This post began being written as something else. But this part was quite long and twisted. So I have decided rewrite it, use this as groundwork and do what I was going to do today, tomorrow instead.
I've known Ange since I was 5. Since prep, our very first year in primary school. My family moved from central Victoria to a border town when I was 7*. Shortly before we moved my Mum's sisters came up to say goodbye. It was this day that my cousin took me away and did what he did.
I repressed the memory and it almost destroyed me when it surfaced, six years later. I was in year eight, in high school.
I met Ange again in year seven. And we were good friends. We used to sit together during classes and hang out at recess. We had quite a few friends. Mostly the odds and ends of people who had come to our school, when their mates went to another school. I guess you'd say we were the rejects, but at the time it didn't seem that way. We weren't shunned by anyone else. We were our own group.
Anyway, when I was in year eight, the repression started to crumble. And I became temperamental at best. I had a huge fight with another girl who was in our group, who had been shifted into our class that year. She and Ange were getting close and I was jealous, though I'd've never admitted to it at the time**. So when I walked past her to go into class one day, and she started hitting me with her ruler and calling me fat, I lost it. I ended up pinning her against the wall. She thought she could take me, but she couldn't. I won the fight, but I was pretty much kicked out of the group because of it.
So I spent the next few months in solitude. I bonded with one of the girls who was an outsider of our group. And we became best friends, right til the end of high school. But she was in a different class to me, so I spent lessons sitting by myself up the front. I was pretty much blind, so that was the only place I could sit and still do my work. But I excelled at classes. And my class knew me as the smart, fat girl that you didn't cross. I got into quite a lot of schoolyard fights. But I never lost, no matter how hard the other person fought. I learned to channel my pain into a anger and strength. Its not a lesson I'm proud to have learned, but it was something that I had to do. My emotional pain would have killed me otherwise, and it almost did several times.
One afternoon during Phys Ed, I was having an argument with Ange. For some reason I still needed her approval and understanding, and I ended up blurting out that I was abused as a kid. She clearly didn't beleive me and turned and told one of the popular guys. Who had no brain-mouth filter, and so spread around it as a bit of juicy gossip.
Devastation doesn't even cover what I felt. It doesn't even cover the pain I feel for this now, over 10 years later. I don't remember the end of the lesson. Word spread quickly, and before the end of the lesson, I think everybody knew. I remember crying so hard I could barely breathe. For what felt like hours and hours. But in reality it must have been half an hour, maybe 45 minutes. I remember one of the popular girls asking me what was wrong. I remember being unable to answer, I was crying so hard. None of my 'friends' were there, they had caused this and they didn't know how to make it go away. Of course, by this stage they knew my statement was true. I was just by myself, crying, wishing I was literally dead so I could feel nothing. God. Right now I feel like my face is going to burst from all the tears.
The popular girl ended up taking me to the counsellors office, but she was gone for the day. The office was across from the music block, and our music teacher was either going to/coming from the music block, or she saw something going on. She ended up coming out and taking me into her office. I ended up telling her everything.
She was quite upset. She knew me on a personal level. I was friends with her sister-in law since I began high school. At the time I thought she might have been abused. She might have told me, I'm not sure. I had the feeling she was so upset because of it. At that stage I didn't think that anybody could understand what I was going through without having gone through it themselves. Though now I know different. Now I know that as a teacher she genuinely loved her students and to see one like this, being unable to do anything but offer words, it tore her apart.
The first thing she did when she found out, was to ask, eyes brimming with tears, if I still saw my abuser. There wasn't any relief when I told her that he lived in Melbourne. My state had her seriously worried. She made me promise to go see the counsellor the next day. In fact, I think she turned up at homeroom the next day*** and took me there, to make sure I went.
I saw the counsellor quite often over the course of that year. The next year I decided to be strong and stop. I wasn't ready and attempted suicide for the first time that year. My parents took me to to a shrink, but I wasn't emotionally comfortable there. I went back to the school counsellor, whenever I wanted. Sometimes I'd talk. Sometimes I'd just play with the stuff she had in her office and read a book, other times I'd just sit. Once I went with someone else, who's parents were going through a divorce. We ended up just sitting around talking, and the counsellor pulled out a few packs of compliment cards, spread them out face down on the floor and told us to pick the one we felt was appropriate for the other. We both picked 'You are an interesting person' for each other.
My friendship with some of the girls did improve. I would help tutor the girls when they had trouble in classes. I am still friends with Ange to this day. We kind of drifted apart a bit during the end of year nine, til year 12. Our group splintered again, and, sick of the crap that happened, she moved onto another one. Though we were still close and had a few classes together at the end. I was the first person, outside of her family, that she told when she was pregnant. She was one of the people I turned to when I had the miscarriage. In fact, her asking how I was, and really meaning it, is what made it really hit home. Up until then, I was grateful that I didn't have to chose between keeping or aborting. That I didn't have to deal with the father. I was grateful because my life was so fucked, and having a kid would have been impossible. Though she made me realise how much I really did want my son.
I digressed. The point that this story aims to make is that everybody knew me in my year level. But for all the wrong reasons. I was the fat, troubled kid. Unstable, hurt, abused. A smart loner, quiet, unless provoked.
* I used to say eight. It wasn't. My counsellor said that I was self blaming to tell people I was eight. It is difficult to say seven even now.
** Seriously this girl was a fucked up bitch, and I didn't like her. Still don't for that matter. And not because of what happened.
*** yes I did return to school the next day. I didn't tell my parents so as far as they were concerned, I had no reason to stay at home. They obviously found out. I'm not sure who from. I suspect a girl in my year level told her mum, who was a friend of my mums. When my mum asked me, she already knew the answer.