Growing up, like many children I had to deal with a bully or bullies on a regular basis. Because of my weight and some other personality traits that I possessed I tended to receive more bullying than some of the other kids in my grade. I heard demeaning statements and cruel remarks day in and day out and most of the bullying that I received came from between 2 and 5 different girls that were in my grade. I remember that 3 of these girls would lash out at me worse than anyone else that I would deal with. These 3 girls were in school with me from Kindergarten up until I transferred to a new school after tenth grade.
Now, while I did not have to deal with any physical bullying, the emotional hell that I was put through was enough to scar me. I can recall quite clearly the time in my life that I actually wanted to develop an eating disorder to make myself better, so that I wouldn't have to be so miserable. I wanted to do actual harm to my body because it was not what the kids I spent 8 to 10 hours with everyday thought was attractive or normal. I faked illness (sorry mom), I tried to change myself, I tried to make myself invisible, nothing seemed to work. I tried to learn from what my parents told me or what my family told me, I tried to trust my friends and hide behind them when I needed to. Nothing helped.
In middle school the bullying only got worse, I was now in a larger school with five times the amount of kids around me everyday. And the bullying went from the basic "fat" to more vulgar comments. I started to hear guys calling girls "sluts" and "whores" Whoa, this was new territory. We were in Middle School. Those kinds of words should never be used to describe a girl, or anyone for that matter, that is that young. Up until then, I had really only dealt with bullying coming from girls. For the first time ever I felt what it was like to be tricked and tormented by a boy. Crushes were no longer something that was giggled about and made us blush. Crushes were ammunition for a boy to tear you down until you felt worthless, and then he laughed about it, and so did his friends and a lot of the girls.
No longer did I not want to go to school because I didn't like my body, I didn't want to go to school now because I hated myself. I wasn't girly enough, or thin enough, or pretty enough. In middle school I also lost my best friend. My closest friend from elementary school. A girl that I spent more time with than I spent with my own family. We did everything together. Hell, we spent almost every night after school together and we talked or texted during every waking hour. We just stopped talking. I felt abandoned. I was no longer able to gain support from my circle of friends, and the bullying didn't stop. Soon I began to hear rumors about myself and felt more alone than ever. It was around this time that my parents separated for the first time. I felt like my entire life was falling apart around me. The bullying didn't stop. My first thoughts of severely hurting myself started around this time.
Along came high school and along came new friends and a few old friends. I can honestly say that high school was better than any of my school years prior. I became more content and worked harder in school. I took classes that I found enjoyment in and I found skills that I didn't realize that I had. I was mostly happy.
There was only one major event that really hurt me in my first two years of high school, and that was something that a teacher told me. I've always thought that I was relatively good at the arts. I could draw and sketch reasonably well, I was creative, I loved to make things. Until the day that my art teacher told me that I wasn't good enough and didn't have the skill needed to pursue anything in the arts. It felt like he slammed the door to an entire world in my face and hung a "members only" sign on the door. That summer I went to a new high school.
As I've gotten older and pursued new interests in life I have dealt with mild bullying from time to time. But I've grown a lot and matured in the past few years and am able to take the hit now. I no longer let it knock me down and I no longer let it hurt me the way that it once did. But I went through many dark moments in my adolescence to get to the point that I am at now. As adults in this world, as parents, siblings, cousins, and mentors we have to take the initiative to teach the children around us that it is not OK to call that one kid "fat" or "ugly" or a "slut". The best way for us to teach them this important lesson is to practice it ourselves.
While I often hear the argument that "kids will be kids" and that "It's all in good fun" I want to say honestly that the people that are saying those things were probably bullies themselves, and may still be. Take the initiative and help to end bullying around you. Show your support for kids that have been bullied and immediately correct bullying behavior. Be more than a bystander. Your action could end up saving a child from taking their own life or taking the lives of others.
Support the Stop Bullying initiative by wearing orange on October 10th for Unity Day and for more information visit stopbullying.gov. Also, a video that is very relevant.
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Sneak peak at this weeks recipe - They are moist, can be a little chewy, very chocolaty, and can be very rich...