It was 6th grade. I went to Catholic school so we wore uniforms but free dress was like twice a month or on special occasions. Everything was ok in the beginning and I got along with everyone. I was the new kid in a school of kids that had been together since kindergarten. Also, the school was 95% African American kids, about 4% Latino kids and then a few white kids here and there. And I was the only one on my entire class.
Out of nowhere, one of the popular leaders of the group of my classmates decided she didn’t like me. To this day, I have no idea why… It was something really stupid I’m sure, but looking back, I don’t even remember. This particular girl who we will call Shantelle single handedly turned everyone in the 6th grade against me. Even most of the boys. She turned a lot of the 8th graders against me too. The only 2 people who didn’t mind being around me were 2 very quiet girls that no one paid much attention to.
Every day when the recess or lunch bell rang, the 3 of us would walk to the bathroom and spend our whole recess in their hiding out. I even ate my lunch in the bathroom daily. During class, I had stuff thrown at me, things said out loud about me and even anonymous notes threatening to “kick my ass” after school.
My daily routine consisted of waking up early to stick my fingers down my throat to make myself vomit, or running a thermometer under hot water to convince my mom and dad that I was too sick to go to school. Had I been smarter, I would’ve looked at the thermometer before I handed it to my mom and it said my temp was like 105 or some crazy shit like that.
I cried. Constantly. Why was this happening to me? I didn’t understand… my mom told me these girls were jealous of me. I feel like that’s a canned response, whenever girls are mean to other girls, that parents use out of obligation.
I went to my teacher. I went to the principal. I told everyone that this was happening to me. The principal told my parents that they don’t allow that kind of behavior in the school and that they would keep their eyes open. Did I mention that most of this happened in front of teachers, who would turn a blind eye… as if they too were afraid of these kids.
No one could seem to do anything to help me. Talks with these kids parents ended up with the parents saying “Our son/daughter would NEVER treat anyone this way, would you?” (Offender shakes head no…)
This went on for almost the entire school year. I was depressed and miserable and I hated my life. I just wanted to be taken out of that school. Or else I wanted an adult to acknowledge and take care of what was happening to me.
Finally one day, standing in line for normal morning salute, one of the main ring leader of the mean girls who was standing behind me whispered to me that if I were to kiss several boys in our class, they would accept me back into their circle. She handed me a list. It had 8 names on it. And it was all of the boys that everyone thought were “weird”. Without even thinking twice, I made my way around the list of boys, awkwardly kissing each one on the cheek. I would’ve layed on top of a bed of hot coal to make all of this stop.
That day, it ended. I was one again their “friend”.
32 years later, I still don’t know why no one protected me. Why my parents didn’t seem to care. Why the teachers didn’t seem to care… I think that was my first taste of not being able to trust family or authority figures to keep me safe.
Ironically, most of these people have tried to connect with me via social media in the last 10 years. They want to be friends and talk about life and catch up and see how I’m doing and ask about my kids…. I’m sorry. But do you not remember that you made a HUGE part of my life a living hell?! You don’t get to know about my life OR my kids or ANYTHING. This is one of those parts of my life I would love to just forget about and leave behind, but for some reason I always go back to it when I try to think about why I’m so fucked up emotionally and mentally.