When I was seven years old, I was head and shoulders taller than the rest of the class. I did all my goring early. After sixth grade I only grew another 2 inches. And I wasn't just tall. I was big.
I had breasts and hips and looked at least 3 years older than my classmates. I hunched and tried not to draw attention to myself. My body was a woman's body but I was still a little girl. Adults always assumed I was older than I was as did the kids.
I was shy. I knew I was different. The chub and the glasses didn't exactly help the situation either. Just another reason to be picked on.
When I was seven we moved to Illinois. Small bitty town called Lindenhurst Village. Dad was teaching up at the naval base. I had lots of friends in Connecticut but when the navy tells you to move, you go.
My first day of school, in a new school, in a new state, got off to a horrendous start. It all started at the bus stop. I was waiting for the bus and so was this girl April. April was pretty and tiny and a bitch. She was also the most popular girl in school. She asked me my name and immediately started in.
"Did you get held back? You look dumb to me. Dumb and ugly. I'll call you Medusa. You're so ugly you could turn people to stone just by looking at them." said the demon child.
I was shocked by the attack. I'd never been told I was ugly before. I'd never been called dumb. I was too hurt and confused to speak up.
The bus came. Everyone was already sitting with their friends and there were no empty seats. Meanwhile, April was still at it.
"Don't let her sit with you! Ugliness might be catching." she said as she sauntered to her seat laughing.
Then another girl piped up."Come sit with me." Her name was Jenny Lynn Schultz and she ended up being the best friend I ever had.
Jenny and I practically lived at each other's houses. She was kind and generous. She got tormented too. Not through any flaw of her own but because she was friends with me. I loved her.
That first day and many to follow, I cried on the way home from school. Cruel and mean words followed me home. My parents did the best they could to comfort me.
Lindenhurst was not a military family friendly town. I once had a girl in my class tell me she wanted to be my friend but her mother told her not to be, since I would be moving again. That's right. Her mother.
This went on for the whole three years we lived there. Every day I was told I was dumb, stupid, fat and ugly. I was worthless. I was Medusa. Yep, the nickname stuck. (Thank you, April.)
By the time we moved back to Connecticut, I had no self esteem. I expected to be treated like garbage. Overlooked (Hopefully) or made fun of.
This little story will tell you how damaged I was.
My first day of school at Mystic Academy, we were told to put our backpacks in line and wait for the bell. I recognized one girl from church but everyone else was a stranger. All the other kids were playing and I stood by my backpack uncertain what to do.
The girl from my sunday school class came up to me. "Come and play with me! Come meet my friends!"she said.
I thought she was joking. She pulled me by the hand and I went. Suspicious and wary of when the jokes would start. They never did. At least I wasn't singled out anymore.
I was ten. I believed no one would want to be my friend. I believed I was fat and ugly and stupid and good for nothing.
It's taken me a long long time to recover my senses and to believe the people who told me I was pretty. I was worth something.
Now and then, I still struggle with it. I try to believe the compliments as much as the criticism. I'm still growing into the person I want to be. One thing a friend told me really stuck with me. Don't put yourself down. The rest of the world will be trying to.
So in my head, I recognize my achievements, my friendships, my good qualities and my survival skills. The world can try to beat me down, but now it'll have a hell of a fight.