I was bullied and have the scars to prove it.
Someone I called a friend turned on me, out of nowhere. I remember being on the phone with her one night making plans for the weekend. I then remember walking into school the next day and she called me a slut. We were 12.
It just got worse over the next 2 years. I was beaten up, left lonely and voiceless. I finally stood up for myself, we had a big fight and I ended up in the hospital getting 52 stitches on my face. I did get in a few good swings though. It was a tough time for me.
I've spent many hours, days and even years trying to figure out why. My parents told me she was jealous. My school told me she was troubled. Friends told me she was just a bitch. When I think about it truly, I think that all of them are true to some extent.
I also thought I was to blame. I caused this. I let this happen. I was the victim. I asked for it.
After years of therapy, maturity and learning I know that's not true.
I remember hearing that the night of the "big fight" her mom learned that she had been bullying me for years, and her dad gave her a beating for it. Now that I think about it, it probably wasn't the first time either.
She was probably bullied her whole life: by her parents, older sibling, cousin, or someone else. So that was all she knew. She needed to exert her power to feel worthy, and physical violence was how it came out. She was never taught to talk things out, she was never heard when emotions rose up, she never had a voice. She learned to be a bully.
There as so many reasons someone may become a bully. In today's society, as we teach our children to be themselves, others find this as ammunition to bully them. Maybe they have dyslexia or difficulties in school, maybe they are finding their true identify and expressing themselves in new ways, or maybe they are just different and don't quite fit in.
I never found out what happened to my bully. I found her on FB but never reached out. I never learned why I went from friend to foe overnight. And it no longer matters.
I did learn to be strong, to fight bullies and to never be mistreated again. I wear my scars as a badge of courage now.
When I think about this part of my life I consider what message am I putting out into the world? How am I modeling good behavior for my kids? How am I treating others? I realize that this is what matters. What we do right now will affect our children, and maybe their children's children.
We are a chain in a link that will last many lifetimes and affect many lives. If that link is strong, positive, kind and caring, that chain will foster those values. This is the legacy we can leave to our children and the mark we can leave on the world.