I know that most people see me as someone who is driven, passionate, maybe even talented. There are days when I believe all those things, but there are more days when I find it difficult to believe in anything at all. I guess what makes it hard is seeing people who have hurt me and manipulated those around me into thinking that I’m deserving of their hatred, try and become successful. They get to sit there and spit out their side of the story while I’m forced to sit quietly in the sidelines for fear of being rejected by everyone involved with them. I guess that makes me the bigger person, right? I keep telling myself this. You would think having so many amazing friends and people who love me would make it easier to not care about the people who don’t, but sadly, I’ve always been the girl who wanted everyone to like her. In elementary school I was constantly made fun of by classmates and teachers alike. My fifth grade teacher mentally screwed me up to this day…I still can’t handle it when people gang up on me or make fun of me, even in jest. You might not believe this, but I used to get screamed at by him on a daily basis. He’d tell my peers to never be like me because I’d never amount to anything, he once kicked everyone out of the room just so he could belittle me and scream at me because I kept saying my mailing address was Deal, even though I lived in Ocean township (this is just a very small example, but for other people’s sake I won’t air the rest of his offenses against me). I used to have a notebook that all my teachers would have to sign at the end of every day, letting my parents know about my behavior for that day. The teachers who liked me wrote nice things. The ones who didn’t would always say something mean. Not a single one of them realized my acting out was because I felt so alone and so hated by these people I was supposed to be looking up to, these people I just wanted to be loved by so badly. When I think back to it now, as an adult, I don’t think I understood as a kid just how incredibly damaging some of my teacher’s behavior was. Imagine your child being bullied BY A TEACHER. Think how you would feel. My Mom wasn’t pleased to say the least, especially since this teacher was a family friend of ours. But, what could she do? She voiced her concern many times to no avail. They didn’t listen. They also didn’t listen when she came in after I was viciously beaten up by three girls in the locker room. I was in 5th grade. Why would a little 5th grader be getting beaten up, you might ask? Kickball. I didn’t pass the ringleader the ball and she chased me down and cornered me after I ran to hide in the locker room. Two other girls came in and she threw me to the ground, smashed my head into the concrete floor, while the other two girls kicked me. As I type this I sit here and think, “am I making this up?” but no, this happened, and yes, nothing was done to any of them. They had no consequences for their brutal actions against me. I did get detention for punching one of them in the face (a week after the event), however. Go figure that one out. Needless to say, my Mom withdrew me from that school and placed me in Ocean Township, where I started to flourish. That doesn’t mean I didn’t continue to get made fun of, but I ended all of that by choking one of my haters against the wall of my 8th grade science classroom. I know this sounds violent, but the kid deserved it, so much so that my teacher called the front office as this was going down and told them that if they wanted me to stop beating up this kid, they’d have to come down and stop me themselves, because the kid deserved everything he was getting. Needless to say, my childhood outside of school was wonderful. I was in ballet, which I adored, and I was friends with everyone in my classes there, and I was also very close with my parents and their friends. I also had my best friend Amy, and her family, who quickly became mine. Without Amy and her family, my childhood would have been very different. Even though most people didn’t accept me, they did…they embraced me and welcomed me in, even when they knew that sometimes Amy and I had seen too much of each other. But, at the end of the day, when I would get made fun of for being weird or different, Amy was always there to accept me, because she was weird and different too. And that is why, after 26 years, and her move with her husband (hi Jim Bob!) to Vermont, she is still my very best friend…my sister, really. She was the first person I called when my father passed away on Christmas Eve of 2009, and at 3 in the morning she was there to listen to my cries and feel the same pain of that loss that I was feeling. She was there when both my grandparents died, and my Uncle Bobby, too. I was there when her Grandma Becky died, Aunt Claire, Grandma Helen, and most recently her brother, Richie. Through all these losses we’ve been there to fall on one another and comfort one another. We know the pain the other is feeling because we were both such a big part of each other’s families. And I’m realizing while I write this how incredibly fortunate I am to have had that for most of my life…and to still have it. Amy is the one person in my life that I have, without fail, always been able to completely be myself around. She’s seen me at my very worst and my very best, and somehow she still calls me her best friend haha. I haven’t always been there…it’s hard to not get swept up in everything you have to do, and I’m not always great with calling back, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about my very best friend, or reminisce about all the things we have done together. And when we talk, nothing has ever changed with us. We are still the same goofy, but sensitive girls we always were. My favorite memories are from when my family and I moved down the street…down a very long street, but we were in bike riding distance from each other and fortunate enough to live in an near some amazing beach towns that we constantly rode around. I could literally go on forever about all the things we’ve done. I’ve got 26 years worth of amazing memories!
I realize I’ve strayed away from what I originally started writing about, but I guess that’s the amazing thing about writing for yourself, where you start and where you end aren’t always on the same point, but you’ll learn something about yourself in the in-between. What I’ve learned is those people who hurt you and don’t really care about making it better really aren’t worth it to dwell on, especially when you have so many INCREDIBLE people in your life that you should be dwelling on. I’ve been lucky enough in the last few years to build friendships with some of the most amazing people I have ever crossed paths with. My job brought me in contact with some of those people, my college with some of the others, others are from all aspects of my past life, a few are from the racetrack (Hi Casey!! <3), and the internet has put me in touch with some of the kindest, most supportive and caring individuals that a girl could ever know (and even though some of us haven’t met in person, I adore all of you with all my heart!). I was sad when I first wrote this…but I can honestly say that my heart is bursting with love and happiness right now. So thank you to all my friends who remind me every day how lucky I am to have all of you, thank you to Mikal who, when I start to freak out or lose my way, is always there to wake me up again and get me back on the right track (and who makes me laugh every single day), and thank you to my family for your unconditional love and support with every single one of my dreams. I couldn’t do any of this without any of you. <3 <3 <3