Is Aminda on the bus…childhood bullying memories

My morning writing spat up some memories this week and I realized I’ve been writing my “origin” story from the point of my husband’s death. But let’s be real this all started at the beginning and just because I don’t want to relive or think about (or honestly remember much) from my childhood doesn’t mean it’s not important to this story.

I started writing this a week ago. That first paragraph was all I got out and then I haven’t been able to write more. It’s amazing to think how much of my childhood I just keep in a box and all the feelings associated with it I try to distance myself from them. I can feel my breath catch. I can feel my body curl in on itself. When I allow it to come over me I can feel the helplessness and the gnawing sense of other.

Does bipolar happen because of brain chemistry? are we born that way? or do the events of our lives push us and push us until our brains are wired a certain way. As I think about it I’ve never felt safe. Well that’s not true, a few moments here and there with Rob I felt safe, for a moment and that is perhaps why there is a before and after Rob. That all my childhood fears felt put away when I was seen, but they came roaring back with a vengeance. I see now it’s because the feeling was external and conditional. So that’s why I’m here on this journey working on making that feeling internal, from within so that no one can take it from me. But since I have so little experience with it, it continues to be elusive.

But I digress.

I was not a healthy child. Think some 80’s movie where there was a kid who had an inhaler and was the weakling – that was me. Only I was just a side character so I didn’t get a makeover montage. I was just odd and sick. I’ve come to understand that what I experienced was being seen as a moral failing for not being hale and hearty. I never had the energy other kids had. So much so that I knew early on something was wrong with me, but I was born in ’68 and went to school in the ’70s, and catholic school no less, so we didn’t have any idea how to help a kid with food allergies and who was too tired to function, even at the ripe age of 8. I had terrible IBS even back then, I woke up everyday with a stomach ache. I had so many stomach aches that they were treated like I was always faking and that set me up for a lifetime of not believing my body signals, but that’s for another post. All that is to set up that I was bullied for being meek and weak. And to understand that my sickliness was also making dealing with life already difficult. At home it was my dad abusing my mom and drunken fights but at Church we were the perfect family. I may never know if I was born healthy and the abusive stress is what caused me to be sick but either way I was not well. A pale, scrawny, asthma having, eye glass wearing, book reading outcast. And that would have been fine if people could have at least been understanding or kind, but no as I said, moral failing. And it wasn’t just kids that were mean. I learned early that cruelty was not limited to a select few bullies and that even nice people will be awful in the right crowd. Sure I was bullied in school by the nuns for my left handedness and my general lack of vim, seriously berated for being pale and tired. Literally just made me laugh to think of it, how insane is it to make fun of someone for being ill, no wonder I have struggled with accepting it and now just want everyone to know. I want to heal that wound and feel like people give a crap. UGH again I digress. It seems so silly now, a trifling. Yet for me, in the first through fifth grades riding the bus was one of the greatest sources of trauma for me. It might be tied with my P.E. teacher but we’ll leave Mrs. Larimer out of this one and just focus on the bus driver. I’m not 100% sure what her name was, as I called her “bulldozer” in my head. Was her name Dozer or Dosier? who knows, the truth is lost to time. I only know she was not a happy person and she allowed me to be harrassed so much on the bus, even taking part on occasion. Like maybe Matt and Trey had a similar experience?

From the classics like tripping, stealing of items and playing keep away, and no available seat gaffs to the more upsetting gum in the hair, and ruined homework, riding the bus was a nightmare. Made extra so because I was beyond timid and being noticed was its own hell and somehow that was like a flame and all the bullies moths. Sigh. I will never understand the urge to pick on the weakest one. All that I suffered with as much dignity as a sad victorian child could. It was the bus stop fiascos that truly gave me the anxiety. Now I gave you all the lead up about being sickly and tired. Now put me in a stressful situation everyday and throw in my sensitive stomach and hypersensitivity to smells and my bus rides were like a fugue state. I could barely function I was always so overwhelmed. And more often than not I would fall asleep. (I presume it was the beginnings of a strong flight/freeze response to stress) Now my bus driver decided to punish me as often as possible. She wouldn’t help me procure a seat up front where I wouldn’t be harassed or get as car sick. No she would watch the kids block the seats until I was in the back. So many times. I stopped crying and begging for help that seemed to only make her angrier. She would call me pity party princess. LOL I just remembered that, huh. Anyway if I fell asleep sometimes she would just drive past my stop and make me ride the whole route and drop me at a different stop on the way back making me walk further. (realizing now how much she endangered me) Sometimes she would get the kids to chant – “Is Aminda on the bus” on the way to my stop and then they would jeer and thrown things and call me names as I exited. Good times.

Now I can look back and see how tiny those things were individually. I can even understand that Ms. Bulldozer probably had her own trauma and reasons for being a complete a-hole to small children. Yet it doesn’t change that those daily interactions were a constant stressor on my tiny little pathetic nervous system. There was no relief. You didn’t admit weakness to the nuns, that brought down more wrath and punishment than help. And ya know the few times my mom got wind of anything hinky she was quick to defend me but she did it in way that always mortified me and generally had a backlash of being bullied harder. Now there is so much more history from St. Gregory’s. come to think of it all the people that were the worst to me where all the women in charge. It’s no wonder it took me years to trust women. Recently I’ve been wondering why I’m so sensitive and reactive and reliving/remembering my childhood reminds me that I was trained to be wary. It’s wired within me to be protective and scared. And my digestive system never did figure out how to life all that well.
Bullying is a health crisis. And make no mistake the “grown-ups” have always been as bad as the kids.

Halfway Home – Rediscovered Poetry Break

But like a tap on the shoulder… a whisper in my ear…” just start” ….

From a Facebook post Jan 31st 2021 – Again I almost didn’t write. I wasn’t “in the right headspace” But like a tap on the shoulder… a whisper in my ear…” just start” the rules of the road say I don’t worry about quality…just quantity. And I’ll be honest I felt a little raw…(4 hours of improv class will do that) I was “drained”

but I opened up the page and just wrote… POEM. and well … here is another first draft poem

Halfway Home

There was a poem that as a child felt like home

Halfway down the stairs, it went

Not up or down

Away but here

It wrapped me in understanding

And made me feel less alone

I followed those words

To worlds made real

In chapters of mystery

In rhymes of fantasy

In the magic of fiction

Dreams seemed possible

The world felt welcoming

Each day I’d walk by that step

On the way to school

And I would lift my chin

Leave behind my sacred space

To battle with reality

But that step

It was always there

The words. The words were always there.

I’ve forgotten the words sometimes

But they, they have never forgotten me

Bright Bright Sun Shiny Day

“The Midnight Show”, 1973 Johnny Nash singing I can see clearly now

I was promised one world and learned something else – it has been messing with me my whole life.

I was around 5 when this aired. This matters because today we are going to talk about core beliefs.

Recently I’ve given a lot of thought to things I believe from my childhood. I have done 3 rounds of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way over the last 2 years. I have written my #morningpages 448 days (and counting) in a row. That is a LOT of introspection, and a lot of decunstructing of my beliefs.

We all have them. Things we picked up either directly because someone said them to us a lot – or just once in a very vulnerable moment. Think things like “you are so lazy”, “you are such a slob”, “you are too sensitive” or if you are lucky “you are smart” “your smile lights up a room”. And other societal beliefs that we pick up more by proximity. Things we see and hear from other people and in the media we consume, “poor people did that to themselves”, “the world is a scary/kind place”, “hard work will get you where you want to go”, “equality is possible”, “racism is evil and systemic”. (Pssst this is how racism ended up systemic, core beliefs we are given often w/o intent as children)

It has been said that we form our core beliefs and personalities by age 7

Now we all grew up in different places and different times. We had parents with their own beliefs, we went to different schools (maybe someday I’ll write my feelings on what catholic school did to me) So we all were programmed, one way or another with a core set of beliefs. Many people don’t examine these beliefs over the course of their life. What they were taught is what they know and beleive and they change very little. But some of us have a sense that something isn’t quite right. Maybe those beliefs didn’t match your own inanate morality, or maybe as you grew up you saw conflicting information and you couldn’t ignore new ideas. What ever it is when we examine those beleifs we can begin to understand who we truly are, what we truly desire, (Luci would be so proud) and that is the beginning of healing for a lot of us. Because if you are still operating from the same place you did at the age of 7 w/out finding out if your coping mechanisms and beliefs are still relevant and true you may be in a bit of rut. It’s quite possible your life has been on repeat for many cycles.

Do you even truly know?

The only way to get out of your loop (Thank you Westworld) is to examine it and see what you want to change. Or maybe see what you want to enhance.

Either way, reflection, questioning, examining, and challenging your beliefs is how we become our most authentic, grounded, peaceful selves.

Wow, this took a different turn. A much more positive turn really because I came here to say this: This was what I heard in my youth…this was the future I was promised —finding out we were lied to really drug me down, man. I want the diverse, accepting, anti-racist, equitable future I was promised.

But I realized something uplifting in the process. My core beliefs are about equity, fairness, anti-racism, diversity, inclusion, feminism, humanism. My core belief system is a big ‘ol 60s hippy that believes in peace, love, and rainbows. And although it is at odds with *gestures vaguely* all of this, it’s a comfort to know that my core being still believes in the messages of hopes and the vision of a diverse and accepted humanity. (this is my plug for how #sciencefiction made me a better person)

I’ll return to my bipolar journey soon. I promise. But in true bipolar nature that part of the story sent me off on a tangent and it might take some time to circle back around.

Until then what are some of your core beliefs? helpful or harmful. told to you or absorbed by proximity. What are some you have changed? What are some you wish you could change? What are some you are glad are firmly entrenched in your being?