I had a dream since I was in high school, a dream that I thought I could never make come true. I doubted my abilities to make that dream a reality. I even gave up on it for a while. I struggled with my self-esteem and feared my dream was never meant to come true. I tried but failed. I tried again and failed. Now with encouragement from my husband and determination, I am finally getting closer to making my dream to have a book published come true.
It has taken me four years to write my memoir, Escape to the Garage. It is written, but not ready for publication yet. As I wrote my memoir the better my writing improved. I learned a lot. I had to go back and rewrite parts of my beginning chapters with my new and improved writing abilities. I also am attempting to edit, even though with my learning disability I am not good at finding grammatical errors. I’m not good at grammar, period.
Let me give you a peek into my memoir. In first grade I found myself struggling to learn. My classmates were able to read simple words when I couldn’t even sound out letters. My teacher ignored my raised hand for help when we were assigned in-class work. It was that teacher who first called me a “retard” in front of my whole class. That same year I learned I had a learning disability and I had to repeat first grade.
The label of “retard” followed me through out my school year. In second grade when I tried to do my own classwork and got a good grade, a teacher called me a cheater in front of my class. My classmates began to call me a retard, dummy, stupid, idiot, and other names. Day after day, on the bus and in class I was called names. A girl who pretended to be my friend was assigned to give me answers on tests.
In my memoir I take my readers into my life as a young girl being tormented by my classmates and teachers. I bring my readers into my mind as I slowly slip into self-hate, sadness, and anguish. Those words didn’t break my bones; they broke my heart. As my memoir goes from first grade to ninth, grade, you see me slip further and further into mental illness. I cope with my inner pain by imagining getting hit by a car and other accidents that would leave me hurt and unable to go to school.
The one thing that kept me from hitting rock bottom of my mental illness was the family garage. My grandma was the secretary, and my grandpa, uncles, and Dad were the mechanics. Every summer and on the weekends, my siblings and I took turns going to work with my dad. Every morning during the summer and during the weekends we went to a break the guys took called “Coffee Break.” During coffee break my cousins Denny and Russell, and my siblings and I played in the junkyard and in the old barn behind the garage. We had many adventures and I take my readers into those exciting times. My cousins were often the only friends I had.
My mom fought the teachers to get me help, my grandparents gave me endless love, and the guys and my cousins gave me acceptance. Those were not enough to keep me from falling into darkness, but they did keep me from hitting rock bottom. I imagined my death several times, but I had my family’s love and acceptance to keep me from attempting to take my life. The garage was my escape from the darkness with in me and from the bullying. My family was my strength to keep living when I was losing all hope.
The bullying even followed into my own back yard. One day classmates were walking past my house while I played in the yard. They started calling me names and throwing rocks at me. My mom chased them away with a broom. Even though I didn’t have any wounds on my skin, my heart and soul were bleeding and bruised. When I tried to make friends, they either moved away or were turned against me. I often felt alone. I felt like I was invisible in a school full of kids.
It wasn’t until high school that I was allowed to do my own tests. I became obsessed with studying and it paid off. I made the honor roll and began to get high grades, but it didn’t stop the name calling. In high school I stopped talking unless I had no choice. Then tragedy struck our family and I fell deeper into depression. At home I argued with my parents and when my brother teased me, I broke out into violent fits.
I can’t give away the whole memoir. You’ll need to wait until it is published to find out what happens to me, a target of bullying. My memoir shows how bullying is a form of abuse that rips at the soul and the mind. It shows how being bullied tears a person apart inside and worsens to mental illness.
Years after I graduated from school I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and Borderline Personality Disorder. Those who have Borderline Personality Disorder are often subjects of abuse. I had loving parents, wonderful grandparents, and caring siblings. The abuse did not come from home; it came from my school years.
Words hurt. They cut deep, leaving wounds no one can see. They tear a person’s self-esteem apart; they distort his or her thoughts and breaks a person’s insides into many little pieces. With therapy and years of hard work, the targets of bullying can rebuild themselves and heal the wounds, but the scars never go away. Choose to be kind to everyone, even the kids who are different. Save a child from years of struggling with mental illness. Be a friend, not a bully.
Writing this memoir was and is my therapy. It took me so long to write this because I had to relive the abuse. The day my book gets published and I am holding a copy in my hand, I’ll be flying high. Because of my persistence and encouragement from my husband, family, and friends, my dream will come true. Working on making my dream come true keeps me standing tall within the light.