No matter how I try, it seems to have scarred my mind in ways I can't escape.
I was always a weird kid. I over analyzed everything, and through my analysis I found may things superfluous that others clung to as social norms, and ended up denied access to society for that reason.
When I was little, I wore dresses even though everyone knew it was fashionable to wear pants. I was constantly teased for it. But I liked long flowy skirts, and pants had a way of pinching the backs of my knees in most uncomfortable ways. So, I wore dresses all the time.
When I got older and my aptitude for languages and linguistics started showing itself, I had no languages to learn around me, so I started talking to my chickens and turkeys. One day in 4th grade, around Thanksgiving, the teacher did the normal schpiel about "gobble gobble goes the turkey", and I raised my hand and corrected her, presenting my findings and research. This forever marked me as the girl who talks to chickens and turkeys; and sealed my fate as an outsider.
The teasing got far worse. I got into fights on the bus and the playground. The physical stuff wasn't too bad though. I was tall and strong, so anything they could dish out I could counter. It was the girls and their practices of ostracizing and ridicule that hurt.
I didn't see the world like they did. I didn't organize my views of the people around me by their places in society, but by the ways they treated me. To them, I didn't fit into society, so I was a blemish on their surroundings. They were also starting to reach puberty, and the hormones running through them confused and frightened them. To comfort themselves in the face of their insecurities, they lashed out at the blemish in society.
Oh did I hate being their scapegoat.
It didn't help that I mentioned on the bus that I wasn't Christian and neither was my family (except for my Nonna). Now, not only was a weird, but I was a heretic as well. The brat on the bus cornered me on the playground and threw rocks, shoes, and woodchips at me while screaming "burn the witch".
I spent most of those years, 9-12 years old, angrily grinding pebbles into dust on the playground all by myself.
My little brother Jethro entered Intermediate school too, and the bullying he faced from fellow boys was pretty terrible, and I often ended up stationing myself by him whenever I could to protect him. At one point, I ended up ripping bullies on the bus off of him who had his neck pinned to the window, strangling him. It got so bad that he spent more time protecting himself than learning, so my parents pulled him out of public school to homeschool him.
Junior high was surprisingly peaceful for me. I found a few other outcasts, and we banded together. I finally had friends that I could sit with at lunch. I wasn't spending every moment of recess and every bus ride protecting my little brother. Classes finally got interesting as well. They picked up the pace, and I found myself, for the first time, facing challenging and interesting classes. I headed toward highschool with a positive outlook, because my teachers said that classes would be far more challenging.
Highschool was challenging for other reasons.
All of a sudden, they were fighting tooth and nail to find a place in society for themselves that they were certain would be their place for the rest of their lives. I just didn't get it. I entered puberty very late, so I didn't feel the same rushes of emotion that they did. Anyways, I wanted no part of their struggle, but they were adamant to make me part of it. Since I wasn't on the attack, they figured they could make certain that I inhabited the lowest rung of society, and made me and my little group of friends their punching bag. Metaphorically of course. I didn't suffer any physical attacks in highschool, just psychological ones.
And oh, were those brutal.
During gym, they'd make endless jokes about the weight of one of my friends. One nasty little wanker made it his business to call me "chicken-fucker" every day on the bus. At one point, we were surrounded in the hallways by those little brats chanting "Freak! Freak! Freak!" Seeing if they could bring us to tears seemed to be their sport.
It didn't help that I discovered that I was bisexual and lived in constant fear of being found out.
All this left me really, really messed up. I wish I could say that it made me stronger. It didn't. It left me angry, cynical, and fearful of my fellow man. I keep finding the scars on my consciousness.
When I was struggling with depression a few years back, part of it was unearthing old fears that their is something wrong with me... that my strange outlook on the world meant there was some sort of mental disability that made it difficult for me to connect with my fellow man, but no. I'm just, as the psychologist put it, scientifically-minded, and that's a good thing.
I often wonder if the abuse I suffered at their hands made my imagination so much darker than normal. I look at my book collection, and I see a lot of horror and tragedy. My manga collection exhibits this particularly well. When I was fresh out of highschool, and just discovering manga, one of the first series I picked up and loved was Angel Sanctuary. The plot is apocalyptic and displays angels that are twisted and screwed up as humans - the main characters being a fallen pair of lesbian angels that were trapped in the mortal coil - endlessly reborn in human bodies, then hunted down and murdered by angels over and over and over... I connected with it so strongly because I recognized the shame towards my own sexuality, and the pain of persecution from my peers that I grew up with. In manga, the themes of simmering social injustice and fear/stifling of one's own sexuality are common, so I felt quite at home in Japanese literature.
In my own stories, it's been noted that I enjoy torturing my characters. It's rare to see them not being trapped and ostracized. In one of my first attempts at novel writing, I wrote about a girl whose skin sucked the life out whatever had the poor chance of touching her.
The anger is the most destructive of the scars. I found myself lashing out on the internet in the form of parody and ridicule. Starting at 15, I drifted through the Pit of Voles, finding bad stories and ripping them apart in every detail. I joined a group of similarly angry people, Godawful Fanfiction (GAFF) and we licked each others' wounds while clawing and kicking at our imaginary foes. It took a long time to realize that I was trying to lash out at the kids who hurt me, but only striking little girls posting their sexual fantasies online for everyone to read.
What is the point of this long ramble?
Bullying changed me. It left me in a lot of pain. Healing myself is taking a long time, and I still suffer flashbacks of it from time to time. If you see someone being bullied, step in. If you're an adult, goddammit you dolt, it's your responsibility to step in. These kids are riding a wave of irrational fear fueled by hormones and weird changes to their bodies - they don't have complete control over their actions. You have to shut down their attacks and remind them of human decency. Tell them that they are doing something wrong. If only the teacher "in control" of that hallway where me and my friends were cornered had stepped in - it could have stopped. Their argument, that we were freaks, could have been disqualified by the authority. But no, nothing was done to help us, and it appeared that their argument was given validity by the lack of action.
Now I'm in college. I isolate myself from the aggression-fueled social structures (sports), and I am happier. Bullying is a thing of the past. My friends all have suffered the same wounds, but we heal together. There is nothing wrong with us. We're just different. It's a state of being, not an affliction.
A few weeks ago, I finally came out to my family and friends as being bisexual. It unearthed a lot of the old fears of ostracization, and I found myself suffering many flashbacks and painful memories. But, I also found that those fears no longer apply to me. I'm not trapped 7 hours a day with a bunch of hormone-addled children. I choose my friends, and the friends I chose accept who I am. My family might not all understand, but I know that they love me enough to let me explain.
It got better.