The year when Nobody Liked Me.
I still remember the day that I found out Nobody Liked Me. I was working in the school library, shelving books, along with several other girls. These girls were the ones I hung out with, the ones who were my friends. They were chattering away about what they were bringing to a Christmas party being hosted by another girl from the class.
"What are you bringing to the party?" someone -- I forget who -- asked me.
"I didn't get invited," I said.
That was the first hurt, I think. All my other friends got invited to the party; I didn't. I didn't say a word about my lack of an invitation until I had to, there in the library, in front of the other girls and Sister Leon. I had to say, "I didn't get invited."
No one said anything, until Theresa finally spoke up.
"None of the boys likes you, you know," she said helpfully.
"I don't care if the boys don't like me," I said. (But I did.)
"Nobody else likes you either," said Theresa.
I bit my lip and just tried not to cry. I kept on shelving books. No one else spoke up.
Later on, I tried to invite my other friend Linda to come over, or play on the playground, or something. All I really remember is that she said no, and I said, "So do you hate me too?"
And she didn't reply.
I wasn't overtly bullied. No one teased me or threw things at me or played ugly pranks on me. I was simply the Girl Nobody Liked. For the rest of the year I drew into myself. I didn't talk much or try to do anything with anybody else. I just existed, doing my schoolwork and speaking when spoken to and trying not to draw attention to myself.
Sister Leon lectured the class one day on Christian Charity and Treating Other People Well, and I knew she was actually scolding the girls for shunning me. I was so embarrassed. When you just want to disappear, any attention, even when it's on your behalf, is awful.
I began to cry myself to sleep every night. One night my mother heard me and asked what was wrong.
"Nobody likes me!" I wailed. I sobbed it all out to my poor mother, who held me tight and told me it would be all right.
"How?" I asked.
"We'll have a graduation party," she said. (In Catholic school, elementary school went through eighth grade; high school started in ninth.)
I was terribly skeptical about this tactic. What if no one came?
But Mom planned the whole thing: a Saturday afternoon party, a barbeque, Pop would cook hamburgers and hot dogs, we'd put the record player outside so the kids could dance, boys and girls, the entire class.
And like a miracle, it worked. Everyone accepted and everyone came, and they all had a blast, and all of a sudden I was no longer the Girl Nobody Liked.
But I have never forgotten that awful year, never. Forty-four fucking years later and I still remember that afternoon.
"Nobody likes you."
I was inspired to write this story by Shannon Des Roches Rosa's post on BlogHer.