I am taking a little health leave this weekend and I am very honored to have a young woman whom I met through our blogs to guest post for me. Her story would be a heartbreaking one if it wasn’t for her strength and wisdom beyond her years. Having been viciously bullied myself no matter where I went, I was very moved by Jasminder’s story and wanted to share it with you.
Jasminder is a mental health blogger at Confessions Of A Reborn Girl, self-declared philosopher, crafter, college student, and full-time dream-chaser. When not tripping down the rabbit hole, she can be found sipping herbal tea, dancing around her bedroom, and finding new ways to love her life.
“Mainly, I started my blog to teach people how to live boundless — or achieve their full potential. I do this by sharing my own success stories and vulnerabilities. (I believe someone who’s boundless should be willing to face all parts of themselves amongst other things.) The name of my blog “Confessions of a Reborn Girl” relates directly to my past. When I was recovering from being bullied, I was a dead girl walking. I had no direction in life, and at one point no feelings, and I just existed rather than lived. When I finally healed, I was a completely different person. Even the people around me noticed the change in my personality. I was a girl reborn and now I’m confessing my story.”
The more adults I talk to, the more of them tell me how mature I am for my age. They admit that even they didn’t have such a strong sense of identity so young and congratulate me on achieving what took them many more years. I wish I could say I was flattered, but I’m not.
The truth is that I’m no more than a product of my past.
When I was a young girl, I used to attend a wonderful elementary school. If I ever started crying, a circle of kids would gather almost immediately to comfort me even though I didn’t have many friends. I felt safe there like I belonged, and I truly adored the last teacher I had there. To this day, I believe she’s an angel in disguise.
Come third grade, however, I had to transfer to my brother’s school because my parents couldn’t manage dropping off and picking up us both from different schools. Side Note: I do NOT blame my parents in any way for the ensuing events. I could have reached out to them, to any adult on campus, but I was too afraid to speak up for myself. That’s a lesson I only learned several years later.
My classmates at this new school didn’t take kindly to me, to say the least. They made it very clear that everything about me was wrong. The hair on my arms because of my Indian heritage, my devotion to education, my reluctance to harm anyone….I still remember the fortune my music teacher read me on my birthday. “You’re too kind for your own good.” I’ve never been one for astrology, but if that wasn’t the truth, nothing was.
When my best friend began slapping me in the back of the head during class, I said nothing. I learned to tense up every time she passed behind me, it happened every minute or so. Sometimes she’d pat my head and hiss in my ear “coward.” It wasn’t until her beatings, verbal and physical, grew regular and more painful that I told my parents. They were horrified and immediately notified the principal. From then on, she made sure my friend could never lay a hand on me again; even offering to suspend her if I wished it. I declined. Somehow I felt guilty for coming forward about the abuse.
Things didn’t improve after that. My classmates seized on every opportunity to make me feel unwelcome, hated, and alone. I still shudder to think about one day in particular. We were practicing a drill for if a shooter came on campus and I accidentally got locked out of the classroom because I had to go to the bathroom. After the drill ended, the teacher let me in only for me to be greeted by several students claiming it was a shame I hadn’t been killed. “I wish you were dead,” a boy said straight to my face. Two years later, he would go on to tell me I was the first person on his hit list. Side Note: He became my class president when I was a senior in high school. Not a serial killer.
As time went on, I grew more and more afraid. I was the most hated person in my grade, I reminded myself on a daily basis. Unknowingly, I began learning to hate myself as well.
By fifth grade, I thought things would change. Many of my enemies weren’t in my class for once, I’d never felt happier when I looked at the class roster that year. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
My teacher decided to partner with another teacher to teach us history and science. By an ill stroke of luck, none of my friends were in my history section and my group in that class was awful. They sexually harassed me, calling me carnal names and insisting I’d bear children with one of them. That was the first time I flipped someone off in my life. When I tried asking the teacher to change my group, she told me “boys will be boys” and that I’d have to deal with it.
It also didn’t help matters that everyone acted as if I was dirty and ugly. The closest thing I can relate it to is “cooties.” Whenever people touched me, they’d immediately rub their hands on their clothes as if to cleanse themselves. I began mimicking this action, figuring there was something inherently wrong with me. It took me several years to be able to lay a hand on my skin without feeling the urge to move it.
When I graduated from elementary school that year, I felt hopeful and my spirits were soaring. I thought I’d finally be able to leave all the pain and suffering behind. I had no idea that the trauma would continue to affect me for the rest of my life.
Middle school was my lowest point, mentally and socially. I struggled to make any friends, paranoid that they’d turn out to be backstabbers and convinced that nobody could ever like me. It turns out I was right as well. The few friends I did make tried to mold me into someone I wasn’t. At one point, they forced me to wear a skirt and hid my jeans from me so I couldn’t change. I begged for them back, knowing my mum would be furious to find me in that state. By the grace of God, they returned them to me. After that day, I began distancing myself from them for my own safety and peace of mind. They had no qualms about swearing their newfound hatred towards me.
It was at this point that I began disassociating from reality. I created a fantasy world in my head and spent the majority of my time there. However, I grew more and more depressed in my real life. I was completely numb emotionally save for anger. I felt I had no purpose in life, no reason to exist. Had I known what suicide was back then, I have no doubt that I would have seriously contemplated it.
Still, I met two friends that would stay with me until we graduated from high school. I didn’t tell them everything about me, but they completely accepted what I did show them. When I started high school, I wound up meeting their other friends as well. We all quickly became very close; a mini army of slightly crazy artists and poets. We all liked each other for who we were and ate lunch together every day. I know they will always be my people.
There was only one slight problem at that point. I still had a habit of disassociating when I felt uncomfortable or down, but I wanted to live my life to the fullest. I didn’t want any more lies or numbness; only truth. That coming summer, I dropped the habit entirely, and my past hit me full force. Amidst the ensuing chaos, I became convinced that I was a monster. Normal teenage girls didn’t harbor so much ugliness within them or pray to wake up in someone else’s body, but I did.
I wanted nothing to do with myself or my story.
However, facing my past was what ultimately saved me. When I related my experiences in poetry, it took their power away. “Why, yes, I’ve been conditioned against my will and, no, I’m not ashamed of it,” I could tell myself. The more I wrote, the less ugly I felt. My past became something surmountable rather than this big black wall of confusion and anger. I realized that I didn’t have to hate myself, but I was a far cry from loving myself. See, I became very bitter and angry over the years and I didn’t want to settle for that; I wanted to improve myself.
I won’t go into detail about how I learned the following life lessons for the sake of brevity, but take them for what they are.
Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Assuming your house isn’t haunted and you don’t have a stalker, you see your reflection peering back at you.
All those people who don’t accept or understand you aren’t there. It’s just you. Who controls whether or not you like what you see in the mirror? YOU. There are no people with guns to your head telling you what to feel unless you put them there, so do yourself a favor and kick them out of your bathroom! Perverts much?! The same goes for when you step outside. Kick them to the curb. Don’t let them have their say because it doesn’t matter. Other people don’t know your story the way you do; how could you possibly expect them to give an accurate analysis of your character? They simply can’t back up their views and that’s why their opinion is invalid.
Your love is enough. I can’t tell you how morbid I think it is that pop culture pushes the notion that people have to search outside of themselves for validation and acceptance. It’s perfectly okay to be the person you need. You don’t have to date or get married if you don’t want to. You also can’t expect people to love and protect you for you. You have to be your confidante and advocate first. Then, someone cool will come along and want to join in the fun. (Of course, you don’t have to let them in either if you don’t want to.)
Self-critics are overrated. I used to be incapable of accepting any mistakes I made, big or small. I’d tear myself apart mentally until I broke down and cried. Then when that stopped working, I wrote the punishment on my arm. (Side note: No matter what the voices in your head tell you, you **never** deserve to be harmed. You’re beautiful, worthy, and respectable.)
In other words, you can’t bruise your way to victory. You will make mistakes on your path, and that’s amazing. How can you expect yourself to learn what’s right if you don’t know what’s wrong? It’s also literally impossible to become perfect, believe me, I’ve tried and it can only end destructively. Also, I can affirm that most of your mistakes won’t even affect you in a couple months let alone years. (Next time you mess up, think about that!)
It’s okay to be weird. My dad is the kind of guy who streamlines taking clothes out of the washer, don’t ask, and obsesses over Words With Friends. (I swear he’s always playing it whenever he isn’t looking for a job.) I don’t eat meat, fish, or eggs, but I love talking about death and adore the color of blood. Although, I’m not too crazy about the taste. That being said, embrace your inner crazy. You’ll scare away all those who aren’t worthy, and attract equally crazy people who you’ll be friends with for the rest of your life. Or not.
I know it’s been over-stated, but we weren’t born to fit in; we were born to fulfill a purpose. (Life is what happens in the middle.) If we’re chasing a dream that nobody else can see, so be it. If our reality is different than others, so be it. Live and let live.
Never be ashamed of your flaws. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be broken. It’s okay to be a work in progress. It’s okay to be none of the above. Never let anyone tell you that your thoughts or feelings are invalid. The only thing that’s invalid is their view of the human race.
It. Gets. Better. To those of you who are currently suffering, I don’t expect you to believe me. When I was in your position, I’d laugh off anyone who told me that I’d ever get better. I’m going to say it anyway because I’m living proof.
- The pain will subside one day and you’ll learn what it’s to fly.
- The right people will enter your life.
- Side Note: If they end up leaving one day, there’s a reason. Don’t despair.
- The memories will fade so you can make better ones.
- This is happening to me and I’m terrified but excited.
Bottom Line: There’s hope. For you, for me, for everyone.