The memory is vivid even with the many times I have tried to block it. Eighth grade in my small parochial school. Monday morning, I enter the classroom, excited and happy to share my weekend happenings with my friends.
As I walk into the classroom, something has changed. No one is looking up to say hello. Even the boys, who usually aren’t in on mean girl things, are not saying hi. Did I have something on my face? Was I dragging a piece of toilet paper on my shoe? What had I done to make people mad at me?
What I had I done?
I didn’t realize the answer until I was a mother myself. My daughter was targeted by an awful slamming by her friends. She hadn’t done anything wrong. This group of “friends” used facebook to isolate and discredit her. She continues to bear the scars. These students, many in the top 10, discredited and hated. Eventually, they got tired of this and took the page down.
Bullying is not about a physical fight. It is an insidious psychological attack on a victim’s self-esteem. It leaves the person questioning themselves and their own worth. It is easy to see how this type of behavior can lead to a person to think about the value of their own life.
The weird thing is, having been bullied myself, I still recognize it in adulthood. When others want to let you feel as if you don’t belong in the top group, or aren’t invited to the best gatherings, or are considered not worthy of the “A” list. The title may have changed, but it is still very much alive as we grow older. Once a bully, always a bully, it seems.
As a parent, you can talk to teachers, school officials, even the news to try and address this issue. Sometimes that works. Often, it just changes the venue to another place. The internet is often that most hurtful place. It is where most people go when they want to spout out hate and not be face-to-face accountable for their words. It is a coward’s venue.
Let’s face it. It is a tough world. A thick skin comes in handy but takes years to grow.
My advice to myself and those around me, is to develop a strong sense of who you are and how you are. Know the difference when someone makes a snide remark. Do not let it get in to your personal soul. You are a good person.
To those insecure bullies out there who have one agenda: Make someone feel weak so you appear strong….You are the loser. You are the one who needs help.
The scars of bullies can last a lifetime. They make us question ourselves unless we get a solid hold on our authenticity, we can never feel worthy.
These scars are much worse than a black eye. They are often irreparable.
Thanks for listening.