Speaking Up About a Lifetime of Bullying for #NoMoreBullies
There has been a lot of talk about bullying lately and I feel like I need to chime in and share my experiences in hopes that it can help others. I have spent many years dealing with bullies for one reason or another and I am just so thankful that I have a wonderful loving family that made me realize how valuable I truly am so I didn't give in to the depression or desperation that can sometimes come with the bullying.
All too often these days you hear stories of a child -- yes a CHILD -- who has taken their own life because they were bullied. They were hurt so badly by another person with words or actions that they no longer felt the need to be alive. I cannot even imagine what that child had gone through to come to that point. I don't want to ever imagine that one of my children would ever get to that point. I know that I went through a lot, but somehow I was able to rise above it and carry on. I do not want my children to have the same fate as me and I willingly point out bullies and how to not associate with them. I usually leave it up to Hubby to talk to the parents because I would just flip out if I had to discuss it with the parents -- the actions of their children. Hubby has a great way with words (yet another reason I love him so much).
As a child I was, and still am, quite shy. I never wanted to rock the boat, I never wanted to be different. But, I was apparently. I was either too blonde or too tall, too chubby or too slim. My parents weren't divorced or I didn't get good grades. I loved funky shoes, some things never change, and I loved to be me. Apparently others didn't quite like me so much and they made a point of taunting me, teasing me, calling me names and pushing me around. I was pretty good at ignoring them at school, but I also had an older, much more popular sister at school with me, so when the going got really tough, I sought her out.
When I look back now at the kids who made my life miserable, I know they were hurting even more than I was. Most of them bullied because they were jealous. I had something they didn't. I had a loving family. I had a Mom at home after school. I had an older sister (and two younger). I had food on the table and clothes that fit me. I could go on with my list, but the truth is there are too many reasons why kids do what they do. And the fact is they need to be taught that it is not okay.
One of my biggest bullies in grade school (I haven't even gotten to later in life) met up with me again one day; I was 18, he was 19 and dating a coworker of mine. I had laughed and told her how he used to taunt me in class and on the playground. He actually came to my work, embarrassed, hanging his head in shame and apologized to me with all his heart. That act alone made a huge difference in my life. He felt badly for his behavior as a 12 year old. He felt badly that he hurt me. He was going through his own issues at home and acting out at school. He was one of the youngest of many children and there was just not enough time for each of the kids so he acted out. I am not saying what he did was right back when he was 12 but what he did right was own up to it at a young age of 19. He had become the Man his parents had dreamed he would become. And for that I was very thankful.
Somehow, the bullying seemed to escape me in High School. I grew a backbone, and gained a few pounds and my Sister had lots of friends who were willing to look out for me. But, I watched several of my friends be bullied and I did whatever I could to stop it or kept them from finding out about it. High School wasn't too bad, and for that I am thankful.
Then came the working years. You think you are finished with bullies when you leave school. You think that people have grown up and gotten over their own insecurities or jealousy but no, bullying can happen in the work force and I experienced it several times. I have become good at letting things roll and sticking up for myself in these situations, but that doesn't mean that I didn't go home and have a good cry and ask, "Why me?" over and over again. Again it came down to something about me that people didn't like. I was again, too tall, too blonde, too fun whatever it was someone found a way to pick on me. I left two jobs because I was bullied so badly I was sick. As in I went to the doctor for months trying to find out what was wrong with me, only to realize that I was internalizing the bullying and creating a stomach condition that was so painful I finally quit. And guess what, I got better. I looked back and realized that I was being bullied and should have taken it up with Human Resources, but I had to leave to realize what was really going on. I had to realize that it wasn't okay for my coworker to push me around or call me names. It just wasn't okay.
Stuntman Stu, a local radio host here in Ottawa, has become very vocal about bullying and actually started the hashtag #NoMoreBullies on Twitter. Since his first tweet about it, I have told him I would help in anyway I can to eliminate bullying. This post is one way I feel I can help. Our children need to know that it is not okay to be bullied. With all the social media out there and texts that fly around, bullying has taken on a whole new life one that has driven children to take their own lives. I won't stand for it. No more children need to think they shouldn't be alive because someone is bullying them. It is time to put a stop to it. And if the parents can't teach their children not to bully then maybe we need to spread the word and hopefully reach those children before they hurt someone else.
Join Stu, Angie and Trish on their Majic100 Facebook page and support the #NoMoreBullies campaign -- if only with your words or talking to your own children about it. We need to put an end to it before another precious life is lost.