As for most us us, one of the most difficult times of our lives is that wonderful (insert sarcasm here) stage where we turn 13. My high school years were fine – it was this middle-school stage that was hard. Mix up some changing hormones, ideas, and throw in a life changing experience – and there you have a recipe for pain. Yes, it was a hugely emotional, painful time for me, with no choice but to move through it.
This was the big move from the small town of Deep River, Ontario to Oshawa, the winter of my 13th birthday. Deep River was incorporated as a town in 1950, and in the 80’s had a population between 4000-5000 people. About the size of some high schools in Oshawa — so you can imagine the culture shock! I never blamed my parents for this move, as they explained and I understood, that the Rolphton Nuclear Station would not stay open long enough for my dad to retire. So we had to move, and Dad started working at Darlington. It was tough. It was tough on my mother too, as well as my younger brother who is 21 months younger than I.
I was excited about this move — small town to a big city! I would meet new people, make new friends, have more places to see. I would miss our beach house on the Ottawa River, but I was ready for the city. Or so I thought. My first day – actually, before noon – the bullying started. Started by a girl who I actually thought was a guy. I came back from the girls room only to see written on my desk, “oh my god – see what Shari is wearing today- that went out in the 70’s”. That was not a good start. I came from a large family, so we didn’t have much money. Clothes were K-Mart (today’s Walmart but worse), big thick glasses, buck teeth (I was too scared to get braces when I was 9 for fear of being bullied), a higher voice than I now have, and a really different accent (think a mix of French Canadian, Irish/Scottish, Newfie, and Native). So I had it ALL going for me! After reading those words, I think I visibly shrunk in my chair only to hear the sound of snickers behind me. Yes – I knew who wrote that note. She and her posse were to be my nemesis throughout the rest of grade 7 and 8. Every day from that fateful day in January, to the end of the school year in June, I came home and cried in my bedroom. I would NEVER have my tormenters ever have the satisfaction of seeing me shed a tear. Ever. And at that time, I felt alone.
That summer let me recoup, and gather my strength for what was to come in Grade 8. Armed with a new determination and strength I did not know I possessed, I was ready for Grade 8. A life raft was extended when a new girl started class who was from another small town, and I immediately started a conversation with her. I saw the same girls snickering behind her back — I wasn’t going to have her go through what I did. Others tried to bully her into not being my friend, but she didn’t care who I was. Only that I was the first that extended a smile and the hand of friendship – that was what mattered the most to her. And since she was stubborn and didn’t let others push her around, she was the lift I needed. She, and two other friends were my posse of 5, in a school of entitled, spoiled “children”. We made our own little world, and with them it was a little easier. I was still bullied every day from that entitled posse, but at least I wasn’t always crying in my room after school.
It wasn’t until I went to high school, that I was able to free myself from that posse of rich, entitled, spoiled bitches. Thanks Mom – for letting me go to the other, smaller high-school, separate from the more popular, larger one that the rest of my grade 8 class went to. I was able to start over. Our posse of 5 was split – me and two of us went to the smaller high school, and the other 2 (including the other small town girl) went to the larger high school.
Finally, I was able to stand on my own two feet. Able to escape those days, and leave them behind me. What have I learned from that? Everything is temporary, and will not last forever. Although there were times it felt like it, there IS light at the end of the tunnel.
I know the world had changed. With the onslaught of social media it is much harder now in our schools for our childeren, tweens, and teens. There is cyber bullying, and more physical bullying, and sexual bullying – from the boys AND girls. There are gangs and weapons. It can be a mad, mad world out there. There ARE support systems out there. Please, use them. TALK about it. Make people aware. Reach out to those systems and people out there who can help you. You are NOT alone.
On the other side of it? Remember – words DO hurt, violence will only beget violence and could turn to you, and you can become a better person if you only understood those who you torment.
Attitudes can change, people can become better, and we can all help each other. Apologies and forgiveness are possible. It can be hard, but must be done, so healing can commence, on both sides.
Until next time, Blessed Be.
Tomorrow’s blog entry: “Best Physical Features” — it’s time to love ourselves!!!