I heard a story on the news the other day that I have heard one too many times. It has weighed heavily on my heart. In part because it is sad and tragic and in part because I can personally identify with it. Yet another child had taken their life because they were being bullied. One family suffered an unimaginable loss of a child and others faced the possibility of their children being arrested and prosecuted for the loss of that life. Tragic and profoundly sad on so many different levels and deeply personal to me.
I was a child of the 60’s and I was bullied before anyone called it that. In those days they said it was just kids being kids. You see when I was growing up, kids just were not fat, they were skinny. And that’s where my story begins; I was fat and that made me stand out like a sore thumb. Now mind you, I didn’t really know I was fat until I left the safe confines of my home where I was sheltered and protected from the world and entered kindergarten. The very first day of school was when I received the news bulletin my body was generously sized and from that day forward I was reminded daily I was not like everybody else. Being fat was what defined me; it was who and what I was. I was made fun of and picked on all thru elementary school, never had any friends and yes I was the kid that didn’t get Valentine’s Day cards in their decorated shoe box like every body else. When I entered the 6th grade, things escalated and the bullying turned aggressive and what had been confined to verbal turned also to physical. One boy even thought it would be funny to throw a match on my very flammable fake fur coat, while I was wearing it. This was my life until I graduated from high school. It is probably not necessary to tell you that I had no self esteem and that I was a very sad child. I look back now and my heart breaks for my poor mother, who more days than not got a sobbing child off the school bus begging her to not make her go back to school. Imagine her heartbreak at not being able to do anything to make it all better.
It is time that people start to realize this torture that we call bullying is not some innocent childhood behavior that really only affects children with a “delicate” mental state. I know this because I lived it and I understand why a child who feels so broken and worthless thinks the torture will never end. That they would want the pain to stop so badly and the only means to that end they can see is to take themselves out of this life. If God had not blessed me with such a strong constitution and I wouldn’t have had such a stubborn streak, there but by the grace of God would have been me. We have got to stop this vicious cycle of hatred towards anyone different from us. From anyone who doesn’t think like us, believe like us or look like us and it begins first with us adults. How can the children of our country learn how to be kind and moral and good, decent human beings if we don’t show them. To paraphrase our new President, we were all created by the same God and we all bleed the same blood. It makes no difference what our exterior package looks like, what language we speak or how much money we do or do not have. Change must happen and it needs to start first in our homes and reach out into our communities and schools. And most important of all we must bring God back into our daily lives.
I write this to you not to garner any pity or sympathy for myself. What others meant for my hurt, God used for good and I have been blessed abundantly. No I write to give a voice to these children who cannot speak for themselves and suffer silently and alone feeling they have no one to turn to, until they can take it no more.
Until we meet here again, I pray God bless you and keep your family safe.