I was bullied.
It started in 1st grade. I'd had an obscene amount of Sprite with my lunch and my teacher, a real a-hole, refused to let me go to the bathroom. I had to go. Bad. I squeezed my legs as tight as I could but once we were paired for a project and I hit the cold, hard, tiles on the floor, all that Sprite came pouring out of me. Even at that age, I wanted to die. My life was frozen. All the laughing faces pointed at me. My partner scooted away in disgust. And I felt my heart nearly drop. The teacher, annoyed, scolded me and ordered me to the nurse's office so I could change clothes.
All they had were sweat pants about three sizes too big. The rest of the day, I kept my chin in my chest and avoided eye contact with all the kids who were then whispering about the girl who peed her pants.
But that wasn't the worst part.
That day was terrible. If I think back, I can still feel the embarrassment. I can still hear the laughter. It's loud. And it doesn't stop. For the entire remainder of elementary, there was this one boy, this one deeply disturbed boy with gold teeth, who made it his mission to remind me every day how disgusting I was. At first, I'd ignore him and cry in the bathroom. But as the years passed and the kids grew and forgot, he didn't. I kept to myself so when he came around, my legs trembled and my brain shut off. "I know what you did," he'd say, followed by a demand I'd have to meet in order for him to keep quiet. I remember begging him not to remind everyone...so I did whatever he asked. Sometimes it was homework, others, it was whatever stupid request he had such as asking the teacher a dumb question to make *him* laugh.
I felt tortured. Like an animal. Or a slave. I couldn't escape the humiliation. Day after day the pain resurfaced. This is when I first remember being depressed and turned to self-harm. Between the ages of 7-11, I lost me. I couldn't figure out how else to deal with the pain and I sure as hell couldn't verbalize it. It wasn't until I went on to middle school, and the idiot bully didn't, I started to heal. But the wounds will always be there.
I already told you of my daughter's struggles in school and it wasn't easy for her to tell me. But I persisted. Not just because she seemed a little off one day, but because it's my job to dig beneath the surface. I ask the right questions. I've gotten to know some of her friends and their parents. I've talked to the teachers. I'm doing everything possible to *know* my child and who is around her when I'm not.
Communication is important. Start talking. Keep talking.
It's only the beginning for her. Some days the girls are all friends. And the next, they're pushing her to the ground. This is where it starts. And to me, this is where it ends. From the tender ages of 4-5, when socialization begins, we need to educate these children what bullying is, why it's wrong and how to prevent and/or stop it. If you're a parent and you're only now talking to your teen, chances are, it's too late. With bullying statistics on the rise, it seems everyone knows someone who's been the victim of bullying. Or worse, a victim who's succumbed to the constant fear and pain by ending their life.
This is serious.
It has to end. Like yesterday. This is why I started The End. It. Now. Project.We can fix this. No more school shootings. No more kids afraid to ride the bus. No more fear. Pain. Shame. So what can you do?
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