Bullying: A personal history

As I sat in my room for hours after a heated discussion at a local school board meeting, I kept thinking to myself, “I have so much to say on this subject, to this school, to these students.”

I wondered how this grey cloud that was cast over my tiny little town would break and came to the realization that this cloud has been hovering over this place for decades.

Grabbing my anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications before bed, I looked at the pill bottles and thought of all of the names of all of the bullies that hurt me in my life. And those bullies didn’t just come from my school. They came from my daycare provider, they came from my church, they came from school, they came from home.

I thought of all the tears I’d cried over the names given to me that I didn’t choose. Fat pig. Disgusting cow. Bearded lady. Failure. Poser. Piece of shit. Queer. Bitch. Ugly….

I thought of the boys who cornered me at a local show and spit in my face, and kicked me and called me white trash. I thought of the girl who spit in my hair, in my face, in my hands. I thought of how she pursued me online, back in the MSN messenger days. Once I blocked her, she sent another friend with another account after me. People I didn’t even know. And they began with the names. I finally stopped using the thing all together for fear they would find me. And it didn’t stop there.

When I was 15, I went with my friend to the mall. We were stopped outside of a Hollister store so I could tie my shoe. My friend went into the store because she could actually fit into (and afford) the clothes. As I waited outside, a large cluster of teenagers came into view at the end of the shopping center. As the group grew louder and came into view, the voices and faces looked and sounded familiar.

My soft pretzel I’d just eaten lurched into my throat as I sprinted into the store to grab my friend to get the hell out of there.

It was too late.

They never touched me that day, but they embarrassed every ounce of blood in my body to a boiling point. While my friend and I booked it down the length of the mall, the murder of bullying crows cawed behind us, saying my name (first and last) at the top of their lungs with slurs of names behind it. “Katie Mullaly is a fat sow!” “Katie Mullaly can’t get a dude hard even if it was her own dad!” “Katie Mullaly is a slut!” “Katie Mullaly is a dumb, fat, bitch that no one cares about!” What’s worse? My friend that I was with laughed and giggled along with the group because she noticed one of the boys she was crazy for at the time was a part of the herd.

I remember every fucking second of it. And it still burns in my chest; that embarrassment, that anxiety, that incurable desire to want to off myself and bleed out on the floor of that mall just so they would shut up.

Just last year, a very old classmate of mine showed up at my house around Christmas. She and I used to be best friends in high school and junior high. We had a falling out over boys…fucking boys…when I was 15. She admitted that she was the one to send her group of cronies after me. Including the guys at the rock show. Including the girl who harassed me over the internet. And once they realized how terrified of them I was…they didn’t stop.

I was bullied by many people in my life. Those words took the greatest toll because, for some reason, I believed those people and I believed the words they said to me about me. I can’t even fathom what people say about me when I’m not around.

One giant fact remains: I told one of my teachers that I trusted. I told her everything about what was going on with these kids. But these kids were smarter than me, they were more charming than me, and thus, they were actually favorites of the teacher that I told. And when I told that teacher the names of the people bullying me? She tossed me aside, dismissing my claims because the girl I experienced and the girl she experienced couldn’t possibly be the same girl. The girl she knew was smart and funny and witty and sarcastic.

And I gave up.

I gave up and I shut up and I started all over with a new group of friends. It wasn’t easy. It came with its own struggles. But one thing is for sure…I can’t stand the names Corinna, or Colby, or Cale, or Christian, or Jordan.

I thought of the kid that I grew up with who sexually abused me for YEAARRRSS, and when I finally decided to tell my friends because I was terrified something bad would happen to one of them because she feigned interest in him? They didn’t believe me either, because that’s not what he would do. That’s just not who he is. Was I sure? I was fucking sure. Everyone carries a darkness with them. Some are just more careful about letting it escape than others.

And as those medicines I took earlier in the evening sat at the bottom of my stomach, I realized that those words, those actions, will forever haunt me, like a VCR tape stuck on rewind and play; rewind and play; rewind and play.

When I posted something to Facebook this past year about our art program being downsized, I got a call from the school’s current superintendent. And he chewed me out for saying how I felt. And that same burning, acidic take over in my chest rose up my throat. As that man barked at me over the phone, my bullies came to mind. And I now realize, even a superintendent can be a bully.

 

More on this tomorrow. Because I’ve been triggered so deeply by this topic, I know I’ll have more to say in the morning.

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When life hands you lemons, you start comparing lemons to breasts.

I heard a joke at Oswald’s last night:

There was a family sitting around the dinner table. A dad, a son, a mom and a daughter. The father, talking to his young and maturing son, asked him if he knew how many types of boobs there were in the world. His son responded with a shrug and a curious eye toward his father. His father’s reply was three.

“There are the melons: they’re full and juicy and have so much goodness to them. There are also pears, which kind of droop but still have some good meat to them, and then there are the onions that are shriveled and ugly and make you cry.”

The mother, overhearing her father’s poor choice in life lessons, in response, asks her daughter if she knows how many types of dicks there are in the world. Again, her response was three.

“There is the oak: strong, long and is sturdy enough to provide for many years. Then there is the birch, which is still strong but not as much and has a tendency to wither. And of course, there’s the Christmas trees. They’re good for about three weeks then they dry up and the balls are only for show.”

 

You hear a lot of dirty jokes when you date. Apparently, it’s a good ice breaker, but I’m really getting sick of them. The jokes and the dates….and the dates who are total jokes.

It’s been six months of dating…give or take. And already, I’m looking into getting my tubes tied and my uterus removed and my tits chopped off. I am absolutely disgusted with the male population.

Not one. NOT ONE man that I have dated in the last six months has even been remotely interested in who I am as a person but is rather more interested in my lady bits and chest baubles. Are you fucking kidding me? Pardon my french, which…by the way? Totally not a come-on to making out! Seriously, everything that I’ve said or thing that I’ve dressed in or ordered off of a menu has been taken by my date in a sexual manner. I’m so frustrated. I’m so discouraged. I’m so confused when it comes to why dudes even try? Is that all they want? To breed? Is that REALLY all the capacity of their minds is limited to? No….no. I shouldn’t say that. Men are so much more than that…there’s also money and the different types of games and contests in which they can flaunt their talents to other males to show who is better.

WHY HAVE MEN NOT EVOLVED?!?!

All I want is someone to care. Someone to listen. Someone to notice that I’m frustrated or tearing up and ask me what’s wrong, or what they can do to make it better. I want someone to understand me, and as I’ve feared before, perhaps, maybe I’m just not meant to be understood.

In other news, I’m strongly considering going back to school. For what? I’m not quite sure of yet. I’ve meddled with the idea of children’s literature, teaching, children’s psychology…but I do think I want to emphasize more of my time and learning on children or teenagers. How I get that to come to fruition, or how I am able to afford it will be a different story. Perhaps I’ll just get the books some of those classes recommend and work through those myself.

I just don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I don’t have a goal, I don’t feel like I have much purpose…I can’t see the future; and at some level, you have to be able to see what’s ahead of you, so you have something to work towards. I just feel so lost and so jaded and so bent. Ruptured. Useless. No matter what I put my mind to, my mind doesn’t care.

This is a new kind of depression. This is a new kind of numbness. It’s almost blind depression where the body is doing what it should be doing (working, sleeping, eating, whatever…) and the mind just sits in a grey mist in my mind. (This could totally be Seasonal Affective Depression talking.)

It was only two weeks ago I was in California having the time of my life…and it already feels like it was years and years ago. I’d never felt so happy. There was nobody there that I knew, so no one had preconceived notions about who I was or what I stood for; no one gave a shit about my existence. Let me tell you, that feeling of knowing you exist and you don’t all at the same time is kind of beautiful. But again, only good for so long. I want to exist to someone.

And if I can’t? Then I’ll just make my own existence that much better. I will not be waiting around for Mr. Right or Mr. Possibly or Mr. Thatwasfun. I’m going to start living my life for me.

I want to get out of this shitty little town. I want to have a job or a career path that makes me feel like I’m doing something worth a damn and not just pushing around the small town gossip with a pre-approved broom. And? I want to fucking have fun. I feel sooooo, so, so, so imprisoned here– like everyone is watching me. And they are. My parents are, my bosses are, the people who read my Facebook are. I don’t want people to even notice me let alone watch my every move!

I’m being choked out, like when you put your hand over a candle jar and you watch the smoke fill up and the flame flicker out. I’m flickering out. I don’t know what I’m doing. I just need something to happen to get my motivation going again…

A new day, a new perspective

Yesterday was rough.

I found that one of the boys that I really, really liked, whom I’ve met and known for quite a long while became “Facebook official” with another gal. I’ll admit, it stung. I felt (and still feel) our connection was pretty solid, but I think what it really comes down to is distance. He’s in Wisconsin, I’m in Minnesota, and we only got to see each other three times in the two years we’ve hung out.

Usually, I’d be more upset. I’d be devastated. But I really do care about this guy, so I really hope he finds happiness with this lady. And I told him that. I also told him that I’ll always be there for him in whatever way I can be. Because that’s what friends do. Friends or companions or whatever the fuck you want to call what we have/had. I wish him only the best as he truly deserves the best.

That being said, it means I start back at square one (as mentioned yesterday in my moody post about giving up on dating.) I’m sure this subject will be brought up in my next therapy session, and a lot of feelings of worthlessness and shitty self-esteem will come oozing out. It’s pretty much a guarantee at this point. Which really makes me reflect on the last four months, since everything happened. And that’s the date that I’ll probably use for quite some time, considering it was a rebirth of sorts, for me.

So, upon reflection, I feel like I’ve been on somewhat unstable ground, emotionally. And from what Dr. B says, that’s okay. I’m healing. She’s brilliant and I love my therapist so much. This past week, I told her that I’ve felt really guilty about not hanging out with friends and not doing too much extra socially, and she said something that I hope I never forget. She said: if you had a gaping wound and your friends asked you to come hang out, would you go out? Answer: no. You’d give yourself the rest you need to feel better to go hang out. And that’s what I need to do. She also asked me why I was putting my friends’ happiness before my own.

Whoa.

That’s what I’ve been doing almost my entire life! I’ve been putting other people’s happiness before my own. I’m a people pleaser and I feel like I always have been. And where does it get me? It gets me shoved around from job to job, getting taken advantage of by men, and by coworkers and non-profit groups and pretty much anybody I give a moment to listen to. Friends. Parents. Everybody – they’ve all been put before my own happiness. And the crazy thing is? When she asked that question, I wondered what my own happiness even was. Have I ever put my own happiness first? Have I ever allowed myself the time and space I need to feel good about myself? To feel safe? To feel WORTH anything? (Insert Aughra voice from “The Dark Crystal”) Don’t know. (stretches down to her haunches on the floor with a loud grunt) Don’t know.

So here’s my next question: what do I do now? Now that I’m on this path to my OWN happiness? I don’t know where to go…and I don’t mean physically go, I mean mentally and emotionally go. I don’t think I know how to put my emotional needs before someone else. This is new to me. Yeah, sure I’ve taken time for myself and whatever, but I haven’t put it as the first thing on my list, ya know? I feel like there’s a difference between treating myself to a shopping venture and really delving into allowing myself permission to say no and to do what I want to do. It’s a complete and utter “fork in the road” scenario. And I don’t know what road will take me where. I’m so lost. And now, I know for sure, that I’m alone in this. So there’s some pressure in my thinking that says, “no matter where you go, it’s on you – even the mistakes.” Yikes. But mistakes help us learn, or so they say.

This would be the part in my Pocahontas movie where the wind brings all of those pretty leaves and tells me exactly where to go because good ol’ Mother Willow is on my side, but real life isn’t Disney, kids. So, it’s trial and error from here on out for a while. A time for change – a time for learning – a time to truly take time to reflect on my truths that I’ve experienced and find what makes ME happy. Not someone else.

My goals for today: kick ass at work, go home and get my laundry and cleaning done, enjoy the evening to the extent that I can, which may include reading/writing/potentially going for a walk. Tomorrow, I’m going to take AMAZING photos for work at Saturday’s event, go to the play to support my little mentee and hang out with my friend Dom, and then ALLOW MYSELF SOME FREEDOM. Whatever that may be.

I’ve got this. I’ve got this. I’ve got this. I’ve got this. (I’m hoping the more times I type it, the more I’ll believe it – much like Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Shining”– I’ve got this.

(Insert another “Dark Crystal” reference when Gen finds out he has to go on this huge journey without the help of his master:) “Dear, dear Master. I’ll find the shard. I’m not ready to go alone…Alright, alone then.”

I think I’m throwing in the dating towel…

I think I’m gonna quit the whole dating thing…maybe become a nun, perhaps a nomad, but really, it’s looking more and more like I’ll be the crazy cat lady who collects books and cats and becomes a hoarder and their neighbor finds them in their house dead simply because they weren’t getting their mail from the mailbox.

I’ve tried long-distance, short-distance, long-term, short-term, casual…you name the type of date and I’ve tried it.

I’m starting to think it’s me. And if it is me, what about me is unappealing to others? Yuck. I don’t even want to go there. Right now, I’m just trying to keep from crying at my desk at work.

It’s just not fair.

I really liked this one.

INDEPENDENCE Day. See my emphasis on Independence? Yeah. YEAH.

While I’m usually pretty proud and patriotic on July 4th, (and Flag Day, and Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day) I can’t help but feel a disconnect this year.
I’m not so proud of America and the steps its taken in the last six months or so. I feel like we’re more divided than ever. More willing to help ourselves than to help our neighbor. More willing to protect our rights to have guns than to protect our children in our neighborhoods from hunger and unsafe homes.
I feel like every opportunity we’ve been given to show compassion and understanding towards one another, we have been choosing the opposite.
Some of you may say, “that doesn’t apply to me, I’m not like that,” or “I’m staying out of this since I am not directly impacted by this specific issue.” We are all impacted in some way or another.
But more importantly, I feel like we are losing the meaning of Independence Day, which is the actual name of the holiday we celebrate which happens to land on the fourth of July.
Sure you get a day off of work. Sure you get to drink beer and watch parades and do some barbecuing and blow up fireworks with your friends and family. Some have associated this bit of comradery with the true purpose of this holiday.
And I’m sorry, but you are wrong. The fourth of July is not about fireworks and beer and ‘Merica. It’s much deeper than that, and I hope you, dear American, realize this.
Independence Day was the day we adopted the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain and its Empire back in 1776 (do the math, that’s 241 years ago. Two-hundred-and-fourty-one-years-ago!!)
A bunch of old white dudes, 56 of them to be exact, some of who you know by name but a majority I’m sure you may not know, came together and said they were declaring that the thirteen original American colonies were regarding themselves as a new nation. A new nation with the title of the “United States of America.”
Some of you may recall the Declaration of Independence from your history classes. Some of you may not. For those of you who may need a refresher, I’ll summarize for you.
The Declaration of Independence states that when any form of government becomes destructive to the rights of man, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and to institute new Government.
And I am in complete agreement with our Founding Fathers.
They go on to specify what the King of England has done to suppress the progress made in the thirteen colonies and request…nay, demand independence.
That takes a lot of bravery, know-how, and…for lack of a better term, cohones to stand up to the King. And the king didn’t like it, either!
The declaration says, “We have reminded them (England) of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.”
It’s basically saying they knew what was at stake, but thought the King was wrong and were going to seek independence from him and his “tyrannous” ideals. Even if it meant saying goodbye to their family and friends in England. Even if it meant war. Our founding fathers could not fathom another minute under the king’s rule.
So they sought independence. And gained it.
And here we are.
But I have to admit, some of the portions of the declaration when describing the king of England sounds…familiar, and I’ll just leave it at that.
I guess my long-winded point is this: I think it is important to realize that our 241-year-old declaration may need to be reassessed. Maybe our whole government needs to be reassessed. All I can see, at this point, is poverty, civil unrest, and plenty of criminals getting away with too much and too many innocent civilians dying at the hands of their protectors.
Something needs to give.
We are the land of the free and the home of the brave. Not the land of the oppressed and the home of the bullied-into-silence.

American Sentences

American sentences are 17-syllable, one-sentence poems created, originally, by Allen Ginsberg.

This project is WAY harder than I thought it would be.

 

The air climbs into the windows and cascades over the sheets into calm.

Everything hollow and empty seems to fill my chest, unless you are close.

Rustled and tangled, singing; leaves seem to sing the greatest songs in autumn.

If you wanted to know what happened, you should’ve asked thirteen years ago.

Half full or half empty, my morning cup of coffee gets cold too fast.

In the darkness is where I seem to admire your blossoming words most.

I let my skin crawl with the itch of your last touch until I can’t take it.

When Earth hurls injustice at us, it is our job to be just and keep peace.

Caged Freedom

I was driving through the country roads last night, looking for the farmhouse that was host to our county’s rural dairy farm social (it’s a big deal around here). I drove 50 miles per hour, instead of the regular 55. I wanted to take everything in as much as I could as I wound through gravel roads I’d never been on before. The wetlands and long stretches of acreage blooming with, now, hefty corn plants and baby soy beans seemed so routine, but at the same time, all brand new. I saw herons fly over the marshy wooded groves along the gravel roads, birds of so many colors sprinting across the sky, catching the plethora of insects also flying just as high.
And for a moment? It felt like I was just as free.
Only
A moment.
See, when you’ve been through trauma, your brain and body don’t let you forget that trauma happened. It doesn’t matter how much you’re enjoying your surroundings, trauma comes in and says, “Hey, remember what he did to you? Remember how long you struggled? Remember the smell of his breath and the names he called you? Do you still feel the weight in your chest of what he took from you?” And right when you’re admiring the birds for their freedom, you feel so caged. So far from freedom when its staring you in the face.
But there’s safety in that imprisonment. I know no one can get in and hurt me like I was hurt before. I’m safe in the cage, even though it is a cage.
And that’s how I’ve been surviving the last 2-3 months. Admiring from the outside, but a prisoner of my past. I have the key to unlock my own cage. But I won’t be using it until I’m ready. Until I feel safer outside of my cage.