I was a shy, introverted child by nature. Living in isolation in the deep woods with my parents, family, and a couple neighbors only seemed to amplify it even more. I had little contact with the outside world. I was just a small child, and I didn’t know any different.
I met kids that were my age for the first time when I went to preschool. Mom said it would be an awesome new adventure and making friends sounded so easy. I could not have been more wrong. Little did I know that my troubles were only beginning.
The other kids wouldn’t let me play with them. They took my toys away and pushed me down. They called me names and did other mean things to me. There was even a kid who bit me. Even one of the grownups was mean. I clung to my mother and I didn’t want to go back to the nursery and preschool, but I had to since my mother worked there, and my dad was working.
From this point on things never really got better for me. It only got worse as time went on. I was bullied, betrayed, and ostracized almost every day–sometimes more than once in a day. It wasn’t just a few people who did it all the time, but almost the entire class. After the main bullies had their turn, bystanders would join in shortly after. It was like running the gauntlet. Everyone was against me. Somehow nothing ever became physical. The internal beatings I got were probably a lot worse than a physical one could have been.
My life was never in danger, but I felt like I was being shot at; I had no escape or sense of safety. I was helpless against the onslaught, and I had no control–no matter if I stood up for myself or not. I didn’t understand why I was hated chosen to be ostracized. I was labeled a misfit, but I didn’t know why. I wasn’t fat, disabled, or one of the “ugly” kids, but I was treated worse than any of these. Was there an “Island of Misfit Kids” for people like me?
Betrayal was frequent for me. People pretended to me my friends and then sold me out. They humiliated me in front of everyone. Judas Iscariot had nothing on these people; they even put him to shame.
After a time I closed myself off from everyone, and I didn’t want to come to school anymore. I lost my ability to feel or trust. I lost control of my emotions, especially anger. Sometimes I wanted revenge or someone to help me. I began to develop insecure attachment for fear of abandonment and betrayal. My life became ruled by pain, loneliness, despair, and fear. I never got over what happened last week, yesterday, or last year before I would be pummeled again tomorrow and next week–not to mention I just got home from figuratively having my butt kicked today. My life became a war zone where I was on the defense all the time. I couldn’t talk to my parents about what was happening due to the pain of reliving it. I had to hide my feelings and wounds from the bullies or they would tear me apart like sharks in a feeding frenzy.
The Swinging of the Pendulum
After moving from the place where it all began, I realized I was riding on a pendulum that would swing me from seasons of continuous traumatic stress disorder (CTSD) to complex posttraumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) and back again. My first season of CTSD lasted from preschool to the latter part of 5th grade when we moved.
When we moved, I was an absolute mess on the inside. My great grandfather had just died, and he was a big part of my life growing up. I was leaving behind the home that was a safe haven for me with all the wonderful memories and adventures–it was school that sucked. I was in limbo and afraid of the future and a new school with new kids. What if they hate me too?
This season was a season with CPTSD, but having a real friend for the first time helped somewhat even though there was bullies, but this season doesn’t last long, and we move again. This move sent me crashing back into CTSD, and it was worse than ever and the longest lasting. These kids were as vicious as velociraptors. The season lasted from 8th grade until I left my second job. After leaving this job, I was back into a long season of CPTSD that was worse than the last time. Each new round with CTSD had to be avoided or it would be worse the next time. I have to get off this pendulum!
Some of the things that stick out in my mind about this whole scenario are that I had no control over what happened, and that I wasn’t at fault for whatever stigma I had against me, but that didn’t help me with the pain, loneliness, fear, and despair. It seemed to follow me around everywhere I went. I still don’t really have any idea what it was people had against me. I can’t help but notice the missed opportunities and barriers to any kind of success this has brought; I also had no mentors to speak of since I suppose that people found me not worth their time. If anyone had to be axed or bumped off at work, it was usually me, and it didn’t matter how hard I worked and how well my performance was. It didn’t matter if I reached out or not. It always seemed that popularity barred my path, and was it going to be like this until I die?
Was I going to live life in the shadows and be invisible? Was I going to always be shut out and hindered by cliques, backbiters, and backstabbers regardless if I take action? Was I going to struggle to just barely survive? Were my dreams going to die with me and be unfulfilled because of my archenemy Popularity?
I became afraid of people. I suffered in silence and had little or no ability to trust anyone outside of family. I tried it one more time, and after 15 long years of having no friends, I found the friends I had long waited for in early 2011.
After being able to trust again, I began to share the deep hurts with my friends and family for the first time, and they have helped me overcome a lot, but I still have a long way to go. On 11/8/2014 I got off the pendulum at last to try to live the life I had been denied for more than 20 years.
Amanda Taylor is an independent award winning MG/YA fantasy and science fiction author who writes under the pseudonym A.K. Taylor who is also known to dabble in, cross into, and bend other genres. She is also an entrepreneur and a blogger. Founder of Soaring Eagle Publicity and upcoming Soaring Eagle Books, there are many other book projects on the horizon. To connect or find out her books or what she is up to, visit her website.
Well done in getting off that pendulum, like Poe’s the Pit and the Pendulum it’s not a good place as you have been able to realise. I wish you every success and much new-found peace on your journey towards the life you deserve.
Thank you so much for those kind words! Yes, getting off has been step one. 🙂
Thanks Sarah for allowing me to share my story with other Stigma Fighters!
Thanks for sharing that, Amanda. We literary loonies have to stick together!