Lead by example!

I grew up with the double whammy of being "fat" (If I had gone to a doctor, I wouldn't have even been considered over weight at that time), and also being poor (yet we had food on our table, a roof over our head, clothes on our backs, etc). I guess the absolute worst of it was in high school. I made the mistake of correcting another student, and it made her friends laugh. It was NOT my intention, and I honestly felt bad about it, but I also didn't like all the sudden attention, so I got quiet and tried to disappear. However, from that moment on, she took it as her personal mission in life to make me miserable. Boy did she ever. 


Every day, when I walked in the cafeteria, she would scream hurtful names at me across the room. She didn't even wait until I was close, she made sure to scream it where EVERYONE could hear. It happened EVERY SINGLE DAY, without fail. It got to be so bad, that when I woke up in the morning, I felt sick at my stomach just thinking about going to lunch. I didn't want to be any where NEAR her. I started making excuses, missing school as much as I could get away with, and eventually just not bothering to set my alarm. I had to graduate in summer school because of this. You see, I was smart, but economics was never my strong suit, so while I could wing it in most of my classes, you can't get economics if you're not at school to learn it. I failed by 2 points. 

You would think that once I got out of high school, it wouldn't affect me anymore. You'd be very wrong. I carried this pain with me for YEARS. I always saw myself as less. I always felt worthless. What this bully and her crowd of tormenting and laughing friends didn't know was that I was already getting it at home. I had a step father who made it his personal mission in life to make MY life a living hell. I could hide out in my room and avoid him, but eventually you have to eat and use the bathroom, and passing him at the table, you NEVER knew if he was going to be nice or horrible. It depended on how much he had to drink. 

This affected every friendship and relationship I had. It affected how I spent my money, how I got dressed, how often I washed my hair. I had panic attacks and social anxiety. I even had trouble talking on the phone, whether it was to a friend, or something simple like making a doctors appointment. I still struggle with that to this day. My friends think I'm antisocial, or that I just don't care. I avoid most phone calls like the plague, simply because of the anxiety and panic I feel when I'm on the phone, even with family, its pretty bad. 

I eventually met and married a wonderful man who made my life worth living. He made me feel beautiful, even though it took him YEARS to convince me and make me believe it too. He made me feel important, loved, and cherished. He still does. He is my best friend in the entire world, and we have 3 beautiful children now. I'm happier than I have ever been. 


Unfortunately, my oldest daughter also had to endure bullying. Going to the teacher did NOTHING. In fact, the teacher seemed to be on the bully's side. They picked on her for everything you can think of, including having Cancer. Unfortunately, all this did was bring back all of my old demons, and I'm afraid I didn't handle it as I probably should have. What I SHOULD have said was not to give them power over her life. Instead, I tried to make her fight back with words as hurtful as theirs. That's not going to help, and in fact, it made things worse at times. She eventually got into a physical fight with one of the worst of her bullies. Violence is not the answer, and NO child should have to feel like they're going off to war when they head to school in the morning. 

Eventually I had to pull her out of school and home school her, and now she never wants to go back. I don't want her to miss out on some of the best experiences school can offer just because of some bullies. She is a smart, mature, beautiful little girl, and I want her to be happy and have friends, not worry and stress about school. 

What needs to happen at this point is that the teachers need to be more active, as well as all of the other school employees, but most importantly, the kids need to take action. If you stand by and watch someone else being bullied, you might as well be the bully yourself. If you laugh when they say horrible things about someone else, you are just as bad if not WORSE than the bully. We all need to take a stand. Also, as parents, we NEED to lead by example! If we see someone on TV and call them names, our kids will do that too. They will think it's ok to bully, and they'll take that to the school. We have to stop it NOW, before it gets any worse. We need to stop making it ok to bully, and stop showing it on TV as the norm. Some of the best programs on TV show bullying as if it's something funny. It's NOT funny, words CAN hurt when you have no one standing by to defend you from them, and they can hurt for YEARS. 

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