Bullies and Bullshit

5 May

I hate bullies. I really do. I’m not a fan of liars or phonies either but that’s a different post.

It seems that no matter how old you may become, how many hurdles you’ve cleared, how many miles you’ve put on this body of yours, you don’t outgrow susceptibility.

At the age of 8, my parents let me know they were fulfilling my dream of going to sleepaway camp. My dream was actually to see Saturday Night Fever as I had no idea what sleepaway camp was. Regardless, I was leaving the end of June, for 8 weeks with strangers, for the same camp my mother attended for 14 years in upstate NY. My parents took me to see Saturday Night Fever (a consolation prize), and then to the candy store where they let me buy enough Nerds and Pixie Stix and Delpha Rolls licorice (my favorite) to fill a lunch bag. The following morning, they put me on the bus, kissed me on the cheek, and waved goodbye until the bus rolled out of sight. I looked around me, crying. I knew no one. I wasn’t even sure where we were headed. At some point, I started sharing the candy with anyone seated near me. By the time we pulled into camp, I had 3 new best friends.

These girls became my life for those 8 weeks. We formed tickle trains, we gambled for stationery, we shared secrets. We did everything together, walking around arm in arm during the day, telling each other ghost stories at night. I loved sleepaway camp for the next three years. The fourth year was another story.

For some reason, I was separated from these girls, who were now on the other side of the bunk. One day during the first week or so of camp, these BFFs bullied someone in my bunk. I don’t recall the specifics of the incident but I know this much: I defended the girl being bullied. They were cruel to her and I told them to stop. And that was the end of my best friendship. No more gambling, no more tickle trains, no more secrets. For the remainder of the summer, I was prey.

These bitches stole and destroyed letters I wrote to my parents, told me they hoped I “would drown” when I was on my way to waterskiing, and reduced me to tears on a daily basis. Seems like solid revenge against a girl who stuck up for someone who was simply defenseless. The counselors were aware of the situation and seemingly impotent. These 11 year old girls held all the power in their small, menacing hands.

One day in particular, while washing my hair inside the bunk’s stall shower, I bent down to get my soap. I opened the soap dish to find a human shit inside it. Being only 11, I recall thinking “that is really weird.” It was not until more than a decade later that it struck me that that shit landed in my soap dish intentionally. That that was how depraved and disgusting these girls were. That that was how much they hated me for sticking up for another girl they were in the midst of shredding.

I switched camps the following year and did not keep in touch with the palm reader’s daughter, the asshole from Staten Island, or the foul-mouthed, smoking daughter of the woman who worked the canteen (who I later learned gave a baby a hickie, and who died in prison from cancer before the age of 30). One of them did send me a “hi, remember me?” message through Facebook several years ago. I would have enjoyed taking her apart and making her feel some guilt for that summer (Yes, I do remember you! Are you still a vicious beast?), but I simply deleted it. Goodbye, good riddance, fuck you.

Sometimes when I tell people this story, they seem surprised. “You? You were bullied?! You don’t seem like someone who would be bullied.” What does that even mean? That you think I’m tough? That you think I’m incapable of being victimized? Probably not as much anymore. I’m not sorry for that young girl, naively staring at a soap dish full of human excrement and not even realizing it was dropped there as a present just for her. She stuck it out that summer and learned at an early age how to behave, and how not to behave. And how to spot a bully in girl’s clothing.

To this day, I have no tolerance for nonsense or bullies. When I detect even in the slightest that someone might lean that way, someone might make someone feel small, or less, or insignificant (just because they can’t get over their own issues), I disengage. There’s only so close I will allow myself to become with that person, fair or not, because someone already shit in my soap dish once.

Women are funny. They’re strong and smart and horrible and bitchy and disingenuous and loving and important. The key is to find the right ones to surround yourself with. Quality over quantity. Any day. And I am truly lucky to be surrounded with the incredible and beautiful women in my life. Because they are, genuinely, gifts.

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6 Responses to “Bullies and Bullshit”

  1. Spiceofsound May 5, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

    Definitely I would turn the page, if not only to see if you were writing about me

  2. Jennifer July 10, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

    My primary bullying memory is of two boys, my neighbors, taunting me a whole bus ride home in middle school to see if I would crack – repeating that I was smelly, hairy, lesbian, something or other, – they did this as a loud conversation to each other “she can’t X, she doesn’t Y, she’s a Z…” leaning across the aisle in front of me. I sat stock still and silent the whole way, and when I got off the bus into my driveway, just threw my arms up in victory.

    • Lisa Goodwin July 10, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

      That is horrible! I’m so sorry. Bullies are The Worst. Good for you, Jennifer! And thanks so much for reading.

  3. ivyon November 18, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    I hate bullies of any kind. Maybe because I was severely bullied for years but I have zero torelance to bullies. Strange enough they also contacted me via fb multyple times and I got into a virtual but real fight with a girl who did me most wrong. She was most persistant to get back in my life for some reason… That was in 2008 i think. They have tried before, sending messages on fb but that time she was persistant and started to make fun of me in one of my friends photos. I responded in equall fashion and my other friend got in the middle telling her to leave me alone so she backed out a bit. That night still shaken, I thought about it all. And I logged on and wrote her a huge comment so it was public. I didn’t “call her out” on her behaviour I just said that everything was not how it seems back then and that she is surrounded with the same poisonus people who wish her no well and to just leave me alone to live my life. And she did. Also, I blocked her. And thank God we didn’t have social networks back then.
    Funny thing is that recently other girl from that group, the really mean and twisted one sent me a friend request. What? Delete.
    People don’t get how this upset me so much and it’s better they don’t. With years passed by now I realise that we did each other very wrong, while I did not do anything. But I was smarter, I was prettier, I was kind and interesting and I “needed” to be put down.

    • Lisa Goodwin November 18, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

      Oh my! So sorry you went through that. Bullies are The Worst!

      • ivyon November 18, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

        Yes they are. I am really proud of myself because I stood up to them and I started finding other friends and getting them out of my life, and when I got in high school I was getting more and more away from them which was hard bc a friend who was in high school with me was also in that group and she was bullied but couldn’t get away so I was really stuck. I remained her friend for years to come but I managed to leave others behind in a smoke. 🙂 I have no idea how I had inner strength to do that because they broke me and at home I had zero support and another zone of abuse, but I managed to say the stupid mean one one day going in school that she is stupid and just to shut up. Well, ok, yelled at her face. In a full bus. She never said anything bad to me after that in my face. 🙂

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