I remember the first time I was ever bullied. I was in kindergarten, and this little girl made fun of my curly hair and thick glasses. I retaliated by putting chips in her grape juice. She started to cry and the teacher came over. The teacher asked me why I put chips in the grape juice, and I told her. I was punished, and the other little girl got a hug. I still remember her smirking at me as I sat in the corner. That was the last time I stood up for myself until I was grown.
I was bullied all through elementary and junior high. The catalyst for me falling into a deep depression that would last for the next four years happened in the fifth grade when I was 11 years old.
I went to a slumber party. I had developed before the rest of the girls so naturally there was some jealousy. My training bra got frozen overnight. I washed it in the sink the next morning, laid it out to dry and forgot it. The following Monday it was brought back to me—in front of my whole class, which was mostly boys. They all saw my training bra, and I was mortified. I grabbed it and ran to the bathroom, crying. The teacher came in and found me. She ordered me back to class, but I just wanted my momma. She told me to get over it, and suck it up. I never stopped crying that whole day and was continuously taunted.
My mother picked me up from school, and with some prodding I told her what happened. She was madder than hell and threw the car into park. She jumped out of the car, tearing into every little girl she came across that had been in on it. She tore into the teacher and the principal. I was in awe at the ferociousness of my mother. I thought everything was fixed.
And then I went back to school on Tuesday.
The bullying only got worse and worse. I wanted to die and made suicide attempts the only way I knew how at 11 years old. I tried choking myself with a belt, holding my breath until I passed out, hoping I wouldn't wake up and taking a bunch of aspirin. I even wrote a will out and gave it to my daddy. Then I discovered vodka.
I still remember how I felt after the first time I drank it. I felt numb. I didn't hurt anymore. I also felt like I was finally better than my classmates because I was doing something they weren't; I was doing something grown-up.
I would drink off and on for the next few years. I would drink before school for confidence, and after school to ease the pain of being taunted.
When I started the seventh grade, I had stopped drinking. I felt I didn't need it anymore. I had blossomed into a pretty young girl who was on the cheerleading squad, the track team and was a starter on the basketball team. It took just a month into my seventh-grade year, and I was drinking again. It got so bad I begged my mother to move me to a different school. She did, and I started ninth grade with a hopeful outlook.
I wasn't bullied at my new school, but I was so insecure and fearful of it happening again that I naturally gravitated toward the kids that were drinking and drugging. Within nine months, I was a full-blown alcoholic and drug addict and in rehab.
I am not saying bullying was the sole reason for my depression and addiction, but it played a major part. My teachers and my school failed me. It took me a lot of therapy and good friends to let go of the pain. By the grace of God, I have been sober ever since.
Because of my bullying, I have gone out of my way to be kind to others. I have also found compassion and forgiveness for those that tortured me for years. I have to believe something pretty bad must have been wrong with them for them to tear me apart the way they did. I have run in to some of my former bullies. I am always nice, and sometimes, I have received unsolicited apologies. Other times, though, they act as if we have been best of friends our whole lives. I have learned to just take a deep breath and let it go. There is no point in letting my past haunt my future.
A south Jackson native, Amy Hendry—better known to Magnolia Roller Vixen fans as C.H.B.—is a full-time college student majoring in nursing.