Hushed whispers spoken in quiet tones.
Words of cruelty tossed out amidst behind the hand, “I know, right?!” giggles.
Cheeks burning in the dark and tears pricking behind the eyes.
Suddenly an abrupt, “Shhhhh….she’s laying right there. What if she hears us???”
Eyes snap shut and I assume a “sleeping” posture and breathing.
Scuffling noises and then a fakely sweet voice saying, “Nicole…..Nicole.”
I keep the pretend sleeping facade–keep the tears from spilling out of my eyes.
“Nicole….hey Nicole.” comes a little louder.
“mmmmmmm???” I mumble in a pretend sleepy fashion. A fake nonsense question comes about me needing another pillow. I mumble back no and she scuffles back to her sleeping bag.
Fifteen years old after months of desperately trying to make them like me I had just gotten an earful of what the sticky sweet to my face girls really thought about me.
I lay there, and I silently cried myself to sleep.
When I recently posted this headshot of myself to Facebook I got tons of likes, many gushes, and bucketfulls of make-me-blush-in-the-good-way compliments. When I was 18 and dating my boyfriend (now hubby) he made a bet with me that I couldn’t go one week without getting hit on by a guy–every time we made the bet I always lost.
Anyone can be a victim of bullying, and it takes many forms. From the “I don’t want to play with YOU.” of the sandbox to the “being picked last for the team…again” of elementary school. To the “you’re fat and ugly” of middle school to the “sweet to your face but behind your back I’m going to stick a knife in it and twist” of high school each form has it’s own particular brand of hurt and at one time or another I’ve been subject to each one.
Thankfully I had a super supportive, loving family, was able to make some true friends, ended up with gorgeous, amazing, loving boyfriends and then a husband; and I was able to get to the point where I realized that others bully because they themselves feel insecure, unloved, or just because they’re simply mean people–and it really didn’t have anything to do with me at all.
Many, many children who are bullied do not have the resources I did to help it not permanently mess me up. Childhood bullying can have lifelong impact, leading to depression, anxiety, substance abuse and even suicide.
As adults we can help this vicious cycle! There are several different ways you can help–here are just a few:
Prevent: By helping teach children about bullying and how to handle and respond to it you can help it to stop in the first place–here are several great tips and ideas on how to Be More Than a Bystander.
Empower: Children and teens perfect the art of being cruel. Make sure your child knows how valuable and loved they are, and explain to them the reasons why children are cruel–often the bully was bullied themselves and they’re lashing out as a result. Teach them to embrace differences in others and to cheer on and befriend the underdog as most likely they will find themselves in that position some day!
Will You Join with Me in Helping Our Children by Taking the Pledge?! It’s free and there is no obligation to sign up for anything–just useful tools and resources in case you want to learn more!
This article is sponsored by TakePart