"Hey Fatso", screamed the young girl. "Get out of the way, would you? Lose some weight or get off the playground". Those were words Jerry Stewart had felt before. He'd sensed them in people's eyes the way they treated him but he'd never heard them spoken out loud. Now they had different legs.
"I'll never forget that day", said Jerry. "I remember it like it happened yesterday but in truth that was over 45 years ago. I was only eight years old then. And to make matters worse I relive it all the time. I can't get the hurt out of my mind. It cut deeper than any knife ever could", he followed up in saying.
That's where much of the ugliness began for Jerry Stewart. But it started well before that. Jerry has always been big. He was a large baby.....10 lbs. 4 oz at birth. He'd been told his size was a problem for his mother during delivery, but both survived after some difficult moments. His older brother and sister have always been much smaller than him and that has never helped much either. Big, large and now, by someone words, FAT.
"That day on the playground was when I started feeling the abuse, the bullying, the threatening words and the disgust for my size", said Jerry. "And it seemed like once it began, there was open season on me". Kids I thought were friends went the other way. They didn't have time for me anymore and I got left out. There was this one kid who loved to pick on me", he recalled. "We were only nine years old. He'd go out of his way to make me feel like total crap. It didn't make any matter where we I might run into him, if he had a chance to belittle me or make me uncomfortable', he'd say or do something. I was his target. His personal property to belittle or humiliate. And he was good at it. He'd always pick times or places where he had friends to back him up and where no adult could hear him rail on me".
|A sign Jerry wished he'd been able to use|
As Jerry continued to discuss his upbringing he cited numerous other situations of bad behavior directed towards him. In each, he had this overriding thought, "what did I ever do to them to deserve this?" As I listened intently to the reliving of some truly ugly times for Jerry, I couldn't come up with any sort of answer that might help. His question though is one that has to ring true to anyone who has ever experienced the BULLY. Why me? why are you doing this? and when will you go away?
Jerry's first personal bully did finally go away, but not after a long, long time of damage. "He moved on to someone else when we hit junior high school. I was never so glad to have him out of my sight. But as you can tell, he'll never be out of my mind", Stewart said. BUT things didn't stay that way for long. As Jerry went on to explain, there always seemed to be another bully down the street, around the corner or in the locker room. It was in this place, the room which you had to go shower and dress where young Stewart became the victim of further abuse and mistreatment.
"I hated phys ed", recalled Jerry of his freshman days in high school. "I tried every excuse imaginable to skip out of that class. No matter what I did, it drew attention to my weight. I was always slower than everyone else. That was one part of the embarrassment. But that was only the half of it, because afterwards came time for us to disrobe and shower. There was one group of upperclassmen who loved to make fun of me and my rolls. "Hey look, Jerry's got fat upon fat, they'd say. It got to the point I'd get physically sick when the day came for that class. It was that way the whole year. Somehow I got through the school year and the guys who loved to make fun of me graduated. So it ended at least for a while. Every year though, I wrestled with some sort of demon in that class. Or maybe I should say bully. One of the same, I reckon", Jerry added.
Stewart went on to tell me how excited he was to graduate from his small Iowa high school and leave the ugly images in his past. It was time for him to start over, he thought. College seemed to be a course of direction for him, a place where he could learn about people and himself and grow. But the growing took place more physically than mentally. In his freshman year he put on another 50 pounds. Weight was even more of an issue and another detractor was about to emerge.
NEXT: COLLEGE LIFE WITH THE BULLY
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not forsake you.-Deuteronomy 31:6