Thinking of my own background and reading about the kids who have committed suicide because of being bullied, I want to write about this terrible problem.
I was an awkward, overweight target. I can’t tell you of the number of times I heard “Fatty, fatty 2 by 4, can’t fit through the kitchen door” and the “Too Fat Polka — I don’t want her, you can have her, she’s too fat for me.” I cried when I was teased, making me a more attractive target to those who needed to hurt others. I tried to hide, but the bullies always found me.
I was pushed down, had my face washed with snow, had snow put down the back of my dress. I wanted to stay home from school, to stay in my room, to read and read and read and read and read. I was sickly – asthmatic and allergic, always wheezing or sniffling. I wasn’t supposed to run because it made me wheeze. In those days, they didn’t have effective treatment for children with asthma. I was told to sit still and not run around with the other kids. That was fine with me. I perceived most of the other kids as being dangerous anyway.
I began to wear glasses at age 8. “Men never make passes at girls who wear glasses,” they chanted. Buying clothes was torture. To my everlasting shame, I had to shop in the “chubbettes” department.
My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles used shame and/or bribery as a way to try to get me to lose weight. Even my pediatrician shamed and embarrassed me. All it did was make me angrier, shyer and more terrified of people. Out of my anger and rebellion, I found ways to get around any diet. I knew where the goodies for my father were hidden. As I got older, I used my allowance at the candy store.
It took me many, many years of therapy to begin to get over my shyness and my fear of people. I still have vestiges of the fear and memories of the torture. Of course, I hate snow.
I don’t know why kids and even adults do this to each other. I’ve thought about it for years. Maybe it makes people feel better about themselves when they put other people down. Maybe it’s a result of having been abused by their own parents and they keep the torture going. I know that kids who have been abused often become abusers themselves. Maybe it’s just a part of human nature. Maybe the religious view of the evil in people is true. I don’t know.
I wonder how many people hold these memories. I wonder how many survived and how many took the easy way out. I never considered suicide, but did have thoughts about how guilty the other kids would feel if I were dead and they knew they had been mean to me. I no longer wish them bad feelings because I’ll bet they don’t even know that what they said and did hurt me. I’ll never tell them to their faces. I can only say so here. I hope some of them are reading this.