Whales, Beans and Earthquakes: A Tale of Being Bullied
The bell rang and as I quickly trailed the other girls across the school, I noticed the boys in my homeroom class gathered in a circle talking. Of course in the mix of this circle was the cute, tall boy I was completely and utterly enthralled with. He had the warmest blue eyes or maybe they were green, dirty blonde hair and always smiled at me even though his friends – my other schoolmates – only spoke to me to ridicule me. Embarrassed by my very coy, daydreamy glances and hoping to dear God nobody saw me, I picked up the pace and then it happened. The most dreadful and unthinkable thing which could only happen to me. I tripped and fell on my face right in front of this circle of hormone-induced demons waiting to pounce on the chance to poke fun of me.
As soon as they heard the thump of my body hitting pavement, they immediately stopped their idle babble and rushed over to where I fell. Of course they did not rush over out of concern but out of the urge and need to embarrass me even more than I obviously was. I could not muster up the courage to pick myself up off the ground while they assembled around me. I was absolutely mortified and the tears running down my face sure didn’t help. They all laughed at me and as you read this you are probably thinking of the scene from Carrie where Carrie’s Mom says, “they are all gonna laugh at you.” Laugh out loud. Well, they did laugh at me that day and many other days during my three years at this horrid school. Unfortunately, I didn’t possess the powers to burst them all into flames. Dammit!
As I was lying there in pain, useless, they stood around me laughing and chanting, “The beached whale fell! Did you guys feel the earthquake?” All my books strewn on the ground and not one person asked if I was okay or attempted to help me up or pick up my books. I wished them all away but again, I didn’t possess any kind of magical powers. Again, dammit! After about two minutes – which seemed like two hours – I was finally able to muster up the courage to make some movement and began to get up. My knees were skinned because of course my knees hit the pavement first and I had a bit of gravel on my face. Yes, I fell pretty damn hard and I as I was trying to get up, I heard an Angel’s voice.
“Guys, come on, stop it! Lisa, are you okay?” I looked up and behold it was this beautiful Angel reaching his hand out to me. Well, it really wasn’t an Angel but to me, on that day he was. It was the boy with the warm blue eyes and dirty blonde hair and he had the most glorious hand. I was a bit hesitant to grab his hand but I did because I wasn’t going to miss this chance to hold hands with the boy of my dreams. Once I was up he gathered my books for me and asked if I was okay. I nodded yes with my teary, wet, shamed face and I said thank you. He smiled warmly and ran quickly to class – as we were already a few minutes late. Needless to say my innocent infatuation with him grew tenfold after this mishap and it lasted for the next two years! Of course nothing ever became of this infatuation because no matter what…The fat girl in school never gets the boy. Dammit.
Those three years at that stupid ass school were, at the time, the worst years of my life. I was ridiculed for being fat and when I look at the very few pictures of me from then…I DON’T LOOK FAT!!! I wasn’t skinny but I wasn’t fat. I had curves even back then. The mean boys called me whale and whenever I passed by their idiotic circle, they would ask each other if one or the other felt the earthquake. I avoided them as much as possible but sometimes I just couldn’t. They always stood around like a flock of vultures. I hated them. A lot.
I will not even try to be politically correct by saying HISPANIC; they disliked me and ridiculed me for being Mexican. They called me beaner and greaser. Why those names has always behooved me. It’s not like I brought beans to school or put grease in my hair or had greasy hair or a greasy body. Shit, we hardly ate beans at home but I guess their little and insecure minds assumed all Mexicans ate beans. But, I still don’t understand the correlation between being Mexican and grease. Maybe because we used lard in tamales or tortillas? I don’t know but it was really stupid. I mean shit if you are going to make fun of me at least know what you are talking about.
Most days I would get home from school and just cry because most days were bad days. I felt like I didn’t fit in. My parents did their best to insure I had nice shoes and my uniforms always looked clean and neat. I thought maybe if I had the “in” shoes and socks it would make a difference but I didn’t realize their hate went deeper than that. I didn’t understand they were just asshole kids and had their own issues. And God forbid I tell my parents about this because I could just hear my Dad saying how I was there to learn and not to make friends. Plus I knew they would send me to school anyway. So day in and day out, I just dealt with this crap the best I could. I avoided these people and just kept to myself most of the time. I never retaliated in any form. I simply kept my mouth shut and did my school work. I vowed to one day lose weight. But there was nothing I could do about being Mexican so people would just have to deal with it.
It wasn’t until after my freshman year in high school that I decided to “fix” the issue with my weight. The summer before my sophomore year I put myself on a very strict (and idiotic) diet regimen. I only allowed myself 500 calories a day but I went crazy on the weekends, allowing myself a whopping 700 calories. I exercised two hours a day and by the end of the summer, I was forty pounds lighter but truly felt like crap. This was the beginning of my issues with anemia and just not being comfortable in my body no matter what weight. Issues I still struggle with today but not as badly as back then.
After my weight loss that summer, I walked into school a brand new girl. Most people thought I was Lisa’s sister. Nope it’s me, guys: I just lost weight. It was a good feeling hearing so many good compliments from people who wouldn’t even look at me the previous year. I recall running into one of my schoolmates from Catholic school in the bathroom on our first day of our sophomore year and she said, “Wow Lisa, you lost a lot of weight. You look like a different person.” My reply, “Why are you even talking to me? You didn’t talk to me in Catholic school so don’t talk to me now.” Yes, I was quite the scorned girl by then. The damage from the ridicule and bullying had made its mark on me.
But losing weight so rapidly and harshly had its consequences. Besides feeling like crap and dealing with anemia, losing weight also changed my personality. I ended up with an abusive, druggie boyfriend who was obsessed with me and my weight. He would make me work out every time we were together for hours on end. He wouldn’t let me eat. He would tell me he didn’t want me to get fat again and I would be in tears working out as he sat and watched. He was thinner than me. That relationship was doomed because I wised up soon. For me, this was the beginning of “take-no-stupid-shit-from-no-man.”
So fast forward to 1993, when I met my first husband and well, we all know how that can sometimes go. You become smitten and over the moon and you go out to eat and dismiss the exercise routine to spend time with your love. Yes, well that happened and I gained back all plus more of the weight that I’d managed to keep off for years. Finally, around 1998 I decided I needed to get back into shape and there I was again eating less and less and working out even more. Except this time around I treated myself much better. Still not the smartest way…But better. I was older, a bit wiser but in my head no longer The Whale. Maybe a shark but not a whale. *WINK* I am however still a beaner because I love beans and I’m okay with it. I won’t comment anymore on the greaser thing because I still don’t get that and never will. Earthquakes scare the bejeezus out of me but my walk surely does not simulate one nor do my falls.
Fast forward again to 2016 where I am in marriage number two and mother to a wonderful eight year old boy. Of course as a Mom who was bullied in school, I worry about my son and hope he never has to be victim of ignorant kids like I was. Actually, I think that is a concern for most parents. But I know one thing for sure. At some point he will come across these kids because they are out there ready to pounce on someone who is different from them. Compassion and kindness for others is key but it surely doesn’t mean you take shit from anyone. I have learned we are all different and that’s okay. In fact, I WANT to be different.