General Non-Fiction posted September 11, 2016


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Being bullied in the late seventies.

Spanish Girl, Interrupted.

by Maria Jose Garcia


Maybe the darkest episode of my life took place when I was fifteen years old.

Back then, I was a bit of a swot and quite opinionated. When there was a debate in class, I always shared my ideas even if they were different from those of the majority.
In post-Franco Spain it was very common to discuss thorny topics, such as religion and politics.

One day, a guy in my class went past me and, just like that, said, 'You are disgusting.' You can imagine how I felt. I was still young and vulnerable after all.

I haven't forgotten the guy's name (Jose Antonio) and what he looked like. He was red-haired and his face was covered in freckles. He was shorter than me and quite stocky. I remember he was very good at drawing and often spent lessons making caricatures of the teachers.

Back then, nobody paid much attention to bullying, so when I got home and recounted the incident to my parents, my dad just told me not to be silly.

'Pull yourself together.'

My dad was a wonderful man, it was just different times.

I had expected it would be a one-off, but the abuse continued. Every time he saw me, he repeated the same sentence. 'You're disgusting.'

And then one day, I snapped. I don't remember much, just what my parents have told me.

I got home, apparently speaking gibberish. Nothing I said made sense. My mum was so scared, she phoned my aunt and together they called the doctor.

I was taken to hospital and once there, I was admitted to the psychiatric ward. Everybody, even the doctors, assumed I was on drugs.

My stay at the hospital was long, around a month. I only remember smells and sounds, but not much more. There was a lady who shouted all day long.

'Ailloooon!' she said. Aillon was one of the doctors.

And the doctor's answer 'I'm going to send you to Cienpozuelos.' Cienpozuelos is a psychiatric facility on the outskirts of Madrid that looks a bit like a prison.

It was like Girl, Interrupted, but in Spain.

Maybe the most outstanding part of my stay was the fact that I was given a course of ECT (electroshocks)... but I've also forgotten that. I only remember being wheeled into the room. Just vaguely.

The day I was released from hospital, Grandpa came to pick me up with my parents. He was incredibly happy to see me again and I was happy to see him.

I remember a nurse said goodbye to me and then added, 'Don't take drugs again, sweetie.' I was gobsmacked. I had spent all that time there and they knew nothing about me.

My teachers were lovely when I went back to school and I guess they had talked to the bully, because he never insulted me again.

I often think this is an episode that changed my life. That changed me. I'd probably be a different person if it had never happened. However, it's part of who I am, so I'm not complaining. Just remembering.


The Story you don't wan to tell writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
The Story you don't want to tell

I know mine. My story was when I let the world hurt me. But what is the one story you don't want to tell? What is one memory you have that you still are afraid to let lose of. Do you still blame yourself? Most of the world will not understand. Were you ashamed of your self back then. I think if you write the story, the one you don't want to write, you might find who you are.

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© Copyright 2017. Maria Jose Garcia All rights reserved.
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