Lesbians and Big Dicks Wanted; Bullies and Anxiety
We don’t know if anxiety is genetic, a learned behavior, or both. Either way, looking back at my life, I realize that my anxious tendencies started at a very young age.
I didn’t speak at school when I was little– at all. Anxiety would not let me raise my hand to answer or ask a question in class and it absolutely did not let me have friends. In kindergarten and first grade I sat on the same duck spring rider on the playground at recess and didn’t talk to anyone...every single day.
That behavior earned me my first bullies in the first grade. There were two of them – BJ and Jessica. They teased me because I never spoke. They’d corner me in the classroom, calling me names, demanding to know what was wrong with me.
That just made it worse; my anxiety wouldn’t let me tell them.
One day at recess, completely out of the blue, BJ punched me in the stomach. I’d never done a thing to this kid. I’d literally never even spoken to him, and he punched me for it. The teacher, of course, didn’t see it happen, so she didn’t do anything about it, even though for once I did say something.
This incident made me even more terrified of the other kids at school. Luckily at the end of that year my family moved to a different school district... so I had a new group of kids to not talk to.
I finally made a few friends with the help of my second grade teacher (how pathetic is that) but I still had a steady stream of bullies throughout my school years. Mostly they were kids who would call me weird and make passing comments like..., but there were a few who were a bit more harsh. One still makes my stomach flop a little just thinking about him.
When I was a junior in high school, I didn’t have the best fashion sense, but I knew what I liked and I wore it, even though it wasn’t trendy. In particular, I had a pair of thick-soled teal suede tennis shoes. I *LOVED* those shoes. The brand name was Wanted, and it was printed across the back.
A boy in my English class started taping pieces of paper with words written on them above the word “Wanted” on my shoes. Phrases he would write would include such endearing terms as “lesbians” and “big dicks,” so it would say “lesbians wanted” or “big dicks wanted.” Since the shoes were so thick I didn’t feel him sticking them on, then after class people would point and laugh at me in the hallway. Of course, I started checking my shoes every day after class but he’d stop doing it for a few days, I’d forget to check, and then he’d start up again.
I eventually told the teacher, and she said there was nothing she could do unless she saw him doing it, or someone came forward and said they saw him. I went to the guidance counselor, hoping she could do something. Unfortunately, the bully was best friends with the guidance counselor’s son, so she also said there was nothing she could do unless someone came forward or the teacher caught him in the act.
That friendship was probably how the bully and his girlfriend found out that I’d told on him. His girlfriend confronted me in class one day, demanding to know why I was such a bitch, and insisting he was just having fun. Being the terrified little mouse that I was, I said I just wanted him to stop, and nothing else.
After that confrontation I didn’t find paper taped to my shoes again, but I still checked everyday - waiting for the other shoe to drop, I guess you would say.
I was so happy to graduate high school. I desperately wanted to get away from the people who tormented me every day. Little did I know, I would go on to enter into relationships where my significant other would bully me even worse than the kids at school had.
Now I have the added bonus of having panic attacks worrying about my children being bullied at school. When my son started preschool I was so nervous that he would be bullied; he’s almost as shy as I was. While I still worry, he proved that he can handle the bullies far better than I ever did. I’m not normally one to condone violence, but when a kid at school started pushing him around on the playground, he fought back. I was proud, though he ended up getting kicked out of preschool for it. I had a talk with him about using his words when possible, but let him know that I was proud of him for not letting that kid bully him.
So maybe anxiety is genetic, but that gives me hope that my son may not be doomed to follow the same path I did.