I had a rough dream last night. You know the kind. You wake up sweating and sobbing, and then it takes you a while to get back to sleep. That’s the kind of dream I had. Thinking back to the content, it would almost seem embarrassing to admit. But, my dream was so close to reality, and after last night, it really hit me how much this something had affected me long ago and had placed an imprint on my mind and heart.
The dream involved a high school teacher I had – one that didn’t particularly like me. I never really understood why she didn’t like me, especially since I really liked her and tried so hard to be the ideal student for the subject she taught. Maybe it wasn’t so much her that I liked, but the subject itself. Either way, I tried so hard to please her and get the best grades possible. But, she wounded me pretty badly. I hadn’t really thought of it as bullying before, but as I put pieces together in my mind this morning, I realized that this teacher had mildly bullied me in a way. I attended a private school, so our classes weren’t very big, which allowed for every student to get a decent amount of attention. A couple rough moments with this teacher stayed on my mind and heart, but there were two in particular that really got to me.
Our class had done a writing project for fun, and then the teacher read everyone’s papers out loud. I had put a lot of thought into mine and even added a few silly things throughout it while staying within the guidelines of how the paper should be written. I thought the teacher would like it. She came to one part of my paper, and as she read it out loud, she laughed. But, it wasn’t a “ha ha” kind of laugh; it was a scoffing laugh. I slunk into my seat. I knew what she meant by that. She then followed her laugh up with a snide remark and suddenly I could feel her eyes on me. (Nobody was supposed to know whose paper was whose, so the moment she looked at me, everybody knew.) A ripple of snickers went throughout the class, as I felt heat shoot up my face. After that, I got the clear message from her that she wasn’t a big fan of me.
The moment that impacted me the most was something that happened the next year. Our class was given a very large report to write. This was a report that was going to account for a huge chunk of our overall grade. I had started to notice at the beginning of the year that the grades I was receiving from this teacher were more reflective of her dislike for me than that of what I deserved, so I knew I was going to need to work extremely hard to wow her. I remember talking to my mom about this, but she was having a hard time seeing the prejudice in the grading. My mom came around when she watched me slave for several hours over this project. Since my mother was a teacher herself, I had her read over the report and give me opinions. She was very impressed, and I figured the report was ready. When I got my report back with a barely passing grade, I was crushed. I came home and sobbed in my mom’s arms that night. The teacher had shredded apart my report – a report that was written to near perfection. The following day, my mom handed me a letter to give to the teacher. She decided it was time to go at bat for me. My mother later told me that the letter simply stated that there was need for the air to be cleared and that they needed to talk about this issue. She instructed me to give it to my teacher and to not let my teacher try to talk to me about the letter.
That didn’t go over well. After school that day, my teacher pulled me into her classroom and immediately started to verbally rip into me. She yelled at me, calling me a brat, and said that I needed help and would get nowhere in life with the way I was. The way I was? What did she mean? When she finally finished, I walked out of her room, feeling like the scum of the earth. My eyes were puffy with tears. She was right. I did need help. What that teacher didn’t know was that I was going through a really deep valley in my life at the time. I was dealing with a deep depression that overwhelmed me every day. I was overweight and severely battling with bulimia. At the time, I was starting to have regular nightmares of sexual abuse that had happened when I was a child. What I needed most was a loving heart and a helping hand. When I realized that this teacher that I admired so much despised me just as much, my world crumbled. Teenagers are fragile. What that teacher also doesn’t know is that, if it weren’t for my best friend, I would have taken my life that night.
Praise God that the story doesn’t end there! That teacher taught me something. When I was younger, I had a tendency to speak before thinking. I know I said some hurtful things to people; things I’ll never be able to take back. To this day, I regret so many things I said and did when I was too immature to want to know better. I’m thankful that a lot of my classmates and friends never held those things against me and still talk to me. lol! I wasn’t a horrible person. I just said some stupid things, as does everybody. To be honest, most of the things I remember and feel guilty about, the other parties don’t remember at all. I guess I just carry guilt very heavily. Anyway, what that teacher taught me was the pain of such distasteful words. She taught me that it wasn’t worth hurting people to make yourself look or feel better. I didn’t want to be like her, so I determined that I wouldn’t be like her.
When I got to college, God brought some amazing people in my life. I was able to get counseling for all the issues I was dealing with, and after three years, I felt like a new person! God also showed me that I was a likable person, despite what that high school teacher thought. I had professors who saw my potential and even had one tell me that some of my writings were worthy of being published. My college professors became some of my greatest mentors and had a great, wonderful impact on my life!
To this day, I know that one high school teacher doesn’t care for me. I went home on my husband’s deployment, it having been several years since high school, and I saw her. I smiled at her, but in return, I received a cold stare and she turned away from me. I’ll never understand why she doesn’t like me. I’ll never understand why she said such hurtful things. But, those words stuck with me and almost had a lasting impact on my life. By writing this post, I am not looking for pity. I am in no way trying to bash this teacher. Honestly, I just pray that God heals whatever hurt she’s experienced that has caused her to act this way. I just want to heed people to be careful. You don’t know what a person might be dealing with. You don’t know what battles might be going on their heart and mind. Your words matter. Be sure to use them wisely.
This is a lesson for myself, as well.