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Saturday, November 03, 2012

Why I Quit Facebook

Every time I need to start an assignment...I write a post in my blog. In fact, you can pretty much measure how much schoolwork I need to get done by how many blog posts I suddenly have. I think this is a pretty common phenomenon.

phenomenon |fəˈnäməˌnän-nən| noun
a fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen, esp. one whose cause or explanation is in question.
I can't believe I actually spelled phenomenon without using spellcheck. I know I shouldn't be so surprised about my spelling since I'm practically a university graduate (!!!!!!), but I have very little faith in my spelling, a fact which has not changed since the advent of spellcheck. I love spellcheck. If spellcheck was a boy, it would be a cute,  pouty-lipped sassy boy that I would want to marry. Some of you may be thinking that my ideal spellcheck looks suspiciously like...hmmm who does that look like? I'll never tell. ...but let's get back to important matters. I typed phenomenon correctly! Don't get all shirty about it, try spelling that correctly without peeking. I dare you. I told you it was a pretty fabulous feat.

I recently quit Facebook. That's right, I QUIT. Some people think I am batshit crazy for deactivating my account. I mean, come on, how can you possibly live EVERY SINGLE DAY without checking Facebook 40 times? I'll tell you how: it's hard. I was a bone fide, true-blue Facebook freak. I checked that crap every thirty minutes...when I was bored, when I was driving, when I was in the bathroom...during class, when I woke up in the morning and before I went to bed at night. And you know what I was seeing 90% of the time? I was seeing pictures of babies with cancer or dogs with their heads cut off and people were asking me to "like" these photos to help said babies or dogs. WHAT THE FUCK? Why would I like a picture that depicts a baby dying of cancer? Or a dog brutally killed? That is the most effed up thing I've ever heard of and people actually think they are helping? How stupid are they? 

And if I wasn't being pelting with pictures of suffering pooches and dying kids, I was being inundated with pictures of objects from the 80s with "like if you remember this." Yeah, I remember it. And with that piece of nostalgia, you made me feel pretty old. Thanks a lot.

Or I was being reminded that my life, compared to everyone else's in the world, was complete crap. Except for that one person who complained non-stop about her life, her kids, her house, her neighbours, her husband, her car, her kids' school, her sister, her mother and her dog. And the neighbour's dog. Her life sucked and made me feel pretty good about my own. But everyone else? They have nicer houses, smarter kids, better-behaved dogs, newer cars, better jobs, and more money than me. And I was, frankly, sick of being jealous of people when my own life is pretty fantastic. I have fabulous people in my life and wonderful things to be grateful for every day. Facebook had the audacity to make me forget that.

I will say I miss seeing what people are up to on a daily basis. Although that seemed to be about 1% of the info I actually got from Facebook. I've missed a few invites because I'm not on Facebook...but guess what those people did? They contacted me directly! I got a special invitation and you just got a crappy Facebook invite! HAHAHAHAHAHA, who's jealous now?

So that's it. I quit Facebook and I only regret it a tiny bit. I might even sign in again one day, just to screw with you.

Monday, October 08, 2012

27 Boxes of Books

My dad died four years ago today. No one said anything to me and I feel like they all forgot. They probably did, except for mum. She probably figured I didn’t need reminding, but still. I wish one person would have said something to me today...but no one did. 
To be fair, last year I forgot. I was happily minding my own business on October 7th and in the evening, my mum called me to see how I was managing, on this, the 3rd anniversary of my dad’s death. I replied, “Well, I was doing just fine forgetting about it until you called to remind me. Now I feel like shit that I forgot. What I horrible person I am. Thanks for reminding me.” She felt terrible, but I’m pretty sure I felt worse. 
So ironically,  I celebrated thanks today, on the anniversary of his death. I am thankful though. I’m still alive. But I can’t help but be bitter that I am dadless and that my youngest daughter will tell people, “My mom’s dad? Oh, he died before I was born.” And my oldest daughter will say, “Oh, ya, my grandpa died when I was two. I don’t remember him.”
For those two things I am not thankful.
I miss my dad, although sometimes I wonder why because we had a complicated relationship. Part of me did not like him very much and will probably never forgive him for leaving my mum and me when I was 15, essentially ending my life as I knew it. Another part of me loved him deeply because he was my dad. He taught me why the moon waxes and wanes. He told me never put up with a guy with a temper, because one day the temper would be turned on me. He had this deep, gravelly laugh that I can’t quite remember anymore. He smelled like tobacco smoke and he read copious amounts of science fiction. He paced while he thought about a difficult problem or if something he heard on the news was driving him crazy. He started making bread right before he died and whenever he experimented a little too much and had a crappy batch, he fed it to the ducks in the park across the street. 
When he died, both my brother and I were living outside of Canada and we had to fly home to clear out his apartment. Neither of us had a lot of time as we had to return to our homes, so we left a lot of stuff, but we did the best we could. Perhaps if one of us had had a home in Canada, we would have kept more things that belonged to him. More things that he had once touched. I have one teak box with a few artifacts from his life and I wish I had kept a shirt or something. The most time-consuming and hardest tasks we had was packing up his books because both my brother and I would grab the odd book from his collection as we packed them up and stop to read for a bit. We both packed a box each to take home with us, but there were so many, we couldn't keep the rest. I now have one row of books in my own library that once belonged to my father. I don’t even know why I picked those particular ones or if I will ever read them and I couldn’t tell you the title of even one. My eyes pass over them, unfocused, when I go upstairs to pick a book out. I suppose it’s a type of avoidance. One day I will pick one out and hold it and think about my dad holding it, reading it. Maybe I will picture him standing in the bookstore, deciding whether to buy it or not. Bookstore visits were a thrice-weekly occurrence for my dad. In any case, I have not read any of these books yet. But I will.
So what it came down to was packing up my dad’s stuff, taking a few small things and donating the rest to charity. The last night was packing the rest of the books. We packed all the books and loaded them into a van and drove them over to a used bookstore. It was dark, raining. Middle of October in Southwest Ontario, you know? So we get to the used book store and they don’t want them. We stare at each other in the wet and the gloom and decide to take them to Value Village. It seems like a good idea because the money will go to charity and we both think Dad would like that. So we unload the boxes and there are so many of them. I tell Dave we need to count them and we come up with twenty-seven. And that’s it. My dad’s life came down to 27 boxes of books abandoned on a rainy night on the cold pavement. 
I wonder what I’m supposed to get out of this experience. Losing my dad at the age of 31 and having this difficult, often sad, often strained relationship with him before he was taken from us. In my mind, I see his books that he loved so much being dropped off at some second hand place and us driving away. It took every ounce of strength I had not to run back and take every book back with me. I wish to this day that I had. 
Do you want to know what I got out of it? To be thankful for every second I have on this earth with these dear people I love. To love life and read books. To look at the moon and remember what he taught me. And to feed the ducks.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The things we lie about to ourselves...

1) That graham crackers are better than cookies and therefore not a "guilty food" and you can eat as many as you like
2) That if you eat the suggested serving portion each time you help yourself to said graham crackers, the calories don't count as much
3) That if you buy something on sale that you didn't really need in the first place, you are actually saving money
4) That if you have a cigarette when you're drinking, you're not really smoking
5) That fat-free foods are better for you when in actuality they usually have more sugar in them to make up for the lost fat
6) That if you weigh yourself with your clothes on, you can take 5 pounds off the total
7) That people are staring because you are so good looking when it's really because your underwear is showing, you have toilet paper stuck to your foot or you have spinach in your teeth
8) That you didn't really just spend the entire evening watching reality television, that you maybe watch an hour of television a night or every other night when in actuality you just watched it straight, without moving, from 6:00 until 11:00 (that is 5 hours a night in case you don't feel like doing the math because Survivor just came on and you're not really reading anymore)
9) That you enjoyed that weird artsy film when really you just don't want to admit you didn't like it, didn't get it and you want your money back
10) That you don't eat that many sweets or junk food...
11) That you have nothing to wear in your closet
12) That you totally just biked for an hour when it was probably about 30 minutes
13) That when you were biking, you were absolutely going hard-core fast, for-all-you-are-worth pedaling
14) That you really do need a new pair of shoes because you hate every pair you own when secretly you love all your shoes immensely
15) That you named your phone because you thought it was funny, but now you really think of it as another person
16) That you love every, single second of being a parent and never, ever want to tear your hair out by the roots in frustration or move very far away from any place that allows children to exist.
17) That Kraft dinner is a good lunch because it has milk in it, but you are too damn tired of saying no not to make it
18) That if you just quickly glance at a text message but don't reply then you aren't really texting and driving
19) That you studied for hours and hours and it was not broken up with painting your nails, surfing the net, job searching, playing with a new app, eating graham crackers or writing in your blog

Friday, May 25, 2012

What I did in the five years between posts...


...The end...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Adventures in Germany, Part 1

After yesterday's rather heavy post, I thought I'd share some of my European Adventures to give you a laugh.

In 2008, Brad, Kate and I moved to southwest Germany. We lived for 16 months in Stadelhofen, a small village in the Black Forest of Germany. We were about 20 minutes from the French city of Strasbourg, which is part of the Alsace region in France and it has almost as much German influence as French. Strasbourg was the border city Marie Antoinette travelled through on her way to Versailles. This is my story about the first time I visited Strasbourg.

On Tuesday I went to France. By myself. Well, with Kate of course. One of the other Canadians came by in the morning to say hi and we were chatting and she said they have an Ikea in Strasbourg and I thought to myself, 'Oh yeah? I need a broom and some garbage cans, I might end up going there' I mean, Ikea is the same everywhere, right? So after she left, I googled the store  and voila! I got the address and a map. Looking at the driving directions I thought to myself, ah, not so hard, just a right, left, straight, straight, right left, straight, no problem, I can totally do this. So I started off and I drove around Stadelhofen (where I live), then to Apperweir, on to  Zusenhofen, and halfway to Ulm, for about 30 minutes trying to find the B28 to Strasbourg because, of course, right off the bat, the instructions were not correct. Anyway, I finally found the highway and I made it to France, which is only about 20 minutes away. So I get on this enormously huge 401-entering-Toronto-esque type highway in France and I'm thinking, Oh God, I will never find my way home, I should turn around right now, but stupid me, I kept going. I followed my directions and found that they were not that bad and that the signs on the roads kind of  jived with what was in my instructions, so I followed them and holy mother of God, after about ten nail-biting minutes on the highway, including two exits and another highway I made it to Ikea. Parked, immediately had a cigarette. Contemplated turning right around and going back before I forgot how to get back. No, no, I'll just follow the instructions in reverse, it'll be fine, after all , I made it here, didn't I? And what woman can really resist a beautiful, shiny, blue and yellow Ikea, just beckoning to her? Not me, that's for sure.

Well, I shopped for about twenty minutes, the whole time close to tears, thinking, stupid stupid stupid. Should have waited until Brad was with me, then at least we'd lost together, or I should have printed instructions on how to get BACK, but no, had to go off half-cocked. I bought a dustpan with a brush, a laundry hamper and a stool for Kate. Briefly thought about gathering enough courage to ask a stranger 'Parlez vous anglais?' and then beg for instructions on how to get back to Germany. Decided against it. Got back to the car, drove around Strasbourg for about 15 minutes, getting more and more panicky when I realized I had no idea how to get back on the huge highway that I'd just been on, but in the opposite direction. After passing Ikea several times and realizing that I was just going in circles, I finally swallowed my pride and parked again, went in again (and the whole time I have Kate, so I'm hauling her around) and after about ten minutes of glancing shyly at a young couple and trying to pump up enough courage to use my French, I finally asked them if they spoke English. THANK GOD they did. They started to help me, but an older German gentleman heard and also spoke English, so he instructed me how to get home and I got home in about 35 minutes. Just like that. Ironically, I was on the right highway the first time I left Ikea and chickened out, I just had to go further. Scary as hell, seriously, but I am kind of proud of myself. We had dinner at Brad's friend's house that night and his wife said I was very cool, that she has many girlfriends that would not go to the Ikea in Strasbourg because the highway is too complicated and scary. I did not explain to her that I didn't know any better.

I've come to the conclusion that not only should Google maps tell you HOW to get to a place, they should RATE the route. Like, give it a 1-10 rating, 1 being straight there, no highways or turning and 10 being the craziest, busiest highways and many exits and turns. e.i. 10 being the nail-biting, cigarette-yearning, twisting-hair, most scary-ass thing you have ever done.

You may be asking, what was Kate doing while I was freaking out? She was sleeping. Like a baby you might say. Traitor.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dear Bullies:

To All the Bullies I Knew in High School:

The first two years of high school I spent mostly in fear, sadness, and desperation because I was bullied by the same group of girls almost every day. Junior high was the same, but not quite so bad. It was more like training for the real thing.

Bullied. It seems so odd that there is so much focus on it now. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad people are recognizing it and trying to stop it. I'm glad kids are more aware of it and that schools say they will not tolerate it. But when I was in high school, bullying was just part of life. It was something we had to deal with in order to grow. We were going to grow up and have to deal with difficult people all the time, so we better get used to it. Boys will be boys and girls can be vicious. Well, being harassed and embarrassed on a daily basis did not make me better at dealing with difficult people, it made me terrified of confrontation.

In junior high, when I was 12, it was a group of three girls, who, for whatever reason, decided they hated me. As I recall it was because one girl liked my "boyfriend" and her friends supported her. They spread rumors that I was a slut and had already lost my virginity, they said I was stupid, they told people I was a bitch, they confronted me several times face-to-face and said they were going to beat me up. They never touched me, but I lived in fear that one day, when I was walking home alone, one of them would be there to punch me in the face, as she so nastily put it. I still remember all their names, but the main girl, the girl who was jealous of my boyfriend, my friends, my hair, I have no idea what, her face is burned into my mind. Her thin lips pressed into a sneer and her eyes glittering with hate. Because I was 12 and such a threat to her world? In oft repeated chat short form, WTF? 23 years later, I picture her face and I start to shake a little while I write this entry. I never told my mom, I never told any teacher. I just went to school every day with a knot of fear in my stomach hoping it wouldn't be too bad that day.

And it wasn't all bad. I had great friends who supported me, promised they would have my back if any of those girls so much as touched me. But who are we kidding? They were as powerless as me and they couldn't be my bodyguards. Thankfully, because the mean girls were a year older then me, they eventually graduated to high school and the next year I found myself in with the toughest group of kids in the school. They were from an area of town were poor kids and rich kids mingled together but all had various difficulties at home which meant they adopted each other as brothers and sisters. My own home life was great, my parents were still married, we lived in a nice house, we had everything we needed, but I was still welcomed into the group. Into the fold I went and I finally belonged somewhere. I didn't even need to be tough to be friends with them, they liked me because I was nice. And they were tough enough that I was protected by their reputation. No one was going to mess with me when I ran with a bunch of tough kids like that.

Then I graduated and went to high school. We'd moved in the meantime and I was starting at a school where I knew four people out of 1500. Again, I didn't belong and it wasn't long before some girls sniffed this sad fact out and began to pick on me.

All you want to do in high school is blend in, be cool, have a group to hang out with and just get through it. Some people even manage to have some fun. I wasn't a joiner, I didn't go in for clubs or sports, but I managed to make a few friends. Some of them I'm still friends with, incredible as that seems. I met a guy, we started "dating." I wasn't on anyone's radar and life was pretty good. My family had moved to a farm, so we were kind of isolated, but I had a horse and I loved the country. School was a place to go to see my new friends, hear the gossip and just hang out between classes. Lessons didn't really factor in.

Then, one day, it all changed. I knew that there were a couple girls in grade ten who didn't really like me, they gave me dirty looks in the halls and I always felt like they were whispering about me to each other. I laughed that off as vain. After all, who was I but a silly little niner of no import to them? They probably didn't even know who I was I told myself.

I went to a party one night with a few friends. I wasn't an isolated loner, a geek with no friends, a psychopath in the making, I had friends, I got invited to parties. Some people might even remember me as being popular. But this one party, this one night, there was a girl there that I knew didn't like me. She was one year older than me and for whatever reason I never learned, she had decided she didn't like me. I wasn't really concerned. Honestly, I don't like everyone I meet, I don't expect everyone who meets me to want to be bosom buddies, but I thought I could win this girl over. And then that undercurrent of hate I was starting to feel at school would dissolve and I wouldn't have to worry about it anymore.

So I smiled at her. I thought, hey, I'm friendly, I've made friends here, I can make this girl like me. Every time I caught her looking my way, I offered her a small smile. I thought I was making headway. Then a friend of mine (who was in this girl's class) came over to me and said, "Megan, you know I like you and I'm not saying this to be mean, I'm just relaying a message for your own good. Meangirl just said if you smirk at her one more time, she's going to come over and wipe your stupid smile off your face. So, you know, just don't look at her anymore, ok?"

I still remember the shock and outrage I felt as my friend said this to me. I was trying to be NICE! I was trying to be FRIENDLY! And this girl thought I was smirking at her? Taunting her? I look back at that night and cannot recall a time that my intentions were more thoroughly misunderstood. And I've been married for 12 years and had plenty of those head-shaking fights where you just think, Really? You honestly think that's what I meant? And the added insult of being told to "just not look at her anymore"! Who the hell did she think she was, telling me where to look? But at the same time, it scared me. I didn't have my tough friends to back me up anymore and I didn't want to push the issue. I really can't stand fist fights, I've never been able to handle the idea of them in real life and the thought that someone wanting to smash their fist into my face scared the hell out of me.

So that was the start of it. Soon I had a new group of three girls harassing me. They spread rumors about me too and taunted me, yelled at me in the halls. One of the worst insults was a nickname they gave me that followed me for the next year and a half, until I moved away and left the school.

"Hey Booger! Hey, yeah, I'm talking to you bitch," they laughed as I walked by. I could feel my face turning scarlet with embarrassment and confusion. Booger? Why were they calling me Booger? Gross! I remember looking around to see if anyone else had heard. Of course they had, lots of people were staring, a few were laughing, some were just looking away from me in embarrassment. These three girls kept calling me Booger and it took six months for me to find out why. It was as simple (and embarrassing) as talking to a boy one day who noticed I had a booger in my nose and he went and told a bunch of people about it. Word got back to those girls and they gleefully called me Booger for the next year and a half. They probably still call me that, I have no idea. What I do know is that 20 years later I am ridiculously conscious of what is going on in and around my nose at all times.

Another day, the three of them fell in step behind me as I was walking to class and starting talking about that new bitch, you know, Megan? Yeah, what a little slutty bitch she is, if I ever catch her alone, she better watch it because I'm going to kick her ass into next week. She's fucking dead if I ever see her outside of school, what a fucking slutty whore. She's so fucking high on herself, but she's nobody, she's nothing. And I walked in front of them, my books clutched to my chest, my head down so no one would see the tears in my eyes. I didn't turn around and yell at them, I didn't stick up for myself. I just cried silently to get to class. I couldn't even duck into a washroom to avoid them, because what if they followed me in and really did start hitting me? I pictured myself with a cut lip, a blackened eye, sitting alone, bleeding, in the bathroom after they left. Definitely not an escape plan.

And so on it went. Every night I would lie in bed and think about those girls and what I would say to them if I were brave enough. I wished that my old, tough friends from junior high were around to protect me. I knew that I would never stick up for myself, never speak out, that I would walk through the halls with them yelling "Booger!" and laughing at me and I would never tell on them. It might surprise you to know I never once thought of telling a teacher or reporting them to the principal. It was my problem and I had to deal with it. It didn't matter that I was too frighten. My fright was just another problem I had to deal with and get over. I didn't tell my mom, or my dad. I might have mentioned it, but I know it never turned into a big deal, that my mom never called the school to discuss a bullying issue. We talk about it now. My mother and I. She's a teacher now, at the same junior high I attended when I was 12. She says she had no idea that I was being harassed like that, if she had known...well, what would she have done? Probably nothing, because back then it was just something you put up with. You think your kid is exaggerating. Like, but mom! EVERYONE has these jeans! Parents didn't get involved like they do now, they weren't aware of just how badly bullies affect kids. My mom says if it was happening now, she would never let it slide, that she'd be calling the school, the parents. But that is now. Back then, I just cried myself to sleep each night and dreaded the arrival of the school bus in the morning. I went to school in total dread of what horror this new day would bring.

I spread it around that I was a pacifist. That I never fought and I didn't believe in fighting. My reasoning was that it would hold the fist fights at bay because not even a mean girl is going to throw a punch at a pacifist. Pretty much the most cowardly thing you could ever do is hit a person who has told the world they would not fight back. It was the only thing I ever did to defend myself. And in the process of telling people I was a pacifist, I realized I was. I would never hit another human being in anger or participate in a fight. Quite honestly I thought fist-fighting was vulgar and low-class and I was above it all. Okay, so maybe when the mean girls accused me of walking around like a snotty shit, they had a slight point. Still, I stand by that opinion. And I still don't like fights.

That was grade nine and grade ten wasn't much different. The taunts continued. The threats rang out. The name Booger followed me everywhere. At a time when all you want to do is blend in and be accepted, being called Booger doesn't exactly help.

In the fall of grade ten, one of the girls approached me at a party. She had been in a terrible car accident that summer, one in which she had almost died. As I recall, her neck or back had been broken and while she could walk, she had to wear a halo that had been surgically screwed into her head to keep her spine from shifting. I guess this accident had opened up her heart and mind and she came to realize what she had done to me the year before was incredibly unfair. She came up to me and said, "I'm sorry about all that shit I said to you last year. I can't speak for the other two, but I need to apologize to you. Things are different for me now, I realize how short life can be and I don't want to have regrets. I get it if you hate me, but I'm sorry and I won't be mean to you anymore." It took a lot of guts for her to say that. She could have just ignored it all, maybe stopped participating in the bullying, but essentially just ignore me. But she didn't. She had the guts to admit her complicity and apologize for it. I've always admired her for that and we became friends afterwards. We don't talk much anymore, but she's on my Facebook and if anybody asked, I'd say she was a friend.

Unfortunately, her apology seemed to fuel the fire for her two friends. They still hated me and still threatened me on a daily basis. I learned to avoid them, to take different routes so I wouldn't run into them on the way to class. One day, the ringleader, another girl whose face is burned into my memory even 20 years later, sent a message through a friend of mine to meet her in the stairwell near the gym. Ironically, it was the same friend who warned me at that party a year before that I better stop being so damn nice and watch my back. I didn't want to meet this girl, I was imagining her punching me, finally, after all those threats, but I didn't know how I could avoid the confrontation. My friend urged me to go, said she'd be there the whole time and that it would be better to just face it. If I ran away, which I dearly wanted to do, I would be branded a coward and things would never get better. So I went. And I stood there, mute, nodding my head, tears streaming down my cheeks as this girl started yelling at me in front of about twenty or thirty other kids. She told me what a stupid little bitch I was and who the hell did I think I was, walking around like I owned the school when it was pretty clear that everyone hated me. Did I see the people standing around? Every one of them hated me and wanted to see her kick my ass once and for all. I was nothing. I was nobody. I was a loser and if I kept walking around like queen shit, she was going to punch me in the face enough times to wipe that stupid fucking grin off my face. That I would need a fuck load of Tylenol to ever get my smile back.

I just kept nodding, agreeing with her, hoping she would finish up soon so I could flee back to my small group of friends. What hurt the most wasn't the threats of hitting me. It was the realization that all those people sided with her, that they hated me too. I never thought I was popular, or that everyone loved me, but to realize they hated me? What had I ever done to them? Dated a boy they liked? Laughed too loudly in the hall? Looked at them wrong?

Finally she was done. And I turned around to leave and realized my small group of friends were immediately behind me, ready to punch HER in the face if she touched me. I don't condone violence and especially not men hitting women, but when my guy friend said he was just waiting for her to throw a punch so he could hit her back (knowing I wouldn't), even the pacifist in me hugged him hard. I was only 15, sue me.

A miracle happened that afternoon. That girl's friend, someone who had not been part of the threats and taunts, came up to me and said, "I want you to know, what she said to you it wasn't true. Everyone there was hoping you'd lay her out, shut her tough mouth up for once. What she just did was really uncool and I want you to know I don't agree with her. Good for you for taking it and then walking away. Maybe she'll finally leave you alone." She had never stuck up for me before, but I guess her friend had finally taken it too far. People were starting to see that I was being bullied and that it wasn't cool. They started telling her to lay off, the shut up. It didn't change her feelings towards me, she still gave me dirty looks, still yelled, "Hey Booger!" occasionally but she didn't try to confront me openly anymore. Mostly it just got ignored.

Then I moved away and started at a new school. This school was a lot bigger and in a lucky coincidence, one of my best friends had also moved and would be attending the same school. At least with her by my side and a sea of students around me who didn't know about the booger, I could finally blend in and just be a high school student. I was never harassed at this school. No girls ever decided that they were going to kill me. No one threaten me or made fun of me. I never, to this day, found out why that girl hated me so much. It was something I wondered about incessantly because if I could have changed it, so she would leave me alone, you can bet I would have. But she never told me. As far as I know, she just hated my face and wanted to break it.

My story isn't that bad. I know the bullying that goes on inside and outside of school is so unbearable for some kids that they choose to take their lives, rather than live with the torment. I didn't contemplate suicide as an escape. But I can understand why a person would because the constant fear and sadness that I lived with for 18 months was humiliating and exhausting. And I can honestly say it has scarred my life because I will never forget it. I still shake to remember those days, some worse than others, when I would walk into school, my stomach in knots because I was terrified of what fresh hell my tormentors had in store for me that day. The nights when I couldn't sleep because I was lying in bed, imagining my ultimate payback, my revenge, crying because I knew it was a lie and that I would just put up with it, day after day.

It hasn't made me stronger. I still shrink from confrontation. Even in safe environments like the classroom, I have panic attacks speaking out because of what others might think of me. In the moments after I've confidently given my opinion in front of 50 other students, my hands shake and my heart wallops in my chest. I don't want to be special and I don't want to stand out. That is what bullies took from me, even if they never actually hit me.

My daughter told me today this kid has been bugging her at school. She considers him a bully. I told her how I was bullied, told her some of what those girls from so long ago said to me, to my friends, to their friends. She looked at me with round eyes and asked me what I did. I told her I didn't do anything, that I cried to sleep at night and was scared to go to school. She asked me if I would tell one of my teachers if someone was bullying me and I told her that was what she was supposed to do, or come to me like she had. She said, "Yes, but mum, what would you do NOW? Would you tell your teacher if someone was bullying you?" No sweetie, I'm a grownup now and I have to deal with it myself if it happens.

I didn't tell her that being a grownup doesn't help. But now I have my own kids to worry about and I have to have a talk with my kid's teacher about this bully. Even though the idea makes me shake and my hearts begins to wallop.