I have been utterly, exhaustively, busy.
The last month has been a shuffle of back to school for my whole family…
Teaching is no joke, especially for a perfectionist like myself. Thing have been going fairly well. There have been some scary student issues to deal with. Difficult parents.
Normal teacher stuff.
I have, for the most part, been allowing myself to embrace the crazy.
I’ve always been better with busy.
Today was harder.
This weekend, our school community lost a student. Tragedies like this are always hard to accept, especially when the community is so close and tight-knit…where everyone has a connection.
I ended up accepting a teaching job in a place where I never desired to end up.
I am now working in the elementary school where I attended, as a new student.
The school where I suffered pretty intense bullying. Where I was beat up. Scratched and bleeding. Threatened. Teased for being too poor.
Until today, I let the memories stay mostly buried.
Today, though. Today reminded me of another day, years ago, where, as a junior high student, I got the same news that so many students received at the same school today.
The news that a friend, a peer, a young soul…was taken from us too early.
The halls were silent that day. Nobody would speak. Sorrow was etched upon every face.
I didn’t even know the girl that well. But I was affected, nonetheless.
Today, the memories–unwanted–came pouring out.
I went to the bathroom during a break time and found myself looking around the stall. Sardonically remembering that I had peed in this very stall so many years ago. So many years ago, when all I wanted was to be seen as just as good as everyone else.
When I started 6th grade at this school, I was a total outsider. My mother, never wanting to spend too much effort mothering me, forced me to cut all of my curly hair off. We are talking a totally short, boy haircut.
I looked like a sad ragamuffin. I was mercifully teased. Not just for my hair. But for my clothes. My nose. Where I came from.
I was in a class with another girl. This girl, for whatever reason, decided to make it her mission to relentlessly make my life miserable. My parents bought their drugs from her older brother–and she would constantly threaten to tell other people about it.
It terrified me. No matter what I said–or did–she would try her hardest to make my life hell. Going as far as beating me up at the football field and shoving me on the ground and making me bleed during PE.
…Nothing was ever done.
These experiences are hard to remember.
It is hard, now, as a teacher, to see students who look like I used to. A little unkempt.
Students who, despite having little parental support, still try their hardest.
Yet, the division between them and their peers becomes more evident as the years go on.
I remember thinking, all those years ago, how very terrible the loss of a young girl was. I remember, despite not knowing her well, how sad I felt. How difficult it was to see others suffer.
I also remember wondering…would these same people be as sad if I had been the one to die?
At the time, I really doubted it.
I reflect back now, as a more whole adult…and I can say that I am so very glad I have had the opportunity to learn and grow through the challenges I have faced. They have not always been easy…but I was given the chance to continue trying to overcome them.
Some people are never given that chance. They are forever frozen in the depths of adolescence. Revered. Remembered.
But never grown.
So, while I am back in a place where people might remember that sad, bullied young girl that I have tried so hard to distance myself from, I can at least say:
Life is fleeting. Never forget it. Whatever struggles there are…whatever you remember or refuse to remember…never forget–these things have made you who you are.
For good and for bad.
It does not erase the pain. The injustice. Or anything else.
But, it does highlight the hope in time and growth.
Always keep going…it will get better. There is another side to the pain.