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Bullying: My Story

November 14, 2018

Growing Up

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.

Adulthood

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!

Solution

My desk area where I do some of my writing. Also, inspired by my action figures of Sonic, Tails and Much More! (c) Cartoon Daily News, 2013.

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. 

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Me Drawing

Yesterday, I took time away from most things that busy my day (the blog, the social media, etc and etc), and really began to think about what I’m really, really passionate about as it relates to my career and calling in life … my work. Majority of that time was spent, quietly, in prayer, writing, reading and just taking time away from breaking news, social media and consistent busyness.

Over and over again, I could feel the pull of writing, cartooning and storytelling.

Journalism is merely a small piece of that reality. And yet, it is one that is so important to consider.

When I’m not busy with a barrage of news stories, interviewing, writing and editing, I’m often working on my sci-fi fictional writing, short stories, blogs, and my comic strips. As of late, I have not taken the time to actually work on those stories and have only recently began to get back to blogging. That’s my fault.

I was glad to be reminded … to just take time away and just get away from all of the noise of the world … and really hear what is tugging at my heart.

Each time, I’m reminded of my childhood. I’m reminded of my ongoing imagination playing storyline after storyline of ideas, characters, concepts and more. Sometimes, if I’m not careful, I slip into that same thought pattern, coming up with stories and thinking about the plots of my current work more and more.

I do it so much, it feels like those characters in my middle-grade novels and comics I’m writing and creating are my kids. One, because a bit of myself is in each of them and then two, my wife said that they are my kids. And she’s right.

She then told me this:

“Finish your stories … if not for yourself … for me!” – Rachel Lyons

THAT motivates me. And Rachel is right!

 

Seven Years of Blogging!

November 7, 2018

Medium article - church2

I took a look back in time on my WordPress blog posts to figure out when I wrote my very, very first article.

It was October 6, 2011, and my very first blog post, “Mom came up with the idea first..,” was my very first entry. It was for a news site I ran called Cartoon Daily News.

That post was definitely not my best post. But, it was a start and it was a good, humble beginning.

Blogging and writing online gave me the opportunity to express myself in ways that I never thought possible.

I also had a chance to give my thoughts and ideas and to integrate some of my doodles and drawings. Because of blogging, I really began to start investigating and discovering various interests that I have had for a long, long time.

Then, there’s blogging for the purpose of figuring out how to get out of the job I absolutely hated. I was working full-time in a cubicle job at a major bank, doing a job that was neither my area of interest or my skill set. I was making a LOT of money. But I was utterly miserable.

Writing and blogging helped me survive that period of my life. Blogging also helped me find the way back to my God-given gifts and talents. I’ve always been a storyteller. In fact, if I didn’t have the chance to write and blog and express myself, I would probably be worse off.

I fell in love with blogging and writing online so much that I realized that it was time to start looking for work that would allow me to write more. Fast forward to the time I’m writing this blog post — working for a local newspaper not far from Dallas.

Blogging also gave me a chance to share my faith, something I take very seriously. There’s a lot of people who need inspiration, encouragement and uplifting. So, blogging over the years afforded me the chance to share thoughts and messages that hopefully made a difference in the lives of others.

 

Trusting God!

November 5, 2018

DSC00099

My wife and I had a candid conversation about trusting God with our hearts. We talked about my career path and her career path … mostly mine.

For example, I love the idea of pursuing a Ph.D. and I may do that sooner than I think. But, I also like the idea of earning more training in the media realm, particularly Journalism and Creative Writing and even Graphic Design (Art, Illustration).

When my wife Rachel and I attended a nearby college preview day to see what they had to offer, I was really excited by what I learned. Then came the questions … does this make sense, will this work, and so forth.

I’m learning not to cringe if I get excited over various topics or ideas that light up my heart. Where do we learn that “cringe” feeling over things that light us up, the things that make our heart soar?

My guess is shame. That among other issues of course. We feel like we can’t have certain things in life because we are either not worthy of it and God certainly wouldn’t want us to have certain things … or we lack believe that God is a giver of good gifts.

Matthew 7:11 (NKJV)

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Theirs just some things that God will not let me have … at least not yet. And it is not because God is cruel, unloving and unfair. Far from it! God loves me and loves you, and often times I see that love in play when He withholds certain things from me that are not for me and gives me the things that He desires to give me out of his abundance and out of his love for me. This is actively God’s Grace and God’s Mercy. His Grace and Mercy means way more to me than material things.

Psalm 84:11 (NKJV)

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

My wife spoke this point to me: “trust God with your heart!”

Note, not “trust your heart,” or “follow your heart.” We both knew that could lead to some very interesting, treacherous places.

So, in the midst of all of the questions I have about what’s next, I have learned to just relax and see the Lord in the midst of it all. We want to be sure not to lean on our own understanding of the issues of life, but to reach out to and acknowledge the Lord in our life … the Lord of our life … trusting God and Christ Jesus as we go forward.