It was still early morning, I was looking forward to another day in class, I was thinking about all the things I was going to do with my friends, well, that always was easy, I was going to play football on the little yard near our homes. Life was simple, we laughed, we played football and had amazing adventures and while in class we learned of all the amazing new things the world had to offer us, which only proved to enrich our imagination. I was happy, truly, without worries and I was me, there was nothing else to be.

Class was the same as it always was, new chapter, new maths and having to try and memorise all the tables from one to 20, because we’d need it. I still clearly remember asking ‘Why memorise this when we can just do the math on the spot?’ I also remember getting quite a few laughs from this remark, but there was one person who was not all that thrilled. His eyes seemed like icicles wanting to pierce mine in order to shut me up. That icy stare after my remark… I still feel shivers thinking back. It was not the first time I spoke up in class, nor would it be the last, because why should I? I had nothing to fear in this safe haven.

The subjects we covered became more and more challenging to everyone around me and I saw them struggle more and more with the tasks given to them, so naturally I tried to help, explain, in a way they could comprehend in a way that was logical to them. I talked a lot, but only once I was done doing the work I was assigned. I was good, respectable and fairly obedient, but also kind of bored. Explaining things was a new kind of thing for me to explore and I was actually not bad at it. But that did mean I was talking more and more to everyone around me. I was sat in the back of the class, well one row from the back, as that put me closest to the friends I had.

But then we rewind back to paragraph one. This was a day where a lot of my life changed, where I lost my drive to excel at school tasks, as it did not give me the rewards I was looking for. It actually punished me for completing them and gave more progressively difficult tasks to complete in ever shorter time frames. If I failed, there was retribution, if I did make it, more tasks. The toil never really ended. But on that first day where a teacher thought it necessary to lay a finger, nay a hand to my face because he was no longer able to handle me and my ‘disruptions’. It was quite a swift flick, it did not really hurt, but I just remember sitting there in shock, Classmates sat there laughing at the whole ordeal. What had I done wrong? Why did he? I did not respond in the way he had intended me to react, so he picked up my book of dutch we were studying at the time and slammed it hard om my table.  This got the attention of everybody and I was told to go outside of the classroom and was not to return until I was called for.

When recess came and everyone went outside I was told to stay in, I did not deserve the luxury of playing outside as I clearly was disruptive and not serious in my efforts. His hands gripped my shoulders as he tried somehow to shake some sense into me. I just had this defensive demeanour about me, I was angry… I wanted to play outside. That is when he really began his reign of terror on me. I was sat facing the wall, alone, no one nearby, I was however close to the door. I was to report in to his desk almost every 5 minutes to have him look at what I had done so far, making me walk the walk of shame every day of every week. Also he mocked every mistake I made, in front of the class. But I gradually became accustomed to the mockery and the shameful walks. It was not long before I made a game out of the two of them, further infuriating him.

I was given extra work and detention whenever it was possible to give it to me. He would sometimes lose his patience and hit me or the table, he would make me an outcast, he would stop me being disruptive, but instead he made me a clown, he made me someone who clearly could not be bothered to learn, because it only gets you into trouble. It only gets you angry glares and negative feedback. If I sought the clash actively, the class would laugh and I would get hit, which in turn I started to rebel against as well. I could not give a rats arse about him and anything he had to say. My grades dropped, which they had already for some time as I was marked down for errors others were forgiven for, I had to compete on a different level to everyone. He was unable to control me, he was not able to see that all he really needed me to do was to just go ahead at my own pace, and if I finished something, let me continue learning more and new things. He should have nurtured my eagerness to learn, instead he killed it, stopped it in its tracks. And even though I was ‘popular’ because of my ‘could not care less’ attitude, I was losing friends left and right.

Slowly I became a bit of a loner, a bit of a castaway on a deserted isle with no one to trust or to believe in. I think I started wearing masks then, it is when I started to protect myself in the only way I knew how to. Escape to a fantasy and pretend to the world I am fine, I am cool and need no help. If only there was someone then who would have sat down with me and just encouraged me even a little. Later I began to notice this trend continuing. Even though I love to learn, school has always opposed me since then, I just was taught that hard work does not pay off. Now the question rises, why did you not just go and tell your parents about this? Why did you not tell them about the way your table was set to face the wall? Why did you not tell anyone that you were hit and mocked? The reverse is also true for everyone who was present during all this time. Some parents looked at me as if I was a troublemaker, as if I was deserving all the things I got.  But no one ever opened up or spoke up in my defence. I was alone and I have felt for a long time I was alone in all of this.

When the next year came, I was moving to another teacher, but he had similar problems keeping me in check, though he never really gave me extra chore, nor did he ever lay a finger on me. I was still considered a disruptive force, still a bit on an island on my own. The two years after that were slightly better as the head teacher did make an effort to keep me going and my grades improved a fair bit. The damage, however was already done. In high school I did try to make a new start, but soon found the same problems arise. People and most notably teachers were unable to handle me, save for my economy teacher, he just let me go at my pace, at my speed, which meant I was done with the course in about 3 months. But my chemistry teacher… well he too hit me, and even though it was only once it did bring back a lot of bad memories. I burst out in tears, was unable to continue that day. I was sent to the principal, but I never went there. I just went home and called in sick for the week.

Again I never told anyone about it at home. Anxiety took a hold of me and I started experiencing panic attacks, hyperventilation and ultimately a tingling sensation all throughout my body and that would make me either pass out or fall over. When I would try to get up, my legs were not responding. Not to any stimulus or any of the things I wanted them to do. There were other reasons for the panic attacks, but this has had a huge impact on them.


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