I've hesitated to sit down and write this multiple times, but I figured I just have it put it somewhere, even if nobody ever reads it.
I've been thinking a lot about what happened in Aurora on Friday, wondering how someone could do something like that to innocent people. I think back to the earlier parts of my life when I was a lot different. I was scared, depressed. I was bullied mercilessly.
In middle school it was for anything and everything. When I got glasses for the first time someone came up and screamed in my face. I was taunted for liking cats, for not wearing the most up and coming clothing items, for wanting to belong. For my Lisa Frank folders not being the coolest thing, not reading the right books, saying the wrong thing in class when doing group projects, for being blessed with Italian genes and having hair on my legs, for sticking up for a friend and for being one. In church one Sunday someone in my class refused to shake hands with me during peace. And for what? I still, to this day at almost 28 years old still can't wrap my head around it. Was it my freckles? The fact that I had bangs? That I was the oldest in my family? And for what - just to see someone cry? To watch them crack and break because they just couldn't handle being hated anymore. I begged my mom to let me change schools, but there wasn't an option to do so. Looking back, my mom now says she wishes she realized just how depressed I had been over this. I don't blame her though - who knows if it wouldn't have continued at a new school?
And in high school, the people who I thought were my friends mocked me for not driving at 16, for the kind of music that I liked and for the way I dressed (sure, I expressed my sadness through clothes, black nail polish, and heavy metal with some country music mixed in. But I digress), the fact that I was going to a community college (my parents couldn't afford college tuition for me) and they always liked to insist that I was a lesbian (I'm not, but who cares if I was?). One once threatened to open the door of her car and throw me out if I kept my favorite band on the radio station in her car. These girls who I spent 4 years with - the ones who I travelled with, laughed with over stupid inside jokes and cried with when my dog died - they bullied me too, and I only realize it now over 10 years later. (And if you're wondering, I'm not friends with any of them today.)
Was this all because I was shy? Because I was nervous and anxious around boys and I wasn't as outgoing as everyone else? Because I never had a date to school dances and in middle school that no one wanted to slow dance with me?
And perhaps the biggest kicker? I went to private Catholic schools. So yes - bullying wears no face or name, doesn't differentiate between schools - private, public, boarding, it doesn't discriminate. And I know it doesn't stop there - it exists in the workforce but sporting different masks of disguise.
But through all of this, through the depression that this waged on me, I never once wanted to take it out on another human, another animal, nothing but myself and the pages of my journals. I cannot wrap my mind around how one person can do such damage to another.
I tend to think that this is why I gravitated toward human resources - the ability to make a work environment safe and positive for everyone.
So - I say to you, if someone is bullying you, harassing you, doing anything to make you uncomfortable, seek help. Please. Don't take it out on other people. If you're experiencing something like this, I understand. I truly, really do. But please, don't take it out on others. And if you are the one doing the bullying, please, I urge you to stop. You don't know the war that can wage inside someone, the sadness and the despair that you might make someone feel.
I'm not quite sure how to end this so I'll do it here. Thanks if you've made it this far.
And for what its worth - to the people who have made me so sad over the years... I don't hate you. I only want the best for you.