One word stands out above all the other words that were used last week. Common denominator. I don’t think I’d heard it since Year 5 maths, learning fractions. Work torn from me. Written out. Look, she’s copying my work, Miss. Told off. Again. Repeat, under my breath, don’t give them the satisfaction.
This time it’s not about fractions. This time, I am the common denominator. The assessor said so. I am the one who has been amidst struggle with relationships and conflict, since I was seven years old. It was about tears in Year 5. Getting me to cry. Their game. They’d seen me cry if I was told off at school. It was funny. So, I learnt not to cry in front of others; no matter what. I never cried at school again after that.
Not that you’d know that now. It didn’t get better because I didn’t cry for them. They were nasty in other ways instead. So I shut people out; no one could touch me. I didn’t make friends. School was for school work. The bullying never stopped.
Later, when people were friendly, when I thought I was safe again, to show emotion, I was scary. Intense. I pushed people away. As ten year-olds walked under my adult feet, chanted at me on the street (their new game – trip her up), I was struggling at work. Micro-management. Disciplinary action. Gossip. And then, when that’s over, church. Somewhere there has been a struggle with relationships. Always.
It’s because of me, it’s because I am rubbish. That’s why I was bullied, have few friends, scare people. Why I push people away. Hurt people. Why I am the subject of gossip and prejudice and discrimination. Fortunately, I only know this cognitively. All emotion has been switched off since Thursday. I can feel nothing. I am trudging from task to task, dead inside. If I could feel, the pain would be excruciating. Better flat.
Better protected from the rubbish of myself. From the common denominator.