It’s a cold and blustery evening and myself, the husband and of course our faithful feline cuddled up on the sofa to watch tv. We’ve been watching season 2 of ‘The Crown’ and today we watched the episode that focused on how badly bullied prince Charles was at school.

And it struck a chord within me. Because I know what it is to be miserable at school. I know what it is to have a stormy look on one’s face and trying to fight back tears and just wanting comfort somewhere and how it is a silent and shameful battle.

It is no secret how awfully treated I was at school. I felt so badly about myself. The feelings of worthlessness and like I did not matter. Actually, it’s kind of worse: that I didn’t deserve to matter. There were those who shone and those who were duds.

I was a dud.

I was a dud who so desperately wanted to shine. And I knew I could shine. But where I went to school, there was no room for it. There was the clever girl, the girl who was good at art, the girl who was good at acting, the girl who was good at sport and that was that. And I constantly felt like I wasn’t good enough. And I lived in terror that I would never amount to anything. Also, I was different- I liked different things, I sounded different, my behaviour was different.

And then, to top it all off, I was tormented almost all the time.

I had terrible acne, all over my face. I remember once a girl told me ‘why don’t you get rid of that shit on your face?’ What a cruel thing to say. Did she honestly thing that my acne was a choice? That if I could have got rid of it, I would choose not to? The thing about acne is that not only does it make you wish you could wear a paper bag over your head all day, it’s also physically painful. If you forget for one second that you have this affliction and yawn a little ungraciously and the skin on your face stretches, they burst and bleed and ooze. And trust me, anyone with acne would have tried ANYTHING to get rid of it. It is how I found out I am allergic to benzoyl peroxide. I was told of this miracle cream and I tried it without doing a patch test. I ended up with what looked like a chemical burn across my face. So not only do you have to deal with all that drama, then you get some clear-skinned hussy instructing you to snap your fingers and get rid of that ‘shit’.

I remember an incident where we needed to think up of a slogan fo4 the class for ‘Say no to drugs day’ (ha ha ha, so funny, as if any of us actually knew what the underbelly of the world of recreational drugs was all about. Yep, a high school slogan was really going to deter someone from heroin addiction.) I came up with a good, original slogan. A more popular girl plagiarized one from an ad she’d seen in a magazine. When narrowing down which one to use, it came down to her and I. But she was cool and I wasn’t. Which obviously made her copied slogan cool. And they went with that one.

The bullying depicted by boys in ‘The Crown’ is pretty terrible. But I think the psychological torture inflicted by girls upon other girls is a cruelty unlike any other. Girls have a way of getting to know another’s weakness and then pouncing on it and using it until their target has turned into a puddle of tears and self-loathing. All I ever wanted was to belong and perhaps feel just a little less different. Maybe even liked. I’m pretty certain that this desire could be smelt from miles away. So what did a particular group of girls do? While in my presence, they would invent fantastic stories of adventures they went on and boys they met and things they did, purposely to make me feel left out. These girls would actually use the time and energy to actively reject me and then revel in the fact that I was hurt. I wonder how they would manage to sleep at night after doing such a wretched thing? We went to catholic school…how could they go on their knees and receive the body of Christ after such behaviour?

I used to dread waking up in the morning. When I would look at my red, splotchy face in the mirror I would wonder who would be attacking my heart that day? Who was going to try take me down yet another notch? Was a day going to come where there will be no notches left?

I’m sure some will read this and say ‘what an exaggeration, she was over sensitive, such things are normal!’ Well maybe that’s true. But at the same time, it should have been ingrained in these girls from day one that different is not necessarily bad and at the end of the day, being different is quite special.

However, this feeling of being different has never left me. I constantly compare myself to others, using them as the yardstick for normalcy.

But that being said, if the norm consists of bullying and making others feel like less than nothing, then, I’m afraid normalcy is for the birds.

My husband often teases me and says that I am an acquired taste. Well, I’m happy to say that nowadays I only have time for people who have acquired a taste for me and they are some of the most extraordinary and wonderful people I have ever encountered.

And for those who haven’t, well what can I say?

You’re missing out.

And in my world, I can truly say that I’ve earned my crown.

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