I moved a lot as a child and a teenager, which made it hard to make friends and get to know people. I liked learning, and I studied hard. I also made a lot of my own clothes, because I found the things I bought at the store boring. It’s interesting how things people are congratulatory to you for as an adult are things that children are cruel about.
My elementary and high school years were difficult. I spent most of this time living in a town called Gananoque, which is north of Kingston in Ontario. My mother, brother and I moved there when I was in Grade 5, and we stayed in this town until I was in the early years of high school.
For some reason, the other kids didn’t like me or my brother. It was a small town and everyone dressed the same; if you didn’t have the same shorts and T-shirts and like the same bands as everyone else, you were considered a loser. Being a loser meant physical and mental abuse, and no teacher would ever bother to step in to stop it. At first, I was friendly to the other kids, but they turned on me pretty quick. I was pushed down in the schoolyard (still have scars from that; I’m now 28 years old), mocked for being ‘poor’ (most kids were in that town…), called stupid, and worse. I was pelted with snowballs packed with ice on the way home and I eventually was afraid to go to school.
I stopped talking to people. I stopped making eye contact. There were several occasions where people would open a conversation with mock kindness, only to speak out against me or push me down (literally) afterwards. I have been pushed down hills in garbage cans. I’ve been followed home. I’ve received death threats, was mocked by the other children for my last name (It was a common name, but kids make fun of anything) and I remember crying about going to school. I never went out of the classroom for recess, and when I was in high school I used to stay in the cafeteria.
I slit my right wrist in Grade 8. It wasn’t a cry for help, it was an attempt at an escape. Everyone around me kept telling me how worthless, unattractive and stupid I was, and I was starting to believe them.
I told the school this was an accident, and that I fell. They believed me. There was no adult interjection.
I’m older now, and I realize this was wrong. I don’t blame these children. I blame their support network. Their families and the adults who were supposed to be supervising them were not doing their jobs. I still shudder when I think of this situation; why did it happen? Why does it continue to happen to other children? Things are better now. I’m an active part of my community and I have the freedom to surround myself with positive individuals. But kids can’t always do that. They’re kinda stuck with the colleagues they have until they leave school.
My life was a living hell until I left Gananoque. I will never, ever go back there. I simply don’t think children should have to live with this kind of fear.