This is a hard topic for me to talk about. I've told my husband & son of some things that I did during my school days. I've made amends with most of the people it affected and even have a friendly relationship with several now. That being said, it is part of my journey.
"You were a mean girl," my guys say. I have no defense to that statement. It is true. I was. I am not any more. I made a decision to do my best not to raise mean children. I married a man with a heart of gold. He was popular in school because he was a good guy. I wasn't that popular and what popularity I did have was gained climbing and stepping on another's back. I know that. I even know why I was the way I was. It is no defense.
Yet, I'll share the painful journey because just maybe a young lady out there will recognize something of herself in it. I share it because it does have a positive ending. I do hope my story can touch just one young person and change their life. Today, when the media talks about bullying or how kids are killing themselves because of a mean girl, I can't grasp how devastated I would have felt to cause that kind of tragedy. To know what my words or actions did to another person and everyone their life impacted.
I wasn't just a mean girl. I was also bullied by other girls and boys. I was called horrible names. I was told horrible things. As a younger teenager, I was a miserable person on the inside. I didn't know how to stand up for myself. In my home, my parents fought all the time. I was emotionally and physically abused. I was expected, as the preacher's daughter to be perfection. My home wasn't dysfunctional due to addiction issues, yet I read stories of addict parenting and I see the parallels. It was no less abusive because their drug was religion. It took me a long time to make peace with that and find my own salvation again. Even longer for me to forgive and mend the broken fences with my parents. I find all of this hard to talk about because as an adult I do have a much different relationship with my parents. This is my story, my journey, I can't tell it and leave their part of this out of the story. It's a very real part that impacted me a great deal. However, I wish them no pain or harm from stumbling across this and reading it. Our relationships are in a much better place now.
So how did I cope? I took it out on other girls. When I got picked on, I found someone I could pick on to make myself feel better.
In the sixth grade, sitting on the asphalt I glanced down and noticed my tight roll had fallen out. My fingers scrambled to quickly fold and roll the hem. They weren't fast enough. A boy noticed and shouted across the asphalt "Bell bottoms!!!! Who wears bell bottoms?!"
The entire class laughed uproariously. "She can't afford jeans!"
When the teacher dismissed us to actually have recess, I immediately looked for the poor child. The one who would have thought bell bottoms were awesome because her jeans were covered in holes and dirt. I screamed something about her cooties. Attention diverted. I was safe. She wasn't.
Later I learned my own insecurities in myself could be projected via being mean to those with bigger insecurities. I didn't like how my hair looked that day? My objective became to point out the stringy, unwashed hair of a peer to the lunch table so their focus wasn't on me. I didn't have the answer when the teacher called on me and felt stupid? I could find someone not as smart to make fun of later.
I was a mean girl. I am ashamed of it.
I reminded my son today when he starts high school next year there will be those who look to climb the social ladder by squashing him. He responded, "I don't understand it, mom. I could never be like that."
Tears filled my eyes. I know he can't. For that I'm grateful every day. I learned later in life that I was beautiful, smart, and funny without stepping on another human being to be those things. I look at my high school pictures and my heart breaks that young lady didn't know her own value. That she was cruel to other young ladies instead of celebrating herself. I hurt people. I am lucky most have forgiven me. I am lucky that I have gotten to know them as people now. There will always be people who don't like me. Who remember that mean girl. They will never get to know me or who I became. Some because they are genuinely better people, others because to them I was the bug they squashed, and even some that are still hurt by my words and actions.
Before you bully or pick on someone else ask yourself why you are really doing it? It won't fix what's wrong inside of you. It won't make you a better person at the end of the day. It doesn't attract loving, kind people to you. I also know when you have resorted to bullying others to build yourself up there's other areas where you aren't loving yourself. There's times when you are going along with things you don't really want to be doing so you will fit in. You are making choices you don't even like, how can you expect anyone else to respect them?
If you are being bullied, look at why the bully is doing it. Recognize now it isn't your fault. It is something broken inside of them. This is their cry for an adult to notice and help them. Don't put your value and self worth in someone else's hands. They will never cherish it the way you do. Beyond social media, your contact with most of your school friends will be minimal in your adult life. Your school years are a blink of time in your life span. Please, don't let a bully steal your future.
I had to learn these things the hard way, after I learned how to change what I had become. I still put up with a lot of social torture, but I was more mature in how I handled it. In the tenth grade I changed. I stopped picking on others. I made amends with many of those I had picked on then. I found a church youth group that accepted me. They helped me learn to like me. I couldn't love me when I didn't even like me. By college I had become a new person. It showed in my friendships, my activities, and the social life I had. It was worth changing. I was much happier. Like the butterfly I came out of the cocoon and found not only freedom from some of my home problems, but a new group of people waiting to give me a chance. As a young adult I did forge friendships that will last a lifetime. I am forever grateful to those that have accepted me for who I was, who I am, and who I will be.