You can swallow the truth down and bury it alive, lock it away so no one knows it even happened. Push it so far down within yourself maybe you don’t even remember it for a time. But the thing is, it will come looking for you. It will hunt you down. Memories resurface and haunt you until you deal with what you couldn’t, long ago.
Such is the case with Jillian. She was one of the most popular girls in my high school. A cheerleader, she ran with a clique of girls that all came from affluent families. They spent their winter vacationing in places like Aruba. Their parents were doctors, lawyers, and CEO’s. She was pretentious, arrogant, and snobby.
There are two kinds of people in the world and it isn’t the haves and the have nots. It’s the good people who have empathy and the mean people who just don’t give a shit, save for themselves.
The event I buried is crystallized in my mind and scarred me leaving permanent damage.
Shame is when you feel badly when you’ve done something wrong. Humiliation is when another person shames you. When humiliation is done in a public forum, it has by far the most damaging effects.
It was my freshmen year of high school and I was waiting by the school buses to go home. Jillian approached me with her gang of friends all standing closely behind her. She walked over to me and held a milkshake in her hands. She told me,” I know that we used to be friends years ago, I thought maybe you and I could be friends again, so I bought this milk shake for you.”
There was an ice cream stand 200 yards from our high school that a lot of kids walked to between classes or after school.
I thought the whole thing seemed off, I didn’t trust it but I took it and said thanks. I looked down and inside the milkshake container were worms, dirt, and grass mixed in with the ice cream. When she saw that I figured it out she walked away laughing. I could hear Jillian and all her cronies giggling saying ,” Oh my God! she actually thought you were serious!”
Peels of laughter ensued. I just froze there holding that disgusting milkshake. Too humiliated to move. I heard their continued laughter as all the buses pulled up. I was standing in a sea of students all around me, I had no idea who had just seen this happen. I felt mortified. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes but I held them in as the last bus pulled away, it was the only shred of dignity of that I had left.
After buses departed, I stood there on the vacant side walk still clutching the dirty milkshake in my hand. Tears poured down my cheeks, sobs turning into wails. No one there to hear my anguish. Then I quietly set it down next the the corner of the school and walked the 3 miles home. When I told my older sister what happened she wondered why I didn’t punch her . It’s because I felt so intimidated by Jillian, she was powerful. My sister offered to kick her ass for me but I begged her not to as I feared it may make it worse somehow. My anxiety got the better of me even then.
After that day, I felt so humiliated by what happened I tried avoiding Jillian and all her goons. When I saw them in the hallway, they would stare me down and then laugh and snicker at me. Or they would cup their hands to each other’s ears to privately whisper while looking at me as I walked by, then laugh out loud. I decided to walk outside the entire perimeter of the high school just to get to my classes. My high school housed 2000 students , it took me a shit ton of time to exit the building at one end and walk around to the other side. Those bitches made me late every fucking day. Not to mention making feel like a worthless piece of shit.
This event has damaged me more than I had thought. It really impacted my ability to be able to form friendships as an adult, particularly with women. If I meet someone, I am always wondering what their motive is. I distrust that they really like me. I wonder if they are talking shit behind my back.
I’ve never told anyone about this other than my fiancé. It’s never came up in any therapy appointments. Small fries compared to incest I figured. I just stuffed it down way back then and never spoke about it again. It happened in 1984. There were no bullying laws. I was raised that you don’t rat someone out. You shut up and just handle things on your own. It was a sign of weakness to say anything.
Well guess what. Wherever I got that lesson, they fucked up. They taught me wrong. There is no cookie cutter recipe that works for every situation. Silence can equal death in some cases. The death of one’s spiritual self.
No one deserves to get bullied. I have replayed this milkshake scene a thousand times in my mind. I wish I could have a do-over and instead throw the milkshake in Jillian’s face and then push that bitch to the ground. But I can’t go back in some nifty time warp.
To anyone reading this, if someone is bullying you: Don’t stay quiet about it like I did. Don’t let some asshole fuck up your life. Break the code of silence. Tell someone about it. There are people who will listen and care. You are not whatever they say you are. You are lovable, you are beautiful, you are worth it.
Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.