Remembering being bullied

In seventh grade, I was tiny (maybe 75 pounds and way under 5 feet tall) and was going to through a major ugly duckling phase. And a thugish jock ninth grader decided she didn’t like me.

What I remember about that time was trying to figure out what I had done wrong; why had I inspired her hatred. Eventually I realized that the attacks were sort of impersonal, that I was just a variable in an equation, that I was Lisa’s target because she wanted/needed to target someone. It was a freeing revelation.

All I had to do was deal with possible consequences of her actions. So mostly I avoided her and tried to avoid her attention in our shared gym class. When she hit me in the face with a mushball during a gym baseball game, it stung, but even her friends thought she was being a jerk. I may have gotten points for taking the hit too…which wasn’t that big of a deal for a girl who was raised with a herd of brothers. Of course, I made enough of a scene to be excused from playing the rest of the game and instead sat under a tree and picked clover flowers.

I wonder about it now. Why did I handle the bullying well. Maybe being 4th helped, I had strong sense of self within my family. Maybe being the only girl in a family boys. Or maybe the realization that in that situation, I was not really a key player…that I was the equivalent of an inanimate target. I think it may have been the first step in the whole realization that you can’t change the behavior of others. You can only change how you react or act.

And now, if I have to deal with a bully, it makes me furious and instead of backing down, I will step into them and issue a challenge…every single time. E fears for me because of that part of my nature.

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