Crossposted from my LiveJournal (private, and I will not be sharing the link here.)
“If you let someone else make you miserable, it’s your fault.“
Nothing else has made me this angry in months, and that’s saying something, as I’m a very angry person (YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED THIS.) Applied to my personal experiences, this is one of the most offensive things I’ve ever heard.
I’ll try to keep the whining to a minimum, but this is basically a WAAAAH I AM SO PERSECUTED post. B|
For Kindergarten, I managed to snag a scholarship to an upper-class all girls school, pre-K-through-12. I’m not poor, but I’m not exactly rich either, and practically every other girl at the school was. Even with the mandatory uniforms, I couldn’t fit in – my shoes, my hair accessories, my lack of cable, let alone a TV, all marked me as an outsider from day one. If the girls in my classes weren’t being passive-agressively bitchy they were pretending I wasn’t there. Eventually, I realized the only was to make them my “friends” (or so I thought) was to do things for the more popular, rich, pretty girls. I’d carry their books from class to class, be the villain in their playground games, give them my lunch food from the cafeteria, and in exchange I’d be able to sit at their table at lunch. They’d make fun of me a lot, yes, but I thought that’s what friendship was for normal girls. Still, I’d come home crying more often than not. Eventually, partway through second grade, my parents took me out of school and spent the next two years homeschooling me.
By sixth grade I thought maybe things were getting better for me. I had a solid group of friends (even if one took every opportunity to compliment me in a backhand fashion, but hey, the movies I was watching at the time made that seem like it was a part of any normal friendship) and my father was considering letting me stop seeing a therapist.
During the summer between sixth and seventh grade, though, one of my friends changed schools, and another moved too far to continue going to our school. I was left with one friend, the backhanded compliment girl – I’ll call her Sasha – and ten boys who’d only backed off teasing me the year before because my friend Anna threatened to beat them up, as my only classmates that year. (It was a small alternative school.)
Sasha fell in with the much cooler 8th grade girls and began to ignore me when they were around. I was only her friend outside of school. She would barely even acknowledge my existence in school. Since I was the same angry little bitch I am now, I started keeping my first blog, what I thought was a scathing social satire but was really just me listing all the reasons I hated Sasha’s new friends. I wasn’t careful enough one day and Sasha and the older girls found it. Excerpts were printed out and passed around to the entire middle school, including the boy I had a mad, dizzy-with-anticipation-if-he-even-looked-at-me, hearts-on-my-binder crush on, who joined in the Let’s Tear Down Kate’s Self Esteem Festival with hardly a thought. He called me a fat loser, if I remember correctly, and that was one of the milder ones I got that year. After a day where I locked myself in the girls’ bathroom past the time school was out because I was too ashamed to go home and face my father, and a few principal-related complications, I transferred to the school my friend Julia was attending.
The rest of seventh grade passed without complication, thank god.
In eighth grade, Julia was in the smart kid class, 8-1, and I was transferred to the, er… not smart, if you know what I mean, class, 8-3. Without the comfort of having my only friend around, I started to crack a bit under the pressure of having to deal with kids I’d barely talked to before in my life. And they noticed it, too. They say dogs can smell fear; the same is true of thirteen-year-olds. And the girls at that school were experts at what I think of as sniper bullying – quick, straight-to-the-head insults that flew right under the radar of the teachers. They’d pull the books I read in class instead of working out of my hands and made fun of my choices – when I told my English teacher about this, she laughed and said they were just taking an interest in what I was reading.
TL;DR, bawww, I know. But, the point. People – guidance counselors, therapists, so called friends – have told me that I make myself an easy target for bullies, that I’m too sensitive, that I “shouldn’t let it get to me,” whatever that means. I’ve been hearing that since I was six. “If you tried a little harder to fit in, then maybe they’d be nicer,” the guidance counselor I had in eighth grade told me. And god, I tried. I bought clothes the other girls wore instead of what I liked; I pretended to be dumber than I was in hopes that maybe, maybe the movies were right and it would somehow make a guy fall for me; I left my fantasy books at home and pretended to read trendy “life on the A-list for preteens” books and Seventeen magazine when I was in school. None of it worked. If anything, it made things worse. The only thing worse than a girl who doesn’t fit in is one who tries to hard to. I tried to change how they treated me. I told myself the old glue-and-rubber rhyme, told myself that ten years from now I’d be in college and they’d be working cheap mall kiosks hawking makeup. None of it helped. Nothing changed.
I didn’t let them make me miserable. They chose to make me miserable. I didn’t have a choice – the serotonin levels in my brain chose for me. Believe me, if I got to choose, I would have chosen happiness. Sure, I made some bad choices during those times. I chose to write that blog, to eventually stop going to teachers for help, to cut myself instead of talking to a friend or taking a long walk or whatever the fuck they always tell you to do in therapy. But saying that I let them make me miserable is basically all but saying “It’s your fault people don’t like you, and everything they said about you was true.” (Not that all of it was false. I have been called gay, a dyke – well, they were half right about that one – and if not being scared of sex and – gasp – maybe even, one day in the future when I actually have it, ENJOYING it makes me a whore, then so be it, I’ll proudly proclaim my whoreyness to the world.)
Blame should never fall on the victim. They have never asked, “Hey, could you make me feel so degraded and guilty that I want to kill myself?” They have never worn a sign on their backs saying TEASE ME.
To everyone reading this (and, hell, myself, I still don’t really believe sometimes that what I went through wasn’t my fault) who’s ever been bullied, harassed, abused – it is not your fault. You did not let them hurt you. NONE OF IT IS YOUR FAULT.
It was their choice to make you miserable.
It’s your choice to admit that.