Bullying is one of the “hot-button” issues of our day. It has gone from simply being a kid that takes your lunch money to what’s called “cyber-bullying,” where the bullying takes place on a social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other choices. Our society has become obsessed with putting a stop to this. A friend of mine told me that his child was told they had to wear a certain color shirt to school one day to support the drive to end bullying. Interestingly, the kid felt like if he didn’t wear the shirt, he would be an outcast…ridiculed for not being a part of the anti-bullying campaign…now that is irony at its finest…
I was always a really small kid. When I was very young, I was so small that my mother had concerns and took me to the doctor to ask questions about dwarfism. Due to this, I was an easy target to pick on. Virtually EVERY other kid was much bigger than me and could easily overpower me. That, mixed with a fairly timid nature at a young age, made me a bull’s-eye. Now, it needs to be stated that none of the other kids that picked on me were “bad” kids. They were just kids. Human children…that acted the way that human children will tend to act…because that is the nature of humanity. They had no frame of reference to understand how this made me feel or how it affected me. There were certain days when I was extremely anxious to go on the playground…and some days I didn’t even want to go to school. I also had an adult in my life that was very much a bully to me. For years, this individual made me feel intimidated and scared.
By my eighth grade year, I had developed a lot of friends and the bullying had totally stopped in school. (Must have been my winning personality…) However, the adult was still in my life. There were some things that happened at the end of that year that brought about estrangement with nearly all of my friends. During that summer, I experienced a HUGE life-changing series of events. I came to a breaking point with the adult in my life and I lost it. I. LOST. IT. By, “IT,” I mean I lost total control. I became enraged and violent. This individual could have torn me in half, but thank God they didn’t. Instead, they did the very thing that bullies always do. They backed down. When I finally had enough, I came to the place where the status quo wasn’t working anymore. I realized that this may cause me great harm or future problems…but I didn’t care. I had to stand up for myself.
As crazy as some things sound, this was easier for me to do than to confront kids my own age. I don’t know why that is. But I still couldn’t deal the realities that were facing me when I returned to school. I told my dad that I wanted to go to another school. He didn’t understand why, and so I told him I just had more friends there. While he considered it, one of my other family members spoke up (with no harm intended) and said that I wanted to transfer to get away from all of the stuff that I knew I was going to face. My dad leveled his eyes at me…and his look was stern. He asked, “Is this true?” I looked away…not able to lie to him about it. As he quickly realized this was true, he asked me, “Are you a wimp?” Now…before passing judgement on my dad for that… please understand that he knew exactly what he needed to do. I told him, “DON’T CALL ME A WIMP!” He then said, “Then don’t act like one.” Dad then gave me the best fatherly instruction relating to this that he could have. He said, “Son, don’t ever start a fight. If you do, you’ll answer to me. But if you run from one…you’ll really answer to me. If you stand up for yourself and lose a fight, I will be proud of you for standing up. BUT, you will not cower.”
I was so angry…and anxious. I felt hopeless. School was starting in a week or two and I was doomed. School started and I went. It was very awkward. I felt totally paranoid. There were a couple young ladies that hung out with me and I will forever be grateful for that. My morning routine was to go to my homeroom and just seclude myself…but there were daily exchanges with certain people that made me feel very threatened. They were huge compared to me and I was literally terrified. Day after day, this was my life. I had few friends and didn’t trust any of them due to my paranoia. I actually contemplated some other forms of escape during that time. Finally, one day, I had enough. I decided that I couldn’t go on like this. Maybe I would get a beating and maybe I would get mangled, but at least things would change. I stood up and the person I stood up to towered over me. I yelled and screamed and got in his face (or chest). I told him I was sick of it and he could probably kill me but he would at least walk away with a limp. I said, “You may win this fight, but it’s gonna hurt.” This individual actually had a really good heart and didn’t realize what was happening to me. He told me to back off and this was now all over. We became very close friends. To this day, I love my friend. He was and is a good guy. He is just human and he acted human.
I walked away from that with a new understanding of life. I think bullying sucks, but it’s here to stay in one form or another. Instead of trying to bully kids into not being bullies…or trying to make everyone sweet and sensitive…I believe we need to teach our children to stand up for themselves and when need be, for others as well.
My experience was hellacious, but it made me grow and it made me so much stronger. I’m still not a big man. I’m well under six feet tall. I’m small-framed as well. But I will not cower down to anyone. My dad taught me well…
…and what’s more…
…I also learned never to bully anyone…because I know how it feels. I also know how it feels to stand up…and I’m glad it happened.
*Image taken from: http://www.modernreaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/bu.jpg