What he says is all too true. To this day I am still frustrated that schools do not take the issue of bullying seriously. Often it's dismissed with one sentence; " They're just being kids." Childhood is not always an idyllic time where it's all about innocence, play, and fun.
When I was a kid I found it hard to be around other people as I was feeling so insecure about myself because of my ailment. I always thought I was a burden to my family as I was sickly and always coming down with something that forces my parents to rush me to the hospital. And when I stayed there all I could think about was how inconvenient my existence is for the other people around me.
I would sometimes sneak around so I could see the latest printout of the hospital bills that my parents had to shoulder because no insurance company would pay for my condition. It made me feel like I was a little thief for taking away all that money from my family. I knew full well my father would be applying for another loan to pay for the treatments/tests they had to administer/do for/to me. I felt like a leech sucking them dry. There were nights when I couldn't sleep and then I would hear my parents in their room talking about me and my mother was often crying because she had a hard time accepting that her daughter have defects. She blamed herself at one point because she felt guilty. She thought she was the reason why I was this way. It was hard for her as it was for me.
I'd go back to my room and cry myself to sleep too because I didn't know what else I could do.
When I was five I had to wear very thick glasses that magnified the size of my eyes and make them pop out like big, floating eyeballs. My severe eye condition was another manifestation of Marfan Syndrome. People were always shocked to see a little girl wearing such thick glasses and when I took them off it always surprised them when they see me for the first time. Often they would say that I was actually "pretty" without the glasses, implying therefore that I was ugly looking when I put them on. I knew the big eyeballs on my face made other people uncomfortable maybe because it made them feel like I was staring at them and burning a hole through their soul. At first I was sent to a school for the blind because I couldn't see very well and ordinary schools didn't have the facilities to cater to my special needs. But I didn't feel I belonged there. I was the only one who could partially see. I insisted on being sent to a "normal" school despite my eye condition and little did I know it would be the start of the real tragedy.
When I was finally transferred to a "normal" school I was assigned to sit down in the front row despite my big size because I can barely see the writings on the chalkboard. This must have frustrated my classmates so. New and thick glasses barely helped me to see but at least I wasn't considered blind anymore.
To this day I still wear thick, dorky glasses.
There were so many things I was not allowed to do as a kid and growing up without experiencing those little pleasures make up for a somewhat boring childhood. Sometimes I felt like I never had a "normal" childhood. I was told not to climb trees unless I wanted to fall and hurt my back. I'd end up paralyzed they say since I already had a bad back to begin with. I have scoliosis which is again due to Marfan Syndrome.
I could not run and play because too much strenuous activity might affect my heart and I'll be back in the hospital again. All these restrictions made me think in my young mind that I was not allowed to have fun. Navigating through life's ups and downs while being literally kicked, punched, and taunted as you go along the way by your peers and be called a lot of things simply because you are different makes growing up such an ordeal.
Being different was what prevented them from trying to understand me. What they could not understand they probably feared. And what they feared they had to break, abuse, and destroy.
Quasimoda, the hunchback of Cebu
These are just examples of the names I got called. There were also a bunch of creative taunts and other words I could no longer remember.
These were the words they used to call me, to describe me, to break and hurt me. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me." goes the famous nursery rhyme but I would just like to say that this is bullshit.Words cut so much deeper and the worst part is that they linger in your head.
On Dreams and Ambitions
There were so many things I wanted to be but I always stopped myself from aiming for something higher because I thought I could never attain it. I did not have the means to get it. I was already crushed. They got to me and destroyed me completely.
At one point I wanted to be a nun and desperately tried to search for meaning and redemption in my world full of hurt and endless taunts. But even at such a young age I felt like there was nothing really out there. A belief in an all-caring sky daddy figure never made sense to me. Logically, it didn't add up yet probably perhaps out of desperation it still didn't fully stop me from searching for something. One might call it a "saving grace". I never found it. I didn't end up being a nun.
Then I wanted to be a rock star because I saw a video of Bon Jovi's concert and it looked so fun especially when he was dangling through a wire flying over the audience and belting out "Living On A Prayer". I quickly realized though that this dream will never be as I could not play the guitar and was told that if I learned it I would go through excruciating pain and my fingers will be bruised and nicked and this will cause infection not to mention pain. This stopped me. I know I'm allergic to Penicillin and all it's derivatives so my parents might have to take me back to the hospital again and they'll be slapped with another thick pile of bills to pay.
(The thoughts of a broken child's mind lead to so many tragedies)
So I abandoned the dream of becoming a rock star as I knew it would never work out. To this day I still couldn't play the guitar.
Some time passed and I wanted to be a doctor because I dreamt of helping other sick children like me. I wanted to be a different type of doctor. Someone who is kind, helpful, cheerful. I knew I would be good at it as I have gone through things other doctors have not gone through despite their training in any top-notch medical school. I went through pain. I am sickly. I knew what it was like to be the patient. Often when doctors come in to examine me they always felt cold and so distant and I thought I could do a better job and have an entirely different approach. Then I found out that being a doctor cost so much. We don't have that much money especially when my parents were paying back loans left, right, front, and center. And having stayed in the hospital I thought, this isn't the kind of place I'd want to be stuck in. Hospitals are dreary. They're even sadder than cemeteries. You are surrounded by people constantly in pain, unsure, broken, desperate. I don't want to be in here. I don't want to be working here.
I tried to think of another alternative so I turned my head to my books and then I said to myself that I should be a genetic engineer. I thought then that since it had the word "engineer" attached to it then maybe I need not go to a medical school. I was wrong. So... I scrapped both dreams and abandoned it all.
There was also a time when I wanted to be a lawyer. I thought maybe if I become a lawyer then I can have the legal means to stop these people bullying me and show them the hand of justice. I can send them all to jail! But much like being a doctor or a genetic engineer, I found out that being a lawyer costs so much. We don't have that kind of money to spend especially when my parents were paying back loans. I, having the knowledge that I was different with so many limitations felt defeated.
I was the one who killed my own dreams.
I was a child. What can a young child do to get through all those negative thoughts and the taunts? At 13 I didn't think about taking someone else's life like what Shane Koyczan said he did. I thought of taking my own life. The scars of that stupid action, my first botched suicide attempt are still visible today. Then after that first failed attempt at suicide I tried again and again. Three times I failed.
"Get over it!"
This was indeed the usual response whenever I tried telling someone I felt that way. Hearing those words hurt. Had I known how to "get over it" I would have done so a long time ago. It is easier said than done. Sometimes I question if it can be done. How do you just "get over" something that has been crippling you for so long?
I never belonged to any group growing up. The "nerdy" people would not even take me in. Yet despite that I am still here. Trying, improving, and trying harder to just live and make something out of my life.
To this day the pain is still there, the insecurities too. The scars of the past still etched in the psyche as well as my wrist. I admit that there are days when the old thoughts try to grab hold of me again. Suicide just seems so easy. The years I worked hard at trying to make myself stronger is slowly being unraveled and I am desperately and consciously trying to work at it not letting it get to me today. It keeps pulling me back to the dark abyss I was stuck in, telling me I will never amount to anything and nobody will really love me in the end. But I try my best not to listen anymore. I try not to let it get me now. I've come so far. I'm going to hold on for dear life. If I am going to die, at least with my last breath I could say proudly that I tried and I died trying.
To know more about the author read: An Insight Part I (The Early Years)