Bullying: My story
By Michelle K. Pickett
I’ve never told my story before. Not even to my parents. So forgive me if I ramble. Telling it now has brought a jumble of emotions bubbling up in my brain.
Some people say bullying is part of growing up. Kids need to learn to deal with it. That it helps them grow stronger as individuals, better adults.
These people have never been bullied.
A bully breaks you. I was bullied in middle school—7th and 8th grades. I was scrawny, wore glasses, wore an experimental mouth brace that made my bottom lip stick out like I had a plate in my lip like some tribes in Africa—this was along with my regular braces, and I always wore second hand clothes, usually out of style by a year or two.
Add to this, my self-esteem. It was at an all-time low. People who knew me wouldn’t have thought that to be true. I put on a “strong, I’ve got it under control” front. I didn’t have anything under control. My father was an abusive alcoholic and my mother was in a deep depression, there physically, but not emotionally. I was it. An only child, I took care of my parents. I seemed strong and pulled together, but I was a house of cards waiting for the slightest breeze to blow me over.
That breeze was a gust of wind in the form of a bully. We’ll call him “J” for privacy’s sake. He knew all the right buttons to push to tear me down, and he used them. Over and over and over again. From my weird braces, to my over-sized glasses and out of style clothing. Even lewd comments and sexual innuendos that eventually turned into inappropriate touching and finally groping personal areas of my body.
I’ve never told anyone this. It made me feel dirty and disgusted with myself—like I had done something wrong. I’d done something to encourage J to feel as though he had a right to treat me that way. I was too embarrassed to go to a counselor and I didn’t want to burden my parents, they weren’t in a place they could help. So, I dealt with it. All through middle school. Two very long years.
I hid in the bathroom during lunch. I made sure I stayed in hallways that were busy and full of other kids so J couldn’t get me alone. But, no matter what I did, he found a way to hurt me. Trip me in the crowded hall. Shout out embarrassing names, sometimes dirty, filthy names that always sent me to the bathroom in tears. That, of course, gave him more ammunition. He NEVER stopped. And I didn’t know why. I still don’t know why he picked me instead of someone else.
There were four middle schools in my school district, and when I transferred to High School, they combined, giving J fresh targets. He finally moved on, leaving me in peace.
But the memories and scars of my middle school years still follow me today. Somewhat healed and soothed now that I’m in a healthy, loving relationship with a man that would never treat me, or another human, the way I was treated by J. But the memories are still in a dark corner of my brain, dusty and covered in cobwebs they make an appearance every so often. J’s face appears in my dreams nightmares occasionally. I see him on school friends’ Facebook pages. I try to block him out. I’m getting better and better at it.
So that’s my story. Maybe what I went through did make me a better person. I don’t know. But I do know there are far better ways to learn how to be a good person than being treated like you are worthless.
It wasn’t as hard to tell everything as I thought it’d be. So. Why am I opening up about my years of being bullied now, when I’ve stayed silent for so long? Because it’s time. My silence is almost like telling bullies it’s okay to do what they do. By not speaking up and shouting, “NO!” It’s almost like I’m telling them, “Yes.”
And I am not going to give bullies permission to continue hurting other children.
So I’m telling my story in case one middle school or high school student should read it. I want them to know, there is life on the other side. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Never give it.” That bully may make you feel broken and crush your spirit, but only if you let them. Don’t. Let. Them.
I know that is easy to say and hard to do. So find someone you can talk to. A friend, parent, therapist (yes, I’m in therapy), school counselor, youth pastor… someone you are comfortable with and trust.
If you are afraid to tell the school counselor or principal the bully’s name, then tell them when and where the bullying usually occurs so they can just “happen” to walk by during that time. There are ways people can help. But it has to start with you. Take the first step. You are the strong one. Yes, read that again. YOU are the strong one. Take control, take the first step, and stomp out bullying.
You can do it. You deserve to do it. Because you are worthy. You are special. You are Awesome.
And when you stand up and take that step to stomp out bullying, you’ll be someone’s rockstar. Because right now, someone else is going through the same thing you are. A year from now, there’ll be another kid. And if you have a younger brother or sister, it could be them when they are your age.
So help stop bullying now. I wish I’d had the courage to stand up to J. I wonder if things would be different if I had.
ABOUT MICHELLE K. PICKETT:
Michelle is the bestselling author of the young adult novel “PODs.” She was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, but now lives in a sleepy suburb outside Houston with her extremely supportive husband, three school-aged children, a 125 pound “lap dog,” and a very snooty cat.
Red Bull or Monster Khaos are her coffee of choice, and she can’t write without peanut butter M&Ms and a hoodie. A hopeful romantic; she loves a swoon-worthy ending that will give her butterflies for days. She writes across genres in the young adult and new adult age groups. She loves to hear from her readers.
Michelle signed her new young adult contemporary novel— Unspeakable, with Clean Teen Publishing in 2014.
Keep up-to-date on her current and future projects at www.michelle-pickett.com.
MICHELLE K. PICKETT’S BOOKS:
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