed each other’s gaze. She did not become my friend. She did not treat me kindly in public. But she never picked me up again.