Archive for June, 2012

Protect the Child

June 5, 2012
In yesterday’s newspaper, a story about a student who was bullied in school and wrote poetry to help herself deal with it then posted a poem about it on her FaceBook wall this year as an adult when her class reunion came up, prompted my meditation this morning. I have never shared it outside my family; according to my mother, I did not share it even with them when the events actually took place, but I was bullied often especially in middle & highschool. For being “fat” or different, not sure why. I, too, started to create art and poems, but today’s poem was not written until years, no decades later. I still have occasional nighmares from that time.
In the late 1980s, I accompanied my then husband on evening rounds at the various hospitals where his patients recuperated. One day as we boarded the elevator at Crouse Hospital two women followed us on and I time traveled with PSD to the past. These two women were sisters who lived on the same street where I grew up. I squeezed my husband’s hand very tightly. He did not know why but squeezed back.  After they left the elevator a floor before we debarked, I shakily explained that they were the girls who’d tried several times to injure my dog with their car by slamming her into a snow bank. They had no idea who I was in present time. I was safe, the dog long gone and safe. It turned out their mother was dying of cancer. I confess I was unmoved by that information.
Trapped in the girls’ bathroom, a different girl bully laughing and blocking the door, sneakers stolen in gym class to get me in trouble with the teacher, a neighbor-witnessed attempt by same bullies to hit my dog with her car, another theft of a precious sketchbook filled with my line drawings of my father senior year, a theft of a poetry journal…and so on.  The ultimate act of bullying was by a trusted female adult teacher upon whom I had a school girl crush, who seduced me. She told me if I told anyone, she’d say I was lying. I ve never attended any class reunions and never will. That time in my life was hell and I don ‘t mind saying so. I’ve wondered periodically was I the only victim of that teacher? I was only 16. I’m certain I was not the only student in that elite school district who was bullied.
A bully is a bully no matter the age. I survived it and it did, in fact, like the lyrics of Kelly Clarkson’s song make me stronger though this is no method through which to gain strength, and sometimes it felt like they were killing my spirit.
Now, it is safe to say, I am thriving. To survive is not enough. To thrive beyond the pain and scars is what matters after all is said and done. The following poem, though somewhat fictionalized, illustrates another event that actually took place. I felt it was extremely important to write it, to witness and document the horror that this 12 year old child lived through one winter Saturday night, and to witness for others who are living it right now.  I chose to write it in this spare, abstract, prose poetry style. Somehow that style diminishes some of the potency of the memory, thus allowing my muse to approach it in a coherent manner. This collects and concentrates the power of the emotions and strengthens the intensity of the writing. The story ends happily, so to speak. The girl in the poem finds a reason to live. Kindness to the animals that share her life as a proactive behavior to nullify the hurt done to her all those long years ago.
It is like the law in physics: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. We can be hurt, but later on, we can make a concious choice to act opposite, to create joy in another that will override the pain of memory within. That is healing. In closing I would like to encourage any one of my readers or those who share this meditation with others to contact me if you need a friendly ear, if this has happened or is happening to you. One of the worst aspects of bullying is the loneliness and isolation, and shame. It is not your fault that a bully picks you. Most times, nothing you can do will change the bully’s behavior, so you shouldn t feel “if only I did this” or “i should’ve…” nobody deserves it.
Forty Years Later: the Slumber Party for those who are bullied
Rachael Z. Ikins
judge, jury? execution’s sharp edge quickest. the kids kick the kidney-bean curled in her sleeping-bag. and they laugh. not right, to fight. curling up also wrong. years later some shrink smirks at bean-girl “why didn’t you dance? they only wanted you to get up and dance.” no, they wanted blood. she was there. she did not raise a hand when they smashed her fingers. she pretended through tears’ silver daggers when her fingers were smashed. she grew up pre-emptive. alone. or she responded. she apologized. coyotes cry on the horizon tonight. raccoons rumble through the woods outside the bedroom window. inside lies bean-girl full of blood on her bed, her daggers, her cats beside her. she thinks suicide a concession to booted stomp, steel toes. to dancin’ shoes. who would take care of the cats?


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June 4, 2012