03 March 2014


Bullies have been a fact of life.  Just about my entire life.
When I first came to live with my parents, I started school (kindergarten) late, but by the end of the school year, I was on 2nd grade material.
I was the new kid in town, I was a foster kid, and I was smart.  In a small farming community, I stuck out like a cat in the chicken coop.
I made enemies faster than I made friends.  I actually only made 2 friends....my new sister, and another girl in my class.
From my isolated existence, the sudden onslaught of people my age overwhelmed me, and scared me.
Added to that, the fact that I have Autism (diagnosed several years later), I didn't do well in school, socially.

I was small for my age.  I was ahead in my classes.
The bullying started out as weird looks, quiet comments, and distance.
Slowly, it became more.  I was the "bastard child", the "stupid nerd", etc.
When it got out that my mom had actually abandoned us and my bio dad, I was the "unwanted orphan", "the retard nobody could love"
I had speech issues, and I wasn't very coordinated.  I didn't know how to interact with the other kids, let alone defend myself against these attacks.
By 5th grade, I had my diagnosis, but it didn't help the situation much.  Our school was not equipped to handle "different" students.  The nearest school that could was across state lines.
By 5th grade, I'd developed socially, but not nearly to the level of my peers.  I played in a local soccer league, but was on the team from across town, to limit my exposure to the toxic kids from my school.  The teams were mixed, and the players ranged from 7-11 for our grouping.
I was a half decent goalie, and the day we played the team from my side of town, I didn't let a single ball past me.
There were small remarks with every missed opportunity, but none that the adults could hear.
My bullies were too smart to get me in front of our parents.
The following week, though, they caught me outside the school, my (foster/adoptive) mom having driven me (I'd stopped riding the bus years before).  They shoved me against a wall, and hit me.  When I tried to run away, I was thrown against the wall, and broke my wrist.  I collapsed to the ground, where I was kicked, stomped, and hit.  A custodian coming out of the building saw what was happening, and pulled them off of me.  I was sent to the hospital, and it took several hours for them to get ahold of either of my parents.  I had broken both bones in my wrist, had bruises up and down my trunk, to the point that they thought I had organ damage.  I had 2 teeth knocked out (both baby teeth), a broken eye socket, and a massive concussion, with bleeding in my brain.
I was in the hospital for more than 2 weeks, developed an infection in my head (meningitis), and had to be sedated.

My parents sued to school district when the boys who did it were let off with a slap on the wrist.
The school district tried to tell them that I was not welcome back to the school, because I was "creating disruptions"  They told my parents that I would have to attend a different school, nearly an hour away, and that my parents would have to provide my transportation.

My parents won their case.  And in doing so, the School District was forced to fund my grade-school education, at any private or public school of my parents' choice.
My parents' lawyer came up with a list of schools that could cater to my special needs, were safe (bully-wise), and could provide me with an education at my level.
My parents let me make the decision, and finalized my adoption when DCS wouldn't agree with my choice.
When I was 9 years old, I got on a plane for the first time, heading for boarding school in England.
I was the youngest kid in the secondary (middle/high) school.  The school paired me with a 12yo student, who shared several of my classes, and was a kind and well-liked kid.
He helped others understand my weirdness, and got me a gig helping out the rugby captain with his lessons.  After that, I wasn't picked on a single time in my schooling.
I only had a handful of friends, but the other students respected the "weird Yank", and would include me in group activities, if I showed interest.

When I started college, as a minor, my parents were very hesitant.  They were scared that the unchecked world of adult schooling might bring back the nightmares of elementary school.
They finally agreed to let me go to a school with one of my sister's good friends, in Chicago.
He looked out for me, and when he joined a fraternity, we were a package deal.
I dealt with my share of hazing, and was definitely mother-henned by my housemates (my mother threatened bodily harm if anything happened to me), but I bloomed socially, and really learned to adapt.

After my daughter passed away in Dec 2001, (and after 9/11), I joined the Army.
I went from law student, to Medic student, to deployment in a matter of 9 months.
Having ASD gave me a distinct advantage over my classmates: obsession.
I went into Iraq knowing as much as any one person (without first hand experience) could know about Combat Medicine.
I didn't make too many friends, but I saved lives, and gained trust.  I wasn't invited to eat meals with "the guys", but I was offered extra rations by those who knew me.
I found my niche in the world, and extended several times, for a sum total of 18mo in the sandbox.
I got so used to the environment, that returning to the US was a culture shock.
I returned when everyone was still proud of us....but I returned with a heavy load, one no one knew how to cope with.

The military wasn't prepared for PTSD, and society didn't even know what it was.
I was verbally attacked for my anxiety levels, and jumpiness.  I was harassed by troops who questioned how we could wash out....they hadn't deployed.  They hadn't spent 18mo covered in the blood of their brothers.
Everyone turned their backs on me.  No one cared, no one wanted to help.  I was floundering in the weight of my own world, and they just watched me drown.
When I tried to seek out Mental Health, I was told to "Suck it up, don't be a pussy....... Be a f***ing man"
When I sought out the comfort of a pastor, I was turned away for being "A sinner, a murderer, and an abomination"
And when I hit rock bottom, and found myself seeking solace in a bottle of liquor, a bottle of pills, and a long way down to the street below, not a single person noticed.

I had lost my daughter, my innocence, my happiness, by best friend, and my own soldiers.
And everyone was too busy telling me what I should be doing, to realize what I couldn't even be bothered to do: Live.

I had been attacked so many times in my life, I never bothered to ask for help twice.  I "knew" the answer would always be no. It would never change.

Fortunately, my sister (a rapid-cycle bipolar) recognized the signs of trouble, and came for me in my final hours.  She was the fighter, she knew how to make the system react.  She got me help.

Its been over 10yrs, most spent in therapy, and working out medication cocktails.
I've dealt with major bullying two more times since then.
My old unit was notorious for it.  We had investigations left and right.
I did my best to protect my soldiers from the BS that flowed, and the narcissism.
Every time I thought I'd made a step forward, I would get shoved backwards.
Every time I thought I'd found an avenue to success, my unit would light that bridge on fire.
I took on a lot of things, to keep my soldiers sane, but in the process I almost lost myself again.
I was getting hit left and right by people who outranked me, and there was nothing I could do, especially with the hierarchy of my unit.
The only saving graces were my family, and my PCS date.
I was threatened with UCMJ for protecting my soldiers.
I was threatened with UCMJ for doing what we were told to do.
I was threatened with UCMJ for doing my job.
I was threatened with UCMJ for not doing everyone else's job.

I survived, I got the hell out of dodge, and I'm in one piece.

The second time I've dealt with bullying since then:
I have Autism.  My personal filter doesn't always work, and then sometimes I say or post things that may be unpopular, or too unfiltered.
There was one time I posted something (a meme) with a variation of the word "retard".
At the time, I didn't see what the fuss was about.  I saw past the word to the content of the meme.
I was attacked and unfriended by dozens.
I had "friends" calling for complete boycotts of anything to do with me, and wanting to run me out of the blogosphere with torches and pitch forks.
I had people who had supported me, resign their positions, and disappear from my life.

Most of those people, some who are still my "friends" just waiting for the next riot opportunity, are the same people advocating for ASD kids.
The same people who want their kids to live bully-free.

My mom has only ever wanted me to live bully-free.  My mom is so proud of what I've done with my life, and loves that I've become "social enough" to share myself on the blog stream.
She wanted me to be given a chance.  To be forgiven for my mistakes.  And to be educated, instead of attacked and belittled.

I can only be thankful that my mom never saw what my "friends" did to me.  It would have broken her heart.
And unlike those "friends", I forgive mistakes, because I want my kids, both NT and ASD, to be given second chances.
My entire life, beyond 8 years old, when I finally woke up in that hospital, has been a second chance.
My entire life, beyond 23 years old, when my sister talked me down from ending my life, has been a second chance.