Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bullies Suck. Even Grown Up Bullies.

Today's writing my face off is here. And this one feels like a touchy subject.

Day 10: "Have you ever been bullied as an adult? Tell me about it."

This one is rough. And deeply personal. In Junior High I was bullied relentlessly by boys. I was, at times, sexually harassed and at others picked on to the point of...self hatred. When they weren't throwing things down my shirt, slapping my ass with metal rulers, whispering vile things in my ears, they were calling me names, kicking my chairs while I sat in them, kicking my back through the gap in the back of my chair, making fun of my name, and making me feel worthless. The very first time it happened I told a teacher I trusted who sent me to the guidance counselor who told me she would talk to the boy in question. I never heard back from that guidance counselor and the boy never stopped tormenting me. Two years of Jr. High. Two years of torture. And I was too ashamed, embarrassed, humiliated, scared, hurt, and confused to tell anyone. After eighth grade ended I had to attend Summer school for math. The torture continued. And this time it was more sexual. And almost more relentless. My male teacher watched from the front of the room as boys threw pieces of paper down my shirt, while they whispered in my ears, while they sat on my desk, while one quite literally stood up and humped my desk. That's not exactly a thing you can not see. Eventually I reached my breaking point. The boy who sat behind me whispered something vile in my ear and I turned around and slapped him across the face. Then I stood up, with tears in my eyes, and walked into the principals office. Summer school had a female principal that year. I told her the whole sordid story. And she listened. She validated me. She told me it was okay, she apologized, and she sent me home for the day. She also suspended the boy in question. In high school it was girls. Mean girls. Bullying me. Threatening me. Another long, messy story. And then finally I got away from it all

I grew up. I got super involved in church. I was out of school and would never have to deal with bullying again. I was free. I got involved in the drama department at my church. I made friends. I came out of my shell. I found a place to belong. I assistant stage managed a few plays. After a couple years I was asked to stage manage a play. The director was a different lady than the one I had worked with previously. She had always been involved, but never IN CHARGE of anything I had been involved with. We weren't really close, but obviously she trusted me because she asked me to be her stage manager. I was flattered. I felt strong, powerful, confident, like someone saw was...good for me. Then we got to work. And apparently she can't handle stress because I became her dumping ground. We began working in January on a play for Easter. It would take place in April. My best friend at the time was also involved. She had a lead role in the play. It started with Miss Director talking shit about my best friend to me, and about me to my best friend. Like we wouldn't tell each other. You should never complain about a girl to her best friend. She will find out. But we let it go. Then she started venting to me, a 19 year old girl who looked up to her spiritually, about how her husband was useless and worthless and would be better off to her dead. These were small things. Strange and inappropriate, yes. But not huge in the grand scheme of things. Then I got sick. We had Saturday morning rehearsals. This was late February. Over a month away from the play. I woke up one Saturday morning with a pounding headache, sore throat, and a fever of 103. I called her and told her I couldn't make it. I was sick. She expressed, heavily, her disappointment in me. Then she called me. I was asleep and didn't answer. She made my friends call me. She yelled at my friends. She basically told them I screwed everything up. Things like this went on for months. And months. The play ran for a total of seven shows. At the end of the last show I cried my eyes out. She'd spent the last four months making me feel dumb, worthless, like a failure. The play went off without a hitch. She took ALL THE CREDIT and stood in the limelight like Miss America. She talked shit on me to anyone who would listen. She called me out for being sick, publicly. She told me how disappointed she was in me. I worked my ass off for her. I did 99% of the things she asked. I did everything in my control to help her and be a good stage manager. And none of it was good enough for her. She bullied and abused me. And I took it because I didn't know what else to do. After the play ended I said I needed to take some time off. Things were a little unpredictable in my family. My sister was in the hospital on bed rest trying not to give birth. She told me she wanted me to be in a performance during a service. I told her I couldn't commit because of my sister's health situation. I never knew when I would need to drop everything and run to the hospital. She basically told me I HAD to do it. So I showed up. I didn't want to do it. I fumbled my lines, but made it through. Until she forgot hers. Then she told everyone I messed up my lines. I forgot my lines and that's why she messed up. This woman, well over 30 years old, publicly blaming and shaming a 19 year old girl for her mistakes. After that I peaced out. I didn't need her in my life. I was immediately about a thousand times happier. Because having an obsessive, ungrateful, bitchy, control freak in your life is never fun.

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