Thursday, 28th of April 2016
While I could have pretended the hate mail did not exist, it did not seem like my way. I try and honor myself, even when it is not what others would do. I like to deal with things in a public manner. I am not sure why and I think I might as well stop asking why and just accept it. Cam did not want to talk about it one bit. His reaction was that I should not discuss it. He actually swore about it. Which is super rare. He was angry, but in a closed door, end of story sort of way. He wanted me to forget it, I mean FORGET IT so that it did not take away any more of my energy. I knew though that I would make good with it.
The girls and I went for a walk and I had to share with them why my face looked long. “Well, there are trolls, and they feed of either sadness or happiness. The eat sadness for dinner and then sometimes they find some extra special happiness to feast on for dessert. It is like they are super greedy, craving something sweet.” Maya was listening as I was imagining some Jim Henson fairytale trolls hiding under a bridge. “They live under a rainbow bridge, and when you get to a certain point in life, when you want to cross the bridge they are beneath it waiting. They smell your happiness, like it is a fresh baked cake and just as you are trying to cross they come out and try to get you.” Maya is at the exact right age for this sort of folklore, you can share the gruesome details without scaring her. “They are evil, and actually dislike themselves because trolls are bothersome. They want to stop you being able to cross the bridge so that they can fill you with their sadness. But here is the thing, if you love the trolls, they get confused, and they start turning nice. There is a bit of a trick to it. You have to offer to do things for them, and if you have a present, they find it very hard to resist accepting it. Trolls, surprisingly like to look very neatly dressed. They have hideous faces for all their ugly thoughts, but they do dress rather nice when they get the opportunity. If you give them clothes, it is like a golden ticket across the rainbow. They are small and wear children’s clothes, so it makes sense now why we had to have so many.” By this point Maya was needing me to be proper with her. “Are they real people, I mean real, real people?” she asked. So I decided to tell her the truth. “Yes, they are actually real people, but they get called trolls. It is a social media term for someone who spends their time talking in unkind ways about other people to make themselves feel better, but it does not work. They just stay stuck under a metaphorical bridge behaving ugly.” Maya understood, and I was sort of sad I had to explain to her that strangers would purposefully be unkind to other people for no good reason.
The whole thing made me stew, which of course was the purpose, to disable me. I had to nurse the anger gently all day. As I swayed this way and that in thoughts, I was being tormented over the dangers of the reality of a website like that. “People are fragile, and someone may look like they have it together on the outside, but something like that can be a straw that breaks a camel’s back. That kind of energy can send someone into a spiral depression. Someone could be pushed over the edge and kill them self if they are not careful.” I was thinking of my mother, and her depression and how this type of negative energy could be a final nail in a coffin. Mum is strong by nature, but you see, even someone who is strong can be beaten down. I felt an overwhelming sense of injustice, like the website was a menace to society. I wanted to write to them and warn them that they had better be careful because the evil that they are facilitating could be an awful burden if they find themselves chained to guilt.
I decided however not to give them anymore of my time.
When we returned from our walk, it was time to fold laundry and some ripe bananas on the counter were talking to Cam. Apparently they needed to be a banana cake, and since making pies had captured my attention I had not made any cakes in a while. A banana cake seemed like a good idea so I reached for Grandma’s recipe from the cupboard and went to work.
With courage to go deep and feel, the anger turned to sadness, I let it all rise to the surface. “I have felt like this before.” I said to myself as I sifted the flour. “This is exactly how it felt in highschool.” Adolescents can be a tricky time, and I don’t know how it compares to yours, but I think mine was hard. The feelings that had surfaced reminded me of when I was a teenager and I was seemingly targeted just for being me. Which says a lot for the caliber of the GIMO website. Adolescent.
I went to a highschool on a hill, in a town called Goonellabah. It was a suburb of the city of Lismore. I used to walk to school every day for 30 minutes along a main road. Our address fell two houses shy of qualifying for the bus, and we did not have money for bus fare twice daily, so I had to walk. The walk was a good start and finish to the school day, and it kept me fit, very blonde and suntanned. I should really get to the point and skip these details, but stuff seemed to happen walking to and from school.
At some point during 10th grade I started dating a boy from Mullumbimby. He was a gorgeous young man, with a strong character. He was everyone’s friend, but he used to attract a lot of drama into life. He was a few years older than me, and maybe it was just the stage of life, but he was trouble. He did not have a car, and would hitch hike the hour drive from Mullum to see me. He would stay at our house all weekend and then hitch hike back to Mullum Monday morning. As I said, he was a little older than me while I was sixteen, he was eighteen and of legal drinking age in Australia. He would come to stay at my house, hang out with me until the nightclubs opened and then he would go out drinking with his friends, without me, only to return in the darkest hour. There is much more to this story, like the time he stole ID off a girl who looked like me so I could go to the nightclub with him, and I ended up being taken down to the police station. Everyone knew who I was and knew the ID was not mine, and then when I was at the Police station they all new I was Terri’s daughter because of my mother was training to become a police woman. They gave me a lecture and sent me home. Anyway, this boyfriend of mine was trouble and he would go out partying like crazy and he would stray. I am not sure how often, but what ended up happening is that he slept with one of the girls I went to school with, who was in a grade younger than me. This girl lived not far from me, and her and her best friend would often be walking together on the same path I took to school. I found out my boyfriend’s wild ways one morning as I walked along the path alone. “Karen is fucking Olley.” Angie, the best friend jeered. I did my best to remain composed and carry on like I had not heard anything. I do not know exactly how I processed this news, but what I do recall is that from then on, that pair of girls began to torment me every chance they got. Instead of breaking up with my boyfriend, I decided to stay with him because he genuinely wanted to be with me. I impressed upon him he was not to cheat on me again, and he seemed to want to remain faithful, of course he didn’t, but he seemed to try.
Karen became dead set on either stealing him off me, or making my life hell. I could not really work out why she detested me so, but she did. It was like she saw me as the source of all her unhappiness. I was to blame for my boyfriend not breaking up with me. As I said, these girls were a year younger than me, but Karen, the one that had slept with my boyfriend was very tall, and stood a head length over me. I found her a very imposing figure, and along with her size, she was tough.
Our school had a uniform, which we were supposed to wear with strict adherence. There used to be uniform checks, and some of the students would be rebels and wear black socks instead of white socks. There was a group of kids that we called “The black sock gang” and these two girls were part of the black sock gang. They used to sit on the outskirts of the school buildings and smoke cigarettes.
When their fixation on me started, it really effected me. They were not people I wanted to be on the bad side of. I was scared of them. I would pass them in the corridors and they would shove me with their bag, and one day I recall walking out of science to see they had written “Rickert is a slut” on the pavement outside the classroom door. They stood to the side watching my reaction. Which was a little fear, and a whole heap of fire. “What, me a slut? She slept with my boyfriend and she calls me a slut?” I cringe thinking about those days, that kind of energy in my life. It was unfair. But yes, that is how life can be.
My emotional life was in a turmoil, a cheating boyfriend, harassed at school and fighting constantly with my mother. At around this same time my mother and I had such a huge fight one afternoon, she pushed me out of our house. The security screen door clicked loudly with a punctuated lock. I am pretty sure I stood right back up off the ground, dashed up the stairs to bash the screen door and scream abuse at her. That was it, we were done. I was no longer able to live with my mother. I do take some responsibility for causing such a big fight, it was a tempest of many fights, and it was well beyond a healthy behaviour for both of us. I moved out of home, a little after my sixteenth birthday. Those were really challenging days for me.
All through this I had a best friend, her name was Leanne Clifford. Leanne was always right by my side. I would run away to her house sometimes, or she would run away to mine. When I was being picked on at school she never wavered in solidarity. She willingly took on the negative energy Karen and Angie dished out to her for association to me. In fact one day, she even got into a physical fight in the girls bathroom, in my defense. Leanne was tall like Karen, and while I coward not wanting to get into a punch up, Leanne stepped in with a swing. Girls brawling in the bathroom is disgusting, and it should not happen.
So with all of these memories surfacing, of being attacked, I started to think about my friend Leanne. The beautiful thing about social media is that we can always stay in touch, we can always spread love. With my heart full of gratitude for this friend who stood by my side. I wrote to Leanne,
Hi… something horrible happened today – I was torn to shreds on a disgusting website called GIMO – I went deeply into feeling the feelings and it brought up the past when I had felt like this once before – when I was targeted by Karen and Angie in highschool Do you remember how hell bent they were to torment my (our) life. I started thinking about that time we (you) got into a fight in the girl’s toilet, sticking up for me… well that seems to be how I remember it, I feel like they hated me, and then you too through association, since you were my best friend. Anyway, while thinking about that I had this beautiful gratitude and love in my heart for you for being who you are. Then it seemed like a positive outcome to a horrible day, that I would feel that, and then write and tell you, thank you Leanne for looking out for me all those years ago, and for being a great friend. Life is so funny. xoxo Kirst
I felt a full circle closing, like the layers of life had piled on and all things that were bad, still could equate to goodness. Here I was again, feeling attacked, and while I stood alone now as a women, not needing a best friend to protect me, I was reminded of a beautiful dear friend from my past who had been there when I needed her to be. It is that sense of love you know, we all need it, and that’s all we need.
Dear Kirst, Thank you so much for such beautiful words. They were so nasty and bullied you terribly. There was never a doubt that I was going to step in that evening. That fat lip was a small price to pay for protecting you and our fiercely loyal friendship. All my love, Leanne xoxo
Thank you for reading Magnesium Blue
4 thoughts on “Today Was Hard, Highschool Was hard Too”
Your descriptions bring me right there, right back to high school and how yucky it can be. I also have memories that have been suppressed …and when I think of them, oh, the cringing! I am happy to hear you went through all the phases of anger…and came to somewhat of a closure. And bless, I hope you connect with Leanne. We all have angels surrounding us-we just need to see them. Peace for you today, K
Hello, I felt a little sadness for pointing you in the direction of that trollific website but I thought you would find the way yourself eventually. I was the victim of similar trolls years ago on a few different blogs. They accused me of being mentally ill , having severe OCD , torturing snails, destroying the forest by an installation I had done , etc , etc. It hurt then but I can laugh at it all now. Take care , you are beautiful.
High school was hard…
I remember you as a strong of mind, beautiful, friendly girl. Yes, with Leanne by your side or not…strong. I loved art class and lived for it! It is also amazing how much I can’t remember about high school though….
I always was nervous of bringing any attention to myself (especially after being told in grade 7 that I had no boobs and was flat as a tack by a boy-now I would laugh in his face…at the time I was beyond embarrassed!!!! And I’m still as flat as ever but am grateful- my husband likes small boobs!!!!.) I had many friends, was hurt and sad at times but made my way through, always trying to stay true to who I was as a girl growing up.
Adolescence is tough, social media can be brutal, but truth always comes through. Trolls are ugly little people and with some love and grace hopefully we can all help them to love and accept where they are in their own lives and not find it necessary to judge others.
xxAmanda PS A lot of my time at school I felt like a girl on the sidelines looking in. I was also SO naive.
Reading this brings back into memory some of the treatment I received many, many, many years ago in middle school (7th-9th grade). I had transferred to a new school where I didn’t know many people, and was picked on mercilessly. I never was sure why. I’ve always been a little different from the usual flock, and perhaps they sensed this and felt a threatened by someone who didn’t want to be like they were… like the black sock gang. One day, after gym class in the girls’ locker room, I was changing back into my school dress, and a gang of mean bullying girls gathered around and forcibly pulled me outside while I was wearing only a slip, then pushed me into the boys’ locker room. why would children want to be so physically and mentally mean?! that same year, I witnessed other girls push a shy, homely, bookish girl down into a large, dirty mud puddle. why? she was wearing a new dress that her mother had made her, quite the fashionable thing at the time – one that was made of imitation leather. I’m upset with myself to this day for not coming forward and defending her, but I also know that would have been an express cause for them to turn on me like a pack of wild animals. pack mentality is a very dangerous thing.
years later, I achieved some notoriety in a certain corner of the art world (a fish in a tiny pond) when on multiple occasions, for quite a few years, my mixed media work and jewelry designs were published in articles and on multiple magazine covers. folks knew my work, knew my name, and my art workshops at retreats filled up with folks eager to learn my approach to art. there was one woman I remember, very edgy and funny and a big fan of my work. somewhere down the line, I learned that this gal and whole pack of her other cohorts had decided to treat one particular woman online with much disdain. this one woman does a great deal of volunteer work, spending her own money, to rescue homeless dogs destined for kill shelters. they left truly venomous and hateful comments about her on their blogs, and in comments on others’s blogs as well. when I got wind of this, I stepped in to defend the dog rescuer with firm but courteous words. they immediately turned on me with their poison and hate, refusing evermore to back down. one woman’s email address, as it turns out – the one I had known and had blindly considered a friend from my teachings and my jewelry business – was even dubbed “snarky girl”. I cannot understand how people like this thrive on negativity. I can’t understand how they can seem so likable and pleasant on the surface, until something that they don’t like crosses them. I understand envy, and jealousy – I’ve had negative feelings of my own for which I am not proud, regarding stupendous success of certain other fellow artists – but I fervently battle those undesirable emotions and try to turn them into good lessons and as mirrors into which I can look and conquer those tendencies.
your words stirred up all of these memories in me, as I am sure they did in countless others. the behavior you experienced in those hateful words is precisely that: juvenile, immature, spiteful, unworthy of added attention. I wish that we could all learn to practice empathy, praise, support, and encouragement amongst ourselves; but as is evident in this country’s current presidential campaign, there are still some very ugly-spirited people who succeed and advance themselves further up the ladder simply by loudly demonstrating their nasty, negative, ruthless, self-serving behavior.
I can see that those words of course had a strong effect on you, by your reluctance to post your normal activities in the days following the nasty email. you refrained from making flower crowns when May Day arrived, and I’m sure you were reluctant to post your activities with the girls. cam is right when he says to let it go, to ignore, to move forward – as this gives them the power and their desired success in hurting you. but I also know from my own typical responses to these types of encounters that simply letting go is ever so much easier said than done. I’m one to turn things over and over and over in my mind, trying to relive an interaction so that I can dissect it, put it under a microscope, and see if I can analyze the poison, can stop it by understanding its origins and how it got so far. I’m doing the same thing here by writing to you. I’m examining my own responses to unfortunate interactions in the past, and trying to see how I could have made things go any differently. yet, I realize that no matter how hard I try to understand, and to try to change someone’s opinions of me, I will not ever be able to change what happened in the past, to change their bitter hearts’ approaches in those instances that become history. all you and I can do is to try to use these awful collisions as lessons for ourselves, and for those we love, near and far.
shine on, radiant spirit. there are many more who love you than who choose to try to bring you down. xoxox