So, there’s a thing out there causing a shitstorm.
I need to write about it. Need to.
- How to smile as your insides scream and you bite the inside of your cheek bloody to keep from running out the door. Bullied kid meant scared kid. Always, always scared. Always. Still, as an adult, always scared. Often a few heartbeats away from running screaming out the room. Only thing keeping it in check? Bigger fear of what will happen if I do. But can’t show you’re scared – bullies are to fear what sharks are to blood. So smile, smile, smile. And if nice fails, act tough and apathetic. Maybe you’ll even fool yourself. And then it’s your fault when adults around you refuse to see what’s happening. “You should be an actor, you’re so good at pretending nothing’s wrong!” they’ll say, as if it’s a compliment. As if they didn’t make you learn to pretend nothing’s wrong. As if it’s your fault you had to learn that skill to survive. As if it’s your fault they refuse to see past the facade they forced on you in the first place.
- How to shut down and lose words to avoid screaming exactly what you think about someone at them… because if you do, then you’ll get the shit kicked out of you, and then the school will suspend you for instigating, and then you’ll go home and catch hell from your parents, too, and then they’ll all wonder why you throw up at the thought of going back, and make fun of how school isn’t anything to cry over.
- How to accept bad advice with a smile and an I’ll try that next time. How to try something you know won’t work just to satisfy someone who’s convinced it will.
- How to restrain yourself from blowing up at them when they tell you that you’re just not trying hard enough, and maybe you just want the attention. How to hurt yourself to prevent yourself from hurting someone else.
- How to find a place where you can fall apart safely.
- How to hate yourself, your life, the world and everyone and everything in it. But mostly yourself. How to use that hate to power you, how to make hate into a lifeline which keeps you from drowning.
- How to bury your emotion in a superhuman workload. Can’t feel if I’m too exhausted to think. Stab of adrenaline just lets me finish the next assignment or shift.
- How to act happy when all that is going on in your brain… because anything less is “letting them win” and “being a coward” and “being selfish” and not being resilient enough. Also how to know deep in your hear that the happy mask is walking a tight rope made of knives in a heavy crosswind, if you slip, you fall, and if you don’t, you bleed. And spectators will call it your fault whichever way it turns out.
- To not trust anyone. Ever. To assume malice before incompetence, because a pattern of willful incompetence often hides malice, and because people who have a vested interest in not having to do anything would have you believe that ten people who have a combined work experience of more than twice your grandmother’s age are all so staggeringly incompetent that they can’t see a kid getting beaten up right in front of them. Because nobody is that incompetent. Because often the ones bending themselves into pretzels to excuse malice as “innocent” incompetence are the most malevolent.
- To isolate before you can be isolated. Because if it’s self-imposed it doesn’t hurt as bad. Because you can’t be betrayed by stuffed animals and books and the walls of an empty room.
Tell me, O Great and All Knowing ABA Person: Where is the “perks” in this? Tell me.
Maybe one of your “perks” can make my brain stop screaming. No?
I didn’t think so.