I am being haunted right now. The worst thing is that I am being haunted by my childhood self. That familiar tap on the shoulder from that shy insecure little girl, asking her grown up self "why?" No matter what I do to take my mind off of it, that little girl keeps tapping my shoulder. I worked really hard to lay that little girl to rest, but apparently that is not what she wants.
Growing up I felt invisible. If you were to ask any of my childhood teachers about me, they would ask if I had been in their class. I was shy, and quiet (in school) and tried really hard to be invisible. At recess I was not however invisible to the bullies. I seemed to have a bully radio collar on. The only thing that saved me was my cousin Matt. Matt is two or three weeks older than me. Matt was my saviour. Every recess Matt, and his friend Mike would let me play with them (looking back I must have been really irritating just hanging around). They were my protection. One recess I ventured out on my own without them and wound up with stitches in my face. Matt and Mike made sure that person was sorry for what they had done to me. I'm not sure what made the bullies like me so much. Maybe it was because I was so shy, or because I so desperately tried to be invisible.
The torment followed me into high school, although it stopped being physical bullying by around grade 3. For some reason still unknown to me today I made a perfect target. I had a little lisp, and that made great fodder for everyone. I became known as "Sssssistan". There were other kids at school with much worse lisps than mine, but they were safe, their lisps ignored. To the taunters I gave a brave face, and acted like I didn't care, but on the inside it ate me alive. I would go home and quietly go up to my room to cry it out.
I spent most of my adult years working hard to rebuild that little girl. I worked hard to wall up the parts that I could not rebuild. I put it behind me. I became a mother. I tried to exercise my demons through my children. There would be no way that I would ever let that happen to my children (the funny thing is that I don't think I ever told my parents the Hell I was going through, I just kept it to myself). I worked hard to make sure that my children could not be invisible. I made sure that they were some of the best dressed kids in school. I made sure that they stood out, but not in a bad way. I put extra effort into treats I brought into their class, Damn it, people will remember my kids!
I have worked really hard to suppress my memories of torment, until that is a couple of weeks ago. It was the last day of school, and my daughter was receiving an award (actually both girls received an award, but go to different schools). There in the row of parents was the boy who most made my life hell. I wanted to spit in his face. I wanted to shout obscenities at him. "Who the HELL did he think he was to do that to me?" "WHY?". Instead I found a seat, and politely nodded to him. It brought it all flooding back. Everything that I had so carefully walled up, was back in the forefront of my mind.
The funny thing is that he was not some great hulk of a kid. He was unusually small, and exceptionally homely. He was the one who should have been bullied, and maybe he was. Maybe I was just his verbal punching bag to make himself feel better. He not only included the famous "Sssssistan", even though I had long ago conquered the lisp. We were in the same class in high school. I can't even remember the name of the class now, I just know that we followed the stock market, it might have been a business class. At the time my Dad drove an old beat up Gremlin car. My Dad worked from dawn until dusk. He worked hard, but we never really had much. On this particular day my tormentor asked our teacher what a Gremlin would be worth. He did this with a smug little smile, all the while holding direct eye contact with me. Our teacher gave a little laugh, not knowing he was participating in a bully job, and said that a gremlin was worthless. My bully then looked at the kids around him and told them all with a laugh that was what my Dad drove, that was our family car. I'm not sure how he knew what my Dad drove, I had no idea what his parents drove, for that matter even what his parents looked like. Another time he was in my math class, and kept harassing me. It took half the year, but by that point I was sitting with a bunch of really nice, funny guys who just happened to be on the football team. They liked me, not in a sexual way, in a "they enjoyed my company" way, I fit in. On this particular day I can't even remember what he was saying to me. All I remember was that I had finally had my fill. I looked over at him and said "Sorry, what did you say Bert? By the way, where's Ernie?" This caused all of my group to go into hysterics. "He really does look like Bert!" they all roared. That was the day I stopped being "Ssssitan", and he became "Bert". He really did look like bert. He was small, and had a long oval face, and most importantly an enormous unibrow. That was the day he stopped bullying me.
Here's the rotten thing about the past, it is just that... the past. No matter how hard you try, you cannot change it. The only thing that you can change is the present and the future. That is all well and good unless there are things in the past that you would really like to change, or better yet, erase. I guess that I am just stuck with the ghost of my former self, until she is ready to leave. Even if I knew why I was bullied, it would not change the fact that I was. Many of the decisions I made that effect me now as an adult were made because of my past. They have made me the woman and mother that I am today. I don't know if that is good or bad, it simply just is.