Where my Camp Rock fans at?
Who am I? What’s my story? Why do I care about what I care about?
Looking out over the hills as the sun set, I felt true unrest for the first time in the six years that I’ve lived on earth.
I was moving.
I didn’t know anything about the world beyond the little fraction of the town I was born and raised in. I spoke one language, thought in one culture, and didn’t think the world was any bigger than what I already saw with my eyes.
Oh, the mind of a child.
My childhood was beyond happy. I was a mature, only child, with a vast imagination and love for others. Maybe I was somewhat shy, but everyone thought I would grow out of it with a bit of teasing. That approach unfortunately didn’t work.
And moving away from everything I knew and held dear also didn’t help.
Truth be told, it is challenging to recall the two years I spent in Benidorm, Spain and La Núcia. I remember the color of the cafeteria door, the blue and grey uniforms, my classmates, my teachers, and the gravel that made our black shoes dirty during break time (which is recess, for my American readers), but my emotional state is an absolute blur.
Another blog post will discuss the impact of trauma on the brain, but to keep a long story short, just be aware that trauma (a deeply distressing and or disturbing experience; the antonym for choice) damages your hippocampus, which is the part of your brain that is responsible for memory.
My mom would later tell me that I would cry every single night, missing my friends, feeling alone, and wanting to go home. I was ripped from the life I knew and was placed in a life where I couldn’t communicate with anyone.
A six-year-old Hungarian girl, starting her first year of primary school in languages that she cannot speak.
Isolation was an unavoidable side-effect of being unable to talk. But I was a smart girl.
I learned English in about three months well enough to make good friends and start getting decent grades, and Spanish followed a few months after that. During the year of 2008, even the impossible turned possible. A Hungarian family not only moved to town but also enrolled into my school. And out of the two siblings from said family, one of the kids was my age, and so my classmate. Then later, best friend.
My broken heart was fully mended.
Everything was perfect. By second year, I was deeply loved by my peers and teachers alike, made the highest marks, and was truly at my best.
I often wonder who I would be if I would have stayed there.
Once the school year ended, we unexpectedly moved back to Hungary.
Oh, I was furious. At the world, at my parents, and the stupid house we moved to.
I went through the emo-angry-depressed girl phase at age 8.
My parents chose a school for me that was English speaking, so I at least wouldn’t forget that language. The idea was that we would go back to Spain soon, once my dad’s business kicked off. This left me constantly on edge, thinking we could leave at any minute. I didn’t want to make friends or put any effort into my life.
We never ended up going back. That became a certainty when I turned 16.
The school was predominately filled with Christian missionary children. Evangelical families and ones from other denominations would come to Hungary to spread the good news, plant churches, and the like.
My family was nonreligious my whole life, but this was the closest English-speaking school around, so my parents compromised. They figured, if anything, it would teach me a good moral code.
My first memory is being taught the Creation story.
I didn’t know what the word God meant.
I used to get extremely frustrated with this missionary way of life. They wouldn’t learn Hungarian; they’d live in big houses and have big cars and I would travel to countries constantly without interacting with the people they were supposed to be ‘saving’.
The school prioritized the students who were MKs (missionary kids) in every aspect of student life. Academics, the arts, social events. Those of us who weren’t born MKs were left thinking there was something wrong with our abilities due to never receiving recognition.
When we got to Middle School (which is the in between primary and secondary, for my English readers), all hell broke loose. I was called into the office by our principal to be told I needed to wear my bra to school. I was 11. I didn’t know what a bra was in English at the time.
All I remember is feeling intense shame.
Now, thinking back on it all, I find it very strange that a grown up discussed with me that, according to her, my shirt was “see-through” and would attract male attention.
My mom and I had to go to the store and buy a bra for the breasts I didn’t have.
Not a day would go by without girls being scolded for their clothes, but especially shorts.
“Your fingertips go past the end of them. Clearly, that’s too short to be appropriate school attire.” We were just hitting puberty. Some girls had arms that would reach all the way down to their knees.
The creepiest encounter I had was when my bible teacher, in his late thirties, called me out on my shorts in front of a boy. Only three of us were in the empty hallway. It was uncomfortable, and a lot more inappropriate than my clothes.
The school went through a faze where they disliked the lack of control they felt when we spoke Hungarian, so they decided to make us pay about a soda’s worth for every Hungarian word we spoke. Of course, there was outrage and thankfully, they were unable to hold up this rule.
Around this time, I was a shoo-in for the lead in our school play. But after auditions, a teacher made up a vile rumor about me, claiming I insulted our director on Facebook. Like, you can’t make this up. But I mean, she did.
The day before the cast list was sent out, these two teachers called me into a room to scold me for something I didn’t understand and frankly, didn’t do. I was embarrassed, because I was clearly in trouble, and was dumbfounded enough to be unable to speak or stand up for myself. I was 13. After school, I ran to my mom, crying. She was outraged.
The next morning, it was announced that a MK got the role without anyone knowing it was supposed to be mine.
But nobody thought it strange that I didn’t receive a single line in that musical.
My mom went in to speak with the director, and cleared my name. But at that point it didn’t matter.
By high school, we were miserable, and couldn’t think for ourselves. The amount of manipulation and indoctrination that we went through was changing our personalities, to say the least, and I was so unwell, my grades were lower than ever. I isolated myself, and got quite good at it. Nobody could hurt me if they kept a distance.
No one cared about you at this point.
There was no forgiveness. No second chances.
This is when they started kicking Hungarians out, completely under the radar. One day, said student would come to school, and before we could realize it, they were gone. The staff would do bag and locker checks on us because we were the “bad kids”.
I was told my grades were lowering the school’s GPA. Whereas I knew I had classmates who were MKs, and their grades were much worse than mine.
They didn’t come close to being threatened to be kicked out.
And on top of it all, as Hungarians got a bad rep, I got mine. It was something you’d think a Christian school would try to be above, but no.
Bitch, slut, prostitute… I was called all of it. I was told my future job would be standing at the end of a dark alley, waiting for men to bring their wallets.
Around this time, I released my first single, Option B.
The original song was sad. It was about injustice. About being unappreciated. But I was controlled by the producers, and I ended up rewriting the entire song into its opposite.
I didn’t feel fulfilled after such a big career step and accomplishment.
Back at school, it didn’t matter how hard you tried.
Unless you became them, there was no way to find any sense of safety.
After 10 years of being unappreciated, surviving purity culture and overcoming abuse from my own mind and others, I could finally feel truly free for the first time in my life. When we threw our graduation hats into the air, I could taste the dripping sweetness of my liberty in the air.
Some students struggled with saying goodbye, but I’ve said all my goodbyes throughout the years.
They didn’t want me, so why would I want them?
“You are the problem,” they said. No, really, they said that.
So I sure as hell didn’t want them.
I am now in my second year of studying music in a British university.
Just a month into moving, I was awestruck by how capable I was. I was taught by my school that I am bad, unable to accomplish anything without help, and that I am not strong enough. But once I was given space for independence, I could breathe again and without a doubt, overcame anything that hit me.
I noticed that people don’t assume you’re dating someone just because one of you is a boy and the other’s a girl. I saw how good people were. And I definitely found my sense of security in my voice again. My old school convinced me I would never be good enough, but I can’t wait to prove them wrong.
I only keep in touch with the people I care about from there. I would love to try with them, but everyone else would not make an effort before, and even if I tried with them, they would still see me as the person they thought I was in high school.
They would still think I am what they heard so and so say to so and so.
Please, if you’re naïve enough to think I am anything like I was even a DAY ago, you don’t deserve my intentionality. If you understand everyone’s personality through rumors, you’re going to misjudge everyone.
To connect with myself, I play my piano and sing in freestyle. Sometimes that’s gibberish, other times I think it could be the next best hit. I sometimes do the same with my guitar. To recharge, I read, either nonfiction, specifically in the realm of self-help and other forms of psychology books, or I indulge in some cliché young adult fiction. I’ll likely read these two genres well into my 40s.
To feel loved, I talk to my loved ones.
To be inspired, I walk around this beautiful city with my headphones in.
To contribute to fulfilling my purpose, that is ongoing and not a destination, I learn. I find resources and I share them. My Instagram is full of what I call ‘The Good Fight’. Through the knowledge I gather, I release music that is authentic to who I am. And now, to use my voice, I blog.
I’m Dalma. It’s nice to meet you.
Let’s be better people today than we were yesterday.
Legyünk jobb emberek ma, mint tegnap.
Seamos mejores personas hoy que ayer.