Sunday, May 22, 2011

Biting the bully bullet.

On a laid back Thursday night, I did my usual channel surfing and landed on a made-for-TV movie about a teenage girl being bullied by her so-called friends. So this movie isn't going to win any Oscar nominations and the theme of rising against bullies has been done over and over again but this time, it really struck a nerve.

As I watched the protagonist of the movie go from hanging out with the popular girls to being sent hate mail after overdosing on sleeping pills that went along the lines of, "Wow, you can't even do THAT right," it was a reminder of how cruel teenagers could be. And somehow, unleashing itself from the crevices of my subconscious mind, was the memory of my secondary school days ...

And the bullying I experienced.

Over the years, I've managed to bury this ugly part of my life. I have refused to remember, let alone acknowledge, the fact that I had let myself become the target of teenage hatred and ugliness when I was 13. It wasn't until I watched the movie did the bits and pieces of that horrible time come back to me.

Me. Bullied. Can you imagine it?

I come from an all-girls school, which can prove to be the best AND the worst schooling experience, trust me. Teenagers can be cruel as it is but teenage GIRLS can be the evil incarnate itself. It was sometime in the beginning of Form 1 when it all started. It was a stressful time for any 13-year-old: the transition from primary to secondary, meeting new people in a new school, finding your identity which could potentially stick to you for the next five years.

I thought I had it quite good. Me and my 'best' friends managed to land spots in the school of our choice and we would be best friends forever and ever and ever. I had done well in primary school, having been class monitor and Prefect all my life up to then, placed top 5 in class during every term exam, represented my school in oratory competitions (and undefeated champion thankyouverymuch) and was even awarded Best Student of my school during my final year in primary school. I was the Nerd Supreme!

Little did I know that everything I had achieved was slowly working to my disadvantage. I was naive not to realise that my 'friends' were not happy with the attention I was getting. Tagged a little 'show off', having my mum teaching in the same school did not help. It just gave them more ammo to hate me. And it all came to a climax when we entered Form 1.

Long story short, a pathetic rumour began to spread: Melissa Leong stuffs her bra. In hindsight, I should be flattered that I was filling out so convincingly that my flat-chested peers thought I was PADDING my bras! The whispers and pointing began, the snide remarks and, in true gossipy fashion, more nasty statements. Melissa Leong is fat. Melissa Leong should run home to mummy and cry. Melissa Leong has the worst handwriting. Melissa Leong is so stupid at math. Nobody wanted to sit with me at recess. I got chosen last for teams at sports. Eyes rolled whenever I raised my hand in class. I had never felt so unwanted and alone in my life.

And all those girls who were supposed to be my 'friends' had turned against me. It didn't help that one of those girls was the Principal's daughter, so I knew going to the teachers or any adult would make no difference. I had gone from having so much to having an absolutely lousy time in school. There were two camps: those who hated me and those who were indifferent - I'll give them credit for not feeding the rumours but they didn't quite back me up neither. That's me, aged 13, sitting next to the class teacher. It takes a lot to knock that smile of my face, biatches...

I was one hell of a miserable teenage girl. I cried almost every day and dreaded going to school. It got so bad that one day, I begged my parents to let me stay home. I begged and I cried and I pleaded with all my heart. Which was when my dad realised something was very wrong at school. I told them everything and felt such a release. My parents were so upset that they didn't blink when I asked them to transfer me. My dad started looking at other schools and I was all set to transfer to All Saints' when word got around to the Principal. I then got called into her office along with her daughter. What transpired from that meeting remains a blur to me but I do remember her saying, "Oh such a pity to see your wonderful friendship go to waste over a misunderstanding", her pooh-poohing my plans to transfer as 'drastic' and we were made to hug and make-up there and then. Next thing I know, I'm in the same damn school for the next five years.

It haunts me to this day the 'bullying' was played down to a 'misunderstanding'. And it bugs me that I forgave and forgot so easily. These 'bullies' swept everything under the carpet as if it never happened and some 20 years later, I'm still supposed to call them my 'friends' when I run into them in the street. But I must state that during this tumultuous time, I did have a couple of friends who stood by me (one of them was my cousin and the other monkey is still my closest confidant until today).

I think I buried this memory so far and deep because I refuse to acknowledge the fact that I could ever be a victim of bullying. Only losers and the weak get bullied right? How could I have been an over-achiever, please everyone and STILL be bullied? It was the anti-thesis of bullying.

It took me almost 20 years to understand the simple truth: Losers and the weak don't get bullied. They ARE the bullies. They played on my insecurities to feed theirs. There was nothing I could've done to prevent it (short of binding my breasts lah but even that's no guarantee).

So yes, I was a victim of bullying. No shame in that because it has made me who I am today. And seeing the losers they've ended up marrying, failed attempts at decent relationships into their 30s and the boring people they've become, karmic retribution paves the road for me to move along. Thanks for being such bitches - you've made me realise I'm stronger than I give myself credit for. And yes, I still have awesome boobs.


Gallivanter said...

Wow. I can only imagine the trauma you went through but I guess that's what happens when you have boobs at that age, flat-chested ladies go bonkers!

I really do hope Karma bites or has bitten them on their flat chests!!

Aya said...

Thanks for sharing Mel. I've never imagined that u'd be those who got bullied too. I have to agree 100% that karma works wonder. Best part is, most bullied people grow stronger and happier. As for the bullies, I've seen them growing fatter day by day and work tempat cikai *hmmp!*

JerryInc said...

i know how it feels like to be alone and unwanted in high school. but something good came out of it, i learned to be indifferent and care free nearly to everyone and bout everything because of it until today hahaha

this may sound bad, but it does feel good looking at those people who were asses before trying to get into terms or cope with their adult lives right? lol :D

ps: maybe the experience has made us weird (in a good sense) in some ways? hahaha

bobsingh said...

you go girl! =)

Jewelle said...

It's payback time. Hope they read this post - and weep.

Jeri said...

Pains me to read this, hope those Biatches read this :(

Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa ,

Been an off/on silent reader of yr blog. This post touched a chord...i was never "quite" bullied in secondary school but since I was overweight....they always thought me amusing, even my closest "girlfriends" would laugh hilariously whenever anybody made fat jokes. KARMA. Fast forward 19 years after form5, most of them now are majorly overweight if not obese & not very attractive...especially the used to be popular for me, I still rock...I'm a hot mom of 2 cool kids :)

Btw thanks for sharing.


o.O said...

They rule and rock!
You too.

epicurean said...

Hey Friday Cat,

I was there when Lorna burst into science class that day annoucing that there has been some malicious gossip going around and she wanted it to stop immediately. I was wondering "what the hell is going on!?"

It was later that I found out from the grapevine that there was a rumour that you padded yourself, and we had a good guess who the culprit(s) were.

I was indifferent; we ran in different groups. But I have to admit, I was really surprised to find out that the gossip stemmed from your closest friends. It made me felt even gladder then that I was not a part of your clique because I had honestly thought that you were all a bunch of hypocrites(you had no idea how much some of your friends back stab each other behind your backs).

Fast forward x number of years now, it's interesting to see how we've all turned out. You have done marvelously well and so you should. You deserve it, Mel. :) And it's a great thing to know (then and now) who are your true friends, because honestly, if you have even just one, you are, in fact, extremely lucky.

Cheers to good, honest buddies for life!

Serenely said...

A very brave post. I can so relate. Going to an all-girls school was an amazing experience... but ooooh the bitchiness, gossiping and pettiness...

Thanks for sharing. This was just a refreshing post to read and reflect back on the years past and realise how much we've grown.

the vixen said...

OMG! i so thought she was ur bestfren in secondary school! and i thot dat she was soooo nice!!!!

Marsha Unda said...

We used to talk so fondly of you. How dissapointing after reading this! Found this very interesting,"The Principle" too. We all have choices in life -This is what you chose once again and it's printed in black and white. Hope you're happy with all the support here and your decisions in life.

Anonymous said...

Dear Melissa,

Honestly, I did not know you were being bullied at all. You were one of my seniors and was always in the limelight being a prefect and all. Kudos to you for finally getting this of your chest. I can relate to your experience being a Convent girl myself. Honestly, sometimes I wish I wasn't in Convent at all. I would say that I was a victim of bullying but never from my close friends. I have fostered lasting friendship with my close friends and till today I'm happy that we are still close like before even thou distance sets us apart.

The ones doing the bullying were always the popular girls. Honestly till today, I would avoid all this so-called reunions because it is so fake and bring back all those nasty memories. These girls never seem to forget and love to relive each scene in their heads. Sometimes I think it is so stupid and ludicrous that these girls still think we are the same people 10 to 15 years ago. You know people are not made of stone we do change, idiots… I do agree with Epicurean the popular girls were a bunch of hypocrites who stab each other behind their backs. Sometimes I am just reliving the movie Mean Girls but should be renamed to Franciscan Girls. Sometimes when you are one of the quiet ones you see the ugliness of all these girls who are still stuck in their high school era days…

Thanks Melissa for telling your story, but I believe that if you didn’t experience this incident in your life you would have never been the person you are today.

Fridaycat said...

Thank you for the comments, words and insights. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, I've always believed that.

I will not apologise for anything written here - It is MY personal account, from MY point of view, written in MY space. And above all, I tell NO LIES. What has been done, cannot be undone and instead of holding a grudge, I chose to release it through the best way I know how: Writing. I stay true to my art.

This is my catharsis, not my vengeance. But if a reader chooses to see it the latter, that's his/her prerogative.

I refuse to live in the past or be held down by it. In fact, I run into the 'bullies' now and then and we have nothing but well wishes for each other. We're not 14 anymore, please.

I've made my peace writing this and hope some of you find yours too. If not, then may the grace of God be with you.

I didn't expect such a backlash from writing this (who the hell reads my blog anyway - apparently, you guys do!) but what's said is said. The reality is, you cannot sail through life without stepping on any toes. I'm too grounded to think everybody loves me :P Love me or hate me - at least you heard me.

God speed.

Haw said...

Why would people feel disappointed after reading this entry? I would take this as an encouragement and support to people who had similar experiences, a boost of confidence in oneself. Reading it the wrong way(DEFENSIVELY) might reveal that you were probably one of them Bulls? An apology should come from people who did the bullying, think about it.

Jacquelin said...

Good for you Mel for finally getting this out of your chest. so brave of you. Some people will agree, some will 'terasa', but it is your life, and this IS your blog after all!

I've always believed in karma, and suffered some bullying myself in secondary school. The crying, and hiding.. ahh memories.

Like Dan said, hope karma gets them back! ;)

jia said... should come to Tshung Tsin ba. HAHAHA.

Fridaycat said...

H: You are right but I am so past expecting or even wanting an apology at this point. I just want to move on from the past and I have...Very happily too!

Jac: Thanks for the support - I got so many mixed reactions from this post. Even old friends calling me up to ask if it was about them! But like I said, I cannot go through life afraid of what others will think. My space. My words. My life.

B: Yaaaa pandai lah you...Memang hancur lah if I was in Tshung Tsin. Fail Cina every semester, haha!

~kar~ said...

I didnt remember this happened nor heard about the gossip. Where was I? So sorry to hear about it and I've always admired your ways. I always remembered you being the most creative and talented creature in school.