Why I don’t fight back


If you think I’m this badass warrior princess out for blood all the time, you’re sorely mistaken.

I’m far from a pushover. But I tend not to fight back. I kinda don’t know how.

A child learns about behavior from her parents first. Mine didn’t teach me very well, by word or example. In a way, they crippled me for life.

It’s as simple as this: They never went to bat for me. I knew from an early age that I had to fight my own battles, usually by giving in for crimes I never committed, or for succumbing to very human emotions during circumstances beyond my control.

When I was about seven, I remember going up into a small band of woods above our neighborhood playground to catch up with my friend Brannon. He’d already headed home but a boy who hated me appeared with his group. Our parents were friends; we’d even gone to Ft. DeRussy beach together once, him and his younger brother pretending to be nice to their faces but giving me angry looks behind their backs.

Well, this time, I had no parents around, so he showed me what he thought of me. He promised to beat the crap out of me (Chink), he and his buddies, as they approached. I began to cry with terror when I felt something warm run down my legs. I was wearing shorts, so they saw it too, and it filled them with disgust.

I’d lost control of my bladder, the first and only time that had ever happened to me. The band of brothers expressed their disgust immediately by backing away, which ended up saving my life. Then, they called me a baby (Chink) before running away.

I ran for a neighbor’s house nearby, people I’d vaguely known through my parents, people who I sensed would be kind.

I didn’t go back home to my parents because I was afraid and I was in shock, and I was only seven.

These neighbors gave me shelter and kindness. Most importantly, they gave me a safe place where I could tell them my side of the story. They had to call my parents to get me. That was all they could do. The boys would never get in trouble. I also learned then that people may be kind, but they will not fight your battles for you.

Being kind people, they had no idea what kind of people my parents really were behind closed doors.

My parents arrived, putting on quite the act. They appeared to be friendly, understanding, and concerned as they hustled me back home, full of smiles, rainbows, and fairy dust.

Back home, when it was safe, the masks dropped. They were merciless to me. They were also equally disgusted with me pissing myself in front of other people. They screamed at me and hit me, because I had gone into the woods alone without their permission and been seen with a bunch of boys, like a whore. They didn’t want to know what had happened. They didn’t care that I’d wet my pants. They didn’t care that I was scared. They said this was entirely my fault, punished me, and sent me to bed.

They cared more that I’d embarrassed them by going to a neighbor’s with piss all over me than what those boys were threatening to do.

I had to clean myself up alone in the bathroom.

This was my childhood until age 16 when I somehow grew a set of balls and walked out on my father. I don’t think I suddenly acquired superhero powers. I had had enough abuse and snapped, blurting out that I no longer wanted to live here out of a desperate sense of survival. I simply didn’t want to get beat up anymore.

All my life I learned to walk on eggshells to avoid setting people off and to accept blame when it wasn’t even my fault — just to make peace. It’s all I knew.

What I didn’t learn was how to stand up for myself, like everybody else.

Last Friday, a teacher set in motion a series of events that has brought this issue back.

I honestly don’t know what I’m doing. I’m trying to go to bat for my only child, who was lumped in with two other students on an accusation of dishonesty on a homework assignment. I’m scared to death that I will get in trouble for responding with two angry but honest emails demanding a meeting and a revocation of the administrative referral for my son — who had no idea cheating had been going on, off his paper. He was never given a chance to respond to the accusation, even though the other two students — by his own account — pointed to him as the person they’d copied the answers off of.

I hate confrontation. I almost always lose. Most of the time, I don’t even know what recourse I have in such situations when I’m just trying to do the best I can as a mom for my son.

The school has yet to respond. I’ve no idea if they ever will.

But tomorrow, I have to pursue the matter — not for myself, for my son, who did nothing wrong.

Wish me luck.


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