My Story Part 4 School Slap-down

Growing up in an alcoholic home and being sexually abused were two of the three legs that framed my life as a youngster. The third pile of abuse happened at school. The alcoholic home was an on-going issue as was the abuse at school by the teachers.

In medicine we have a directive of “first do no harm.” Should be a directive in the schools too. Here is the saga…

I attended the public school for kindergarden and first grade. Then I transferred to the local catholic school that had just been built. My first grade teacher told my parents that I was retarded and with any luck I would get passed through 8th grade. Hmmm.Actually the terror started in second grade in the catholic school. We had a sister who was very stern to say the least. I and several other students would just cower at our desks for fear of what she would do or say to us. Yelling, humiliation and shame was the game. Terror and inability to learn was the result. Did you ever try to learn when you are sacred? Doesn’t work all that well. In fact, terror never spurs excellence.

Imagine standing in lines waiting for a spelling word and then not being able to spell correctly. SHAME. HUMILIATION. I have more on this later.

Imagine standing in another line waiting to go to the board for a math problem (when you don’t seem to be good a math). Feel the terror as your turn approaches. You can hardly walk up to the board. On this particular day, I remember thinking that I can’t even see the whole math problem. She wrote very large and I am very small.

You guessed it… I got the problem wrong. Sister hit me with the yard stick and I was bleeding. That was the first time I wished I was dead. You read that right. I wished I was dead. I wished that the floor would just swallow me up. I am sorry, but there is NEVER a reason for which a seven year old should wish to be dead. I made a decision that day and for most of my life have wished to be dead. Thank goodness for some counseling and a lot of personal work…

School experiences degenerated from that experience. In third grade, I was called down to kindergarten every day. And every day, Sister would yell at me because my sister couldn’t say her ABC’s. Well, she could say her ABC’s. We practiced them every night. You see, when someone is in fear and terror, they don’t perform well.

I struggled through school. Nobody studied as hard as I did. Everything went on a 3×5 card and I memorized it (for the test anyway). They liked to humiliate people or at least that is what it felt like to me. They always called out the grades of every test. Mark H would get 100% and Mary Pat would get 50%. Struggle, hard work and then embarrassment.

Math may have been an issue because a group of us from the public school (first grade) was missing a concept. Our forth grade lay teacher held the whole class back in math until she figured out what that concept was. I have continued to struggle with math to this day. It may be a primary issue with me or stem from that second grade board beating.

I was accepted into nursing school. Again, every class note was recopied in 3×5 card so that I could memorize it. I worked hard and I graduated. I have enjoyed a 40+ year career as a nurse.

Also, I did pursue additional education. I have a bachelors and master’s degree’s. I have a certificate as a cardiovascular nurse specialist. I have several energy healing diplomas and certificates. I am not “retarded” though I have to admit that I am still proving (to some invisible entity) that I am not mentally impaired.

I learn in a different way. I am a kinesthetic learner. I learn best when touchy-feel-ly is involved. I worked as a home intravenous therapy nurse for a number of years. I could help anybody with their pump problems over the phone as long as I had a pump in my hands.

Kinesthetic learning is involves the cerebellum and motor cortex of the brain. Back in the day, teachers only taught one way… for the visual learner. As an adult, I was tested and indeed have a classic learning disability. Nice to know but it still haunts me today.

I don’t think kinesthetic learning has a very good filing system. I feel like my brain is a basket and everything just gets dumped in there. So the information is there… just can’t always find it in a hurry.

I continue to have trouble spelling. Thank goodness for spell check. (It is a lot better than the old manual typewriters… remember those?) I will never be a secretary for a group… I can’t take notes, or I might as well be back in school according to the reaction in my body. The terror is too much. Someone else can do notes. That said, the last couple of conferences I attended, I took notes on my computer. That seemed to be easier.

And for math, that is what a calculator is for. I really appreciated the advancement in smart IV pumps! I have wondered if things where different, if I might have been better at math. Ya never know. I could go back to school and relearn this stuff, but at this stage in life, I have no interest in relearning math. There a many other things I would like to learn.

I invite you to add to your gratitude list tonight. There is always something(s) to be thankful for. :)

Comments

  1. MARY… this made me tear up so much. I am so sorry you had such a traumatic experience as a child. I thought religious people were supposed to take on the character of Christ and be loving, forgiving, nurturing and kind? What sort of devout Christian (Catholic or otherwise), and what sort of educator would beat a child to the point she bleeds and then wishes herself dead? This is sick, awful and really sad that it (pardon the French) F’d your learning experience throughout all your formative years!

    How wonderful it is that you succeeded and went on to have such a fruitful nursing career helping others.

    I’m glad that psychology is evolving to the point where people realize that everyone learns differently, at different levels and has different intelligences. I, for one, am very verbal/visual. I am not good at math, but I excel at language (I got an English degree). I can’t follow choreography, but I can dance when the beat flows.

    Anyway, you are an inspiration and I am so glad that you are able to have come out of such a terrifying, traumatizing childhood to teach others how to be grateful and how to move on with life.

    Thank you!

    • Thank you, Mae. It was what it was. They were doing the best they could with what they knew at the time. My choice is what do I do with this now? Do I let my experiences and beliefs keep me stuck on a stinky merry-go-round? No, I don’t think so. I choose to let it all go, I choose to be happy. That works much of the time. When it doesn’t, it is simply an invitation to healing something. :)

  2. “Add to the gratitude list.” Interesting… that is always good and within the last few days I’ve been working on bringing “the gratitude factor” a bit higher on the scale.

    Quite a story.

    Lee

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