My experiences of bullying was both verbal and physical.
It happened consistently in elementary and middle school. Fortunately, it didn’t really happen all that much during high school.
I usually describe myself as a “different” kind of kid growing up. It was the only way I could really explain why I was such a target for bullies. I look back now after sharing my story with my wife, family and friends, that it wasn’t so much that I was “different,” but that I was genuinely being more of myself than majority of my classmates.
They were the ones with the problem. Not me. And it took a long time to grasp hold of that reality.
I wasn’t into sports. I loved writing and drawing. I loved reading. I was into cartoons and comics. I loved keeping up with current events. I was really into science, technology and sci-fi. I even had a bit of an obsession with Nuclear Power and Nuclear Energy. I was a regular boy … but my classmates thought I was weird, a freak of nature, different.
I can vividly remember my time at S.S. Conner Elementary. Whenever I said my name, some of the boys and girls in my class would mock me … repeating my name and what I would say and how they thought I sounded. I wore glasses, sometimes had a nasally speech, and would often be called “Steve Urkel,” the kid that was on ABC’s Family Matters.
When it came to classroom seating or classroom projects, the kids would act repulsed and disgusted to be around me.
I would be called names like “gay,” “stupid,” “slow,” “retarded,” and the list went on and on.
Sometimes, the fights got physical. Whether it was on the playground or on the way home, I would sometimes be followed around by a group of boys who would try to fight me and often hit me, laughing at me, mocking me.
During that time, I would tell my parents and they would talk to the teachers and the principal.
The solution for my bullying problem was often: “just ignore them!” And to make matters worse, sometimes the teachers or other adults around just wouldn’t care to do anything about it.
It felt like people who were in authority failed me.
Once, I was told by one of my parents, “if you let yourself get beaten up, you’re getting a spanking.”
So, I spent a large amount of my childhood avoiding physical conflict out of fear of getting hurt and out of fear of punishment.
That threat only made matters worse.
Middle school was the worst time for me. When I was going to Gaston Middle School I would take the school bus. The bus was usually very full and on really hot days, incredibly humid and uncomfortable. Kids would purposely try and keep me from sitting down, sometimes tripping me as I walked down the aisle.
If I sat in the front or near the middle, I was safe most of the time. I had very, very few friends and the ones I did have we mostly hung out at the bus stop for survival, hoping we wouldn’t be talked too or talked about.
I would hope and pray every single day that the kids on the bus, especially the ones in the middle section and the back of the bus, wouldn’t speak to me or get eye contact with me. When they did, they would talk about my looks and belittle me in any and every way to make me feel embarrassed and humiliated.
I remember the soul-stinging remarks of one kid who stared straight at me and said in front of everyone, “if he and I were related, he would kill himself.”
Some would ask me, “why do you act white!?” and “why do you talk white.” Others got personal, even sexual with their comments, but I would never answer or make conversations apart from telling them to “shut up” or “leave me alone.”
Many of those days and nights ended with me angry, sad, frustrated, crying and embarrassed and disappointed over the fact that I couldn’t do more about my bullying situation.
Most of my survival of those bullying experiences involved me going to the counselors office where sometimes I would sit, hang out and talk out some of my thoughts and frustrations. Some teachers and other officials took a liking to me, even though my classmates would not.
At the writing of this article, I’ve worked out a lot of issues in my life that came from bullying, from abuse and from the anxiety that weighed me down and the thoughts I had about the adults in my life then and now.
Growing up in the church and maintaining a real and whole relationship with God and being a follower of Jesus Christ, my mind and heart has been changing in the following ways:
- My life has purpose, value and worth!
- I am more of who I was made to be and daily living to be who God made me to be.
- I forgive my bullies. (THIS took some time. Read the article below)
- I forgive the adults who failed me growing up.
- And the latest one … I’m learning that there are times that you will have to fight … and sometimes those fights are not with fisticuffs (fists). The fight can also be spiritual and internal. A fight for your heart and mind is going on.
- For more details, read this article: https://kendalllyons.com/2017/09/18/calvin-and-hobbes-the-real-biblical-response-to-bullying/
As an adult, I look back and I look at present day issues on bullying, knowing that it is not an easy thing to overcome.
A lot has changed in the way we deal with bullying now, especially when we’ve seen the affects it has on children, teens and adults.
I commit to talking more and more about bullying … more than I used too!
To every kid, to every adult who feels like they can’t go on and that the bullying has gotten out of hand, I want you to know that you are not alone.
You’re not a loser. You’re not a failure. You’re not a nobody.
You matter! You’re unique! You’re genuine!
You have more people now to tell. You have opportunities to stand up. You have options.
Don’t give up! Don’t give up on your life. Don’t give up on being successful. Don’t give up on being who you really are. Don’t give up on the hope and faith that things can and will be get better!
And, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. You can start by speaking up. You can start by not taking it all and going it all alone.
And, for those are needing to be walked with on the journey of survival and overcoming bullying, I am more than happy to use the power of the pen and the keyboard to walk with you.