Accepting That It Wasn't About Me
I moved from the city at the age of eight to a more rural community. I had never encountered racism or full assault of bullying before. I couldn't understand what I had done to make all these kids not like me. My clothes were too fashion forward (my Mom sewed them so they weren't designer and it was 1972!), I wore glasses, I had a lot of siblings (5) and I had moved from the city! Those were all problems. It started with name calling and then just ostracization. No one stoke to me at lunch or recess. No one would sit by me at lunch either. I had "cooties" that spread if you touched me. I was a white nigger. I had to go home and ask about that one! They even started a petition to have me removed from their class.
As one year passed into another things just got worse. These kids had siblings, too -- in lower grades with my brothers. When I tried to stand up for myself they had their siblings start harassing my brothers. They attacked us before and after school. They rode past my house and threatened my three year old little brother in the yard. How do you fight against bullies who take it to that level?
My parents were at the school filing a complaint about this behavior but back in the 70's we didn't recognize bullying. But even today, schools ask what did your child do to provoke the behavior? When I fought back and encourage by brother to fight back the school system said I provoked the bullying. In this case, my parents told the school if they couldn't stand up for me I had to stand up for myself.
When I refused to participate in the 8th grade graduation commencement preparations and ceremony the school was outraged and tried to force the issue. My parents stood behind me and told the school it was my decision not to participate with people I didn't respect.
Unfortunately, these kids followed me into High School. While the student body was bigger their harassment continued with locker break ins, the continuation of destruction of property, knocking you down in the hall, knocking your books out of your hands, holding you in the hall so you are late for class, knocking your lunch tray out of your hands, putting skunk oil in your locker, etc. etc.
I learned to hide and avoid. Avoid and avoid. I hid out in little known hallway at lunch and read. I moved into a sibling's locker for part of a year. I walked with teachers and hung out near them in study hall and became friends with them in class so that they noticed if something was going on. I sat near the front. I no longer tried to hang out in the crowd.
Some friends came and went. It depended on the class or the need to make friends with a teacher I was friends with but I didn't go to my High School graduation either. I went to college but stayed a loner as well.
I am a very outgoing person. It is one of the best aspects of my personalities but I don't have a lot of friends and certainly no one from my school days or college.
What I have learned since I was 8, is that it was never about me. I think I always knew that but accepting it is still hard. Understanding what motivated and still motivates kids and adults who do this is even harder. Peer pressure is too easy an answer. Riding herd over kids who don't stand up for themselves is too easy an answer, too. I stood up for myself but it just got worse and worse.
When I watched to Bully Project movie it was so easy to relate to why kids stop reporting bullying. You just get used to it. You stop feeling it -- physically and emotionally. The sadness is there to read and deep inside but you just stop feeling it on a surface level.
Accepting that it wasn't about me is still a work in progress and I am now 50 years old!
Falling while healing
Hello, my name is Ellamore and I'm currently 17 years old. I have been bullied for quite a while and until recently, can I say that the wounds on my heart are closing. Slowly but healing. The scars on my body and my mind are even greater. One day I hope to be free from my past and that I can move forward on my own, while having my friends next to me.
It all began in elementry school. I was about 7 years old when things started to change. My classmate began to shut me out, calling me names such as: "fat ass, potatoe, ugly" and many others. At the end of elementry school had I no friends left and was I alone with out any self esteem. In high school did my life take the worst turn. After being 3 months in class noticed that I was different and because of that was I pushed away and the name calling began again.
In my second year made I a big mistake. Because I had no way of letting everything out kept I everything cropped up inside me. And on one day was it too much for me and couldn't I take it anymore. I was numb al the time and when I found a way too release the numbness was it already too late. By that time had I made the first cut on my body, and something in me knew that there way no way back anymore. This contiued for at least 3 years.
I was so sick of feeling alone that I had planned a suicide. Everything was planned into every single detail. A week before the suicide date received I a invite to a birthday party. At first didn't I wanted to go, thinking about the thing what the could do to me. But something in me told me to go, I canceled my suicide and went to the party. I was very nervous to be around 6 people in one room. But after the party met I quite often the host of the party. At first was I really reserved and quiet not knowing what to except. The more we met the livier it became, and eventually told I her a big part of what had happened in my past. I was able to smile again, not having to worry to be 'unseen'. We both have felt loneley and had the feeling of being left out. But I think because of that... Is it that what made us best-friends.
After entering a new school found I 2 more friends and they may not know everything about me yet, but I trust them and I hope the four of us can even go futher in our friendship. So that we can spend our time having fun. And I can proudly say "I will survive"
But there is still a huge part inside of me who lives in the darkness, and reminds me of how weak I am. The lightness around me have touched me deeply, thank to that am I able to say: "No, I'm not completly fine yet, but I know with the way I am going know that I will be".
This is my past, present and future. Because after all the things I went trough can I only say "Thank You, my dearest friends".
Ellamore Devill (Pen-Name)
You ARE Beautiful!
My name is Ashley Vasquez and I am 24 years old and I have so much I would like to write but I would also love to share to anyone and everyone. When I was in middle school I was verbally bullied everyday for about two years about having hairy arms and for being too tall for a girl. Yes hairy arms, it may not seem like such a big deal but I would be called gorilla or someone would grab my arm and be like "look you guys" in front of the whole class or something. At that point in time and at the age I was I was very vulnerable and fragile to it all. Even on the hottest days I would wear long sleeves or huge sweaters, I would have severe stomach aches and would have anxiety attacks going to school sometimes and even before going to the class that had the people who bullied me most in them. Also I was bullied most by boys because I was so much taller than them at this age, and I would be called names like big bird or jolly green giant. I would go out of my way to wear shoes that had the most flat bottoms just to feel not as tall. I remember having a huge crush on this one boy in the 6th grade and when I finally had the guts to mention it to someone and when he found out his reaction was "oh no she's way too tall." I would fake sick a lot and my attitude and personality began changing and my family, but mostly my aunt, noticed because I was around her the most. I remember it got so bad that my aunt (without me knowing) went to the principals office after she finally got me to spill the beans on what was going on. After that the teasing stopped for a little while to my face but began to happen in a more subtle way, such as rumors and gossip. It was honestly one of the roughest times I've been through because I began to feel very insecure, sad allll the time, missing school a lot etc. But what I've learned and as cliché as it sounds, but is very true, is that pain does not last forever and in every situation no matter how bad it is people always move on with their life, learn from it, and become better because of it. I remember the day I began noticing that I was not the only one who would get teased at school, this was about the 8th grade now and I had finally hit my limit of living my life that way anymore. Instead of violently standing up for myself or letting myself be thrown in the dumps (what it felt like) I began to embrace what they thought was fun to tease me about. I am a Latina, so yes I will have hairy arms, all the women in my family do and they are happy people, most of the other Latinas in my school had hair on their arms too, it didn't define me, but who I was as a person is what defines me. I remember the first time I came in confrontation with one of my bullies who made a comment about arms and I made a joke about it saying "yes it's what keeps me warm on cold days," and they laughed but not at me but with me. I wanted them to know that them talking about my arms isn't something that hurts me anymore cause I know who I am as a person. As for my height I learned all the advantages I had such as being able to reach things in high places or earning "best offensive player" on my basketball team. Once I began to show confidence on my own instead of fear and being shy it slowly but surely stopped. Stopping bullying isn't something that can happen over night and to be honest it's something we notice everyday, recently I was my own bully, why? Because the media is probably one of the biggest bully's we encounter or personally deal with today. They tell us everyday what's sexy, what you should look like etc. Men and women struggle with this and honestly I struggled and sometimes I let myself still struggle with it. The advice I can give you is way easier said than done because it took a lot for me to finally know that no matter what way I look or what size I am, I am a beautiful human being. Surround yourself with positive people, happiness and good vibes. My friends, my boyfriend and I are on the journey of the pursuit of happiness. Having them in my life and surrounding myself around their vibes really has helped me on this journey. I dropped anything negative, I've distanced myself from negative people, I'm following my dreams, I meditate now, I make happiness a priority for myself and for making others happy, and I view the world in a way I would have never viewed it a few years ago. You really only live once, so feel and know you're beautiful, be happy, stand up to yourself because you ARE strong enough so let yourself be, to put it simply... just let go!
How I Almost Didn't Get Here
My name is Elizabeth. I am 17 years old. I have been bullied my whole life. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not. In lower school, it was always about what I looked like, how pale I was, how my hair looked, how I hung out with only guys. I had no clue that those little things people said would still get to me now. It has tarnished the way I look at myself and has caused me to haveZERO self confidence. For seventh grade I went to a new school because my old school ended in sixth grade. It was a good year until the springtime, when I learned to be careful who you trust. I lost every single one of my friends and it was the first time I had ever stayed home from school because I just could not handle the bullying. Freshman year was perfect, no drama, no bullying, nothing. I even met my best friend. Sophomore was good until around October. I started getting involved in a lot of toxic relationships with guys who really hurt me. This kickstarted my depression. In December, I had just got out of my most toxic relationship and that was when I hit rock bottom. That night was the first night I self-harmed. I could not stop for a good month after that with the self-harming. From then on things got a little better but then spiraled out of control. I lost almost all of my friends, I was failing school, I was being bullied to my face, over blogs, texts, Facebook and twitter. Thankfully the school year ended shortly after that. Summer went by pretty fast and it was probably the best one I had so far. I went back into the school year with high hopes that everyone would be friends again and we could start over. I do not think it was possible for me to be more wrong. The bullying continued, but stronger and more powerful and by more people, and at this point I did not want to attend my school anymore. I told my counselor about the bullying and we decided it would be best for me to get away from everyone for about a week and I went to the beach. I had the best time and forgot about everything. When I came back, reality hit again and I realize my problems were still there. On October 8th, 2013 at 1:05 a.m. I was laying in my bed thinking about my first day back in a couple hours. At 1:25 a.m. I decided I did not want to live anymore, and planned my suicide. I craved the tastes of pills. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I was exhausted. The next day I told my school counselor about my plan and she imminently referred me to Ridgeview Institute. I was an inpatient for four days and outpatient for three weeks. As bad as it was I learned some very important things that helped me create Life Worth Living.
I have now created the anti-bully and anti-suicide campaign called Life Worth Living! Check it out at www.thisismylifeworthliving.com
Looking back on the bullying from a position of strength
When I was born, I had a complex condition that caused me to become almost blind in my left eye. The only way to deal with it was to patch up my good eye, making me a pirate without depth perception. The kids teased me then, and although I don't remember any of it, I think it was the beginning of thinking that teasing was normal. I compensated then by focusing on the love I had to give and I couldn't give it away fast enough. That selfless openness made me a target for bullies, unhappy people with axes to grind and even a sexual predator that I was lucky to fend off.
In Kindergarten, I started to exhibit clear signs of ADHD, but my parents didn't want to have me tested for fear of being labeled. The attempt to protect me was both a blessing and a curse. It avoided stigmatization, but meant I was just the annoying kid who had trouble sitting still, who sharpened his pencil down to the metal eraser holder, and who would turn the teacher's stories into punchlines for kids to laugh.
Getting laughs made me feel good, but made enemies within the administration. My kindergarten teacher would write letters to my mom every Friday, listing everything I had done to annoy her, and at subsequent teacher/parent meetings, my parents would get angrier and angrier with me, starting to blame my behaviour on "not caring" about others, which was entirely untrue.
Although I had only one bully in my first few years of grade school, I had friends and was happy. But the school administrators were not happy and found a way to get rid of me by testing me for the gifted program and sending me to a different school for grade 4. This would mark the beginning of the darkest time of my life.
Used to getting laughs and making my mark, my personality of quirks and my complete lack of social nuance very quickly turned my classmates against me, including the administration. I was teased and taunted every day without fail. Kids shoved me into lockers, intimidated me in the bathroom, jump kicked me in the back of the head when I walked down the halls, and more than I can possibly remember. My teachers would call me out in front of my peers, get me to talk about the bullying in the open so I could be seen tearing up, and would sneer in my direction if I was inappropriate (being that way was a condition of the ADHD but, of course, noone knew that). This false caring and lack of true solutions created a deep distrust in adults and cemented my silence about what was happening to me.
In grade 5, I remember a new kid starting mid-year, whom I made fast friends with. Then one day another kid took him aside and gave him an ultimatum. He sided with the bullies, and became one of the worst bullies I would experience during that time. The betrayal was brutal and crushing, far worse than the bullying before it because although the others bullied me, they didn't really know me. This was different, and I vowed to escape.
I managed to get admitted to an art high school before my last year of junior high, and this gave me a one-year head start on high school. And that summer, I participated in an exchange program where I made true friends.
Over time, I've realized that the bullying at my old schools only happened because the administration didn't do their jobs properly. It's true that kids are kids, but they look to adults to know where the lines are. In the cases of my previous schools, the administration either brushed off the bullying or were seen by my peers as ignoring it, effectively giving their silent permission. When the message is that different is bad and needs to be destroyed, and when the kids are left to manage this process, the result is bullying.
I don't dream about the bullies anymore, but I still have high anxiety and my trust is hard to earn. I've worked hard to manage without meds which, in and of itself, is a real challenge. But I've always liked a good challenge. I also got a proper diagnosis for the ADHD, which was helpful in accepting myself. Knowing why you are different and finding others like you is the first step to finding your strength. I travel the world a lot and it is a huge help. I am also self-employed, avoiding the high school politics found in a lot of offices (I'm sorry to say that bullying doesn't go away, it just learns how to look civilized). I also seek out safe havens in good people.
I suppose my message is that life goes on, change is good, and allies are out there.
I have managed to hold on to enough of my love for others to discover that life eventually rewards you back ten times over with friends, relationships, experiences and much more. You need to just remember to breathe deep and be yourself.
Shine Your Light
When I was a child, I thought the world was a great place. Something I could explore and find things in. As I grew older, however, I came to learn that I was VERY wrong. The world is nothing but fear and sadness. At least for me. I am an 18 years old bisexual girl who thought my life was not worth living anymore. I didn't want to tell ANYBODY about my sexuality, especially my family, because I was afraid they would want nothing more to do with me. I came out to my mom two years ago. It was the best and worst thing I have ever done. She said she accepted me for who I am and she still supports me to this day, but after I told her, she did not say one word to me for two weeks straight... I finally went on FaceBook the other day and told EVERYONE. I still haven't heard anything from my family. Anyway, when I was in high school and middle school, I was bullied for every possible reason. I would just brush it off in middle school, but as I got to high school, it got worse and worse with each passing day. Then, my Freshman year, I lost my grandmother, my best friend. I didn't want to be here anymore without her. So, I attempted suicide 12 times and almost succeeded four times. I'd get to that moment where you see stars and a bright light, and I'd finally take a breath. I don't know why I never could do it. I also started cutting. My ex-boyfriend ended up telling my mother about that. I was then put in therapy for a few weeks. It never helped. I have been cut-free for about a year and a half now. I still get to points where I want to cut. I'm always going to have these feelings, I'm afraid. I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression at age 14. I am going to have to be on medication for it for the rest of my life. Everybody tells me I'll just grow out of it, but they obviously have NO idea what it's like being depressed. They may complain of being depressed, but they have not felt the reality of it. If they ever do, then they'll understand what it's like. What it's like to feel completely out of control of yourself. To feel utterly alone. Not having a friend in the world there for you to talk to or to comfort you in any way. I am a freshman in college now and I only have one friend. Two out of the three roommates I have hate me. They really do. I have made a lot of mistake while I've been here, but I plan to make myself a better person from them. I am happy to say that I have found someone I know I can spend the rest of my life with. He knows about me, everything about me, and he accepts me as I am and loves me. No matter what. I do still get depressed a lot, but I am hopefully going to start seeing a therapist again for that. I also just wanted to say that is anybody, ANYBODY, needs someone to talk to about anything and everything, I am a great listener and I'll always be here for people. Even after they've left. Always. <3