Thursday, November 24, 2011

An Amazing Thanksgiving

You know, there really ARE good people in this world. Our family had a personal experience today that proves it.

Every year on Thanksgiving, Mr. Dizzy and I go down to my home town and spend the day with my Dad. And, instead of cooking Thanksgiving dinner, Dad likes going to the Round Table Restaurant in the next town over (about 20 minutes away). This year was no different, except for the way our meal ended.....

We had a great meal; Mr. Dizzy got the traditional dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, yams, etc. But Dad and I? Nope. We are totally non-traditional....we got Dad's favorite, BBQ Ribs. And believe me, they are totally yummy! But their meals are pretty big portions, so I asked the waitress for a leftovers box. When she brought me the boxes, she wished us a Happy Thanksgiving and told us, "You are all taken care of." She then walked off, leaving us sitting there just totally stunned. What did she mean by that? When she came back by, I asked her what she meant by that; she just smiled, and said again, "Have a Happy Thanksgiving."

Well, stunned is an understatement.

We were looking around the restaurant trying to figure out who would have done this. Mr. Dizzy noticed an Army Veteran sitting alone at the table behind us, and when he looked at him, the man gave a little smile and a wink. Mr. Dizzy just gave a small smile and a little nod, but said nothing to me or Dad.

As we got up from our table, the man got Dad's attention and said, "Thank you for your service, Sir." Dad and he chatted for just a few moments, and the man mentioned that his Dad had been a WWII Veteran also. Dad wished him a Happy Thanksgiving, and we left the restaurant.

When we got out to the parking lot, Mr. Dizzy told us what the man behind us had done when he caught his eye. So, we *think* he was the one who paid for our dinner.

So - - to the man who did this wonderful thing for us, I want to say "THANK YOU" for putting a smile on Dad's face that stayed there all day. Bless you, Sir, and I hope you had a VERY Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bullyling (Part the Last)

What were all the affects from all the bullying and torment I had to endure over all those years? Well, let's see - -

It made me a very "closed" person, who was terribly afraid to trust anyone. This in turn led to many relationships suffering or ending because of it.

It made me be very self-conscious and afraid to try new things or do anything that would make anyone notice me in any way

It fueled my already low self-esteem.

It made me quick to take offense, and quick to lose my temper, if I feel I am being picked on or ridiculed in any way. Even if it is not meant that way.

These are problems I have worked on fixing, even to this day. Most times I can handle them, sometimes they get the best of me. It's tough.

BUT --

It also helped me see how NOT to treat people, how NOT to make people feel. I cannot stand seeing anyone being bullied, or tormented, or pushed around in ANY way. It brings back all those feelings from my own personal experiences with it, and the anger just seems to well back up. I want to stop whoever is doing it, and do whatever I can to help the person being picked on. Unfortunately, this wish to help people comes with its own set of issues - - it's amazing how much trouble you can get into just by wanting to be a good person and help others! But, it is a type of trouble I can deal with, and be able to look at myself in the mirror, and actually sleep at night. If I can help even one person overcome what they are going through, it is worth it.

I guess in the "big picture" of life, all the bullying, teasing and torment I went through while growing up made me a better person. I just wish there could have been an easier way of learning those lessons.

OH! And? The girls who made my life so much hell? I actually now get along with B, believe it or not. But J? I swore to not have anything to do with her, and I am sticking by that. I recently received a Friend Request from her on Facebook - - and deleted it. I know that like me, she has probably grown up and is a much different person. But after everything she put me through over all those years, I want nothing to do with her. That is just something SHE will have to live with, and hopefully learn the lesson.

OKAY - - enough about bullying. Now! Go out there, and treat people the way you yourself would want to be treated. And I will continue to do the same.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bullying (Part 4)

The bullying and torment continued on through the rest of grade school. In 7th grade, my teacher (who was also the Mother Superior of that particular convent) decided that I had "the calling" and started talking to my parents about sending me to an all-girls Catholic High School, and then go on to become a Nun myself. Well, I did NOT want that, and told my parents so. But, she kept pushing and pushing, to the point where I was so miserable that they decided to pull me from the Catholic grade school and send me to the public Junior High for my 8th Grade year.

This? Made the Mother Superior livid. LIVID. She became very hateful toward me, and made the rest of the school year nearly unbearable; ridiculing me in front of the other students, condemning my parent's decision in front of the whole class, and more. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that I would soon be out of there and would never, EVER, have to see her again. (And? I didn't!) That school year could not come soon enough.

Then it was on to the Junior High, and a whole new set of issues....I did not know anyone there, and felt totally alone. I was already a very shy young girl, and I missed my friends, and I was so angry with my former teacher for making life so miserable that I had to leave them! So I was fair game for any school bullies in those halls, and they found me, with no problem.

There was one girl in particular (we will refer to her as "J") who decided that I was her target, and kept threatening me. She would torment, and threaten to "beat me up" and even went so far as to tell me I was to meet her after school so we could take care of things in a fight, which, of course, I did not show up for, hoping she would then realize that it was not going to happen. But this only fueled the situation; she kept on, saying that I was "chicken" and ridiculing me in front of others. I did my best to avoid her, but wasn't very successful.

Somehow I made it through that 8th grade year at Junior High, and on into my 9th grade (Freshman) year. This year also marked my Catholic School friends coming there. It was great to be there with them again! Also, it felt like now I had some "backup" and would not feel so along and "out there" by myself. It seemed to work; J stopped tormenting me so much. I hoped that it had ended, and for the rest of Junior High, it did. But, that was to change in Senior High.

During Sophomore year, there was still quite a bit of torment, but I just basically ignored it. This made some of them stop and leave me alone, but it seemed to make it a challenge for others.....

My Junior year, I had to share a locker with another student (we will call her "B") who was best friends with J. Believe me, neither of us was happy about it, but I was determined to make it work out, and show B that I was a decent person. I was also hopeful that this would, in turn, have her tell J this, and maybe I would finally get some peace. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case - -

My parents had bought me a really nice suede fringe jacket (those were SO "in" at that time). I wore it to school all the time, and just loved it! Well - - one day at the end of school, I went to my locker to get my jacket and head on home.....the jacket was gone. It was nowhere to be found. And, with it being wintertime, I had no coat to wear for the walk home. I went to the office, but no one had turned in my jacket. I went out to the parking lot to see if I could catch a ride home with someone, and the lot was basically empty. So I started walking home, as fast as I could, in the cold weather. Fortunately, we only lived a few blocks from the school, but it was a difficult walk home! I finally made it, and as soon as I got in the house (and thawed out), I told my Mom what had happened. I also told her what I thought the situation was - - I was sure B had taken the jacket, and probably was in it with J.

My parents talked to the principal, who basically said there was nothing we could do, since we had no "proof" that was what happened. Well - -considering that the only people who would know the combination would be me and B, who else could it have been? The one thing the principal did do for me, however, was move me to my own locker, at the other end of the building. That helped, but I was still pretty despondent - - I loved my fringe jacket, and no longer had it.

A few days later, I was walking downtown, and saw B and J coming around the corner. Just as I suspected, J had on my jacket! They saw me, turned around and ran back around the corner. As soon as I got home, I told my parents about it. I wanted them to talk to their parents, or the principal, or SOMEBODY, but they didn't want to make J had my jacket, and I had a lot of anger that I had to swallow and try to deal with. For Christmas, my parents bought me another jacket, which while I did appreciate it, it did nothing to appease my anger. B and J were allowed to get away with doing that to me, with NO consequences! I did NOT understand that, and still don't to this day.

How did this all affect me? That comes next.....

To be continued

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Bullying (part 3)

After the "talking wrong" incident, I became pretty withdrawn, but something inside me also became determined to prove myself in some way. Therefore, I basically threw myself into my schoolwork, determined to be good at something; to be able to do something "right." I basically excelled in my classwork, and became one of the top students in my class. Did I brag on it? No. I just still kept pretty quiet, still pretty scared to say much of anything. But I did do extremely well in class, and that was the basis for my second experience with ridicule...

There was another girl in my class who was an excellent student. In fact, she and I were pretty much tied for who was the top student in our second grade class. I didn't think much about it, but just kept on studying my little heart out and working hard to do the best I could. I wanted to be good at something, and schoolwork seemed to be the thing.

Our teacher had a practice that whenever we did written papers or quizzes in class, we would trade papers with the person behind us or beside us for grading. That girl sat behind me, and one day got my grammar and spelling paper for grading. Once they were all graded, they were handed in for the Nun to record our grades. And that is when it happened.....

The teacher - - the same teacher who had ridiculed the way I talked, mind you - - suddenly started telling the class about the horrible paper she had in her hands; it was my paper! She stated that everything was spelled wrong, and the grammar was terrible! She then started reading all the mistakes on the paper, and just tearing it - - and me - - totally apart.

I was in total shock. Everything she read - - every spelling error, every grammar mistake - - was NOT what I had written down! I was completely confused and embarrassed, and just sat there in tears while many of my classmates giggled at the whole situation. I tried to defend myself by saying those were not the answers I had put down, but she just got angrier at me and told me the proof was right there in her hands, and I should stop lying about it.

Right after that, we were dismissed for recess, but I was too upset to go out an play. I sat in the coat room and just hid out from everybody. I was just so confused - - I did not know what had happened, or what to think.

After recess, the teacher told the class that during the time we were gone she had taken a closer look at my paper, and had noticed something strange. She then had gotten the other girl and showed her what she had seen - - erasures on the paper. She told the class the other girl had admitted to erasing my answers and putting in wrong ones. Apparently she did this because she didn't want me getting a better grade than her.

The teacher asked both of us to come up to the front of the room, and made her apologize to me, which she did, and I said okay. But did I ever forget it? No way! And it made me even less want to be around anybody.

You may not think this qualifies as a case of bullying, but I say it is. This teacher seemed to take great pleasure in tearing into me, and I did nothing to deserve it. When you are small and feel helpless, and someone of authority is doing you wrong - - and you have no way of defending yourself - - yes, that definitely is bullying.

This situation made me realize at that very young age that I could not let my guard down and trust anyone. Other situations as I grew up and became an adult fortified that early lesson. And to this day, all these years later, those trust issues remain strong.

To be continued...

Monday, November 07, 2011

Bullying (part 2)

When you're a little kid, especially if you are as quiet and shy as I was back then (and anyone who knows me now would have a lot of trouble believing that I ever was), you tend to get picked on unmercifully. Yes, other kids can be really cruel. But what you usually do NOT expect is for a grown-up, one that you admire and look up to, to do it to you.

Let me preface this by saying that my Mom was born and raised in New York City. She lived there until she was 20, then married my Dad and moved to a small town in Central Illinois. Culture shock? You bet - - but that is a story for another time.

Admittedly, New Yorkers have quite an accent. I grew up hearing it. And, as little kids do, I really soaked it up. I talked just like them. And that was the basis for my first experience with ridicule.....

I went to a Catholic grade school. Back then, all the teachers were Nuns; the ones in the the full black and white garb. I was in awe of them, and more than a little scared. But they were my teachers, so I had to get used to them. And eventually, I did. And did pretty well, until one day.....

As I said, I talked the same way my Mom and her family did. I had heard it all my life, and I didn't know that anything was "wrong" or "different" about it. I just didn't notice those kinds of things. One day in class, I responded to a question the teacher had asked, and that's when it happened. I was made to come up to the front of the room, and stand there while the Nun took me to task and ridiculed me for the way I pronounced things. She did that to me, in front of everyone, while they all laughed and giggled at me. In fact, she even turned to the other students and asked them - - didn't they think I sounded funny? Then she made me go back to my desk. I had to sit there the rest of the day, with the other students turning around and looking at me, laughing and pointing at me. I was totally mortified, trying to figure out what I had done wrong; but more importantly, why it was wrong. My Mom talked that way, so how could it be wrong?

What this incident did was turn a very shy little girl, who was just trying to do her best in school and fit in, into an even more shy, timid, and scared little girl, who was afraid to ever speak up for any reason, for fear of being ridiculed again. It made me feel like something was wrong with ME; that for some reason, I was just not good enough - - not as good as the other kids, who were born and raised there and talked "right."

Looking back on it now, I can honestly say I consider this to definitely be a case of bullying. It's not just other "kids" that bully kids; it is even worse when it comes from an adult. Unfortunately, while that may have been the first case, it definitely wasn't the last...
To be continued....

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Bullying (part 1)

Found this on Facebook....
(Thanks, Princess Free Zone)

A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stamp on it and really mess it up but do not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty is was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bully’s another child, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home.

When you were growing up, were you ever bullied? I was an extremely shy, awkward little girl, and got bullied unmercifully, by the nuns in the Catholic school I attended, the other kids - - you name it. After entering Junior High and High School, it just continued on. I got SO tired of being picked on and made the butt of practical jokes.

And what the above says is so that I am "all grown up" and living a very good life, there are still times when something might happen, and it brings back those feelings I had when I was young. Yes, the scars still remain.

That teacher was right. And I sure wish she had been around when I was growing up.
(To be continued...)