I had no idea that my daughter felt this way about the world. My one job throughout her life was to make her feel loved and safe. It breaks my heart to know that she does not feel connected to the world. I did notice that from a young age that she was different. Dionna always preferred to play with animals than talk to people, but I figured it was because she just loved them. All her life, I have seen Dionna as a vibrant and happy little girl with a love for learning. I even stayed home from work for her first four years of life so I could teach her. Her thirst for knowledge was often greater than what school could give her. She liked to sit at the table and do work, but adored when we would go outside for hands-on learning. Maybe that was my mistake, letting her choose her own path. It may have hurt her in the long run. I knew about her being ostracized by her classmates in kindergarten and the bullying in elementary school. I honestly thought that the situation would mend itself or that eventually the kids would grow up and see the Dionna I knew. She got teased and tormented often while being called a nerd or a geek, but I saw her as a girl who just had so many questions about the world that she often blurted animal facts or created random math problems. To this day, she almost always has her nose covered in a book. However, I never noticed that as she got older, she got quieter. In school, she often knew a lot of information about her classmates and spoke a lot about them, yet she never mentioned being invited to outings and parties. She had never created a close friendship. I often got along with the other mothers in school and when they happily invited her to their children’s events she would tense up. Going to parties, she would cling by my side and only drift away to play with the family pet or get food. To me, Dionna was always fun and outgoing, but now looking back I am not so sure anymore. When she entered her teenage years, she became homeschooled and I thought it was because she wanted to excel in school. It turns out that she just never connected to others. She saw staying at home and doing her work as a relief instead of being with her peers. They had bullied and excluded her from so many activities and never bothered to understand her that she decided to leave. I had been pushing those thoughts to the back of my head and it’s heartrending to discover that my worst nightmares are true. I would have never thought that this would have happened to her. Luckily, once she went to college things changed immensely for the better. I still didn’t know about her problems with socializing until recently, but I do remember she would talk more enthusiastically about school and her smiles seemed to be genuine. She would talk about having lunch with friends, talking about their majors, helping each other with assignments, and their inside jokes. Dionna really came out of her shell and blossomed with these new friends. She even started to spend time with friends outside of school. All her life, I had seen her only develop close relationships with animals and enjoy time with her pets. Now she has really come into her own person. She has a sense of balance. Yes, animals will always be her favorite because she feels as if they never judge and looked through her instead of at her, but she no longer uses them as a crutch to avoid people. She now has friends that really appreciate her and understand her unique style. Dionna no longer has to hide her true personality and feels completely comfortable in her skin. I recently discovered that she used to not participate in class due to feeling too shy to talk, but that is no longer the case. I recently read her autoethnography because I usually read her schoolwork, especially her interesting assignments. That is how I discovered her socialization problems. It is unfortunate in this world that children often judge too quickly. Even though she is my daughter, as her mother I hope that she continues to find wonderful people in the world that make her feel as special as I think she is. She deserves to meet kind, loving, and respectful people and I wish her all the best.
- Sorry I Said Sorry
- The day of a mother