Bully should be a four letter word.
With bullying-caused suicides being the big news lately, I thought I would say a few words. For me, it has brought back some very real and difficult memories from my own-bullied childhood. I was bullied from around first grade all the way into my junior year in high school. I think the only reason I was not bullied my senior year was because I was on half days. These memories of my childhood haunt the recesses of my mind in such a way that even today I avoid certain social situations albeit unconsciously until I review why I did not want to attend. What is crazy to me is how my memories of childhood are filled with all the times I was pushed, shoved, bruised, teased, called names, belittled, badgered incessantly, and all the things I did simply to avoid those bullies. My memories of life being happy and fun as a kid are limited.
I got over these ugly memories, for the most part. I have found with the depth into which I have gotten into social media that some of these feelings resurface with mention of the names and faces of those bullies. I do not want to be ‘friends’ with those people. I do not want to pretend it never happened. It did happen and it made my life miserable for years. I hated school, it was a place where I had to hide, I had to be very careful, and mindful of whom I talked to and let into my world. My bullies were so bad that I quit Girl Scouts because they were all in my troop…isn’t that a little ironic considering the Girls Scouts should be a sisterhood?
I did consider suicide, for bullying and other reasons. I never did it because I knew I could not do that to my mom, she had already lost one child. I called a suicide hotline the first time when I was 12.
My confession here is simply in honor of these kids who do not think they will make it through it. In addition, to remind everyone that you never know who has survived such ugliness and meanness from his or her peers, parents, to siblings or anyone else. What I know now is that kids can be extremely mean. I think that from a brain standpoint it has to do with young brains not fully understanding consequences. From a social aspect, it has to do with what they see at home or with their other friends. I encourage you to talk to your kids, about not only being bullied but also being a bully. If you as a parent or a teacher or a school administrator make a no tolerance rule for bullies…the world might see a change. Talk about it, open up the forum, tell your story, and make sure the kids around you have a safe place to tell it all. We need to make a change now!
What I learned from being bullied: life is too short to dance with ugly people, meanness begets meanness, a real wholehearted apology is worth more than you will ever know, and no mean words are worth someone’s life.