Archives For Childhood

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!

 

blog post -black in America

Growing up, I vividly remember having a big heart for life and for people. I wanted to connect with people and get along with others.

I was a different kind of kid. I didn’t really get along or connect too well with most of the kids I went to school with. I didn’t really enjoy all too much the music they enjoyed. I didn’t watch the same stuff on TV. I was not into sports at all.

I was a book reading, story writing, comic book collecting, cartoon drawing, science obsessed, TV news watching boy with an imagination that was more active than a volcano.

I could imagine that if I had not spent half of my boyhood daydreaming and drawing cartoons or writing I would’ve lost my mind from all of the bullying and the experiences of being a social outcast.

From elementary to college, I was often accused of “acting white” and my racial identity was constantly being challenged because of what was considered the social norm for a black male.

It was the beginning of war on my heart and mind.

When Bullying Mutates To Hate

On the surface, I didn’t think I had an issue with race, or even with my identity as a black man in America, that is until things started coming up in my 20s.

I thought I had the issue of race straight in my life. I didn’t have an issue with white people, but, I did have an issue with my own people.

I always felt completely unaccepted by people from my own community. Often ostracized and humiliated before my peers, I came to the conclusion early on in life that when it came to being yourself, you couldn’t be you and be black at the same time.

To be black did not mean being Kendall Lyons. It meant being something other than.

For a long time, and most people don’t know this about me, I held a kind of disdain and hatred for my own people and for myself. The years of bullying mutated my view of race and black America into something ugly, bitter and void of compassion.

The kind of self-hatred I struggled with also turned into classism.

I saw myself better than people who were “ghetto.” They were the loud, obnoxious “cool” crowd who thought they could get whatever they wanted through displays of blissful-like ignorance and prideful arrogance. This was the best classification for the people who treated me terribly.

Ironically, I gained more acceptance from people who didn’t look like me. I was considered unique, charming, different and someone that was good! They wanted exactly what I wanted, to be accepted and to accept others and treat them as the way they desired to be treated.

The Cause

I wouldn’t confront the issue of racism and prejudice and classism until a little after college. I was working for a major bank at the time and it was there I met an older black man.

We quickly became friends and he later would be a mentor. I thank God for placing him in my life. He actually paid attention to what I was saying and sharing about my life. He was genuinely interested in who I was as a person.

He asked about my love for cartoons and comics. He asked about my Faith in the Lord. He shared his relationship with God and Christ Jesus with me.

He actually cared about me and I was not judged.

Then, he encouraged me to consider the plight and the pain and the poor treatment of black Americans.

Yes, the black kids who did bully and talk about me throughout school, as my mentor and friend said, might have been kids who just didn’t understand. In fact, they might have been kids who have never been exposed to the things that I was exposed too…music, culture, art and the list could go on.

Because they’ve never seen someone like me before, I was a prime target for teasing and taunting.

But why did I not acknowledge those facts so quickly? What made me so reluctant about accepting that?

Because it felt like the bullies won if I chose to do so!

I didn’t want to be a perpetual loser of a war that was still going on inside of me. It felt like…since I couldn’t fight them on the playground of boyhood, I could win on the battleground of manhood.

Looking back, that was foolish. I would’ve merely destroyed myself.

I thought like that because I was hurting. I was angry.

I still struggled with self-esteem and self-confidence from those days. I struggled for a while to forgive and move on.

The Cure

A few years after college, a few issues had come up to the surface in my life that I knew couldn’t be ignored any longer.

I met a Christian counselor in Dallas, Texas to talk about my identity and to talk about the issues I dealt with. He was a black man who not only understood where I was coming from but also got to know my story just like my mentor and friend did.

As time went on, I got a better understanding about the condition of black America and the systemic racism and prejudice that placed us in less than decent conditions throughout multiple American institutions.

During the time I was praying and asking the Lord to walk me through this issue, to heal the broken places in my heart regarding the issue of race and identity. Mainly because I would find myself getting angry and frustrated with the obvious racism and prejudice that I observed. And yet, wanted to believe that there were surely other explanations to the moments that I saw unfold whether it was on TV or even in person.

The Lord said to me, “I couldn’t claim to love God and hate my brother.”

It was the beginning of conviction, but, it was also the beginning of healing. The Lord knew that a lot of unjust and cruel things were done to me and towards me. Jesus wanted access to that part of my heart, but, I also had a responsibility as a believer.

I had to want to change. I had to repent and never, ever return to that dark space in life.

Because of the change in my life,

I’ve also stopped telling people that bullies will someday get theirs. The truth is, though, they might not.

I wanted to believe that those who bullied were going to receive some kind of major punishment in life. They would get pay back for the things they did.

It was my own little piece of solace to remind me that somewhere, somehow, there was justice for me in my time of trouble and need.

But, I learned that my real victory over bullying came from Jesus…to live and love like Him regardless of what people say and think. The real victory in Christ over bullying and other issues took the place of what was originally my hope for the bullies and enemies in my life to get their punishment.

Victory in Christ removed the necessity for me to have vindication.

The Way I See It Now

It has been a long time since I believed and thought the way I used too. I am still in the growing and maturing process as it relates to my identity in Christ and as it relates to who I am as a person.

My Pastor preached on Romans 12:14-21, and verse 21 stuck out to me:

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

In some ways, I can see how someone can be driven to a kind of hatred that it leads them to believe they are either justified or threatened.

And yet, whether you are Christian or not, there’s still no excuse.

Once we release our just or unjustified hatred towards one another and learn to love one another even to the depths of our imperfections can we really experience true freedom.

As for me, I’ll take the road less traveled, the narrow way, the freedom and victory that is in Jesus. It is far better for me to do that than to try and protect my heart on my own. And if I am called to suffer, at least I know its real love that’s in place for me to do so…genuinely.

19 and 32

So, for fun, I thought it would be kind of neat to write a short-story of me interacting with my 13-year-old self. Needless to say, I didn’t have too much trouble putting it together. 

Ken (age 32): Just wait till you get to be my age!

Ken(age 13):  You mean I actually survive till my 30’s?

Ken 32:  Of course you do! What makes you say that.

Ken 13:  You forget, I’m in middle school….in Dallas.

Ken 32:  Relax! It can’t be that bad.

Ken 13:  You DO have bad memory then. I’m  itchy…smelly…and constantly feel awkward.

Ken 32:  It’s called puberty! You’ll get pass it.

Ken 13:  That and the fact I didn’t shower today.

Ken 32:  HA! Gross.

Ken 13:  Well it’s not like it’s a habit. It’s been a long day. Anyway, do I grow up to be a Meteorologist or what!?

Ken 32:  Well, let me put it this way…..no.

Ken 13:  WHAT!?!?

Ken 32:  But you do get to work in media. And you’ll be a minister. Oh, and you’ll be a cartoonist.

Ken 13:  Hmm…well, gotta have a back-up! Wait, hold on….I’ve got so many questions.

Ken 32:  I bet…

Ken 13:  I preach!? And I actually create cartoons and stuff!?

Ken 32:  Yep

Ken 13:  I preach….and I’m a….

Ken 32:  A cartoonist…yes. And a writer… And you’re gonna do other media stuff. Oh, and you’ll get married in your early 30’s to an amazing women.

Ken 13:  WHAT!?!? How in the world did I go from THIS to THAT!?!?

Ken 32:  Jesus…a whole, whole, whole lot of Jesus. And you were faithful. You worked hard. You grew up. You matured. You changed. And you didn’t give up. You kept going.

Ken 13: (pauses and looks away) ……. So I actually become somebody.

Ken 32:  You already are. Just be yourself.

Ken 13:  I keep hearing that….but I hear ya.

(a pause between both)

Ken 13:  That means you know….uh….my deepest….personal thoughts….correct?

Ken 32:  Yep. But, don’t worry, you’ll get past that stuff too. Get prepared to see a counselor or two.

(13 year old self sighs)

Ken 13:  So I figured.

Ken 32:  Surprised!? Concerned?! Maybe anxious!?

Ken 13:  Actually, no…..now I’m curious. Looking forward to the future now.

Ken 32:  To the future!

Ken 13:  To the future!

(Ken 13 and Ken 32 pop open a can of Dr. Pepper at the same time)