We Deserve Kindness

I didn't begin to experience bullying until my family moved from NJ to NC when I was nine. Everything was bully fodder--my red hair, pale skin, name, accent, religion, amount of siblings, freckles. I have only been punched twice in my entire life, both times by my neighborhood bullies. I was lucky in one respect--I was homeschooled. I could avoid my bullies as long as I didn't go outside.

For some reason I still wanted to be friends with them though. I was lonely. And sometimes they were nice, although I came to learn that this was often a way to catch me off my guard. My bullies' favorite tactic was what I now call the "Leave Behind". They would invite me places, perhaps a park or on a bike ride. As I got older it was the mall or a coffee shop. We would meet up, hang out for a bit, and then suddenly they would be gone. I would turn around and see them pedaling away or running through the mall in the opposite direction of me. By my late teens, they just quit showing up. I would be invited to someone's house and they wouldn't be home. I would lie to my parents and say that we had a great time when they eventually came back to pick me up. One girl had been on vacation and called me from Florida to "invite me over" and then had her friend take a picture of me arriving. I am 34-years-old now and I still get anxiety when I am meeting people and they are late. I know they aren't doing it to be mean and they have no idea, but every second that ticks by, I wonder if they just aren't going to show up.

One thing I did learn from my experience, is to choose my friends very selectively. I do not remain friends with anyone who yells at me, creates unnecessary drama, says hurtful things, or make fun of me in any way. I have ended a number of friendships with people who thought that these things were okay. I found that as I surrounded myself with awesome people, the more I didn't care about all the jerks out there. They don't matter. My true friends didn't begin to show up until after high school, but they are amazing.

We...you and I...deserve better than people who treat us badly. We deserve kindness and love and people who care. It might take a while to find those people, especially when you have been hurt, but they are out there and they are amazing.

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