“What would you do if I slit my wrists?” I asked my brother Bobby with a complete straight face while we sat on the greenish carpet in the den trying to pick a movie from the basket by the door. I was ten.
I don’t really remember what he responded to my offside question, but I do remember that he told my mom.
She asked me why I would as such a question, and I told her that I was only kidding. I wasn’t kidding though. I thought of killing myself daily at that point in my life.
I, like many adolescents, was chronically bullied.
After my mom had cancer when I was around 8 years old, I became very sensitive. I cried very easily. And in the two to three years proceeding, the active bullies in my school took note, and I became a target. To add to it as well, my brother was also bullied because he would never partake in the mean activities that his class members were involved in. Aggression came from every angle.
I can remember walking home in the snow, and having a boy follow me just close enough that he could kick slush at me the entire way. It was cold and I was soaked. Once, a little boy in my class called me a ‘dog’ and then told me to ‘go shove a hot dog up my c-nt and wiggle it around’. I didn’t know what that word meant; I had to ask my brother. It was humiliating. God, was it humiliating. And for the 100th night in a row, I cried myself to sleep. Wishing I’d wake up and be beautiful.
In grade 6, I wrote a poem in English class about being bullied, it was called “Who’s that?” I don’t remember all of it, but here is the beginning and the end of what I wrote:
At school I get made fun of.
As I walk through the hall they’ll whisper, ‘who’s that?’ I think she’s new.
One day you’ll see.
You’ll regret, and say who’s that?
After I read it aloud to the classroom, the bullies in the class took it as another opportunity to humiliate me, by saying things like ‘more like what’s that?’ It was devastating.
Each day as I got ready for school I would pray that it would be the day where they stopped calling me ugly, dog, four-eyes, cry-baby, dog-face, and useless. I prayed that I would finally be included at one of their social gatherings instead of being told about it, only to be followed up with ‘but you can’t come’. I prayed that when I’d stand in line for class, one kid would willingly stand behind me instead of circling around and getting pushed into the spot behind me. I prayed for it to end. I prayed that I’d be hit by a car. And I prayed that someone would be nice to me. I was desperate. I was sad. I was so so lonely.
Luckily for me my torture ended after a couple of years, with only a minor resurgence when I was 12. (I think the fact that I was one of the few people at my school that had a pool helped.) However, the scars that were formed were so deep that I treated myself horribly up until my mid 20’s. I was so scared that I would be bullied again, that I constantly let people walk all over me, treat me terribly, and when I looked in the mirror, all I saw was the ugly girl that nobody liked. I made sure that I was friends with the popular crowd, no matter how mean some of them were. For instance one girl was so mean, that she once tripped another girl in class and followed up by calling her a ‘slut’. What’s that all about?
God it’s really embarrassing now that people associated me with that kind of meanness. Really there’s is no excuse for it. I went from being bullied, to becoming a bully by-stander which is almost as bad as being a bully.
And in the wake of the death of the beautiful Amanda Todd, it is time for everyone to step up and make sure that children know the difference between right and wrong and choose the path of lightness, rather than darkness. Gosh, I feel sorry for children today because of facebook and the access to anonymous bullying. It was bad enough before the internet, it must be 1000x worse now.
Somethings to think about:
- Children imitate their parents. So if you or your partner are giant jerks, odds are your kids will act that way too. Lead by example.
- Children need to be taught to be nice. Remember how you had to teach your kid not to hit, and to share? Right. Don’t just assume your kid is a darling little angel.
- Talk to them. Talk to them all the time. Ask them about their day, what’s happening at school, what their friends are like.
- Keep an open respectful relationship with their teachers. They are your partners in this situation. If they tell you that your kid’s the class bully. Listen to them. Also, listen to their teachers if they suggest that your kid is the one bullied. Then go back to the #3.
- Remind them that it will get better. Growing up is tough and that one day, none of this will matter.
I realize that I’m not a parent, so I shouldn’t really dish out advice, however, I was a bullied child who suffered daily, and I intend on being a parent one day too, so take it with a grain of salt. Anyway, being bullied is a terrifying way to go to school. So, whether it’s physically, or emotionally, bullying can cause harm that takes years to get over.