Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bullies and mean girls

One seemingly universal characteristic of people with AS is that they were bully targets as kids. I think being a girl made my experience a little different. In fact, when I first read about AS and bullies, I thought I might be an exception to the rule. My picture of bullies was someone strong arming you for your lunch money, literally. The picture of a squirrelly little guy being slammed against a locker was what I understood bullying to look like.

Then I got thinking. How about the tough girl who rummaged through my purse and took what she wanted, while I could only look on helplessly? Then there were a few years in middle school when I was the target of a couple of girls who threatened me with "kicking my a.. after school." Maybe they were just teasing, but I took them seriously, and even faked sick a few times when the threat seemed especially real. And there was the time when another girl threw a lunch tray milk carton, still full of milk at me, and then stood up and asked me in a threatening way what I was going to do about it. I ran away.

Less physically, but still hurtful were the 'socies', those girls with nice clothes, good looks, money, and popularity. Their sniggering remarks and sometimes demeaning questions, which I actually thought I must answer honestly have done a lot to shape how I feel about myself today, and how I relate to other people. Or the couple of times I was told I was a good dancer, and they wanted me to show them. Now, looking back, I know I wasn't a good dancer, it was just another opportunity for them to laugh at me.

I was a very smart kid. I was not ugly, although I thought I was. My clothes were homemade, back when mothers stayed home and sewed, and store-bought clothes were too expensive. Other kids had homemade clothes, and were not very pretty, yet they had friends. I always wondered what was wrong with me. I had never heard of Asperger's, nor had the rest of the world.

But the Asperger's had everything to do with the bullying. I didn't have a circle of friends, so I ate lunch alone, and walked through the halls alone. That was like having a target on my back. There was no one to speak up for me, to be a witness to other kid's baseness, perhaps to encourage me to stand up for myself.

And now, as an adult looking at reshaping my thinking patterns, I can see the imprint of all those years on my core beliefs.

1 comment:

  1. Your story really hit a chord with me and I'd like to thank you for sharing it. It seems to run parallel with my own experiences in school.
    I was excluded awfully at school and truanted to the point where I fell back academically because I couldn't face the social hardship of going back to mingle with the others.
    It was only after learning of AS through my nephews recent diagnoses that I now realise that all the women in my family are like this, as well as my brother and we were all similarly bullied in school.
    Although I failed in school I went back into education as a adult and realised that I am quite focused and academic. It was just the social aspect I could not face.
    Even now I shy away from social situations, even though superficially I am seen as quite pretty and I have used that as a shield to not participate in social groups, this has often been seen by others as me being aloof and stuck up. When really its just because my heart is beating so fast and I physically don't know how to join in socially.
    Unfortunately I can now see these same traits in my son (although my daughter thank goodness seems to be the opposite of me at that age).
    It has been (and still is) difficult to live with and I admire your honesty for bring up the the issue of bullying. I fear what awaits my nephew (he's 7), as school is getting crueller with each generation and he is starting to notice that he's different.