*Editor’s Note: After concerned readers contacted me and suggested that I am indeed cyber bullying (I’m not) those that ridiculed me by using their first names, I had to sit back and reanalyze my intent with writing this. I had to rethink. I had to hyper-analyze my intentions. That being said, I replaced all first names with “Jane Doe” to protect their personal space, character, and livelihood.
Our legacy that defines us is how people remember us by. Am I compassionate? Or malicious? Am I forgiving? Or vindictive? I want to be remembered for positive strength. I want these ladies not to be remembered for the things they did, but for the amazing things they will do.
I hope any bullied kids that read this, or even adults, know there are brighter days waiting for you.
I can be contacted further via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I can’t recall the exact moment, I heard the taunting from the most popular girls at Angola Middle School, but I can recall all the emotions I felt during the next five years or so. I felt intimidated. I felt scared. I felt terrified. I felt panic. But more than anything, I felt like a loser. I felt like I didn’t have a place in this world.
I felt suicidal.
In my advanced age of 33, I’m trying to recall the pivotal moment that changed sophomoric name-calling to awful daily bullying. But I believe it began during a spring day during 6th grade, I was doing my best to hurry to a class that was sandwiched between some of the most popular 7th graders, and in the process, brushed shoulders and tripped up one of the most popular girls of that clique. Of course, the mumbled apology I squeaked out would never suffice as I heard the words, “wide load” echoed ferociously with “fatty” as a group of twenty teenage boys and girls laughed.
That day would signify the start of self-loathing, bitterness and questioning why I was even alive. Every day, I DREADED going down that hall. I tried to find out alternate routes, but this was the only way. The only way to go to a class was to guide my way through an onslaught of malicious words from Angola’s most preferred 7th graders.
Although, this was pretty awful, it would get even more traumatizing. My older sister, Tina and I would be at the laundrymat one beautiful weekend when a few of those aforementioned girls walked in, “Jane Doe” and “Jane Doe II” (along with “Jane Doe III”) spearheaded the daily Tammy tauntings and I whispered something to my sister and unbeknownst to me she basically gave them a taste of their own medicine – and yes, I laughed alongside with her.
I was just like them. I just didn’t realize it until years later.
Fast-forward to 7th grade, my life was filled with daily verbal torture and would soon turn physical. The gang of girls along with other frequent adjective-propellers were “Jane Doe IV”, “Jane Doe V”, “Jane Doe VI”, “Jane Doe VII”, “Jane Doe VIII”, and the list would soon infiltrate my own grade and the names aren’t as important as the fact that there were even more individuals who observed and did nothing.
A silent approval is far worse than those that actually bully.
It didn’t matter than I would go home crying every day and my parents would tell me to “just ignore them” and it didn’t matter that the few friends I did have at school were pitying me.
Not being empathetic. Just pitying me…pitying the fact I was, indeed, fat. The fact that I “brought this on myself” which may have been true, if the incessant name calling never began in the first place. The fact, that every day I had to deal with being tormented and I didn’t feel like I was safe anywhere.
I remember being in gym class in 7th grade, which for some reason, was a mix of 7th and 8th graders. I remember I had the misfortune of having a few of those girls in that class and things just got worse. I remember we had to change out of our school clothes into those ugly blue mesh gym shorts. I remember those girls who would get close enough so I could hear their taunts. Close enough where they would poke me with their verbal sticks; teasing me about my fat shape…teasing me I would never be nothing unless I was thin.
I would be pushed into lockers and soon this would be taken a step further when “Jane I”, “Jane II”, and “Jane III” would follow me a few blocks home from the bus….stepping on my baggy pants. I tried to hide my hefty frame so much in 7th grade…so freaking much. Then, they began stepping on the back of my shoes… I tried to ignore them. I tried to listen to everyone who said that, but I just couldn’t.
I walked faster and faster, but I could still hear their hateful taunts. There seemed no end in sight. That day I had enough. I had planned to kill myself that night. I felt like the biggest loser in the world and those girls were just representative of my internal struggle.
I do believe God intervened — I believe it with all that I have. He saved me from a BIC razor that night. I didn’t deserve it, but He saw something in me that would take nearly two decades for me to realize. Eventually, my mother took me down to the police station where I filed a report. The next day, I remember going into Mr. R’s office and seeing their faces.
I wanted to punch their faces.
Yeah, I wanted to sit my fat ass on their faces.
I wanted so many bad things to happen to them. No one that was in my life, at that moment, could understand how being tormented like that made me so disillusioned, but also hateful and angry. Eventually, those girls would be in high school, and I would have the safe haven of 8th grade to myself. I thought I would, anyways, but fellow peers kept up the torment.
As a freshmen, I was in an English class with “Jane II”. and things picked up where it left off when I was 7th grade. Adjectives being thrown out, my stutter was incredibly awful at the time. I was just a fat, four-eyed, stuttering loser. And no one, it felt like anyways, understood. Everyone just swept it under the rug and didn’t understand why I was withdrawing, becoming more and more introverted by the day.
I look back at the time as fundamental building blocks in creating this empowered woman that I am today. Yeah, being bullied sucked. It sucked hard. It sucked really, really hard, but without it, I think I would still be questioning my value. I would still would be silenced. Unfortunately, years of being verbally crucified manifested in other areas of my life. I was teased because I was chubby. I was chubby because I overate. I overate because I was teased.
It was such a vicious cycle. I went from one extreme to another during the summer of my junior year. After meeting a young man from Canton, Ohio on Yahoo! Chat (remember those days, guys!?!!?) I though I finally had found someone who understood the complexities of juvenile neanderthals and we set up a “date”….
The date lasted 15 minutes when he notified me “something came up” … and an email on Monday basically reaffirmed what I already knew; I was “too fat” for him.
I was “too fat” for friends.
I was “too fat” to be loved.
I was “too fat” for anything really.
I would externalize that pain by becoming a really awful person for over a decade and also I began starving myself. It all started well enough, you know, “Yeah, I’ll lose weight” but it thrusted itself into being a full-on eating disorder(s). In three or so months, I lost a significant amount of weight. I entered my senior year, looking thin. I looked f***king hot, actually, to anyone else, but I had killed my insides.
I was still crucifying myself everyday.
I was still worthless.
I still had no value.
I still was “too fat” for anyone and anything.
That year, I met Steven, my husband. He saved my life. I don’t care what anyone tells me, he saved my life. I was on a downwards trajectory that year. I was starving myself for five days, I would have two days where I binged and purged. Repeat. I was running 3-4 miles a day, 90 minutes of aerobics followed with 60 minutes of weights. I counted the smallest amount of calories. I binged in private. I even started purging until I threw up blood. I was on my way to dying — a few true friends knew, they tried intervening, but I didn’t care.
Steven saved my life.
Getting pregnant with Kenneth in March of my senior year SAVED my life.
Memories are funny, they start ripping your emotions apart like a cheese grater, but once you are sorting through them, you find this beautiful entity at the end.
Funny thing is, I’m nearly unrecognizable to what I was then – aesthetically, mentally, and emotionally and a few of my Facebook friends are people that tormented me. They don’t probably remember. That’s how bullies typically work….they are projecting their at-home situations, their insecurities, their anger, their bewilderment out on others to self-medicate.
But I remember and I’ve forgiven them a long time ago. Every now and then I see the names of “Jane II”, “Jane I”, and “Jane III”, float down my Facebook newsfeed. I would be the world’s biggest liar if I said there wasn’t a part of me that doesn’t get a wee bit angry.
But then I remind myself, I’m not that girl anymore.
I’m not a bullied bully anymore. Experiences change us. They mold us to be better versions of our former selves. That doesn’t just apply to me, but them as well.
If by the slightest chance, you attended AMS or AHS and are reading this, the name that I heard relentlessly. The name that you socially emblazoned me with was, “BEEF”.
“BEEF!!!! Watch out. Here comes BEEEEF.”
I WAS BEEF.
I AM BEEF.
I WILL BE BEEF.
But I will not be the ‘BEEF” that was silenced for I am an empowered and fearless “Beef” and “Beef” that has seen the depths of maliciousness in humanity, but also has seen the brilliance of it all.
I. Am. Beef.
I am Beef.
I am beef.
i am beef.
P.S. Never minimize a child who tells you about being bullied — their suffering is something that can not be calculated by the naked eye.