I was a smiley and happy girl before I started school.
I hated school when I was young. My body was made to be constantly in motion. Sitting still and paying attention to the teacher was difficult.
School was overwhelming. It was the first place I experienced sensory overload, and I had a hard time understanding my teachers in a classroom environment. The florescent lights gave me “headaches” and I had a hard time focusing because of all the “background noise”.
In first grade the other kids were learning how to read, but I taught myself to read at an early age. The teacher wanted me to sit still, not distracting the class, but I had other ideas. I wanted to crawl around on the floor, hide under my desk, and spin in circles.
My teachers were not amused by my behavior and suggested my mother have me evaluated for ADHD. At the time ADHD was the general diagnosis for disruptive children and Ritalin was being passed out like candy. Teachers liked active kids being doped up because it made their jobs easier, but nobody seemed to question if these drugs would have harmful long term effects on the children.
My mother refused to have me evaluated. She was angry when my teachers suggested that I was unintelligent. I was a bright child and my mother knew me better than my teachers did. Unfortunately there was no convincing me to apply myself to the “trivial” things that my teachers wanted me to learn.
The other kids were horrible to me. I was picked on constantly, verbally abused and physically beat up regularly. When my mother would ask how my day was I never mentioned the bullies. I took my beatings as they came.
The other kids told me I was “creepy” and called me a “witch”. When Practical Magic came out in 1998 the kids started to use the chant “Witch witch you’re a bitch!” any time teachers were out of earshot.
Things didn’t get any better in middle school. I spent most of my childhood wishing to be an adult, just trying to get through being a kid. I HATED my childhood. I wanted to be an adult, because adults treated each other better.
I remember my first ride home on the school bus in sixth grade. In elementary school bus seats had been assigned, but the bus driver let me know that I could sit wherever I wanted. I was one of the fist kids to board the bus in the afternoon, so I chose the very last seat.
A boy tapped me on the shoulder and I took my headphones off. He let me know that I “was in his seat”. I smiled politely and let him know that we did not have assigned seats this year. Before I knew it his fist was in my stomach. It felt if he had punched all the way through my gut into my spine. Nobody said or did anything to help me.
I sat in the seat directly behind the bus driver for the rest of the year on days I had to ride the bus.
The warm happy girl who had started school only a few years earlier had almost completely vanished. I was in a dark place, every peer I met became a potential threat and I was learning not to trust anyone.
In high school I became a better “actor” and learned to mimic the people who were not getting picked on. Things got better, but I had become a very shallow and fake person. I had backstabbing and untrustworthy “friends” and became just like the people that I spent time with.
The bullying had stopped, but I had become a shadow of my true self.
Years later I am still cleaning up the damage done by my childhood, rediscovering my true nature, and getting back to being that warm and happy girl that I was meant to be.