highschool bullies and their lifelong effects…

Last week, Mama Kat challenged us to describe a time in our life in only 6 words.

This week, we’ve been asked to expand on those 6 words.

Sadly, the 6 words I chose, I’ve said a few times. I don’t care to expand on the who, what or when’s of it, but I will tell you a bit about why I’m so damn proud of it.

Chubby? You’re ugly. I can diet.

When I went to highschool, I was skinny.  I distinctly remember in grade 9 one of the senior football players made a joke at my expense as I walked by, yapping to his friends that “I’ve got bigger tits than her!”

Like I give a shit you meatheaded half-wit.

Highschool wasn’t the fantastic place I thought it would be. I got picked on a lot and I just wanted it to be over with as quickly as possible. I wasn’t the type of person to stand up for myself, so it was open season on me when it came to insults and derogatory comments.  My hair was frizzy, my teeth were crooked and I wasn’t dressed in designer clothes because my parents preferred groceries to style.  Add to that the fact that I was a straight A student and it’s a perfect recipe for bully bait.

I played sports and tried to stay active, but my major outdoor activity was riding my horse, Chief.  He was my refuge at the end of the day. One of the only “people” I felt comfortable talking to about my problems.

Somewhere around grade 11, my metabolism came to a screeching halt. I had immersed myself in my grades and theatre, and, having shoved sports to the wayside, my weight started to creep up, but I paid it no mind. Size is just a number after all – right?

Fastforward a few years – I’ve had 2 children and weigh 205 lbs.  It wasn’t the number that hurt me. It was the way I felt. It was the fact that I never wanted to be in a picture – even with my children – because I hated the way I looked.

Hated my life.

Hated myself.

Depression, feelings of loneliness and the desire for another life all started to creep in.  I felt totally alone.  Distanced from my children. From my family.

I thought about everyone that had ever called me fat.  Chubby.  Solid.

I channelled my anger.

I made some changes. I joined some support groups.  I learned better eating habits.

I learned not to eat my feelings.

I indulged in a gym membership.  I started going to martial arts.

I had some excellent support from my best friends.

I don’t remember how or when I let the anger of all of it go, but I remember when I realized it was gone. I was watching my boys play on the deck of our apartment. I was laughing at them as they raced their remote control cars when suddenly Peanut, my gentle little boy, climbed up in my lap, wrapped his long arms around my neck and hugged me. And with his little boy breath warm on my ear, whispered “I love my happy mommy”.

I love your happy mommy too.

***************

p.s. – the ugly people? still ugly.

Maybe this doesn’t really follow the prompt quite like it should… but it’s my conscious stream of thought for the day.

And I feel better for having told it.

Mama’s Losin’ It

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disabilities, depression and why I don’t like some people (part 1)

I am the mother of a disabled child.

It took me years to openly say this.

Monster has a bi-lateral mild-to-moderate sensorineural hearing loss.  He was born with this disability.

His hearing was tested at birth through the Infant Hearing Program. A lovely volunteer inserted a foam earplug in his ear, which produced sounds.  The ear’s response to these sounds were recorded and he was given a ‘refer’ result.

Peanut’s hearing test had been a “pass” right off the bat, so of course I was a bit concerned.

The volunteer shrugged it off with phrases like “quick delivery”, “possible fluid in the ear”, and I was told to wait a few days and take him to the local Health Unit to have him re-tested.

A week later, I’m bundling up my wee babe, along with my nearly 2 year old and heading off to the Health Unit for a re-test. While Peanut played quietly in the corner, we had an instant reply of what had happened in the hospital.  Foam plug in ear, quizzical look on her face, repeat test 2 times.

Then comes the questions:
“Was he delivered by c-section? (apparently fluid can stay in their ears longer because of less compression on the head during delivery)
“Does your family have any history of hearing loss?” Do my practically deaf Grandparents count? (I think that’s more for survival than anything…)
“Did you drink during your pregnancy?”
Ok, now I’m starting to take this personally.  You’re telling me there’s something wrong with my baby and now you’re trying to blame me?!?!  (yes, I got a bit defensive over that one.)

I was referred to an children’s audiology specialist.

Tests, tests, tests, questions, questions, questions…. blah blah blah “your son will have to wear hearing aids” blah blah blah

What??

I’m sorry, I don’t think I heard you properly?

And that, my friends, is when depression set in. I’m sure that was the moment, because I felt my heart drop at those words.  Also?  I was not about to admit that there was anything wrong with my child.  Wouldn’t that mean I had been a bad mother?  I had already spent the last 6 weeks scouring my memory for anything bad that I might have done during my pregnancy…  those few glasses of wine before I knew I was pregnant?

There’s something wrong with my child.  I’m a bad mother.

So, at 6 weeks old, my little Monster was diagnosed with his hearing loss and the wheels were set in motion to get him his first pair of hearing aids.  The world becomes a bit of a blur.

Now, I should explain that I grew up in a very small community and only ever knew one child that had hearing aids, and that was in public school many many years ago – and he was nearly deaf.

Being that my exposure to this sort of disability has been somewhat sheltered, I tended to ask a lot of apparently stupid questions like:
Will his hearing get any better?
Will he always have to wear his hearing aids?
Is there some sort of surgery to help him?

To which I got many eye rolls and gentle, condescending pats on the hand “No, dear. His hearing will never improve and yes, he will always need hearing aids.  His hearing loss isn’t severe enough for a cochlear implant, so no, there is no surgery that can help him.  His ears just didn’t form properly, I guess. Unless it was something during pregnancy.”

Again the accusatory comment.

Again, that stab of guilt at a young mother that has just learned that her child isn’t “normal”.

To top it all off, as I left one of the multitude of appointments that I had to take Monster to, I happened to see on a comment sheet that someone had written that “Mom is very difficult and will not accept the diagnosis”.  I’ve never wanted to tell someone to go Eff themselves more than I did that day.

Excuse me if I have a lot of questions.

Excuse me if I worry that I did something wrong – but thanks for the reassurance that it is probably just hereditary.

Excuse me if I’m a bit overwhelmed at the thought of my little boy not being able to just have a spontaneous life. I want him to be able to run through the sprinklers AND hear his friends all at the same time.  I want him to be able to play in the rain.  I want him to be able to put in earphones and listen to music, not depend on an FM system and boots.

I JUST WANT A NORMAL CHILDHOOD FOR HIM.

So I spoke up.  Which is not like me in these sort of situations. Really.

I spoke up and said “You know what? I think I’m well within my effing rights to want a normal childhood for my 2 month old baby.  I don’t appreciate being called difficult, just because I have a lot of questions. And by the way, if I refused to accept the diagnosis, WOULD I BE HERE GETTING HIM HEARING AIDS???”

GAWD I hate people sometimes.

I’m a good mother.