Bullied & Broken

“Dark clouds loom before me- I bow my head to keep me warm and I hold tightly to the light within me to see beyond the storm”

I have been contemplating how to write this post in a way that you might understand. But the truth of the matter is, you might not. And even truer is the fact that a big part of me writing this down is less about you understanding and more for healing for myself.

I definitely cannot claim to have had the worst experience with bullying because I know so much worse has happened. You see it every day on the news. I cannot even watch the news anymore. But here is my school story. It took twelve years to develop and finish but it may take me the rest of my life to recover from.

My thoughts will probably be choppy and may not flow all that smoothly and the only the thing I can say to that is this- You are free to stop reading any time you like. Like like I am choosing to share this part of my life- you are at this very single moment- choosing to read it.

As I prepared to even sit down and start to type, I realized that this is going to be harder than I thought. Old thoughts of insecurity flashed through my mind and I had second thoughts about it. So here I am typing and I am not even sure, even at this moment if I am ready to share all of this with the world.

When I was young, very young I was jealous of pretty much every other little girl. Not because they were pretty or because of their clothes although those were a smart part of it- I was jealous that the other little girls knew how to make friends.

Of course, there were the church girls I knew. But most of of them didn’t really know me. I was invited to sleepovers because they had to invite me. I honestly cannot say I that I blame them for not wanting to. Instead of sitting with all of the other little girls, most times I would either wander the halls and look at the pictures on their walls or if I did have the courage to try to join the conversation, I would blurt out something that had nothing to do with what they were talking about.

I was religious at the time, because it gave me structure. I do love God but I think I took the structure of the church to give me a sense of calmness and not as much for my relationship with God Himself. But this article isn’t about my relationship with God. I can write an entirely different blog about that at another time. The reason I mention it at all at this moment is because I remember how hypocritical I was. At even a young age, I judged others possibly more than they judged me. Maybe it was so that they wouldn’t judge me.

School was almost pure torture for me. I loved to learn and perhaps I always will but that was not the focus I had at school. I could hardly focus on what was happening in the classroom because I was hyper-focused on how to make friends and watching my peers interact. I remember thinking “I like what she just said”, maybe if I say that then I will somehow make a friend. I wrote notes to girls at my school asking them to be my friends. I straight out asked girls to be my friend.

And while I did build some friendships, I never felt accepted. No matter how many people were nice to me, it never took away all of the terrifying memories of food thrown at me, staples flung at my eyes, children taunting me, and even being chased home and having rocks thrown at me. I never really knew anything different, so I didn’t always think to tell someone. Most of the times that I I did tell a teacher they seemed unconcerned.

And so my guidance counselor’s office became my safe haven. This was after the School Nurse was tired of me telling me that No, I was not sick enough to go home time after time. This is not something I was ever proud of and I definitely don’t think the guidance counselor appreciated my daily visits either. But it was the one place at school where I felt safe. I would sit and cry, sometimes just because I felt so frustrated and alone and sometimes because some girl had pulled the chair out from underneath me in choir class or was following me home and threatening me again.

Now, I went to eleven different schools and graduated with a GED from an Adult Education program in another place which was like a school. I like to say I went to twelve schools in twelve years. Seems to make sense to me. Each time that I went to a new school I would try to change myself. I saw it as a fresh start. But the same things kept happening. Over and over again.

For awhile, I would walk to the Library after school and do my homework and wait for my mother to pick me up after work. For awhile, this too became a safe haven. Until the bullies at that particular school realized that they could make my life even more painful if they followed me there. There was little escape at that point.

Everything about school was hard for me. Athough I loved the smoothness of the ceramics seat on the desk it offered little comfort when sitting on it. The lights were always far too bright for my eyes and walking in the hallways in between classes was painfully loud. I remember how I would always carry all of my books in my backpack instead of leaving them in my locker. I think this was subconsciously done to avoid the memories of one particular girl threatening to to slam my the locker closed on my hand.and also to avoid having to pause in those hallways at all.

The was a social experiment I did one day in my Sophomore year. The idea occurred to me suddenly and I thought it was worth a shot to try it out. So that morning, I walked briskly down the hallway and said “Good Morning” to every girl whose name I could remember. I remember how some of them turned around and just stared and how some said it back and then realized who I was. Or maybe it was that they had no idea who I was.

My ideas never really worked out and yet somehow a handful of people did talk to me and occasionally, very occasionally be-friend me. I am not exactly sure if you would call it a friendship- maybe more an ally and sometimes I found it was so that they could simply turn around and make fun of me to gain attention from the “popular girls”

Gym class for me was a joke and not the fully kind of joke either. I was failing the class miserably. I was too clumsy, too physicially awkward to play the sports. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t bat at the balls in softball (in fact, I would run from the ball), and I even scored points for the wrong team in Basketball. It was so bad that the gym teacher told me I was either going to fall or transfer to another kind of class.

This seemed like a great opportunity for me at the time, but because this was in Massachusetts at that moment and then moved to California to graduate, I did not realize that this would be the very reason I would not be able to graduate with the rest of the class. They said I had more than enough total credits but not enough gym credits. I was then given the option to either take two gym courses in summer school or get my GED.

I was so angry that I stormed into the Adult Education room and asked them what they needed me to do to graduate. All of those years of torture seemed completed wasted and I had little patience at that point. I wanted to be done with school. The teacher told me that I would have to do at least 26 chapters worth of work and homework for Government and Economics in order to graduate. I told her I’d do them all at once. She didn’t believe me at that moment but when I turned in over 12 chapters of homework the following week she got the point. I got my GED three weeks into it and that was only due to the fact that we had a week off from school.

I felt so free the day I walked home after taking the exam. I remember there was a cool breeze and I felt like I could breath. I thought that maybe all of those years would be the end of my social misery. Little did I know that it was closer to the beginning.


About Gretchen McIntire (formerly Leary)

I am 34 years old, I live in the Raleigh area, and I am writing from the perspective of an individual with Asperger's Syndrome.
This entry was posted in ASD, Aspergers, Autism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Bullied & Broken

  1. I don’t know where to start…
    I understand, I think that’s the first thing to say. I too envied the friendships, and tried to copy what the popular girls did in the hope of being liked (and failed). I also went round (in eventual desperation) asking everyone to be my friend. I remember being the last to be chosen for sports, and it wasn’t because I was clumsy (though I am) – I was good at sport – it was because they didn’t want me. That hurt. I eventually had a group of three other ‘friends’, all social outcasts for other reasons.

    I’ve had a blog post about bullying in draft for over a year. Like you, I have found it harder than I expected to write. I am not short of material, but I too want to put it in just the right way, so as to garner understanding, not pity.

    I think you have given me the courage to try again. Thank you.

  2. Bill says:

    You are wonderful, beautiful and amazing. I barely got out of High School myself, finished at home with my mother taking my homework to school and bringing my lessons to me at home. Life as gotten better as an adult, I guess I have earned the label eccentric? I enjoy you twitter posts.

    Thank you

  3. Your life mirrors mine almost exactly. I went to 10 different schools (I think), and you went to 11. Bullying is really hard to write about for so many reasons. And like Leigh Forbes, I have had a bullying post as a work-in-progress for a long time, but it is so hard to write about because it always comes out sounding resentful or angry.

  4. Wow This post really struck a cord with me. I was bullied in school as well.
    I did not fit in. I was also the last one picked for gym class. I did not enjoy school and I know how difficult it was for you to write this. Your experiences were similar to my experiences. It takes great courage to tell these types of stories. I hope in the future, as more people share their stories; there will be less of them.

  5. Helen White says:

    You are an astoundingly brave young lady. Putting such a story out there takes a particular brand of courage, and I admire you for that. I am so glad you shared, and even happier that you have obviously helped others who have had similar problems (myself included). I admire your writings, your poetry and your works, your skills never cease to amaze me. Thank you Gretchen for being an inspiration.

  6. Diane says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am a sister and a mom to two amazing people with Asperger’s and Sensory Processing issues and have a few of my own mild sensory issues. I hope you are finding some peace in each day in some way.

  7. billi1905 says:

    I do understand this, I was bullied all through school, in elementary school by kids I wanted so badly to like me. It didn’t help that I was in speech theraphy, and a learning disabilities class, but the “gifted” program for the rest of my classes. Sometimes it seemed we were friends and we played together, but in an instant they could turn on me. Being with the same group of kids for so many years they knew just how to make me meltdown. It peaked in junior high when the few real friendships I had fell apart. By high school I was definitely “broken” deprssed, suicidal, seeking relief in drugs and alcohol, no longer living, just surviving. I made it alive, but with no direction, and no idea how to function in the world. I eventually went to a vo-tech school, then the Navy, where I found the routine and structure I needed to develop not only the technical skills I have, but day to day things like grooming, punctuality, and learned to accept others, (and my own) shortcomings. I still struggle with social skills, and keeping friends, and I still constantly create problems for myself at work, but I use my aspie tendancies to earn a living, and I have made a decent life for myself.

  8. Nomad says:

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    I find that my resentment, usually but not always directed at tangible events/ persons, never goes away. It lurks and lingers, waxes and wanes, waiting.
    It is not easy to share that story. So thank you. It matters, to know there are people who understand it.

    • Thankyou for taking the time to read my long winded blog and not judging.

      All of your responses have given me hope that this society is not as broken as I may have thought.

      🙂 Gretchen

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