teacher appreciation

‘Step right up!’ my teacher said. I half shook my head no, turning pink. I slowly rose, my legs glued together. The floodgates opened. I was 5 feet from the board when someone shouted, ‘OH MY GOD!’

“Queue the tears. Oh, those embarrassing tears. I was mortified. I’d never been given the period talk. My parents were too uncomfortable to explain. And to make matters worse… you guessed it. I was wearing white jeans. WHITE. I never expected what would happen next. Not in a million years.”

‘If I drink beer, maybe they’ll like me.’ ‘Maybe if I smoke this.’ Their words cut deep. I was desperate for acceptance. When it wasn’t enough, I stopped going to class and flunked with all F’s.’

“I thought the bullying would stop when my mom died of cancer, but it returned full force. I remember being yanked off my feet by my ponytail, blood running down my leg. I still wasn’t good enough, so I dropped out. When I returned to school at 31, a mother of 3 kids, I thought the same failure awaited me again. I was absolutely terrified.”

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