Thursday, October 30, 2014

I'm Grateful I Was Bullied!

If I were going to give a speech about bullying, (a subject which I have had way, way too much experience), I would start with the above title.  "I'm grateful I was bullied."  Say what?  That seems an odd thing to say, right?

Kindergarten in Pomona was no problem!  I had a five year old security guard who proudly said to my Mama, "Mrs. Cheney, when I grow up I'm going to marry Caroljoy!"  He rode a two wheel bicycle, WITH NO TRAINING WHEELS!  He had red hair, freckles, and blue eyes.  It was love!

Then came the move to Colton.  Now I was the new kid on the block.  It was a great big block.  I did NOT have that adorable Irish Catholic boy watching over me.

My teacher had not been given sensitivity training.  I had severe asthma and this was long before the huff and puffs that we now have for treating this condition.  If my asthma flared I had to sit still until it calmed.  Wouldn't exactly be a clarion call for activity, right?  If the attack worsened and my lips and fingernails turned blue we would travel rapidly to the hospital.  There I would receive life giving oxygen.

Knowing these facts did not seem to deter her.  One day I didn't feel very good.  I did NOT wish to go outside and play at recess.  My teacher insisted.  She told me I was a "Chicken," for not joining the jump rope group.  I'm certain that the years have changed that experience a bit in my mind.  I'd like to think that she was simply trying to help me "normalize" my life experience.  Normality was impossible for a kid like me who at any given moment could be seconds away from death.

Then there was the little boy who chased me most of the way home.  He didn't ask Mama to marry me.  He called me names and ran behind me.  Another terrific activity for a severe asthmatic.  It's not hard enough to be chased and called names, but then I would have an asthma flare?

Don't be alarmed.  I'm NOT going to list every single activity of harm, and bullying that occurred in my school years.  I would probably lose you at first grade.  I simply need to establish a 12 year pattern of abuse and bullying that started my scholastic experience and then continued all the way to the 12th grade.

I WAS a weird kid.  Having had so many near death experiences gave me a much more adult point of view.  I usually did not even feel comfortable associating with my peers.  The friends that I did have usually were also weird kids.  We were weird when it was NOT cool to be weird.  Looking back at the Salem "Witch" trials, it wasn't cool to be weird then either!

If I could do something about bullying I would educate.  I would take the bully to the bullied's home.  I would enforce a getting to know you period of one month.  During that month I would insist that the bully spend at least an hour each and every day of the week with the person they have been bullying.

Then I would insist the bullied person spend a month in the bully's home.  I truly believe that once this happened there would be much more understanding on the part of each person, and much less bullying.

Imagine if this were practiced in the whole wide world.  If our children were NOT taught to "Hate and Fear," as the Broadway musical South Pacific song laments.  How would this world be changed?  In the South Pacific song they are speaking about how children are taught prejudice.  "It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear, you've got to be carefully taught.  You've got to be taught before it's too late, before you are six or seven or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate, you've got to be carefully taught..."

Bullying usually happens because of insecurity.  If you feel sincerely good about yourself you do not wish to make anyone else feel less than.  Notice how many bullies are bigger than, and more popular than those that they bully.  It's rare that a bully takes on someone as big or popular as they are.  Bullies do their best to hide behind a facade of "I'm better than you are!"  If they can prove to their own ego that they ARE bigger and better it creates a temporary sense of importance.  Once they have conquered that person, they move on to the next, next, and still more of the next.

Education is the key to most things in life.  Now if it's possible to connect education to experience, wisdom would result.  Have the bully and the bullied spend a month together, at least for an hour a day, preferably more, and things WILL change.

I wish to end as I began.  I'm grateful that I was bullied.  The pain, insecurity, and just plain hatred that I faced during those 12 years taught me great lessons about empathy.  They taught me about courage, and true friendship.

It was ever so odd that when I went to college the past was gone.  Suddenly, I was popular, pretty, and even had some young men ask me on dates.  I'm still doing personal therapy, trying to heal the sub-conscious wounds of those 12 vital school years.  I'm 58 and I'm still battling those battles.

In my present I've been blessed with wonderful friends, friends who see me as unique instead of weird.  Every now and then a triggering event will  occur, (you know, something that connects you to the negative past), and then I work hard at smothering those bullying voices FORTY SOMETHING YEARS LATER.

Let's just STOP IT!  Stop the intolerance, the hating, the wounding.  Yes, I'm grateful for my hard years because they taught me so much about loving.  Would I want to repeat those experiences?  NEVER!

If just one child, one precious human being, could be spared the bullying experience it would be wonderful.  Think of the change in our planet if ALL the children could be spared the bullying experience!  That is a goal that I'm stretching towards.

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