We hear a lot about bullying, these days. When the subject is brought up many shrug and say, “I survived. It taught me to stand up for myself in a cruel world.” Or, “Get over it!” It’s not that easy for everyone.
When I was 4 years old, I was the go-getter. I was the kid who convinced the neighbor kids to form a line, walk into my family’s apartment, and walk back out, with one toy each to play with. I was the little girl who walked up to store clerks and asked directions when my daddy couldn’t find something. Everyone was my friend. We could share a ride together at Disneyland, and I would be convinced we were friends by the end. It didn’t matter if you were child or adult. I loved people. I loved being a leader.
Then, school happened. In school I learned a few important things. I figured they were important, because I heard them a lot. I was ugly. I was stupid. I was ugly. Ugly. Ugly. Why is the main statement always about how we look? Ugly. I have pictures of myself from my childhood. I was adorable. But, I couldn’t see that. My brain had been programmed by being picked on so much to believe every negative about me.
My clothes were horrible, because they came from KMart. My music was stupid, because it wasn’t popular. People threatened to slice my throat, I got four stitches from being hit on the head with a rock, I was spit on, my fundraiser candy bars stolen, and laughed at. I was once told, “Do you ever think of yourself as so ugly that maybe you should kill yourself?”
I tried to ignore it, but it only escalated. Telling teachers made it worse. Why didn’t I stand up for myself and just punch someone out? Why? Because, it starts slowly at first. People who start off acting like a friend can turn into a bully and it messes with all reason. After days, months, years of it, I began to think everyone was right. I was ugly. I was stupid. I was weak. If I did fight back, it wouldn’t matter. Not to mention, if I did fight back I would get in trouble, too. That is still the most stupid rule ever.
Once I was out of high school I wasn’t bullied anymore. Except by one person. Me. I took all those years of bullying and turned it inward. That little girl who used to be a leader? She was gone. I became unsure of everything. When I saw people I used to go to school with, I avoided them. Even those that may have been my friends. I couldn’t remember who was friend and who wasn’t. I was embarrassed to talk to people, because I felt judged. People took this as shyness. I would burst into tears just trying to figure out what to order on a deli menu, because I was sure I would mess up.
The only good that came out of all of it is this blog. Meaning, I can now relate to what others are going through, because of it. Instead of being proud of survival or thinking kids need to learn to live in a cruel world, wouldn’t it be better if kids could learn to be better to each other?
If you’re being bullied, know you aren’t alone. Beat Bullying has a great program, that I want to see promoted more across Europe and the U.S. If you are a bully and think it’s fun or no big deal: just for a moment, think of the worst moment of your life. When were you the saddest? Now, imagine reliving that feeling every single day.
Scars take time to heal. Sometimes, they never go away.
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