Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Think Out Loud [23] Archenemies, Middle School, and Surviving


Today I sat in the cafeteria of my son's new school on his first day of middle school. He chose the seat closest to the exit, slumped right down, and waited with a passive acknowledgement that this was his life. Chatty girls sat across us talking about makeup, which had me scanning their faces. I did not have any makeup on. Everyone seemed so small, but it was a room of just 6th graders. The 7th and 8th grade gargantuas and mini-models were in another room. I kept surveying the crowd then looking back at Will. I wanted to tell him I survived. I was on the lowest rung of the ladder. By 7th grade I even had an archenemy. She had a group of girls with her at all times and she was a big girl, second biggest in our class. I was the biggest. She was local. I was white, so she won there too. She cared, I was numb. I had gone numb after my accident in third grade. She could call me honky and haole and fat all she wanted and I ignored her because the insults barely registered. Who cared, honestly? I didn't. She tried topping herself to get a rise out of me, "Robyn, I think you're even fatter today," or "Robyn, what is that on your face?" Like that was new or hurtful. Try having the corner of your mouth stitched back together without the numbing shots because you stupidly begged the doctors to stop giving you shots. Three stitches without any anesthetic, so unbearable I still remember every second. 

Then one day I walked past her and I heard the familiar sound of teasing laughter. Something inside me snapped. I turned with pure fire in my veins. I opened my mouth to unleash a long stream of vile words because back then I had the very worst potty mouth, but I stopped in my tracks. They were laughing, but not at me. They were just having a fun moment, my nemeses included. My mind reeled. I had thought the worst about them and they were happy. That night I decided two things, I wanted my own fucking joy and I wanted to walk past laughing girls and not assume the worst. So I came up with a plan. My mom ran every morning. I would do that too. The next day I decided I was no runner, but I could walk. I'd need a radio headset to drown out the shouts and horns from passing drivers. Everyday after school and on the weekends I walked by myself. First a mile, but it was a terrible mile in tropical heat and a huge hill, but nothing compared to real pain and nothing compared to thinking those girls were making fun of me and discovering they were smiling real smiles. I worked up to 6 miles in an hour, most of it on soft sand. I was fast. I lost the weight and the numb shell. 

On the first day of my freshman year I decided my enemy was just a kid like me so not my enemy at all, especially when I discovered her older sister was the queen bitch of our high school who also planned to treat me like crap. I ran after her the second school let out. The buses lined the path in the oppressive heat and the cathedral stood tall in pure judgement. "Hey!" She ignored me. Of course. I finally caught up to her. "Hey, I know you." She tilted her pretty head. "I'm not taking your shit. I paid my dues. So have at it right now. Say it all." I watched as her ever-present sneer transformed into an amused smile. Her little sister showed up and she unleashed hell on my former enemy instead of me. I winced, but held my ground. Neither one was an issue ever again. 

I survived. Will is so amazing, he already has a firm grasp of pure joy. But if he loses sight, there is nothing like the hell of middle school to set you on the right path.

So this is obviously not your typical blogger meme. You can post anything you want. There's been anime love, youtube videos both hilarious and heartbreaking, jokes, long long stories (don't nod in my direction, there have been a couple long posts not written by me). Point is, Think Out Loud is total freedom in a meme. 

17 comments:

  1. Well, this may be a hard story but is a powerful one. You fought, you survived and that's what matters. In life we are going to be through difficult situations, but we must be strong and fight, like you did. :)

    I had never a problem in school. I wasn't among the popular ones. I didn't like them, but I wasn't be mocked either. They were living their lives and I lived mine and everyone was happy.

    That's another one amazing post, Robyn.
    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. School was such hell that I used to stare at the intercom and pray for my name to be called, some dentist or dr. appt my mom forgot to mention. And I felt that way by Kindergarten. I get positive reports from the boys about school. Their classmates see me there and possibly catch that I'll smile, but I'm no popular new buddy. I'm glad to hear you didn't get pulled down in school, Athina. I'm always glad to hear that. How is being home again? Back to writing?

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    2. I'm in my parents' house. I'll stay here for a while. I'm searching for a job. I write a little but in a slow pace. At least is something. Mostly though I rewrite Dazed since I want to finish with the seventh draft as soon as I can.

      How is the moving? THe feeling being in a new place is amazing, right?

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    3. There is a starting over feel to the move that's inspiring, but I'm still buried under a lot of boxes. I haven't worked out my writing space yet. I have always found it really hard to write and edit at the same time, but right now I'm sort of not doing anything but reading like mad. Soon, I promise myself. Happy editing (and writing)!!

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  2. This is a very inspiring story.

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    1. Your fable from the last Thing Out Loud went viral in my mom's office. They loved it! Thanks for stopping by, Carol.

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  3. Oh Robyn, I love gaining these insights into you. :) I wish I'd had your spunk in middle school and high school...actually even now. I think I'd probably still think the worst. You are an inspiration and I'm so glad you're my friend! :) And Will is a very lucky boy too!

    By the way, as I was reading this and you mentioned your scar I thought "I didn't even notice it when we met".

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    1. My scar is so faded now, I get maybe one or two questions about it a year as opposed to every day when I was younger when it was still fiery red.

      I think the main reason I haven't reviewed Fierce yet is because I know her world so well, minus the music, asshole crush, and bad mom. I just want to jump in her life and scare the crap out of a few people. I might not react instantly to surprise violence, but I'm a gladiator when it comes to bullying. I don't like people being mean.

      Thanks for the good words, Brandee. Are you enjoying the quiet of the household, or missing the noise?

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    2. I kinda think it's your inner glow that made it fade, Robyn! ;)

      You know, I think the reason Fierce resonated with me so much is because I can identify with so much of Jordi's life. (minus only the music) And I don't like mean people either. I have to deal with it so often at the kids' school, and try to help them deal with it as well. Sky kinda floats along above it all, but Berk is so social and she's really dealt with a lot of bullying. (ah, the joys of middle school) And Jax, his bullying comes from being 2 years younger than everyone else. I've been so proud of him so far this year because he's actually going out to have lunch with 2 boys rather than eating lunch with his teacher. :)

      They're off to a good year so far. I really do miss the noise though! LOL

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    3. Oh goodness, if only we had the music! Sky seemed like a processor kind of girl, watching and then processing, amused by all the drama and theatrics all around her. I remember Berkley's adorable smile at lunch when she told me she had Skittles in the car. I growled when I read she's been bullied. And how awesome about Jax going out to lunch. I bet that makes you smile in the giddy mom kind of way. John makes friends the second he meets kids. At the pool we swam at this summer there were these middle school aged kids there. On the first day, John is playing with them like he's their kid brother. Next day, he gets out of the car and they all shout, "John! You're back!" He's 4. My top wish for Will is to have friends.

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  4. Oh Robyn, we love you, yes we do! Be strong for your son and keep telling him he's great the way he is. At such a young age I still can't imagine how cruel kids can be and how people fall into such a pattern. I believe your son will gain all your strength and ignore all those crap thrown at him during this hard transition in a pre-teen's life. Way to go at telling it like it is.

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    1. Kids have such a vulnerable moral compass, but a little bit of faith in them and they soar. It's hard not telling Will he's so cool because his face lights up and I feel it all the way to my soul. He experienced bullying in 4th grade. I still wish I knew which students pushed him around, but the principal "dealt" with it. Maybe she saw my crazy eye. I think one simple three minute talk would have done the trick. Thanks for stopping by. I sure do enjoy your TOL posts!!

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  5. I wish I had stood up for myself like you stood up for yourself. Why couldn't you have gone to school with me? I was way too scared to stand up for myself, and I so wish I had. Once you stand up to them, they'll leave you alone. I was better at standing up for other people than myself.

    School is a battlefield, that's for sure. I had girls threatening to kick my ass, screaming "lesbian" at me out the window of their cars, telling me they were gonna get me after school, etc. God knows what else they said - I've probably blocked it out. So what if I had been a lesbian? Who cares?? I don't get why certain people are preyed upon. In my case, I'm guessing it was because I was seen as an easy target. I wouldn't stand up for myself, and they knew it.

    Now my sister on the other hand, was so not intimidated by anyone. Some girl was picking on one of my sister's friends, and that girl shoved my sister's friend when she walked by one day. So my sister hunted her down and slammed her into a locker. My sister got in trouble, and our Dad had to go to school and pick her up, lol. But I think it was so worth it. And in junior high my sister kicked a girl in the back of her head when she made fun of my sister because our mom had died.

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    1. I think the way you handle something is the exact way you're supposed to. In elementary and middle school I sure didn't say anything unless someone else was being bullied. And later there were times I was too shell shocked or plain terrified to be a fighter. I understand wishing you could have done something different. I would not want to be an idiot bully around your sister. I have a sister like that. I was a forward on my basketball team, but my dad taught me like I was playing tackle football...I got hit a lot in other words and my little sis would yell from the stands, "That's my sister! Get away from her!" You're so right, what difference would it make if you were gay or not? Well, ha ha ha stupid bullies because we're pretty cool people.

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    2. We are totally cool people. :)

      I don't know. I kind of wish one of those girls had punched me so I could've punched her right back. I told Janie if someone hits her on purpose to defend herself, suspension or no. I'd rather she be suspended for defending herself and letting bullies know she's not going to take it lying down.

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  6. This is painful to read, but I'm very glad you shared your story. It's astonishing to think back at the things that happened when we were in school. Many of these behaviors are crimes when committed by adults, but too many people just shrug it off when they're committed by kids. It's hard to understand the rationale.

    I had a somewhat unique childhood experience in that up until the age of 12, I was a terrible bully. (I could list the reasons why, but it doesn't really matter.) And then at 12, we moved to a new town, and then I became a victim of bullying. Decades later, both experiences are so painful to think about. I worry about the kids I bullied, and I fear that I impacted them for life, just as the later bullying I suffered permanently scarred me.

    I hope that kids today going through the experience understand that it DOES get better. Thanks for sharing, Robyn.

    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

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    1. I'm so glad you shared that too! I hold no grudges against the kids who were cruel to me. I volunteered at the juvie jail here when I was in college as a math tutor and one thing I still can't forget was the guard telling me that every single kid cries his first night. No matter how tough or how bad, we're all made of the same stuff that sometimes makes us bawl like a baby. I can't imagine what a shock that must have been to switch schools. You were probably already going through stuff. It's certainly neat knowing you now.

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