Bullying hurts. I was bullied as a child. So was my mom. And now, my daughter is living through her own trial with bullying. No doubt, our family has suffered from these experiences. But, we have also learned a lot. And that is the story I want to share with you now - the story of three strong women whose bullies could not keep them down, and who came out stronger and wiser on the other side.
It all started with my mom. In sixth grade, she was the first new student at her school...ever. As a shy child, all she wanted to do was blend in, but unfortunately there was a bully waiting to prey on “the new kid.” The name calling and constant mental attacks were relentless.
For me, it was elementary school. Not only did I belong to a minority religion but I also suffered from gran mal seizures which would occasionally occur at school. This, along with being a fairly introverted person, was a recipe for hurt that bullies couldn’t resist. I was left out on the playground, made fun of for my clothes and even called by a different name deemed “less offensive” by my classmates of a different religion.
Most hurtful is my own daughter. She started middle school this year and the girls she thought were her friends decided to “unfriend" her. This includes not saying hi in the hallway, leaving her off group texts and not inviting her to hang out anymore.
How did we handle it?
My mom stood up to her bully, and while it did little at the time, she got through it stronger and more confident in herself. She has since run into this bully as an adult and learned that she had been going through a horrible and abusive time in her own home, making her lash out against my mom. This didn't make it right or take back the hurt she caused, but acknowledging the pain did provide some closure.
In my case, we moved to a neighboring town in 5th grade, which meant a new school and an opportunity for a fresh start. I was one of 40 new kids entering this school and I met several amazing people that have become lifelong friends. These true friendships, along with time and therapy, have healed my bullying wounds.
Unfortunately, this chapter is not over in my daughter’s life. But I pass on my mother’s wisdom, and tell her to “be glad you didn’t reach your peak in junior high.” I want her to understand that as we grow up being cool or popular means little, and what others think of you does not define who you are. In fact, some of the most wonderful and interesting people I know were considered awkward, weird or dorky in school. For now, I am happy that she is choosing to make new friends, and is looking forward, not back.
Yes bullying hurts. But it does not define us and only continues to hurt if we let it.