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Sticks & Stones Might Break My Bones

When I was in eighth grade, there was a group of five girls who made my life a living hell. Every day was torture, and the emotional turmoil was unrelenting.

When I was in eighth grade, there was a group of five girls who made my life a living hell. Every day was torture, and the emotional turmoil was unrelenting.

Looking back I have a haunting sequence in my mind. Me, running and hiding inside the staff washroom. Me, inside the washroom fighting with all my might to hold the door closed while a group of girls tried to push through.

I’m not sure where my protectors were when this was going on, but what I do remember is a group of bullies pushing the door in and pulling my arm back through the doorway.

“Break it, break it!” they screamed. They trapped my arm and began to bend it backwards. I screamed out, “Help!” Thankfully a teacher came around the corner and broke them up, just before they broke my arm. The bruises healed, but from that point on I had nerve damage.

What made the event the most traumatic however, was somehow friends of mine got inside the washroom with me before those bullies tried to break my arm. I stood inside, holding the door closed with everything I had while my friends just sat there. Nobody helped me hold the door shut, they just sat there looking down at the floor.

I am certain the lack of action on my friends part was because the nerve had previously been beaten out of them by these same girls. Silence reigned that day, and the bullies had their way with me.

Silence has never been my strength. For example, when I see a successful Ongwehowe person doing good things for the nation, I feel proud. I want to come beside them cheering and crying out, “Somebody did good for the team! Ongwehowe for the win! Good for you! How can I help?” Sadly, not everyone agrees with that.

Sometimes the schoolyard bully rears its ugly head again. Some are driven by jealousy; compelled to criticize and issue disapprovals, spreading a Spiritually Transmitted Disease wherever they go. For some the Rez is a war zone, and the last one standing wins. These are the worst kind of bullies; those tragic villians who end up crumbling alone at the end of the movie consumed by their own creation. I’m thinking Judge Doom from ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, the Wicked Witch of the West, and that teddy bear from Toy Story.

As we grow up, we continue to face bully after bully. Some are loud and insulting, while some choose a more passive-aggressive approach. Whatever form they come in, bullies are always trying to break something. Some try to break your arm. Some try to break your focus by causing a commotion and making your everyday life a pain in the neck. Whereas some try to break your spirit so you conform to their ideas of right and wrong.

Where does the spirit of wanting to take one another down come from? I don’t know. Truth is, I don’t want to know. You can call me naive, you can call me every name in the book for all I care. What I do want to do is build each other up.

I believe we each have a journey that is precious and important. I believe that there is room for more than one star in the sky.

I believe the Creator gave each bird their own song to make the morning beautiful. Likewise, to each one of us he gave a gift for the benefit of all. Just like the Three Sisters; corn, beans and squash help one another grow in synergy, we raise one another up in our giftings.

When we allow this to occur our spirits will begin to sing loudly. As birds in the morning call in a new day, blessing our Ongwehowe brothers and sisters will bring the dark night’s reign of the bully to rest.

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Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow is Onondaga under the wing of the Beaver Clan of Six Nations. Nahnda has been a journalist with the Two Row Times since it's founding in 2013. She is a self-proclaimed "rez girl" who brings to the Two Row Times years of experience as a Haudenosaunee cultural interpreter, traditional dancer and beadwork aficionado. Nahnda is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.

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