Last spring, I had the pleasure of interviewing another survivor of bullying, Aimee Eddy. But Aimee is more than a survivor, she is an overcomer, a winner, a CONQUEROR! I wanted to repost this because I wanted all who missed it the first time around to read her heartbreaking but inspiring story and be encouraged by it.
There are times when bullies aren’t only our peers but also the people we look up to for guidance and protection. Teachers can be bullies too. We look up to our teachers. We expect them to not only teach us but to protect and help mold us.
Here’s Aimee’s story:
For me, some of my teachers were monsters that ripped at me just like my own classmates. They judged me without getting to know me. They formed opinions about what they did not understand and placed a label on me.
My first experience with bullying started in first grade. In that grade, we are taught the beginnings of reading. I couldn’t pick up on that. While my other classmates were learning to sound out and read simple words I was unable to from the sound of letters.
When our teacher gave us a simple in classwork to do I was confused. I stared at the paper, but couldn’t figure out what to do. My raised hand went unseen so I turned to a friend for help. My teacher’s voice growled through my ears like a hungry wolf. “Ms. Eddy, I will not tolerate cheating.”
I tried to explain to her that I needed help, but she wouldn’t listen. No excuses were tolerated. I was told to move my desk to the corner. I would sit there until I learned not to cheat. My heart raced and tears threaten to spill. I could feel all my classmates’ eyes on me. All I wanted was to be helped and suddenly I was labeled a cheater in front of my whole class.
I moved my desk to the corner and sat there with my head hung low. I was too afraid to look at my teacher let alone my classmates. Then suddenly I felt the need to go to the bathroom.
How could I ask my teacher permission after she embarrassed me in front of my classmates? Would she yell at me again? But I really had to go. I crossed my legs and rocked back and forth. If I raise my hand, would she ignore it?
I looked over to the bathroom and there was a line. I had to form a plan. I watched my teacher carefully. She was busy grading papers. I got up and raced to the line.
I stood there with my head down and my legs crossed. Maybe she wouldn’t see me, but the line wasn’t moving. All I had to do is keep my head down and hope that she would not look up.
My teacher’s voice filled the room again. “Aimee, you didn’t get permission. Back to your desk.” I tried to explain to her that I really had to pee, but her finger pointed me back to my desk. I tried really hard to hold myself, but I couldn’t. It left a puddle under my chair.
I laid my head on my desk hoping no one would see. My soul sank and my heart pounded. I was so ashamed. Tears drizzled down my cheek and I quickly wiped them away. I couldn’t let anyone see me cry. My teacher’s awful voice, which I grew to hate, sent chills down my back. “What are you a retard? You can’t read, and you wet yourself.”
I wanted to hide. I wanted to go home and cry in my mom’s arms. Instead, I stood in front of my classmates and my friend with chills crawling down my back. Their eyes tore holes in my skin. Even though I couldn’t bring myself to look at them I knew inside they were laughing at me.
It was bad enough I was ashamed of wetting myself, but my teacher also called me a name. A name that soon followed me throughout my school years and a name I didn’t quite understand.
“Retard” soon became the definition of who I was. It ripped me apart and even made me question my own intelligence. It was at the end of first grade that I learned I had a learning disability. My disability only confirmed to my teachers and classmates that I was a “retard.”
I repeated first-grade and then was told I would be pushed through elementary.
That one incident started years of bullying not only from my teachers but also from my classmates. I was called dumb, retard, stupid, brainless, and many other names.
The name-calling nearly destroyed me. In high school, I decided to prove them wrong. During my senior year, I was inducted into the National Honors Society and went back to tutor a student for that first-grade teacher, who then was a fourth-grade teacher. I tutored the student in reading.
My first-grade experience was one of the most embarrassing and humiliating moments of my life, but I rose above it. I did spend years in therapy as an adult to overcome the abuse, but I rose above.
I am editing my memoir about how I was bullied and found acceptance at the family garage, I’m assistant director to the National Youth Internet Safety and Cyber-bullying Taskforce, I have stories published, and I have my own blog.
I have succeeded beyond what anyone had ever thought I could.
I rose above bullying. I overcame the abuse and became a stronger and better person. You too can rise above bullying. If a teacher is putting you down tell someone. No one deserves to be abused by their peers or teachers. You are a unique person who deserves happiness. You can rise up from the anguish and shine like a star.
Aimee Eddy is an insightful overcomer who advocates for other strugglers. After conquering mental illness, bullying, cancer, and more, she has the life experience to encourage others through her writing. She is in the editing stages of her memoir, Escape to the Garage about her bullying experiences. She writes a blog called, Finding the Light at http://www.aimeeeddygross.wordpress.com