The Plastics

For a good portion of my elementary school days I was bullied.  There was a lot of stuff going on at home and I did not feel empowered to speak up for myself ever (this was touched on in a previous post).  The bullying did not result in physical harm (thank goodness) but I did endure repeated blows to my mental and emotional well being.

Those experiences (along with others) were the building blocks used to shape the way I handled things then as a teenager (doing just enough to fit square in the middle – not popular, but not an outcast) and now as a woman with children of my own…

My son has been bullied.  When I first learned of it my heart sank because I know that feeling; you want to disappear into yourself which did actually work for me.  It was very seldom that you would catch me breaking down as kids would throw insults my way.  I believe this is where my resting bitch face was cultivated (see pic above).  The way my son handled it was to do what he thought was best to fit in which actually did the opposite and resulted in some damage to his reputation for a while but thankfully he learned the lesson and now knows to be true to himself no matter what.  Yet I still worry…

My daughter is a social butterfly and is, funny enough, one of the popular girls in her school.  We make it a point to remind her that kindness will take her farther than being a mean girl will and I am happy to share that she has a heart of gold.  Yet I still worry…

I worry because they still have lessons to learn about dealing with bullying and I may not be the best person to teach them because now, as an adult, I recognize that I am a bully.  Let me explain.

I have a way with words and when I get the notion I sharpen them to the most tapered, deadliest points and I go at my target with heated vehemence until I render them helpless.  “Words Are My Weapons” was my personal tagline for quite a few years.  If I felt threatened or hurt or challenged by someone I had to make them endure my wrath.  And it wasn’t just personal vendettas I felt the need to cape up for, oh no, if a friend of mine hated someone, well then I hated them too, just off of G.P.  The mean girl in me would rub her hands together and commit to memory that there was this imaginary beef that I vowed to uphold on the strength of Girl Code.

In all honesty it is tough to stand out among a group and deliver the unpopular opinion but looking back over recent events I realize I have to go with my gut because it has yet to prove me wrong.  If a friend has an issue with someone, I can’t take that on.

Recently a reconciliation occurred with a “sworn enemy”.  Ironically, I had reached out to this person in an attempt to squash the imaginary beef but guess what?  The friend and that person are cordial again to the point of being able to be social and I was denied for something that didn’t even involve me in the first place…

Another example of this happened when we wanted nothing to do with a particular person.  We would be in the same social events and take turns giving dirty looks or being unbothered in their presence until one day, I was the only one left exhausting that negative energy.  I even asked when did we make the decision to befriend this person.  I THOUGHT THEY WERE THE ENEMY!! is what my brain was screaming; I may have even let that exact sentiment slip out verbally.  My outrage was brushed aside stating that the person was cool now, we accept them.  Fast forward and now that person is the sworn enemy again…now granted some things have taken place that validate the feelings of others but because of the historical missteps my gut is telling me to relax, relate and release it.

In recent years I began to take stock of my actions and started to take the necessary steps to engage my #HigherSelf.  Instead of using fighting words, I attempted to be the mediator in situations where I sensed my peers breaking out a ‘burn book’ on someone.  As my 40th birthday approaches I just don’t want to be perceived as a mean girl.  I do not want to be to others what my bullies were to me.  It takes more energy for me to fire off a scathing message than it does for me to take a step back for a while and allow a situation to resolve itself, as it often does if you just trust in the timing.

I am setting fire to my ‘burn book’ and turning in my membership to the plastics in favor of being the outcast with the unpopular opinion.  I do not want to be that “do as I say, not as I do” parent; I want my actions to speak for me.  Because karma…

Were you bullied?  Were you a bully?  How did it shape the person you are today?

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4 thoughts on “The Plastics

  1. I was bullied horribly in elementary and middle school and it’s left PLENTY of scars. My baby has been a victim of bullying as well and I worry that she will be afraid to defend herself if another similar situation arises. We’re workimg on ways to help her get comfortable with advocating for herself and also to physically defend herself, if necessary.

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting Shanda. I am saddened that baby girl has already had to endure this but I am glad that you guys are working with her by any means necessary. I guess the only upside to us having dealt with bullying ourselves is that we could possibly be better equipped at working with our kids.

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  2. I was not bullied nor have I every bullied anyone. I was like Sam a social butterfly. I got the occasion ” you fat” taunts but, I learned early on to not be offended by truth. So when a kid would call me fat, once I asked “OK that’s obvious, what else you got?” that usually got them to leave me alone. Saying that was enough back then, that probably wouldn’t work well today which frightens me. Great article tfs 🙂

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting Nik! I really like that approach and never thought to use it for myself or to teach that to the kids but I will from this point forward. That is really great advice! As you mentioned, today is a new breed of kid so it may not be AS effective as it was back then but it is definitely worth a try.

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