I was a plump kid. I had a very short bob, bowl cut, bangs covering half my head. I wore blue overalls that I adored. I played baseball in second grade – the only girl on the team. I had boobs before anyone else in my class. I lugged around a rusty baritone and case that weighed more than half my body weight in 5th grade. I insisted on wearing these black lace up punky boots in 6th grade. I wore makeup and black nail polish. I wanted to play with the boys. I was bullied.
To this day I can still remember the people in particular who called me names. I remember not knowing what some of those words meant, but knowing that they weren’t encouraging me. I can recall being told that boys made fun of me because they liked me; a reasoning I never once believed but tried to just to make it through. I remember the tears and parent/teacher calls when things became particularly bad for me.
Over this past Winter I watched the first couple seasons of Glee in succession and some of the episodes caused me to vividly remember what it had felt like to be bullied in school. It was never a pleasant experience. While I never felt unsafe at school, I never felt very welcome. 15+ years ago it was chalked up to “kids will be kids”, but it never felt that way. I felt attacked.
I can’t blame the bullying 100% on my self image problems today, but I can’t help but think that much of the emotional eating that started during that time (milky ways and swiss cake rolls bought and stashed in my room with my weekly allowance). When I was sad, I would eat, and the happiness that the sugary rush would give me made me feel good. Loved even. Needless to say, I still eat some of those items strictly for comfort factor. Sometimes when I see a box of Swiss Cake Rolls in the store, I stare longingly at them, knowing how I’ll feel after I eat them. I’d feel good. For a few minutes anyways.
Enough good has occurred in my life for me to see that I am at a point in my life of success and happiness, and it is because of perseverance and faith and being loved by so many. I wonder though, if I hadn’t been bullied, how much further I might have gone in life so far. It’s not that I’m disappointed in myself, but I know that my self esteem issues do cause me to take less risks and to falter.
While kids will be kids, words do have a great impact. I cannot honestly ever say “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” because I believe it to be total BS. Words have always hurt me. I know my own words have hurt others and it is because of this that I try very hard to watch how I saw things to people around me. I never want them to feel like I bullied them.
Watch what you say. Speak in love. Step up against the words that hurt.