I love these girls. Playing in the pool.
I am not even sure where to start but I know I need to write this it has been haunting my brain for a couple of weeks.
When I was 11 years old I was allowed to go to girls camp because I was turning 12 within the next month. Most girls that I know LOVE girls camp. I hate girls camp. I always have. Except, I couldn’t put my finger on it until recently.
I was so excited to go, a WHOLE week away from my family! What a vacation. No babies to tend, no messes to clean up, no violin to practice, a whole week with girls. The girls in my ward and the girls I would soon be joining in Young Women’s. It was a right of passage and I was so excited. There are two vivid memories from that first year of camp. The first is that there was this beautiful girl, she was one of the older girls from another ward assigned to our ward to be a sort of example. I remember she was in the bathroom and she had CAKED her mascara on and was then separating her eyelashes with a safety pin. I thought that was the DUMBEST thing I had ever..EVER seen what if she slipped and poked herself in the eye. I went on my way probably off to some activity.
That evening we were supposed to do some activity with our older “example” young woman. I came into an empty cabin with all the girls my age in my ward. We were sitting in a circle and the girls began to play a game called Bloody Mary. I had never played this game before and I really LIKED to play games. Except, there was something different about this game. As we began to play it I realized that it was a game that was supposed to summon evil spirits, in order to frighten the players. I had this horrible dark feeling come over me and I KNEW that this was not a game that I had any desire to play. Especially, when I was at camp to have a TOTALLY different spiritual experience, one in which I would feel the comforting spirit, or The Holy Ghost.
So, I excused myself from the game. I was confronted by the older girl who had earlier been separating her eyelashes with the pointy end of a safety pin. She looked at me in her 16 year old bratty way and said, “Why are you leaving?” To which I replied, “I don’t think this is a game we should be playing at Girls Camp.” I didn’t make a big deal of it, I didn’t tell a leader. I went to my bunk in our Ward’s cabin and hunkered down to read a book. I guess Girls Camp proceeded as usual. I don’t remember now.
Fast Forward to the beginning of school. I was walking home in my neighborhood when I came across a girl in my ward sitting on her front porch with her boyfriend. This girl was BEAUTIFUL. She was the envy of every other girl in the ward. She did some modeling, she was a cheerleader. She had thick ravens wing hair and sparkly crystal blue eyes. She had olive toned skin and was thin. She was basically everything I wasn’t. Taylor swift said it this way…She wore high heels, I wore sneakers, she’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers.
She was very popular, and so was her football playing boyfriend with his all American good looks. They stopped me, she said Hi. I stopped and said Hi. They were 8th graders and I was a seventh grader, so the fact that they were even talking to me was pretty significant. She looked at me sharply and said, Why did you leave the Bloody Mary game at camp? I said, because it wasn’t a good game. That is all it took. I had admitted that I had left the game. I don’t know what she had said previously to her boyfriend about me leaving or if she made something up about the way I left? I am still confused about that part. Her boyfriend laughed and taunted, “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary.” I turned on my heel and walked home. I was embarrassed, I felt demoralized ESPECIALLY for just doing something I had been taught to do my whole life and that was listen to the prompting of the Holy Ghost. I walked home slumped shouldered I am sure.
The next day I rode the bus to school. The kids my age all sat together at the front of the bus. We got off the bus and walked into the main hall of the Jr. High where our lockers were. There was the all American Good-Looks Football player, and all of his foot ball playing friends, MANY of which lived in my ward. There was a girl who was handicapped, she had braces on her legs and used those crutches that hook onto your forearms. She wasn’t in my grade, but as I walked to my first class this group of football players took her backpack and began tossing it to one another, with her trying to grab it out of the air with her braces and crutches all the while she was crying and calling, STOP! STOP! Give me my backpack! I felt sick watching it, luckily a boy their age confronted them and the teasing stopped.
Except as I passed, they noticed me and apparently the Girls Camp Bloody Mary Game with me leaving had spread and they all began calling me, Bloody Mary. Whenever, I walked by them at church, at school, at mutual, they would taunt me…Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary. I remember thinking, I wish I had an older brother to walk along beside me, I am all alone. I was a peon, a dumb little 7th grader and they were these big boys..Big Football playing boys. Everyone looked up to them, and they looked down on everyone else. I was no exception. She must have made some alternate story up I thought for them to tease me so much. If I saw any of them at school I would walk a BIG circle the other way to avoid them. I would feel the heat of embarrassment and insecurity creep up my neck, red hot.
I never said anything to them. I just looked down and walked by feeling like a loser. I didn’t feel this way around my peers, just the older football playing boys. ANNND Let’s be honest here, what 7th grader feels confident in the first place? I sure didn’t. I was a nerd and I knew it, braces, big bangs, floral shirt, maroon jeans wearing, nerd with a capital N. I began to feel anxiety going to school, or any combined mutual activity where these boys in my ward would be. One of the boys in the ward became the Bloody Mary teasing ring leader. He was merciless. It never STOPPED that 7th grade year or my 8th grade year. Except at the end of 8th grade something glorious happened. I grew. I grew out of my awkward nerd stage into a girl who was not as ugly as she felt on the inside. I had a tiny burst of confidence AND those Football players would NOT be coming back to the Jr. High the NEXT YEAR! I was FREE!!! At least at school, which improved my days significantly. They continued to tease me, 7th, 8th, 9th and into 10th grade. I would feel sick when I saw them, literally ill with anxiety and I did everything in my power to avoid them. I never fought back, I would just walk by eyes on the floor. They would call me Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary. The interesting part is I hated girls camp. When it would get closer I would feel so much anxiety about going and now I see I had attached the bullying to camp.
This is all I can write for now, but this story does not improve it gets worse, and worse, and worse. So To be continued…It Escalates.