Basing escalating humiliation on my own experiences provides me with an overwhelming amount of material. Having a bad memory for good things, and a good memory for bad things, these humiliations still pop into my mind unwanted and unasked for. I still feel the burning shame, the knot in my stomach, and lump in my throat.
So “she” (who is NOT always my dopple ganger) will suffer embarrassment and humiliation from long ago that I can still see and feel from the mostly forgotten (on purpose, I suspect) grade school years.
Dyslexia – an unknown word when she went to school, so no tools to survive the learning process were offered. Kids with dyslexia were classed as stupid or rebellious and she was neither. Her dyslexia took several forms: she reversed her numbers; words that sounded correct in her head tumbled out all mashed, mangled and malformed; the right word was transformed between her mind and her mouth or fingers into a completely different one. She also spelt phonetically, sounding out a word, mixing letters a bit some times. Her papers were always returned full of red Xs.
She was an outsider; an alien. A rapidly bambling girl who tired desperately to fit in. But she never did. When players were picked for teams, invitations to parties given out, plans to go for coke and fries, meet up at the movie theatre, she was invisible and invisible people don’t get invites. But the ignored were always made painfully aware of what they missed. She wasn’t sure which was worse – being ignored or being noticed. Being noticed meant taunts and pushes, scraps, scrapes, tussles, jeering, lies, accusations.
This was a bilingual province so all students took French; even grade two students of which she was one. Her pronunciation problems, along with her nervousness meant being called on by the teacher froze her. Or, in her frustration when the other students laughed, a few tears would fall, as hard as she tried not to cry.
The teacher seemed to take great pleasure in her discomfort. One awful day, the teacher repeatedly asked her to answer questions. When tears began to pool in her eyes, she was told to stand up next to her desk. The teacher noted: “Regardez pleurer. Elle est un bébé (Look at her crying. She is a baby).” The class howled with laughter. She resolved that she would never cry in public again, no matter how frustrated, sad, angry, taunted, humiliated she was.
So, when her cruel name went from fatso to baby – see the little baby cry was a common taunt – she refused to dissolve into tears. The words still stung, the birth mark between her eyebrows glowed purple while her cheeks flamed red, but she pushed the tears deep down inside where they waited to come out until she was alone in her room.
PS: I spent Grade 3 living with my grandmother and attended a small rural school. We all had to be in the choir. Like Mindlovemisery, I was told to only mouth the words as I had an awful singing voice. I was forced to take piano lessons; the piano teacher told my grandmother that I had no musical ability whatsoever. Perhaps, she suggested, I stop any attempts at piano playing as I would never “get it right.” So, in grade 3 my musical non-career was launched.
PSS: There is a disconnect between my LiveWriter template and the wordpress one. That’s why the font is sometimes larger.