This post was inspired by Michelle over at Fluttering Butterflies. She, along with Sophie over at A Day Dreamer’s World are hosting an Anti-Bullying week over on their blogs, so if you get a chance, do pop across and check them out. They are full of great posts from authors and other book bloggers alike. Otherwise I would just like to share with you my own thoughts and experiences on the matter.
Bullying makes my blood boil!
When I was twelve years old, back when Pokémon was all the rage, a classmate accused me of stealing one of his cards. I never did. However children are cruel, and of course the rumour spread until I had apparently stolen everything from hair clips and gel pens to money and mobile phones! It was a horrible time in my life. Kids refused to play with me, while even some of the girls I called my friends refused to let me share their colouring pencils.
But worst of all, was the boy who actually accused me in the first place. He and a group of his friends took to following me home every evening after school. At first they would just shout mean things and call me names, but like with most cases of bullying, things began to escalate. They started to throw stones and water at me, try to trip me or push me whenever I walked past. And once, I even found my PE uniform shredded in my bag. Naturally it got to the point where I refused to go to school.
Of course my mother knew something was wrong, but I was always a tight lipped child and even to this day, I’ve never told her what I went through. To be honest, other than one of my very close friends, I have never shared this story with anyone. Why? Because until now, I always felt too ashamed. I was afraid of what people would think, afraid people wouldn’t believe me and mostly – afraid of how weak and pathetic it all made me look.
Now I’m 24 years old and I know better. But this part of my past will forever remain a dark blot in my life. However I endured, I got through it, and while it does sometimes creep up on occasion to take a bash at my confidence – ultimately, I survived. And better yet, I love my life now! I like the person I am, I have great friends, a great family and if anything, I can look back on that time and feel more than just anger. I actually pity my bullies, because all I can imagine is that they’re own lives must have been pretty messed up if they needed to bring me down to make themselves feel good.
And of course while things with my bully were never resolved – my life did eventually get better. My mother made me return to school and I started taking a very scenic (and admittedly dangerous) route home, one which I continued to take for my remaining time throughout middle school. The children who bullied me grew bored and moved on to other things and while the rumours did pop up to haunt me now and then – things generally died down and people forgot.
I learned to avoid that boy and his mates at all costs – of course on the occasions I did bump into them they made sure to shout cruel things or make sly comments. But then high school came and I was lucky enough to get into a school outside my catchment area where thankfully, I never had to see that boy again.
But that didn’t mean I didn’t think of him. I still dodged the areas of town I knew he hung out, and I would flinch every time someone used the word thief – even it was just a friend asking to nick a sweet. It took a long time before I felt happy in myself again.
As for my teachers, I’m sure they knew something was going on. I think they at least heard the rumours about me, and they showed their faith in me by giving me any task that involved taking money or important notes somewhere. They had me fetch things; help with displays, take stock checks for the art room –all tasks that required a measure of trust or responsibility. And while I didn’t understand or appreciate it then, now I do. So to all my middle school teachers – thank you for your support!
But my bottom line is – Children can be cruel. Thankfully most of them grow out of it. And no matter how hard your life may seem at the time, just remember, things will get better! Popularity won’t matter, school will end, braces will come off and girls… your boobs will grow! Life will always have its ups and downs, but ultimately, it will be what you choose to make it -
And it all starts with you finding your voice…
So my advice, tell someone, talk to someone. If not a teacher or parent, tell a friend, your pet, a stuffed toy! Write a story, a blog post, a letter to a magazine, heck, even draw a picture. Just don’t keep your feelings bottled up, because sooner or later you will explode. Self-destruct in a ball of rage and hurt that more than anything, will only hurt you and the people who care about you.
Just remember, you’re not alone!