The rules of reading....no leaving comments of, wow I am sorry this happened to you. No feeling sad for me. None of that. No judging my parents they were trying to do the best with what they had at the time and although it was not enough it was what they had to give....I love them, I have relationship with them. This is all good for the most part and I really feel called to share this because of the outcome....the outcome of me I suppose in some ways.
Parts of this I realize are a bit graphic....I not sorry I would say but I realize it may be hard to read.
It started a long time ago. 2nd grade. The same age as my Grace. 7. After a traumatic 2 years of living with my Dad, my Mom came back into the picture and we returned to living with her and her new husband (my DAD now but not at the time). This meant a school change again (this would be school #3). At this age I could not relate to my peers at all and they knew it. At my previous school I would hide in the bathroom at lunch or do dishes for the lunch ladies in trade for hot lunch, to avoid my peers. This is a quick way to separate yourself as the weird kid from the get go by the way...not the way to fit or blend in. In my home life I was regularly caring for my sister on my own into the wee hours of the morning, cooking meals on the stove and generally trying not to be noticed at home as well, and I thought it was all normal, I never told anyone or talked to anyone about it because at 5,6,and 7 you figure if your parents are taking care of you in a certain way its all legit right. So at the end 2nd grade I went to live with my Mom again...we had a long way to go in the line of trust. I had pretty much been on my own at this point for two years with little or no contact with my mom and a Mom seemed irrelevant....something that still makes me sad. I had shut her out and everyone else that could care for me because at times they had failed me so bad I had taught myself to not care or let things bug me, I had been stuffing my feelings for some time and that was that.
Well the new school was no different I had no idea how to make friends so I sat right outside our classroom door during recess, and ate my lunch at the end of the lunch table alone...this was my doing still. Kids my age freaked me out. It didn't take long for the new school to start to figure me out, the new kids started to pick at me(I had made myself an easy target) and I told no one...not once I never tattled once. The first thing that happened was a girl in my class got lice...I still remember her perfectly she had the greatest blonde perm with permed bangs even, oh man I thought she was so pretty:). Well when she got back to school from her absence she was embarrassed and told everyone that I had stolen her hat and worn it and subsequently gave her lice. Well I never had lice but whatever the damage had been done and I was now the lice girl. This lasted the rest of my 2nd grade year. If I wore a striped shirt I was pirate girl, If I wore my handmade clothes my Grandmother slaved over I was baby girl and if I cried I was just a cry baby. It was bad and I am still so mad that I didn't feel like I could tell anyone.
Third grade came and I was terrified to go to school so I lied and told everyone that I was going to go back to living with my Dad. It was a big lie I had made up a date and everything....my Dad had also told me a lie and said I could come back and live with his at anytime. Well as it goes I informed him I told my class I was moving and he could help me pack my things and I would move back in. He said no. My mom was ticked that I didn't want to live with her. And so at school I stayed and now I had lied, some kids made up stories about me being a lier others would tell me I was so awful my dad probably didn't want me.....I believed them. This was the year things got bad. Physical bad. One girl told me if I looked at her when I got on the bus ever she would chop my head off. And at recess they would punch me in the stomach drag me to the tire stacks throw me in and not let me out, every recess to no avail. Again I told no one. And so I allowed them to do this. I would sit in the bottom of the tires and wonder why I was so bad...
Fourth grade was no different I begged my mom to not let me go to school. She never asked why and so I never told her. My teacher caught on quickly to the shenanigans of these girls and would let me read in the classroom at lunch. This helped for a while but she was diagnosed with breast cancer and one day just didn't come back to school...she died. This was the year they started attacking me verbally with comments about my face. I had a ruptured vein under my nose that they called a zit...so now I was zit face. I had a mole that they called a growth and they would literally point and laugh and call me names and the teacher did nothing and so I told no one it bothered me. School was like doing time.
Fifth grade I had the greatest teacher. He was the teacher that taught me to write. I loved to write the first moment I tried, I could write for hours and he would let me. I never had to go to recess and I never had to go to lunch. I would write and write and write it was heaven. It was a sweet release and a sweet relief. This would be the year I became a "woman" and there was no trash can in the stall so I would have to wrap my products and throw them in the trash can. So my secret didn't stay a secret for long....to some I was a goddess:) to others I was a slut (thats what they called me) apparently when you become a "woman" it meant you have had sex and so that spread pretty fast. But I could still escape and write...I also was found to be kind by my teachers and in the subjects I was ahead in they would let me help in special ed. I loved those kids...one of the boys name was Eric. Nicest kid...I still see him in public and he will walk up to me and give me a hug and I thank God that I had those friendships at that time. That time was awesome and so good for me. I could love them and they loved me.
Now onto junior high and it was much the same but I had writing. I journaled and wrote poetry. I even submitted some of it in some contests and won prizes these were personal victories. I ignored the riff raff stayed our of there way and we avoided each other for a good year. Sixth grade was particularly uneventful.
Over the summer a new family had moved into the housing development on the golf course next to our house and I met their kids while searching for golf balls to sell one day. They were awesome. The girls name was Melissa and she was two years older than me...but she had no friends and had not been tainted by anyone else's opinion this is the part of the story where I tell you we was like peas and carrots. Her brother was in my grade and had a crush on me...I'm not making this part up it was for real, I run into his parents every now and again and they remind me...it was good for me.
Seventh grade was okay. I did much of the same....avoidance was key. That worked and if I could keep my nose in a book during the bus ride and tune them all out out I could manage.
The summer after seventh grade my parents started entering me in pageants I did well and it was fun. My parents thought it would be good for my self confidence and they were right. I met some other girls. Felt good about me. I mean it seemed like a good idea.
You can imagine how this news went over at the beginning of 8th grade. My school had gotten wind and my teacher asked me to talk about my pageant experience in class. This is not the time in a girls life to set them apart in my opinion. I needed to blend... disappearing would have been fine:) Well the bullying started pretty quickly again after that and those same girls had gotten bigger and meaner and it was bad, real bad. If I sat in the front of class they would throw gum in my hair, when I walked down the hallway they would throw food at me. They would draw rude pictures of me and hang them in and on my locker. One girl started a rumor that I had an eating disorder, it got ugly, they would leave rotten food in my locker and write eat on the bag. Until one day a girl invited me over to her house, I was excited my parents loved the idea and let me go. Well it was a ploy turns out,there was a plan, other girls were waiting at her house when I got there and they ended up shoving me in her garage and turned the lights off. i was in there for some time...screaming and yelling. Her parents were at work. And once they locked me in they all left. Her brother finally ended up coming home and let me out. I ran so fast out of that house. Knocked on the door of another girl from schools house and asked her mom to use the phone. This would be the first time I told my mom about all that had happened that year. This would be the first time I asked for help. And my mom delivered almost on a white horse even:) What did my mom do you ask? Well what any rational mother would do...she drove right over to that girls house knocked on the door and tore her a new one. This did not make matters any better, but I can't say I wouldn't have wanted to do the same thing.
Two weeks later my mom switched me to Lynden and I tried to make friends I mostly made friends with boys but that is another story for another day.
Why am I telling you this tonight? Tonight I went to soccer. And wouldn't you know it one of those lovely ladies from so long ago was on the other team and we were matched up for the entirety of the game. She put her hands on me and pushed me and I have to ashamedly tell you I have never wanted to hit someone so badly ever. It was hard to look at her....she played physical like that all night and its hard for me to think she wasn't doing it on purpose. I attempted to pray for peace and forgiveness but my self control was lacking and my ability to forgive was lost. And after the game I was so emotionally jarred I cried the whole way home. I was not just pissed(sorry for the language) because of her and what she had done. I was pissed that I never told on them, that I felt like I had no advocate, that I had no safety or protection....and that I still let it bother me some 20 years later. And the truth is I am sure that girl doesn't think about it at all.
So here is the straight and narrow on the thing. My sophomore year I met a boy a good boy and part of our relationship included church and I gave my life to Jesus that year. And that year after some more backpedaling I started to heal, I started to realize that there was a God in heaven that loved me and made me on purpose. This was relief for me. The greatest realization ever!
These are the good things that have coem out of some of this. In the last few years after much therapy and trial I have learned to speak up for my self somewhat effectively. I believe this situation helped me be that much better of a mom. I am always telling my kids they can talk to me about anything and they do. They have both used me as an advocate in a healthy way. They know how to problem solve, how to advocate for themselves and then come get me if needed. I am proud that I haven't turned them into tattletales, they know when to pull me in and I know when to make them duke it out.
I want you to be aware that bullying is real and your kids may not always come tell you. Be aware, Be Aware. Never stop talking to them. Never think they don't need you to care. They will need you as long as you are on God's green earth.
Please teach your children the effects of bullying. I was ashamed that it still bothered me this evening and I had nothing to be ashamed of. I talk to my kids often about be inclusive, about loving others and mostly just about being kind. Kindness goes a long way.
Teach them that it is okay to say no. That it is okay to stand up for themselves.
Don't just think you have good kids and they go to good schools.....this is real and can happen anywhere. I have met countless others that went through the same things as I did in better schools with "regular" home lives.
And as for me. This experience in general and even the experience this evening was in its own way so good for me. I am so blessed in so many ways. And GOd has used these unfortunate circumstances to form me into someone I may never have become. I am proud of who I am and not ashamed.....I have a voice and I can use it for good. I am not my own I belong to something someone so much bigger and I will continue to allow him to use me for good:)
My name is Jessica Jager and I believe God prompted me to write this...so I did:)