Many changes in my life happened over the next two years, but I never forgot my encounter with the Pokemon Guy. After being thrown into a larger school due to my parent’s financial situation and my mother returning to work as a teacher, a whole host of things were going on. Not only was I thrown into this completely new environment and schedule, but again instead of being left to my own devices these people in charge, teachers, the principle of the school, they were all determined to “fix” me. Because I didn’t interact with people the way they expected that I should, I was considered a threat. True, all of this happened right after the tragedy at Columbine and all school officials were on high alert, but I was unfairly singled out through no fault of my own. I chose not to interact with any of my classmates because I had nothing in common with them, not because I was antisocial.
The kids in my class had been going to the same small school since kindergarten. They had divided into their cliques years before I came along, and I didn’t have any reference to their inside jokes nor where they extremely receptive to a new person joining their ranks. They wrote me off as weird, and kind of ignored me. They weren’t out right mean, or cruel, but they were cold and rude. I put up with it for several months until I received a note passed across my desk from one of the other students asking me why I was spreading rumors about them. At first I was confused as I hadn’t spread any rumors. I should have ignored the note completely, but I was entering an entirely new territory. Instead I replied with a note of my own which lead to several more passed back and forth, and eventually a face to face confrontation at the end of the school day. I thought I had handled myself well, standing up to the accusations and letting it be known that I wasn’t going to tolerate their snobbish behavior towards me. I hadn’t been mean or threatening, I had merely stated my opinion and told them bluntly how I felt.
One way or another it got to the teacher who concerned, took it to the principal and the school board. The next day I was pulled into the principals office and given the opportunity to present my side of the story. I thought everything had been presented in the notes that they said they had all collected, but some of them were missing. The ones that remained made me look as though I was the one who initiated the conversation in the first place, and posed a threat to one particular individual. I explained that those notes were not the only notes involved in the conversation, and that I hadn’t even initiated the conversation in the first place, I was only refuting accusations. To their credit, the staff involved gave me a chance to go retrieve the notes in question, but when I went to get them out of my desk they had mysteriously disappeared. I was stuck.
I was stuck. It was my word against theirs, and they had been going to the school for years, grown up with the staff, and I was the outsider. I tried to argue my point, but every time I presented my side of the story they came back with reasons that I couldn’t possibly be in the right. Eventually I just shut down. There wasn’t anything that I could say to change my fate. They had given me a chance to defend myself, but they had decided my punishment even before I walked into the room. As I sat there my arms crossed, scared and angry at the situation they kept badgering me. Lecturing me on how the way I had reacted to everything from being put into a new environment, to interacting with my peers, and my grades. It went on for hours until I was all but in tears.
Finally as the evening grew into night they announced that I would be suspended for two days because of my actions. They explained that it would be on my permenent school record and that it would effect my GPA, as I wouldn’t be able to make up any of the assignments or homework. I was listening to them tell me these things as if it was some sort of harsh punishment. I was just about to turn thirteen, GPA was the absolute last thing on my mind, and as far as I was concerned not having to do my homework and missing out on several tests that I hadn’t really studied for was an extra two days of the weekend and a nice much needed vacation. Clearly they saw that I wasn’t really effected by the punishment, and added in the fact that when I returned things would be awkward and not the same as when I left. People would see me in a different light, and it wouldn’t be a positive thing. It would be hard for me to fit in, and be accepted by the other kids. At that I had to catch myself from laughing out loud. These people were clueless about what had transpired between myself and my classmates, making this entire meeting and suspension nothing more than a display of power and authority. They weren’t concerned for me, they were intimidated by me, and scared. It was a witch hunt and I was on the wrong side.
My suspension came and went with out incident. I spent the time with my parents, who were also concerned for me. It was the same story when trying to present my side of the story. I told them the truth about what had happened, but instead of listening to me and trying to see things from my point of view they sided with the principal of the school and insisted in putting me through a counseling program at our church. I was crushed, but not only was I crushed I was frustrated, angry and felt completely betrayed and alone. It felt like it was me against the world. I reacted the only way I knew how, by completely shutting down and disappearing into my own thoughts.
During this already confusing time in my life, I also discovered the internet, chat rooms, message boards and started exercising my public voice. It was the escape from reality that I desperately needed as I retreated from all of my problems in the “real” world. I was young and clueless to internet etiquette or the concept that people could be some one other than who they presented themselves as. It didn’t matter to me. I chose to believe these worlds who may have been created, or may have been real, but I was consumed by them. I formed many secret friendships in my little online world. At one point I even found myself in an online relationship with a MUCH older man. Thankfully he never tried to pursue anything other than a completely online relationship. We would sit up and talk for hours about everything. After we got to know each other he presented the idea that we should be a couple, and as soon as I turned 18 we would get married and start a family. Again this was all online, but it felt so real to me, especially since I had never experienced these emotions before. As I delved deeper into my online world, I also found solace in writing fiction.
It started with the end of the year assignment in my English class. We were supposed to write a fairy tale, and since I felt that my life was so surreal when I sat down with the assignment and flourished. I finished the assignment and continued to write though out the entire summer adding and embellishing to the story. In my darkest moments the lines between reality and fiction became blurred and in addition to embellishing my story, I began to write fictional conversations between myself and all of my online friends thus embellishing my relationships with them. In all honesty I had slipped into a complete delusion. It gave me a sense of control and stability that I desperately craved. It wasn’t completely fictional, all of the relationships I formed were real, the depth I gave them was fictional. Those years from 1999 through 2003 were really the darkest part of my life.