In response to the daily prompt Careless Whisper
Everyone has experienced it at least one in their lives: the foot in the mouth syndrome. I can say in all honesty that I have done it numerous times; I used to not know when to stop talking. But I guess the worst I ever did was in seventh grade; for the sake of this story let’s call the other protagonists Sarah and Gladys.
Gladys and I had been friends for a couple of years after she moved from the province. She joined our class in the middle of fifth grade and we became good friends. She trusted me with secrets that I thought were awesome; no one had ever trusted me with secrets before. I felt special; but she is one reason I threw away all my diaries. I don’t think I could face her today since she is the one person in the world who could say how naive and stupid I was as a child and through my teens. What can I say? I believed everything she said – from the smallest thing to the most impossible one. That being said what I did that day is certainly what shattered our friendship long before I realized/decided that it might never have been one in the first place.
Now Sarah and I was another story. We had been in the same class since grade 2 and never liked each other. Everything she could do to hurt me she would. She’d pretend to be my friend one day and hurt me the next; I can’t say it was all her fault for I think I did the same. Funny how memories of your own bad actions sometimes get blurry. We always want to be the good guy. Well in this case, I was not even though I did not realize how bad this would turn out to be. If I had known I would have shut up; but I was tired of being bullied and it was the only thing I could think of doing in retaliation. It came from a bad place and karma has its ways…
Once Sarah and Gladys went on vacation together; I did not know it at first until one day Gladys – the only person in my class who was talking to me at all – got really upset. I did not understand; she ended up telling me that she and Sarah had gone on vacation together – spring camp or something – with her parents as chaperones. One day she heard her telling her father that they were sleeping with boys. At first I did not get it; I was 12 and not particularly precocious in that matter. She clarified; I was shocked. Was she not too young for that? I mean 13 years old is young right? I guess the idea that a girl would tell their parents about this sort of things did not strike me as weird. At the time I thought I could speak about everything with my parents; this was no exception. Though the truth is that it was the year I learned that was not the case.
So that day during the lunch recess Sarah was leading a group of people to bully me verbally; I was stupid and fat and ugly – the usual you know – and I was a suck-up to the teachers. So I turned around and I said that at least I was not a whore who slept with boys at the age of 12. She paled at that and walked away; I was proud of myself for just a second. And then remembered that I was not supposed to talk about this. And the faces of the other girls in the group that had followed her; they were shocked as if what I had said was the worst thing in the world. One of them said “why would you say that?”
I am still not sure how things got twisted and repeated but by the time Gladys came back from her house – she used to be able to eat at home – the story was known by the entire school. I told her what I had done; of course she was not happy with me. I could not imagine that by the next day she would never speak to me again. When I went home I told my mom I had made a big mistake; she had to pull the story out of me. I was ashamed… And then after we arrived home she received a call from Sarah’s father; when she hung up she was so upset at me she would not even talk. I knew I was in trouble but I was not sure why she was so pissed until she told me that the story had become that Gladys’ father had assaulted Sarah. And the more I explained to her that I had never said that the less she believed me. If I had been the sort of child who went out I would have been grounded until my 18th birthday. Only I was not.
I ended in a lot of trouble at school – in the principal’s office – facing both Sarah and Gladys and their fathers. My mother did not say a word, did not show any support that day. It was my mess and she was not going to help me out of it. I offered apologies and explained that I never intended it to go this far; no one believed me when I said that I had never claimed Gladys’ father assaulted Sarah and she did not tell the truth. I ended up with a warning, which really was the least of my worries. I became even more of a pariah and no one would even come close to me. Gladys never spoke to me again and I cannot blame her for that.
I learned two lessons that day: 1) when you mess up you carry responsibility and you have to be accountable for your actions – regardless of the intentions. 2) there is no way I would ever defend myself from bullying again: I would take it and suck it up, not complain – not even to my parents.
#2 was probably not the best idea in the world… but it was the only way. I vowed I would never try to hurt anyone ever again even to defend myself.