#Standtogether-embracing our differences and coming together to prevent bullying

 

Bullying, a topic that brings up a slew of complex emotions for me.  After a tremendous amount of inner work, and reflection I continue to use my bullying story to start dialogue about compassion, empathy, and the effects bullying has on the bully itself and the victim.
Oftentimes people are fighting battles we know nothing about.

Here is one of my bullying stories that I courageously shared in a blog post last year:

In elementary school I had a best friend.  I loved this friend of mine. I loved the smell of the pert plus shampoo in her hair. I loved her beautiful home with the hot tub and trampoline in the yard. I loved  how her parents used a gentle tone. I loved her athletic ability. She could do front and back walk overs effortlessly. I especially loved  the color of her big blue eyes. In essence, I loved everything about her and her life so much that I began to compare my  life with hers, which  led to  deep  insecurities and jealousy.

One school day, I randomly decided that I didn’t want to be friends with my best friend any longer.  Whatever compelled me to suddenly hate her out of the blue, in hindsight,  came from my lack of happiness, jealousy and insecurities. I told her to meet me in the top field at recess and I gathered some other children with me. I had a slurpee and crew of children following me. The walk to the field with the other children following me, made me feel tough, and cool. I was the leader of the pack. When she got to the field I stood in front of her and  looked her directly in the face. A  whirl of butterflies swished around in my insides as I lifted my right hand with the  ice-cold slurpee in it and forcefully  chucked it directly on her. The slurpee splattered on her shirt while  some of the other kids laughed. But her face in that moment… I will always remember. Her eyes instantly welled with tears as she turned around and ran away.

 I vividly remember her tears of sadness as we sat in the principles office together. “Why did you do that to me?”  she asked while tears streamed down her cheeks.  I remember  crying with her as I apologized, “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I did it.”

In retrospect, if I knew that this incident was going to cause so much hurt and pain,  I obviously wouldn’t have done it. If I knew at that age I held within me the ability to be a leader, then I would  have used this ability to teach the other children  being kind is “cool”.

I recall so vividly,  another childhood  memory of being  yelled  at on the playground from a parent of one of the children I bullied. This parent  told  me I was an awful child and  I didn’t deserve any friends because I was so mean. She was right. I was being mean. And she had every right to directly approach me about my behavior. However, she deeply hurt my feelings when she said  I didn’t deserve any friends. Everyone needs a friend. My friends just didn’t deserve to be treated that way by me.

What this parent didn’t realize is that she damaged my self-worth  more than it already was. If she only knew that being screamed at was what happened to me at home . If she only knew… I just needed a hug. If she only knew..how hurt I felt inside.

This parent didn’t want her child to be a victim of bullying, yet her approach towards me was that of a bully. Her finger pointed directly in my face, her facial expression and tone of voice full of anger and rage. Her words were harsh and mean.

If only she approached me with the intent to understand why I was bullying her daughter, then she would have led by example to her daughter, what it means to be empathetic. And empathy is the best way to prevent bullying.

My  hope is that by courageously sharing my bullying story,  it gives perspective from both sides. Bullying is complex. There are many factors that contribute to this type of behavior.  For example, in my case it came  from a place of insecurity,  trying to be “cool”, stress, abuse, hurt  and  lack of empathy. Bullying was unfortunately my way of dealing with the issues I carried within and at such a young age, I was unable to articulate these feelings.  

In other words, my mental health was suffering which led to my disruptive behavior. My behavior was unacceptable and  I can’t take back  any of the hurtful things that I said or did to  other children. I can only move forward by teaching my daughters and inspiring others to live their life with kindness, compassion  and empathy.

Essentially, if we want to prevent our children from being a  bully  or  a victim  of a bully, then we need to be the change and lead by example.

Bullying Today 

When I was a child online bullying wasn’t as prevalent as it is today. Bullying was something that happened in the school yard, or during face-face interactions. Social networking however has made it easier than ever for bullies today because they remain anonymous behind their screens.

We’re very aware that bullying is going on online, in homes, workplaces and school, yet day after day, someone is either the bully, or being bullied.

When we feel good within, there’s no need to try to tear someone down.

Being kind always feels good on the inside!

This is why I’ve teamed up with media influencers to spread the word about “Stand Together” a bullying campaign. #StandTogether is about recognizing our diversity, embracing our differences, and coming together in solidarity to prevent bullying.

Each purchase of these anti-bullying socks from YoSox will help financially support Canadian Safe Schools-a non-profit committed to reducing youth violence and ensuring safer schools and communities. These socks are available online and will be arriving soon at The Bay.

Let’s speak up, and find ways we can eradict bullying. Let’s stand together to have compassion for all, even the bullies.
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