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Thursday, 21 April 2016

Memory I

These days I can only imagine how difficult things must be for teenagers. When I was at school, while we had social media and everyone was pretty obsessed with it, it was nowhere near the point it is now. Bebo was something everyone used, Facebook was rarely used, Twitter was used by even fewer people and Instagram (as well as Snapchat) didn't even exist. MSN Messenger was the main communication service and so between that and Bebo there was a ton of drama. If someone didn't like you, they blocked you on either service or teamed up on you with their friends. There were instances of unflattering photos being taken of people and put up on Bebo for people to mock. When there were only two places for people to bully you, it could be very easy to just "turn it off". I guess kids these days don't get such an easy option - they have 10s of programs and websites to contend with when someone has it in for them.

Of course, I have no idea what it's actually like these days for teenagers because I neither know one nor am one anymore. I suppose I wanted to write about some of the harassment I had to put up with *in person* when I was younger. While I'm quite open about the fact that I was often excluded from the little "cliques" of girls back then and subsequently psychologically and verbally abused, I have never really mentioned about some of the more physical issues I had to face.

When we took our exams, we were in with another class from a year below or above us. The girls were seated in one room, side by side, with boys from this other class. Thus, I found myself seated beside this boy from a year below me for these exams (which took 2 weeks at a time and seemed to be biannual.)

I can't remember how it started or what led to it but there were more and more "incidents". By this I mean physical contact. Physical contact without my consent. I was not interested in this young boy and he knew this... but it didn't stop him putting his hand up my skirt on numerous occasions. Sometimes, he would place his hand on my chair so that when I sat down he would be able to cop a feel. Other times he would grab my hand or arm and not let go. On at least one occasion he attempted to kiss me - with his friends watching and laughing of course. It was all a big joke. A big joke at my expense and one that upset me greatly.

Of course, when you're already so emotional all the time, it's just another thing to add to the list. Another thing you deserved. And the psychological effect was not lost on me - I was well aware what he and his pals were implying. They were of course referring to the fact that I was such a disgusting human being that no one in their right mind would want to seriously be with me or kiss me or even hold my hand. That's what they wanted to hammer home in my mind and they certainly did a good job of kicking a dog when it's down; I believed very deeply what they were implying because, as was my mantra at the time, "if so many people think that, it must be true."

With 20/20 hindsight, I think "I should have said something." I told my friends, of course, and I made visible efforts to get him away from me but I never spoke directly to a teacher about it and it's one of many things I deeply regret. However, it was embarrassing at the time - this boy was younger than me and smaller than me, yet I would take the long way to classes sometimes to avoid having to go past him. In the corridors waiting outside classes, if I had to stand near him or even walk past him, he would fondle me (or try to.) I felt like I should have been able to handle him, like he was just a kid to me and that I should have been able to make him stop.

I didn't.

I did start arming myself with a protractor for defence: If he tried anything, I stabbed him. I had him black and blue and bleeding but he wouldn't stop. The only time things started to ease up was when he lost interest. I'm not sure why... it could have been that as the years went on, I went to school less and less and had an attendance of under 30%. Perhaps he got tired of looking for me.

There were so many things happening back then and I was so embarrassed by the whole thing (people referred to him as my "boyfriend") that I didn't want to cause a big fuss over it. I wanted to avoid any drama and I wanted to avoid people whispering about me for it (I did a great job of making them do that by myself).

It's very sad to remember things about my school years that I've repressed over the years. Some things are unable to be dealt with in this day and age and so the only way to move on is to forget. Forgetting doesn't erase it from history though. I feel like with my many medications that I've been insulated from memories like this in order to stabilise. Eventually I want to remember everything that happened that upset me so I can deal with it mentally. I want to make sense of some senseless things. I feel nothing but gratitude towards the medication but sometimes it feels like the real problems haven't yet been tackled - but they're waiting to be.