CONFESSION TIME: My Bout with Bullying

• November 11, 2015 • Comments (0)

This week on Confessions, a panel of guests joined me to talk about the topic of bullying. I am sure this hit a nerve for many of you, as bullying comes in all shapes in sizes. For me, it brings up a pretty solid memory of a middle school day – a day I actually liken to the day I found my inner strength and fight.

I was always a pretty laid back kid, doing whatever I was told—the ongoing goody goody, who never did anything wrong. A walking doormat since childhood, you can say. All through elementary school I was teased for being overweight and having “four eyes”, but I wasn’t bullied—just made fun of. At least in my young mind, the two didn’t make a connection. Bullies were those that intimidated others. I wasn’t intimidated; I was ridiculed.

But I took it, and internalized it and just accepted it as status quo. I was pretty quiet, keeping to myself (if you can believe that). Growing up into middle school, I finally had an opportunity to get contact lenses, and for some reason, they gave me a little bit of power back, and some confidence. By then, the weight wasn’t too out of control, and the only thing I felt subconscious about was how smart I was (so naturally, I dumbed myself down to fit in better. *eye roll*)

Anyway, I was not what you would call the athletic type, so I sucked at gym class big time. We were playing tennis one day, and I accidentally hit another student, who ended up having to go to the hospital and get stitches. But it wasn’t just that—her mother had just recently passed away, so I felt even more horrible. I beat myself up about it, but apparently that wasn’t good enough.

The next day, we were walking the track in gym (thankfully, I could manage that) and a group of what the school coined as “dirtbags” were walking in front of me. I walked by myself because I didn’t really have friends in the class, and those I had were faster and walked ahead. These girls started snickering and kept turning back to look at me, and then finally they started making comments about what a horrible person I was for purposefully hitting that girl who just lost her mom, and then said you are so ugly and fat, I bet you never even had a boyfriend.

I don’t know what happened next, but all of a sudden the words just flew out of my mouth without even thinking: “Well, at least I don’t have to pay for one, you sluts.” Uh oh. I don’t know where that bold, sassy defiance came from, but it certainly didn’t make them happy. They started coming up around me as I was walking and asked me if I wanted to repeat it. They continued to follow me and threaten to beat me up with the tennis racket like I hit the other girl, and it was the scariest thing I still to this day have ever experienced.

What if they did? I had no physical strength. I learned that day that I had a mouth on me, and could use my words as weapons, but they certainly weren’t self defense. I actually went home, and nervously told my mom about it. Well, that of course ended up with her calling the principal, and the principal saying he’s heard this before, and would protect me – what I said was in confidence. Yeah, right.

The next day, guess who comes and slams me up against my locker and lets me know exactly what they think of my tattle-tailing. I denied it and said they couldn’t prove it, but if they wanted to beat me up, then they’d figure out who did it. As soon as they saw I had some kind of backbone, they pretty much left me alone after that. I was lucky. I skirted a devastating bully attack, and that was the last I ever spoke to them – for years.

Fast forward 25 years, one was shot by her boyfriend in a local store; not sure what became of her twin sister though. The other, I somehow became connected with through a FB high school reunion night, and we hung out in a group a few times, and she had no idea who I was. (Bullies don’t remember their victims I guess, too many to count? And here I thought I was special). But I could see the insecurity and desire for power still lingering in her space. I had finally confronted her and said, you know, you pushed me into a locker and threatened me in middle school.

She looked at me and said, “Oh, I did? I’m sorry. I was a jerk in middle school.” And then we laughed. I laughed. And then let go of that memory that hurt me for a long time.

It blows my mind how completely simple healing can be sometimes.

Forgive your bullies; they are people, too. There is a lot we can do to stop bullying, like prevention programs and safety networks. But perhaps if we show intimidators a little more kindness, they might feel enough of the love and craving to actually stop.

To watch our interview on the fight against bullying, click on the video below.

Category: Confessions

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