Yesterday I read another sad story about a 12 year old girl who committed suicide after being bullied on social media. My heart broke. Again. This is my bullying story:
Just after I turned seven, my mom remarried and we moved from our two-bedroom townhouse to an affluent suburb. I started 2nd grade with a classroom of children I had never met.
I remember one boy being a playground bully – picking girls up while forcing his friend to lift up their skirts. We ladies learned to wear clothing with legs and those two boys didn’t come back for 3rd grade. And, I recall someone making fun of me when I first came to school with glasses. The teacher overheard, made him apologize, and that was it.
I don’t remember ever being bullied after that.
Though we didn’t have social media, there were still ample opportunities – and ammunition – for kids to pick on me, especially in my teen years. When my mom and step-dad divorced in 1985, we moved back to a two-bedroom townhouse. My friends lived in enormous homes and drove expensive cars, while I arrived at school in a ’77 Cutlass which would eject the tape cassette and launch it into the back seat if you went over 55mph.
Because of the divorce, I had to live with my older sister for my junior year of high school. I was extremely depressed and scared. In turn, I made a lot of horrendously bad decisions. Note to my daughter: THIS is why you get lectured so much. Because I was a stupid teenager. You’re welcome.
My senior year, I dated a man who was controlling, manipulative, and abusive. My friends didn’t call me dirty names, though. They gently tried to steer me in the right direction. No one made fun of me. They could have turned their backs on me, but no one did.
No one ever said anything about our tiny apartment with no air conditioning. No one ever called me poor because I had to go to work every afternoon after school. No one ever hurt my feelings or made me fell less-than.
I don’t know how to make these sad stories stop, but I know that not every school is full of bullies. My high school was full of the richest kids in town who didn’t want for anything. They weren’t snobs. They were awesome.
Maybe we should share more GOOD stories about the GOOD kids who are there to hold up people like me; a lost, frightened girl who had to grow up too fast. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have survived those years without that support. I would not have survived.
Let’s make the stories of strength and friendship go viral. Let’s make sure that the kids who do the right thing are celebrated and that the ones who don’t, aren’t. We can’t stop telling the tales of those who were bullied, but we can start sharing more stories about the ones who weren’t.
What do you say? Are you with me?