Surviving Bullying…it gets better.
To our children: you are unique and you are beautiful. One day I hope you will see this about yourself.
This post has been a long time coming- I have been hearing so many stories from friends about their little girls being bullied at school and as a parent, not knowing what to do about it. One friend in particular has been actively posting about her 5th grader who “got dumped” by her girlfriends at school and openly posting about day-to-day challenges they are facing. Yesterday, I heard about this local 5th grade girl who tried to commit suicide after repetitive bullying in her class. Unfortunately, this is more common than any of us like to admit…and not just happening to girls.
I guess it’s time to share my story:
I am always envious when I see people who have a group of “lifelong friends.” Those friends that you have known since kindergarten and stuck together through college. When I was a little girl- I attended five different grade schools by 2nd grade. Friends would come and go, and then we would move. By the time I got to 3rd grade, I started at McKinley Elementary. I was SO excited, since it didn’t look like I would need to change schools for the remainder of elementary. Now was my time to build those friendships that would last.
I met a close group of friends and from 3rd to 5th grade, we were inseparable. Until one day at school and my supposed “best friend” told me that I was no longer their friend and that the group was “dumping me.” She wouldn’t allow anyone to talk to me and I was officially shunned by my friends with no explanation. As a logical adult looking back, it actually seems a little silly- but the ache is still there and real. I know now that I did nothing to deserve this, and that the ring-leader that facilitated this was actually a very troubled child from a broken home…but the 10-year-old me wouldn’t be able to see that.
Luckily, I was a well-liked kid, and it wasn’t hard to find a new group of friends at the same school and still had friends from my neighborhood who went to a different school. Plus, my mom immediately got me regular visits to the school counselor until I finished out 5th and 6th grade, then moved again. (I didn’t have anything like this happen again until I was 19 years old- when my first roommate bullied me out of our apartment for no reason…a whole ‘nother level of unexplained crazy!)
(above is a photo of two dear friends that I was lucky enough to have when this was going on…
lots of tears and cuss words between us as they helped me through)
It’s funny that I still have the pang of embarrassment and hurt like it was yesterday. This happened to me more than 20 years ago- why do I still feel shame for this!? Being abandoned by my friends lead to some serious anxieties throughout my adolescence and adulthood. Feeling like people hate you when you are still trying to figure out WHO you are is quite damaging. As a grown woman, I still hate talking about it.
Our children need to know that they will not be defined by these short years, and it will be such a blip on the radar of their long lives. We need to be talking to our children and reminding them that they are special and that uniqueness will be what sets them apart in the years that matter. We need to be teaching kindness and love to our children and making sure that they understand the consequences of their actions towards others.
My heart is aching for these sweet kids, and as both a mom and a little girl who remembers the heartbreak- I want to hold them and tell them it gets so much better. To my local friends, please know that I am here to talk to you or your kids and help in any way that I can. I only hope that I can teach kindness and love to my own child, and that he will be able to stand up when he sees cruelty. I cringe thinking about the day that anyone should hurt him and what I will say….
To those who have been bullied, I would love to hear your story!! We need to come out from under the rocks and talk about it. The more that we share, the more we can let these kids know that they are not alone.