I happened upon this utterly inspiring and moving video on Facebook earlier today. (Click on the title to see the YouTube clip)
This is a must watch. In the sea of mindless entertainment and bullshit ideals that men and women must subscribe to these days, Lizzie is truly a breath of fresh air!
I know only too well the kind of effects bullying can have on a person. We have read of children taking their own lives because someone in their school or neighbourhood or social group has taken it upon themselves to assassinate their character. We are in a tenuous enough place as teenagers, unaware of how we fit into the world without having some ignorant neanderthal alienating us from our friends and peers.
I have never spoken of exactly how I was bullied as a young girl. I have never given the details of what was said to me and about me by my peers because I was so embarrassed I could never get the words out. I always thought people would look at me the way those kids looked at me when I was 11 years old. Two years of bullying is an eternity when you are a pre-pubescent girl hoping to God that you just blend in because first and foremost your body is changing, you’re unsure of who you are, your hormones are making you behave like a pregnant woman and you desperately do not want to stand out for any reason whatsoever.
Cue the junior school new boy who wants to make a splash as being the class clown and on a field trip back from I-cannot-remember-where, he points to some cows from the school bus window and shouts out to the class “Oh look, there’s Debbie, the moo cow!”
I was so embarrassed and utterly ashamed when everyone laughed. I remember my face literally burning as a result of the embarrassment I felt. To my horror, that name didn’t stay on the bus. Instead, it followed me for two years until we all left for high school. As a result of this name calling I was told by the girls I thought were my friends “You should probably find other friends to sit with at lunch”. You can imagine what that did to me. I had enough self doubt issues purely because that is who I am, intrinsically, without having people making fun of and laughing at me. Add that to the tenuous age I was at and it’s a recipe for disaster. I contemplated suicide more times than I can care to admit but I always stopped short of actually following through because a) I could not get my hands on a gun and b) was scared to death of becoming a ‘vegetable’. I didn’t know you could take a bunch of pills or drink a bottle of drain cleaner. I was 11 years old and we didn’t have the internet yet. Instead I developed an eating disorder. I am not anorexic or bulimic but I eat to comfort myself – but that’s really another topic for another day.
I had just about started to move on in my twenties when I met my future husband. An in-law (not even a blood relative) took, what I can only assume–as I was never given an explanation–an instant disliking to me, probably the same reason the bully in junior school decided to pick on me. I later discovered that she had shared her dislike of me with other members of the family and though they never said it to my face, they all started to treat me like an outcast. I was also told by my then husband that some of his family and one of his friends–who all jokes aside my ex chose as his best man at the wedding!–tried to talk him out of marrying me a week before the wedding. I sat with my ex and asked him to think about what HE wanted. We all know what happened next. Perhaps, because of the lack of support from his family, we really were doomed from the start.
In any event, I very clearly remember sitting at the lunch or dinner table and never being spoken to directly by some of these people. Try as I may, to be the epitome of geniality and pleasant conversation. I was never included in candid pictures of the family either. I say never, but there were the odd photos just so it would not appear that I was being completely sidelined.
It has taken me years, much soul searching, therapy and a lot of wine to put the demons of my past to rest. New relationships have opened my eyes to the value I do have, as opposed to what I see myself lacking. I have been regaled with tales of how much Mr M’s friends and family adore me and the reasons why. Reasons I find utterly hard to fathom because I have always been on the other side of the window with my grubby hands pressed up against the glass wishing I was part of the inner circle and wondering how it would feel to be accepted. It takes some getting used to, hearing compliments. I have to remind myself to say ‘Thank you’ so I don’t appear ungracious.
I very recently decided that I would not let other people define me. So they called me names, that really says more of them that it does of me. So they ignored me and took an instant disliking to me without ever getting to know me, that says more of them than it ever will of me.
If there is anyone out there reading this who is being bullied, I would tell you to hang on! I promise you that it does get better! Those people who bully you or treat you badly are more insecure and more lonely than you can imagine and they are choosing to elevate themselves at your expense. That is the mark of a person who is truly weak in character, for it is the greatest among us who build the people around us up and the weakest among us who choose to bring those around us down.
Be more concerned with who you are as a person rather than who people think you are; for your character is who you really are and your reputation is only what people, amidst their ignorance, think you are.
Do not let them define you! YOU are the only person who gets to decide who YOU are!
Thank you for reading.