Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I Am The Face of Bullying

Thanks to The Bully Project for sponsoring my writing. Visit their website to join the movement and learn more.

This is me (in the Pink Esprit)  at age 11, at the beginning of Junior High.  That's when it started.  The names, the jokes behind my back, the passing of notes about me in classes...  I didn't have a whole lot of friends.  My "old" friends had moved on to their new social circles in their new junior high. I was trying to navigate my way and find a place within friend structures that had been established in kindergarten or later on in grade school.  My parents were divorcing (practically unheard of in a Catholic school), I was having issues with knees (which developed into full blown knee problems) and essentially my world was falling apart.  It was a battle zone at home, and a battle zone at school.  Because of my knees,  I had to miss a lot of gym class... then because I was teased for always missing gym class  I would just miss school all together thinking that would solve the problem.  Instead it only increased the fodder. Teachers, students, they all joined in on the fun. My 8th grade year book has a "where will they be in 20 years" at the back of it... mine says "She will finally have come to school enough days to graduate".

There are lots of different forms of bullying.. not just the slam a kid up against the lockers kind.  Girls don't deal in physical bullying.  Girls get psychological.  Girls get mean.  I wish I could say that I am one of those people who will stand up to you and make you back down-  or at least try to tell you my 7th and 8th grade self was.  I wasn't, however.  By nature, I'm a pleaser.  When people don't like me, instead of brushing it off with an "I don't care" attitude, I spend too much time and energy trying to figure out why they don't like me.. and how I can get them to like me.  Couple this with a kid who has been "trained" to emotionally ball into a fetal position and surrender instead of standing their ground when having to battle the "mean girls" (and in all actuality, the "mean guys" too), because of the battleground in their home.  What happens when a bully realizes you are an easy target that isn't going to fight back and isnt going to tell on them?  

Once I graduated from that school and moved on to my high school I thought everthing would be different, it would all change now that I was in a new school getting a fresh start with dozens of other girls also getting a fresh start in a new school. Unfortunately I was battle weary and really had a hard time trusting anyone...and not everytime but there were enough times even in high school where I had put my trust in someone only to have it shredded and passed around a very small school like a toy.  I withdrew, kept to myself,  secretly hoping to be noticed, liked, befriended.  I was the "weird" one that people knew but didn't socialize with...  who wasn't an outcast, but didn't get invited to parties either.  Some of those people still feel I'm the "weird" one... but the difference now? I really couldn't care less.  

Adult me realizes that if people are still judging you based on who  they think  you used to be... that they aren't even worth a second of thought.  They do not deserve to rent out space in your head or heart.  Adult me, wants every child who is bullied to know that while those words hurt and sometimes its hard to muddle through another day,  that it will be o.k. 

While some people may think that you are a 
... the problem is with them  not you.  

I've made my peace with my past.  While I would never, ever want to re-live it; I have accepted what it was, and have used it to fuel me on the days when I feel unmotivated.  There were days when I was young, when I got so low, and the emotional pain was so bad, that I would have rather been dead than have to endure another day of being the butt of everyone's jokes.  I look back on those days now amazed  that I would ever let small minded people force me to hate myself that much.  

Because if I had rolled over and let the haters win, 

                                                            I would be here

                                                               Instead of here

Bullying is a very serious issue these days, and The Bully Project, a movie about child victims of bullying is a must see for parents and their children.  What better way to open the dialogue with your child about bullying, bullies, and the effects of unkind words, than a night out together watching this film.  Please take a moment to view the trailer below.  

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. Find showings in your area for The Bully Project and buy tickets here.