Jenny McCarthy dishes about bullying in high school
The other day I came across this on a Facebook group. It sparked a huge rant in the group because this is my high school she is talking about. According to Jenny McCarthy she was bullied all through high school and treated terribly (actually she talks a lot about the bus and that would be public transportation–the CTA in Chicago). The people in the group are alumni of the school and they think she is lying and the school is not like that.
Frankly, I don’t care if McCarthy is lying or not. The fact is bullying did happen at the school. I started high school in 1991, the year after McCarthy graduated (I believe). I grew up in the same neighborhood she lived in. In fact my kids went to the same Catholic elementary school she did and my friend’s husband was in the school at the same time McCarthy was. I went to a different elementary school because that one had no room when we moved to the area in 1989 (she would have been in high school by then, I was in 6th grade when we moved).
My experience in junior high was miserable. The school I went to was supposed to be one of the best in the area (for the Catholic schools), it was definitely the biggest and was in a nice neighborhood with well-off families (at the time). I stayed at my old school (having my mom drive us 20-30 minutes every morning and afternoon) instead of transferring in January of the school year. Then I started at the new school for 7th grade. The first week went okay. A girl came up to me the first day and said I could hang out with her. Then she introduced me to her friends that were in our class. The five of us sat in a group at lunch. We ate in our homeroom classroom so we just took the 5 desks in the upper right hand corner of the room.
But then, some time in the 3rd week or so I noticed a shift in attitude towards me. I’d sit with them but if I tried to join the conversation they’d all stop and stare at me as if they just noticed I was there. Then after awhile they wouldn’t even do that. They’d just continue talking as if I hadn’t just said something, as if I wasn’t even there. Then they started making comments about me while I was sitting with them. So, I just stopped talking to them which caused them to make even more comments about how “rude” I was.
Eventually I just stopped sitting by them. Instead I sat 2 seats up from my own homeroom desk which was the first seat in that row (in front of the teacher’s desk) with no one sitting next to me or behind me or diagonally from me. I was a complete outcast. No one talked to me except to make fun of me. The girls that started out being my friends would fight to not stand next to me when we lined up for class changes, to go home or to go to church. They’d push and shove and fight amongst themselves and do it loudly enough that everyone could hear. It was all about how I smelled or looked or that I had a disease they didn’t want to catch (I thought kids out grew cooties by 7th grade). None of the other kids joined in but it was humiliating. Eventually I stopped trying to be in line at all. I’d wait until everyone else was lined up and then go last, standing a good 2-3 feet from the last girl in line.
This went on all year long with them openly harassing and picking on me between classes, during gym, church, in the parking lot while we waited in the morning to be let in and at lunch. When the teacher found out we had this big meeting in class (all the desks in a circle, names weren’t specifically mentioned) and the “cool” kids said I could eat with them which meant I could sit in my own desk. Except I wasn’t included in their group. I was just there. So I ignored them and just drew pictures or read during lunch while the group of girls continued to make fun of me the entire time (going on and on about how I was a loser since I ate alone and had no friends). Then the cool kids got mad because I refused to give up my desk so they could sit in a tighter group. They became openly hostile towards me, too.
I hated school. I cried every day when I got home. Cried myself to sleep every night because I knew I had to go back and face that crap again. Back then the schools did very little about bullying. We were just supposed to deal with it. So I did. I grew stronger and started to just not care about other people. I didn’t want to have friends in school. I didn’t need anyone but myself. Those were the lessons I learned in junior high.
8th grade was hardly better. I ended up with a different mix of kids in my class and automatically just started sitting alone at lunch. Screw them all. That year it was mostly a group of boys picking on me, headed by Damon, the older brother of a friend of mine. She was in 4th grade at the time (and, we reconnected on Facebook recently) so I got teased a lot for having best friends that were 9 and 10 when I was 13 and 14. Him and his buddies were exceptionally cruel to me, and because of our last names, they all sat near me. The only one that was half way nice was a boy named Russel who sat next to me. When he wasn’t with his buddies he’s chat happily with me and liked my drawings I did. We did a project together and when his dad died half-way through the year I just wanted to hug him so tight because he was a nice guy and things were so crappy for him.
Anyway, I was really hoping high school would be better. But it wasn’t. Now this is the same high school McCarthy talks about with Ellen. And just a year or so after she left the school. My freshman year was crap. We had to choose a lunch table the first week, sign a sheet and had to stay at that table the entire semester/year. I didn’t know anyone (since I wasn’t friends with any of the girls coming from my elementary school) so I just grabbed an empty table in the freshman lounge. Eventually a group of girls joined me since I had the space at my table. At first we chatted amicably with each other but as the year progressed they turned into the same kind of girls I met in junior high. They’d ignore me, give me death glares, openly make fun of me as I sat there. The final straw was coming back from the lunch line to find my books scattered around the lounge. When I retrieved them my music binder had a crude drawing on it with rude names for me listed. They vandalized my stuff. And then sat there laughing at me as I stared in disbelief.
I never did anything to them and it was my table first. I believe I finally told them off, called them a few choice names, picked up my stuff and stormed out of the lounge. With everyone in the room staring at me. The next day I started sitting at an empty table, seating charts be damned. They continued to pick on me, calling me a bitch for telling them off after they scribble all over my stuff. It was nearly intolerable. The only thing that saved me was I enjoyed their indignation that I continued to sit near them and completely ignored their snide comments. They could all screw themselves as far as I cared.
Luckily the rest of my time at that school was much better. I eventually started making friends. I was never popular but my group of “rejects” (as they called themselves) was fun to be around. I wasn’t picked on much after that mostly because I didn’t react to it so they would get bored and move on to a new target. One happened to be my friend Deirdre. We were in music classes together and had lunch together sophomore year. There was this one really irritating girl named Trisha who used to piss my group off to no end. Especially me and Tricia (yes, another one). Trisha (the bitchy one) would steal Deirdre’s food, openly insult her to her face and was just plain rude. I swear I thought Tricia (my friend) was going to punch her in the face one day. We both finally told her off at the same exact time. We both just had enough. I was so sick of people picking on Deirdre because she was so emotional back then. Every little thing upset her.
I wasn’t really picked on until later in sophomore year when this girl, Nicole, decided I was her mortal enemy for some reason. I have no idea what I did to piss her off. We were in a class together once (I don’t even remember which one) but I must have offended her somehow because she hated me. And this wasn’t stupid teasing, name calling crap. She tried to push me down the stairs, shoved me in the halls, screamed in my face, threatened to beat the crap out of me after school, etc. I wasn’t really afraid of her but she was crazy. I don’t doubt she would have hit me if she thought she could get away with it.
The worst (and funniest I always thought) was this one time in our junior year we were leaving the music wing of the school. There was the big practice room for the orchestra and a bunch of smaller rooms for various other classes and a choral room. I believe she was in chorus, I was in the orchestra. All the rooms had to go through 2 doors to get to the rest of the school so it was a real bottleneck. I accidentally bumped into her when she stopped suddenly in front of me. She turned around and started screaming at me, threw her books down and shoved me.
Did I mention I was on crutches with my leg in a cast? She actually shoved a person on crutches. If it hadn’t been for my friends standing behind me to catch me when I lost my balance I would have landed on my ass. Even then she got right in my face and was screaming at me about how I purposefully ran into her and I hurt her leg with my cast and blah, blah, blah. She was shoving me and poking me. My friends were just so shocked we all stood there staring. Fortunately her cousin was equally shocked at her behavior and dragged her off of me and was yelling at her about being a jerk and trying to beat up a cripple. Me and my friends left the area laughing because she just came off looking insane. Even her own friends (who previously supported her open hatred of me) were walking far away from her. She continued to pick on me but not as openly as that.
Just because it was an all girl Catholic school does not mean there weren’t the same issues public schools had. I had friends that got pregnant in school (one delivered over Christmas break our senior year when she was still 16, my other friend who went to another school and was 4 years behind me had her daughter a couple weeks after she graduated when she was just 17–that was Meagan’s best friend back in Chicago). I knew girls that partied every weekend, were doing drugs, smoking (at school), drinking, dating guys in their 20s, having lots and lots of sex. I even saw a fist fight break out in the cafeteria my junior or senior year. It took all 4 teachers in the room to pull them apart and they continued to kick at each other as they were hauled to the principal’s office. People had expensive calculators and money stolen from their gym lockers, nasty graffiti in the bathrooms, our prom was almost canceled because a bunch of girls and their dates were caught drinking and smoking and making out in one of the bathrooms at the senior dance earlier in the year (I wasn’t there, wasn’t planning on going to the prom and really didn’t care).
Our school was not perfect by a long shot. Not to say I didn’t enjoy high school. And I’d hate to think McCarthy is lying about her experience just to get attention (not that she’s an attention whore or anything). But people that are expressing outrage and calling her names simply because they didn’t have any bullying experiences are just as bad. It happened. To a lot of girls at the school.
And the bus could be a horrible place to be. I was lucky enough to not get picked on while riding the bus. Our school was at 99th street. I had to ride it all the way up to 59th street (40 blocks in heavy Chicago traffic). McCarthy would have had to get off several blocks farther up from where I got off back in her day. The bus route was used by our school, the boys’ school next door, another boys’ school a couple miles away (the one my brother went to), a public school, a university and a city college. There was another public school on the route but it was farther north than my stop to get off so I never saw those kids. The bus was chaotic, crowded (every seat filled and aisle packed 2 deep or more) and just plain crazy. The only time I had issues on the bus was my senior year. I had no 8th period so I was allowed to leave school early. I got out at 2pm instead of 3pm (or at 12:30pm instead of 1:15pm on Thursdays) so the buses were relatively empty. Mostly I had to ride with the boys from my brother’s school and they were all freshman since most upper classmen had cars. Some of those boys were creepy as hell. One little twerp kept hitting on me, putting his arm around me and saying creepy things to me. I was 18 and he was this scrawny little 14yo. I almost clocked him. He knew my brother so I finally told him to get the kid away from me before I hurt him, lol
The bullying I endured was very mild compared to what some kids go through but it definitely had an emotional impact on me. I was depressed all through school starting very young. I understood by junior high that it was full blown depression. I hated my life. I had no friends in school for two years and limited friends in high school. All of that taught me to give up on having close friends, to insulate myself from others and to put up emotional barriers. It did make me stronger. But I also suffer from nearly debilitating social anxiety now. I don’t understand how to act in social situations since all of the ones I had in junior high were screwy. I was always shy but after junior high I stopped talking to almost everyone and avoided social situations as much as possible, opting to just be by myself so I couldn’t be hurt any more.