Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Girls Who Saved My Life

Okay, not literally. But I think they gave me a life.

I was the victim of bullying all throughout school. Actually, elementary was not bad. It was a small school made up of around 40 kids from kindergarten to grade 7. I remember liking school then. Of course there was always the popular kid even there and of course I was not it. But I was not harassed like I was once I left.

Due to poor teaching, my parents decided to send me into the middle school in town a month into grade 7. I went from a school with just 40 kids to one with over 600. I think that was the worst year off my life. I really had no friends and was constantly harassed, mainly because of my weight, but I sure the kids would have found something if it wasn't that.

Part way through that year I met a girl named Kim while in (the dreaded) gym class. Her classroom was next to mine and we became friends pretty quickly! She was tiny, had glasses, smart as hell, and I am sure was harassed in some way as well. We were definitely not the popular kids! Her friendship was that little bit of peace I looked forward to in that hostile world of middle school.

Grade 8 was a bit better. Kim and I ended up in the same homeroom together and our friendship grew. Into grade 8 I met some other girls named Kathy and Crystal. They attended church together and they invited me to attend a youth bible study that was held in our school once a week. Through that I got to know them and then then in grade 9 a friend of theirs started grade 8 at our school and I got to know Lana.

I was still bullied, but now I had a support group. I don't even remember talking about the bullying to them face to face, but we all understood and were there to support each other, I think through distraction! This group of friends grew and into high school I really had a sense of belonging.

We started a tradition, I am not sure if it was in high school or afterwards, where we would all meet for brunch on Christmas Eve morning and exchange gifts. It had been six years since I had been able to attend one, but they were still going. I would always get a call from a cell phone by one of them so I could say hi. I missed that brunch so much!

This year the stars aligned just right and we were all back in Dawson Creek for the holidays. We were all invited into the home of Kathy's parents for brunch this year since we were such a large group! Thank you so much Whitrow Family! It was such a treat to have this tradition in full swing this year. Those who had husbands and kids brought them, and we all had a wonderful time. There were 7 kids under aged 4 and they were all boys!

Thank you Crystal, Kim, Kathy, and Lana. I don't know were I would be without these friendships! Seeing you this holiday brought me to tears. I want to cry now as I write this! Your support through those school years has stuck with me. Instead of turning into a bitter person holding grudges from that time, I became a happy, compassionate person. Thank you to the rest of that support group from high school. I am still close to many of them as well.

I hoped that high school would be left behind once I made it out into the "real" world, but sadly there are the same problems out here as there were back there. But now I have the skills to avoid that so-called popular crowd, the cliques, the in-crowd, whatever they may be. I have no desire to be part of that and it saddens me that those still exist. I feel strong now, strong enough to reach out to those who feel left out and not worry when I know I am being left out.

Of course I hope my boys will never be the brunt of bullying, but that is not realistic. I just hope they have a real friend or two that will help them make it through.

Crystal, Me, Kim, Kathy and Lana


Fawn said...

Great post, Kara. I have some painful memories of bullying, too. I've always thought that those experiences were instrumental for developing compassion, so despite the awfulness of the time, I don't regret them now.

Perhaps these girls did not literally save your life, but I'm willing to bet that these types of support friendship have saved many lives in a very literal sense.

Hooray for true friendship!

Morena said...

This is a great post. I was lucky to have been bullied by only one person during my middle school years but it's always stuck with me. I still can't see her without remembering how I felt back then. I'm so glad you have those friends. People like that are keepers. I'm happy for you to have made it to the brunch this year, I hope there are many more for you.

Asheya said...

That's so great you all got together! I experienced bullying in elementary and jr. high, and I was so thankful that in gr. 8 I met one good friend who made all the difference.

And I think those experiences have also helped me to be more compassionate and inclusive, because I know what it's like to be excluded.

Thanks for sharing, Kara.

Meandering Michael said...

I was bullied in elementary and high school. Now, when I look back, I'm grateful for those experiences for the same reasons you've stated. I've also had the chance to find out where some of the bullies have ended up. In many ways, they're paying for what they dished out, but I can't help but feel sorry for them.

Anonymous said...

Gret post, Kara.
I too was the victim of bullying but for other reasons than you. It followed me for many years and I'm still very much tuned into feeling the vibes when there is bullying going on. The worst part of it is, that it was a cousin of mine who was the mastermind all through Junior High...

Clare said...

Wonderful Post Kara, I meant to comment on it last night when I first read it. I came back to read it again.

Kudos to you for posting it.

taibhsearachd said...

Wow! I am struck by how many of us had to deal with bullying. Almost every single person who has responded so far had to endure some kind of bullying in school. And the sad part is that it continues generation after generation. Thanks for writing this Kara.

freckles said...

Friends like that really do stick with us, don't they? These are the ones that are truly worth our time.

Anonymous said...

This is so sweet Kara!! I'm so glad that you have such wonderful friends!! I had friends in school, but most of those friendships have become more like acquaintances now. I always felt like I never fit in anywhere, so I was always on the outskirts of certain groups, and always felt alone. Not the same as bullying, but I sure wish I had had a strong circle like you do!!