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Friday, 23 June 2017

Adventures in primary school

When I look back through my life, I see a lot of unhappiness. I only came to realise this through AA. I’m barely twenty years old, and I wouldn’t say I’ve been through hell and back, but things haven’t been peaches and cream either. There hasn’t been a time in my life (so far) where I’ve looked back on it and thought that was the best period ever. I’ve had good days, good weeks even, and good events, but not good overall periods of time.

I wish a lot of things hadn’t happened. Don’t we all? I wish my parents hadn’t split up; I wish sometimes I hadn’t done A levels or gone to sixth form, I wish I wasn’t an alcoholic. I wish I hadn’t started self-harming because it’s a difficult habit to shake. I wish my parents had just schooled me from home so I didn’t have to go to school and spend seven years stuck as a ‘hopeless little kid still in primary school’ as I referred to myself back then.

I went to Sir Thomas Abney Primary School in Hackney, North London. It was in Stamford Hill where I grew up (also known as ‘Jewtown’). I was a very happy, positive child. I had a loving family home life, which compensated for how shit school was. But I became depressed by age 9/10. I’m sure of this because I have poems I wrote in 2007 that reflect how I felt. When I happily left Sir Thomas Abney and entered secondary school, I had to listen to everyone in year 7 talk about how much they missed primary and how much fun it had been. I got so angry one day I went into the girl’s toilets and penciled some furious message on a cubicle wall about how I felt.

I didn’t talk about being bullied and how painful primary school was until I was 16, when I had counselling for the first time. I have a habit of holding things in and not speaking about them, something I am sure we’re all guilty of. When we are bullied, or humiliated in any way, it can make us feel ashamed of ourselves like it’s all our fault, and make us not want to talk about it. It can also feel scary because we’re worried that if we tell on the other person they’ll flip out on us. This is the same with any kind of abuse; emotional, physical, or sexual.

My earliest memory is being in the playground and having one of my ‘friends’ say to me ‘how old
are you?’ and I responded by saying ‘four’ even though I’m sure I was five, and she started laughing about how small I was. Memories are subjective, and I don’t even know if it’s real or a dream, but it’s all I remember. I remember hanging out with a group of girls and them running away and leaving me by myself. Every play time they would say ‘excuses us for a sec Zarina’ and leave me standing alone staring at the sky whilst they whispered secrets to each other. This went on for years. Whenever we played games I played the character that was easy to make fun of. One afternoon I had to be a cleaner, and I had to pretend to clean our ‘house’. I remember standing and miming sweeping the wall and trying not to cry.

I would try and hang out with other girls and they would get annoyed at me. They would ditch me, and then get angry at me for running off. A Catch 22. The main girl, the 'ringleader' of our class, was my 'best friend.' I think she liked me because I sucked up to her and did whatever she asked. She wasn't as mean as some of the other girls; she was the queen bee and they were her evil cronies doing the dirty work for her.

I learnt to hold in my tears from a young age. I learnt to act according to how I thought others wanted me to behave, rather than acting how I truly felt. I was a heavy cry baby and got made fun of for that, so I spent years working on repressing my tears and sucking them in. I’m not like that anymore, but I still feel uncomfortable seeing others cry in front of me and struggle to cry in front of others. I feel like I need to be in a room by myself and that if others see me cry they’re seeing me in a position of weakness, and that scares me.

In year 3 I told my mum I was being bullied and she told the headteacher and the headteacher told off the other girls and they all got into trouble. That is what happens when you tell on people; they yell at you for getting them into trouble and make you cry harder. So it’s best to let it go.

My ‘friends’ used to do this humiliating thing where they would always try to set me up with this boy I didn’t like – I barely knew him – and on my 8th/9th birthday they made us get ‘married’ and threw flowers over us and made me kiss his jumper. In year 4 we went on this trip to Kench Hill and they locked me in a cupboard and ran off and left me, and came back approx 15 minutes later. That evening I was crying and they asked why and I said it was because I was homesick.

Another thing they would do is make up songs to sing or a dance routine and not allow me to join. I had to watch, but I wasn't allowed to be part of it. I was part of their group, but as their 'target'; their emotional punching bag they could make fun of. They said I could be the bodyguard (no joke) but I couldn't sing or dance the routine with them. (Funny how I'm a musician now).

In year 5 we were playing hide and seek and I was leaning against the tree counting and I could see them whispering to each other and as I was standing there they walked behind me and pulled my skirt down (in front of the boys) and showed everyone my knickers. I just laughed it off.

It wasn’t all awful. In year 5 I befriended this girl who was a few years younger than me. She was little and cute and kind, and also naughty and mischievous. I loved her like she was my little sister. She said she didn’t have any friends, so I befriended her. I drew pictures of her and me together, holding hands or talking. I would go and stand at the edge of the playground between the big kids and little kids section and call for her and we would chat and play together. I would get upset when she couldn’t come and get jealous when I saw her hanging out with other children. I would get especially jealous when I saw her with the girls who bullied me in my year. I’ve always been co-dependent, and it’s very easy for me to get deeply attached to a person and to become fearful that they’ll abandon me. Perhaps I’m even a tad possessive, even if it’s not explicit. I don’t mean to be and probably don’t come across that way, but I do emotionally find myself clinging to those I feel close to. My brother and I are super close (I dunno how I would have made it through childhood without him) and I recently asked him if I love him more than he loves me. (His response: a ‘wft’ look, saying ‘no’, and a hug.)

In year 6 things got a bit better. I stopped hanging out with the same group and befriended a few other girls. Year 6 was my favourite year of primary school; it was nearly over, I was older, I had better friends and overall felt happier. I was still a short, skinny, posh sounding nerd, and everyone was still making fun of me behind my back and to my face, but things were getting better. It was nearly over.

I did feel a touch of sadness the last day of school. Two of the other kids said I was ‘fake crying’ and that I was forcing it. I was one of the most unpopular kids in our class. I try not to think about primary school; when someone says the words ‘primary school’ it makes me freeze inside. Even if there were a few happy times, and there would have been because there’s always some joy in a bad situation, it was overall awful. I did learn to play guitar in primary school, and I discovered my love of writing (the thing that would save me) back then.

 I never would have had a chance at popularity wherever I’d have been, even if the kids were nicer. Super smart kids aren’t well liked by others, and when they’re passive crybabies they're meat. In year 8 I poured glue over this boy’s head in Art; in year 9 I threw a chair across the classroom in Drama. Both incidents got me in trouble, but they also garnered a lot of shock from everyone else, as well as them all finding it sooooo funny. Here I was; this goody-two shoe. Thing is, I didn’t smash up glass bottles or throw chairs or pencil angry words because I was trying to be a rebel. I’m not a ‘rebel’ or a ‘bad girl.’ I was just depressed and angry and had nowhere to vent that repressed rage and misery, so it became explosive. I’m still working with that rage now, and I try and channel it into music and writing and particularly drumming. I do have to be careful though; one wrong move and I could find myself in prison. (I have been arrested for smashing up glass bottles in public; that was back in September).

I’m not going to end this on some cliché ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!’ bs. Life is full of sadness. That’s what I like about Buddhist Philosophy; they say suffering is part of life and we should accept it. There has been no ‘happiest time’ of my life so far, but primary school and sixth form compete for being the worst times of my life. (Sixth form because I was stressed and depressed and emotionally dealing with what had happened to me during primary school). Bullying is common, and no matter how big your school’s anti-bullying campaign is, it probably won’t go away. All we can do is keep moving forward. As my AA sponsor often says; it’s not like that today.

4 comments:

  1. Good to know about these adventures and I believe that a person who will be able to cover these adventures, will be a most sharp student.

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  2. I am very sorry to hear about the bullying that you experienced growing up from peers. I appreciate you being so candid about those experiences as well. I have never really been "bullied" by peers, though I do agree with you that overall, some extent of "bullying" is common - especially when it comes to words more so than actions. Unfortunately, it can be a negative part of growing up but I do think it makes you tougher because it helps you care less about what others think and more of what you think (at least sometimes).

    I agree that the best thing is to keep one's head up and push through the adversity - though adult help should be sought if things get out of hand (of course).

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    Replies
    1. Yeah I've had some shit things happen to me lol (as you've read). It's cool though, it definitely does build your character.

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    2. Sometimes it also makes you stronger because it makes you that more determined to prove yourself or rescue yourself. :)

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