As I sit down to write this post I am thinking of my own daughters, of your daughters and sons, of your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren, your favorite neighbor kid that lives down the street from you, kids in your church and in your life. In the past whenever I have thought about writing about this topic there is a sense of shame that has came over me each and every time. I feel ashamed that I was bullied. Even though I am a 32 year old confident, capable woman…… I still feel that shame from 20 something years ago. And in the past, it has stopped me from writing about this topic. But not today. Today, I am putting it all out there, once and for all, in hopes that it can help somebody else. This is my story:
Sometime around 4th grade the bullying started. There was an incident on the playground that I had told the teacher about and some kids got in pretty big trouble. Parents were called, footsteps shuffled into the principal’s office. That kind of trouble. From then on…. I was their target because I was the one that told. I went to a very small school and these kids got all the other kids to pretty much be against me. Girls. Boys. Both genders didn’t care for me. I was the piñata and they were the stick.
I can still remember what it was like at recess, to have no one to play with. To feel left out. Rejected. Abandoned. Unseen. To be picked last at kickball…. always. I can still see the girls whispering to each other in huddled groups, looking at me and laughing. I can feel that crisp air, a sunny, cold day, as I was thrown up against the fence by my shirt behind the slide and told I was stupid and ugly as they laughed with each other as they let me down. I can remember the sting of mean words I was called. I can remember trying so hard to be liked but being unsuccessful. I can feel the panic that set in as I stood in line at lunch, wondering who I was going to sit by.
You want to talk about a confidence killer? Whatever confidence I had at the age of 9 or 10 years old was destroyed. Gone. Bye Bye. By a bunch of 9 or 10 years old boys and girls who didn’t know any better.
The bullying went on for 2 to 3 years. I remember coming home from school crying to myself on my bed many, many times after the bus dropped me off. I remember my parents talking about transferring me to a different school because it had gotten so bad and me hoping they would do it. I remember feeling so alone and like something was wrong with me. Why was I so unlikeable? So unlovable? Why was I the way I was?
Once junior high started the bullying stopped. But the damage was done. So much damage done.
So I put up walls. My guard was always up. I didn’t let people too close to me because if they never got too close, then I could never be rejected. Or if they did reject me, it would hurt less. I waited for people to approach me, never wanting to put myself in a vulnerable position. I tried to be like everyone else; what I thought they wanted me to be. I was SO insecure. Always worrying about what people thought of me. I was always observing, always over analyzing, always accommodating. I wanted to be loved but was scared. I was scared to show the real me. That didn’t work out too well for me in the past. I gave everybody what I thought they wanted. The fear of rejection was paralyzing at times. I wanted approval. I wanted to be the best at everything. I excelled in sports, got great grades in school, partied with the “in” crowd, and was crowned Homecoming Queen. But the fear of rejection was still front and center. The insecurity off the radar scale. Still there. Still paralyzing. I was still drowning in doubt and worry and fear.
As the years went on I was simply accustomed to this way of living. This was normal to me. To always be self doubting, self criticizing…. I didn’t know there was another way to live.
Until my faith.
I’ve always believed in God, grew up going to church, but in terms of having a personal relationship with HIM…. that didn’t start until 2009. Matt and I moved into our first home right across the street from our pastor at church; a church we only had been to once or twice. He invited us to his small group and for the next few years, once a week, we met with a group at their home. That was the start of my relationship with God. None of them probably know it, but that group saved me from living a miserable life.
It didn’t happen instantly but since 2009 I have grown. And a few years ago I underwent a huge transformation in my life with the help of God. I saw my insecurity and fear for what it was. I admitted I was an insecure person which was so hard to do because I always wanted to seem like I had it all together. I realized I was broken. Those boys and girls in grade school broke me and I had never fully healed from it.
Do you think that’s crazy? That my insecurity and fear of rejection stems from being bullied? If so, I thought so to at first. But when I really dug down to the root of it all…. that’s where it all began. That’s how much it affected me.
When my girls say they didn’t have anyone to play with at recess or someone was mean to them at school, I’ll admit, I probably freak out and worry about it a little too much. It hits home for me. But I know the hurt and the pain and the ramifications it can have on someone, even at a young age.
So if your daughter or son, or whoever it is, comes to you and says they’re being bullied. LISTEN TO THEM. TALK TO THEM. MAKE A BIG DEAL OUT OF IT. If you shrug it off they will stop coming to you and suffer in silence. If it is really bad, CALL THE AUTHORITIES. Recently, on a radio talk show, they were talking about bullying. The expert said to not call the school, but to call the police. That is shown to have more of an effect on the bullying being stopped rather than involving the school.
People who have never been bullied before don’t get it. They don’t get the pain. And I wrote this post to maybe help you see just how devastating it can be for a child, whether the child is 7 or 15, it still devastatingly hurts. And I wrote this post to show you that God was the only way I could see myself for what I was and the only way I could heal. I have forgiven those boys and girls. Healing also comes from forgiveness.
Take bullying seriously. Stop it if you see it. And if you have been bullied, I want to personally say that I am so sorry that happened to you. You didn’t deserve it. And I want to tell you that it’s not your fault. No matter what happened, you did not cause the bullying to happen to you. There was/is nothing wrong with you. You are a child of the most high God. He knit YOU in your mother’s womb and You are SO loved by HIM. You are made in HIS image, fearfully and wonderfully made. Even if others can’t see your beauty, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Cling to HIS word and HIS truth. The truth will set you free. And being free is pretty wonderful.