Wednesday, January 19, 2011

From the Overflow - Enduring the Bully

"If you're going to be her friend, you can't be mine." It's a line many girls have heard by the time they turn eight. It's the coy game little socialites play. It's the line average girls fall for, getting caught in the middle of their trap.

I moved into small town USA in the middle of third grade. Coming from a slightly larger town, I hoped to find myself accepted and making new friends by the end of the week. After two days of school and not a single, "Hello. Welcome," I started wondering about the kids I found myself surrounded by. 

By the end of the week, I realized my classmates already had their friends. I had little hope of making my way into their clique. Eight girls laughed and giggled as they took turns informing me I wouldn't be their friend if I hung out with so-and-so. I fell for it for two days before catching on to the fact that they would still be friends with each other whether I wanted to befriend them or not.

And then came the competition. At first it was over who had a crush on who. "You can't like him; I do." It grew from there to, "Watch me get him to go out with me while you wish you could get him to look your way." 

From there, the competition became evident in running for class or activity government positions. I remember wondering why my biggest rival had to work so hard to become the President of S.A.D.D. our senior year. I would have loved to win it, but it wasn't going to make or break my year. Although the competition was never verbalized, it was felt. I struggled within myself to figure out why she felt the need to compete with me for everything. She was popular. I was the average outcast. Honestly, I felt I didn't stand a chance and was shocked to find myself tied with her in the first round of voting. She won by one or two votes. Good for her! I held no beef.

The sun reflected off the sidewalk, warming my face as I headed uptown for a late lunch. I'd met with the recruiter from St. John Fisher College during my regular lunch break, so my English teacher gave me permission to skip out of class and get some lunch. As the bells began to ring, signaling the end of lunch period, the clique made their way back to the building. 

"Hey! Why are you such a *#?*@ ?" My thoughts of a new life in college were interrupted by the competitive voice. 

Really? She has to call me out now? What is this all about? I'd been minding my own business. I had no idea what she was talking about. "What are you talking about?" I really had no clue what she meant.

"You never talk to us. You ignore us. What's your problem?" 

Oh, that's classic. Maybe because anytime I have tried to talk to you in the past eight years, you've taken everything I ever said and twisted it, spreading wild rumors bearing no truth. Maybe because you have a bad habit of scoffing at others. Maybe because you like to turn your nose to the air and walk like you're the diva who can't be touched. I wanted to share my thoughts with her, but didn't. I simply did what I've always done. I kept walking, not going there with her. I wouldn't stoop that low.

Kids can be cruel. It's a statement we've heard over and over again. How do we help our own children cope with people like the ones mentioned above?

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I heard my son repeat my childhood's mantra in the car one afternoon. I immediately jumped to discuss the false statement with him. 

"Words always hurt more than broken bones. Broken bones heal and the pain goes away. Words wound and take far longer to heal. Their scar is uglier than that of a broken bone. It affects our choices, our character, and can even lead to illness." 

Depression. It's something I suffered after years of verbal abuse from kids who could care less. It's something my parents didn't seem to recognize in me. I had to deal with it on my own, seeking help from a counselor while I was in college. I didn't want him to go through what I went through. I understood his pain.

"What does God say about you? People make mistakes. They sin. They say things they shouldn't. They don't take the time to get to know you. But God knows everything about you, and He doesn't make mistakes. He created you in His image and likeness. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Jesus loves you just as you are, and so do your father and I."

I hope that while he's still a child, my son recognizes his value and that he's loved. I hope that, as his mother, I will have the wisdom to continue helping him through the rough patches of being bullied and struggling with his self-esteem as he continues his school career. I pray that God will fill his heart with a joy and peace that only come from Him, helping him overcome the abuse of others. I wish I'd known Jesus all those years ago. I'm glad I have His inheritance to pass on to my children.

1 comment:

  1. Awe....sorry is hard, I know all too well how it hurts and I think even now, I am still affected. Words do hurt, they leave wounds and even healed wounds leave scars. They are never forgotten.

    (((HUGS))) to you, as a Mom, you're doing great! I know we cannot stop the pain from coming, but we can sure love and balance the scales. At least ...I hope! =)


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