I walked swiftly down the familiar narrow blue hallway of my high school and clutched my algebra book as if it were a long lost teddy bear from my childhood. Making eye contact with anyone sent a shiver down my spine, terrified it would be one of them again, I fixed my eyes on the floor…
Thankfully, I knew my way around the school by now. I was a senior filled with the excitement of prom just around the corner. Despite my soft spoken nature, I loved performing with some of my best friends on the dance team at the high school football and basketball home games.
This year I was thrilled to be going to prom with a guy I had a crush on for awhile. Lets call him Brad. To be honest Brad was a popular football player and he did not go unnoticed with the ladies. That being said, it was much to my surprise when he called and asked me to go to prom him! (Discloser: There was a time when a phone call was considered a proper invite to the prom, sorry to disappoint, there were no extravagant promposals during this era.) It didn’t matter to me how he asked, I was just ecstatic to be his date.
The day before after class let out, I strolled down the same blue hallway, only it was different then. I felt safe, comfortable, content in this place that I had truly embraced over the last few years. I smiled and said hello to friends as we passed by each other on our way to our next classes. My joy vanished abruptly when Jen and Sara stood a few feet down the hall with their eyes glaring at me. Their body language expressed to me that this was not a friendly greeting. They stood planted waiting for me to reach them, a snarky look danced across both of their faces. I knew who they were, but we weren’t friends. I wasn’t sure what this confrontation was about, I had always gotten along with everyone.
I continued moving toward them, until I stood just a couple feet away. Then it happened.
“Hi whore! I bet you think you are cool or something, going to prom with Joe? Well you aren’t. You are nothing but a slut. Haha, Slut!”
One of them pushed my shoulder, my books hit the floor and my legs gave way as I fell hard into the locker. Humiliated, defeated, and alone, I slowly looked up from the cold floor, in the blue hallway as I watched them walk away. The sound of them cackling at the spectacular that had just taken place, haunted my thoughts for weeks.
Looking back on that time in my life, I think what hurt the most, was the name calling. I was a virgin and my reputation meant a lot to me. When they called me those hateful names, it bruised my heart. I say bruised, because a bruise heals with time. And although it wasn’t the last time I was confronted by the two of them, it was OK because I became stronger in spite of it.
I am writing about this today in honor of Bully Prevention Month. If anyone out there reading this has been bullied or their children or loved ones are encountering this experience, I want to say I am sorry for what you are going through. It is painful and it is OK to admit that. This bruise will heal and when it does, know that you are stronger than the person hurting you. The person who is bullying you is bringing you down in hopes that it will lift them up, even if we know that it doesn’t work that way.
Surround yourself with a great support system, don’t keep bullying to yourself. Talk with loved ones about the pain that you feel. There is great strength that comes from overcoming this type of grief. I am grateful that I had love surrounding me in the home where I grew up. Because of my support system, I knew that although what they said hurt, there was no truth behind it. It is our job as parents to teach our kids that not everyone in this world will be kind to you, but don’t let their untruths define you and most importantly, it is NOT your fault.
My daughter Sophie, is in second grade and I wanted to hear her thoughts on bullying. This is what she had to say:
1. What is bullying? When someone is not being very nice to you.
2. Why do you think they aren’t being nice? Because something is probably not right in their life.
3. Have you ever been bullied? Yes
4. How did it make you feel? Sad, it made me feel like I was doing something wrong. But that is not true, right Mama?
5. How do you think we can help them? Still be kind to them and ask them why would they do that. If you work with them and be kind to them that’s how they will stop.
6. What does a bully need the most? Someone to play with.
Isn’t it incredible all we can learn from our children? No matter your age, race, sex, etc., we were all created by the same hands of our Heavenly Father. Love one another, show grace and kindness, and always know that you have purpose and worth in this complex world.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalms 139:14