Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College
My grandparents, Cleveland and Laura Murphy, raised me along with seven other grandchildren. Life was wonderful surrounded by brothers, sisters, and cousins all of the time, but being raised by my grandparents sometimes was a struggle for me. Not knowing who my birth parents were was extremely difficult, but growing up the odd man out proved even harder. Every family has a black sheep, a person who all blame and responsibility falls on. In our household of eight children, I proved to be that person because of my own horrible actions.
My grandparents expected the girls to know how to cook and clean and how to care responsibly for a home. I took to cooking like a seal takes to the ocean. I was an excellent cook and I specialized in baking cakes and pies. No matter how skilled I was in the kitchen, I knew I was different from everyone else in the household. At first glance I was much taller and slightly heavier than the other children at home and at school. I was sociable, but it seemed that my friends were few and far between. I liked to save any money I could lay my hands on, so this is how I kept my schoolyard friends happy. When my money ran out, my friends often left too.
I wanted to be popular and wanted to be liked, but I was not sure how to do it. The older I was, the bigger I seemed to grow, and the worse I began to feel about myself. As I became taller and heavier, the people who used to be my so-called friends began to make fun of me and call me cruel names. They called me names like "fat cow," "big cow," and the worst of them all "black bitch." The hurtful names did something horrible to my calming kind spirit. I began to change, and I knew it was for the worse. Boys would laugh at the way I looked, and girls would create rumors about me. I was one of the only girls without a boyfriend, and I began to hate everything and everyone. I would fight everyday with my ex-friends, but I would never hit them back. I thought because I was bigger and stronger that they would just leave me alone, but that never happened.
One day at school a popular little white girl was crying, and a group of mean black girls were teasing her. They took her coat, and they slapped her around. I could not believe that she was just sitting there and letting them hurt her. I realized that these were the same girls that used to be my old friends. I could not help the way I felt. I ran over to help the white girl, and I fought the other girls off. Needless to say, I won the fight, and everyone was shocked that I fought back. I noticed that after the fight some kids had a new respect for me. It was not because they liked me. It was because they were scared of me.
After that incident, in the halls at school, becoming a bully was an evolution that could not be avoided. I could not keep friends by being polite and money was often hard to come by. It was inevitable that I became the schoolyard bully. I decided that I wanted respect, and that I would take it by any means necessary. I began to rebel against any sort of authority, or anyone who made fun of me. I loved the feeling of power that I had when I walked down the halls with my head held high, and people moved out of the way. I loved the respect that I received when I wanted a seat in the lunchroom, and people moved so that I could be seated.
Secretly, I wished that I did not have to be mean and hurt others to be respected or popular, but I just did not know how to achieve those results any other way. I had tried to be polite and generous. I had also tried to be kind, caring, and friendly. However, it was to no avail. It just did not work. I began to feel that having friends that feared me was better than having no friends at all. I would often look at the kids I bullied with sympathy because just weeks, months, and years earlier, it was I that was being harassed, laughed at, and ridiculed. I often wanted to yell out loud that they needed to fight back like I did.
At night alone in the room that I shared with my sisters and cousins, I was just Mary. I had no respect, no power, only the thoughts of my actions. My brothers and cousins seemed to lose respect for me, because I always seemed mean, but I was just unhappy. It seemed like I was always in trouble at school, which turned into being in trouble at home. I was the black sheep of the family because of my horrible actions during the day, and for punishment I was forced to do the same chores I once loved. My grandparents were hard working people who could not understand why I was having sucha hard time in school.
My grandmother would often counsel me from the Bible on how I should behave like Christ and walk in his image. Even though I heard her words, I never listened to them. I enjoyed the fame I seemed to have at all costs. Before I knew it, my teen years were in full swing, and I began staying out late, drinking and hanging out with boys. My grandparents could not believe my transformation from good girl to bad girl. They could not understand my life choices, and they knew that if I stayed on the same path, I was going to have a troubled life.
As I look back on my youth, I see the mistakes that I made, and I see the turning points where I changed for the worse. I realize my mistakes, and I feel sorry for the hurtful things that I did growing up. I hurt many people the same way those who bullied me hurt me. I fell into a vicious cycle of abuse and bullying when I should have just looked the other way and told on those who hurt me as a child. Maybe life decisions would have gone another way for me if I had made different decisions. I know now as an adult that respect is earned by positive actions, and not by destructive behaviors. I teach my grandchildren everyday that honesty, compassion, and kindness for others will gain them all the respect that they will ever need. I teach them that beauty comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors, and I hope these words of wisdom from an old bully will keep them from taking the path that I took.