I was bullied in primary school.
I don’t remember much of it, but I do remember coming home every day and lying on my parents bed crying my eyes out.
My mum says it was a really hard time, that she didn’t know what was wrong or what to do. A teacher once told her that I was the sort of child who would make a great adult, but have a really hard childhood.
It’s hard for me to tell you exactly what happened or what it was like because I honestly don’t remember. I have vague memories of feeling outnumbered a lot, lonely and teased a lot and I’m not sure if this actually happened but I feel like one year one of the kids had a birthday party and everyone was invited except me. I was unwelcome.
The truth is that it doesn’t actually matter what happened – what matters is the way it made me feel and the way that impacted my sense of identity, my confidence and my ability to make friends.
That last comment may seem silly to you; in some ways it now seems incredibly insignificant now as an adult but at the time it was devastating and moreover, really confusing.
In high school I finally had to confront these demons. I didn’t have many friends until mid-late high school and really struggled to get along with my peers. I learnt late in high school that I’d had an all out war with a feel student when we were in Year 6. I had absolutely no idea. My mind had just erased it. The journey of processing things I couldn’t remember but feelings that were so powerful was long and painful…the journey toward forgiveness was even harder. But I did it and finish high school with a great group of friends, happy and getting along with most of my year group.
I thought it was all behind me aside from one little thing.
Please God, don’t let this baby be a girl.
The very thought that I would have a little girl who was just like me was…please no.
This is what I know about feeling left out…
No matter how much you think you leave these things behind, the truth is that the pain of these memories, however incomplete they are, never does go. Last year I was driving along and a segment on ABC radio came on about bullies and I found myself on the freeway with tears streaming down my face. As I listened to one commenter suggest that if you’ve been bullied you just have to “get over it” I wanted to scream at him. Here I was, 29 a mother to 1 and pregnant and the stories and fear that grips me when I look at my daughter, is still totally raw.
I feel sick at the thought that once I did make friends that maybe I was the girl who made another feel unwelcome. Shit.
And I am still totally insecure when it comes to making new friends and whether I really am all that likable after all and find myself doubting whether I really have any friends, or whether people really like me at all.
It’s crazy to think like that.
But I do.
When I heard that ABC segment I tried to call in but after being on hold for 25minutes to tell my story I gave up. If I’d gotten through, this is what I would have said….
There was absolutely nothing gained from being bullied. It didn’t make me a stronger person or any of that crap. It sucked and tormented me for a long time. The idea that a child will learn some great life lesson from being bullied is very dangerous. I have made it very clear to The Architect and my family at large that if my children are bullied, I will pull them out of school and even home school them if necessary. There is nothing to be gained from being bullied, there is no silver lining. You aren’t doing anyone any favours by believing otherwise.
I know that could be a bit harsh and that someone reading this might have a child in this situation. I don’t know your situation, I just know mine. And I know that if my child was in that situation, if I was able to, I would remove them immediately and figure out the rest from there.
The second thing, do not underestimate the power you have to speak over your child’s life. It may take them a long time to hear you, or believe you but you need to tell them every day that you love them and the specific gifts that they have that you see – kindness, intelligence, thoughtfulness, musical ability. Whatever it is, make sure you tell them over and over and over again. While I have no memories of my school days as a child, I have vibrant, wonderful memories of family life. Family was safe and fun – I remember all the good things and the normal family teasing that happens – because it wasn’t traumatic, it was normal, safe and wonderful.
So when Bliss comes home and tells me she’s sad, that the kids make her feel sad and that she wants to be with me…you’ll forgive me for analysing every single option at our disposal to be sure that history isn’t repeated.
This has been a hard post to write because I know that people I went to school with read this blog and they probably have better memories of the type of person I was during those late primary, early high school years than I do. During late high school I became a much more confident, and more popular person and am pleased to say that most days, I am a pretty confident, very happy woman who knows just how blessed she is. Most days.