Tag Archives: survivor
This video shows me trying to get Mandalay our dog inside. Mandalay was abused before coming to us. We don’t know exactly how or by whom but at times the dog becomes absolutely terrified. This especially happens when we try to get her to come inside. She wants to so badly but she just can’t seem to trust me enough to follow me in. I feel so much compassion for her and sadness when she becomes so terrified. Her past still dictates her present. And no wonder! To feel that much terror her life must have been one horror after another. I often berate myself for how my past affects my present. I beat myself up because I expect myself to be “normal”, to forget what I have experienced, to be able to just jump feet first back into life as if nothing had happened. But what happens if I like Mandalay am only reacting naturally to what happened to me? Mandalay is a dog. She can only react insticulally. Perhaps my reaction is instictiual to. Perhaps I’m reacting like anyone would if they had lived in my shoes. And if that true I need to show myself the same compassion and understanding that I show Mandalay.
It isn’t often that I talk about my PTSD on here. It seems to be a little understood illness and I do judge myself for having the diagnosis and the symptoms that come with it. But I don’t judge Mandalay and essentially she shows many of the same signs of PTSD that I do (hypersensitivity, fear without apparent reason, past memories dictating current actions, inability to trust etc. etc.). Perhaps it’s time for me to watch this video of Mandalay and picture myself in her place. How does my therapist see me? My parents? My friends? My family? As a crazy person or someone who’s present is currently shaped by their past? Perhaps it is time for me to see myself as a person who is healing from the horrors of their past and begin to accept that my past is not my fault. It is time for me to begin to heal.
And I am blessed that I have Mandalay to journey down this road with me.
Tonight I took Shona to the dog park. She interacts really well with the other dogs and is usually the favorite amongst them. However, the last several times we have gone she has not tolerated puppies well at all. She has tackled them for no apartent reason and then there is lots of growling and snarling from Shona and the other adult dogs and yipping and yelping from the puppies. I’ve come to the conclusion that my dog is a bully.
Bullies are all too familiar to me. I was bullied elementary school through high school. Like the puppies, I didn’t do anything that I could see (ask me then though and I could list dozens of reasons I did. As an adult I can see differently) to deserve the bullying but for some reason it kept happening. Sometimes they would tell me it was because my clothes were wrong, other times it was because I was a teacher’s pet but most of the time there was no reason for it. I was simply picked on. I was at the bottom of the social food chain just like those puppies that my dog picked on today.
I can’t tell you why. Adults looking in couldn’t tell you why. Perhaps this is what made it so easy for teachers observing the dynamic to dismiss it. After all they probably thought “how could I stop it? Kate’s sensitive and kids are mean. It doesn’t really hurt. They kids are just joking. She just happens to be on the receiving end. It will cause no lasting damage”. They were wrong. Everyone who told me to ignore the bullying, all those teachers who assumed it was ‘no big deal’, my friends who told me I shouldn’t be so sensitive – they were all wrong. Bullying did cause me lasting damage. The effects still haunt me today. In fact looking back with Beth I can already see the beginning signs of PTSD caused by the bullies.
Bullying shouldn’t be taken lightly. Kids shouldn’t be dismissed. Teachers shouldn’t ignore the bullies and tell their students to ignore what is happening. It causes damage. Real lasting damage. Jodee Blanco, the author of Please Stop Laughing at Us, is an activist who visits schools and talks to parents, teachers and students about bullying. She makes it exceedingly clear that bullying is dangerous and isn’t just a normal phase of growing up. It damages people. It damages students. It damaged me.
Blanco has lots of stories about how kids affected her and other suriviors of what she refers to as peer abuse but I can really only tell you what happpened to me. Being bullied led to my low self-esteem then to self-hatred. It led to dreading school to fearing it. Bullying destroyed my voice and ability to speak for myself. And that is just a few things. I dont’ wish to go into how it led to the next chapter of my life but I can tell you that the abuse I experienced for those twelve years shaped my future.
I wish the schools here that I attended knew the hell I went through at their schools. Not one of my teachers allowed me to be hurt intentionally but it happened anyways. And I can guarantee that if it happened to me then it is happening to other students right now. I don’t want other students to face the challenges I faced. I don’t want a ten year old spending the next eight years of her life loosing herself as her peers taut and abuse her. I’m not sure how I can help but this summer I am going to think about possibly asking to speak at those same schools where years ago I feared walking through their doors. I wish someone would have spoken up for me. Perhaps, I can be that person for someone else.