Hey everyone. I know every blog post I feel the need to apologize for posting sporadically but I think im past that now. I’m so happy you seem to be enjoying my posts and to keep them real and as honest as possible I am writing when I feel inspired. I started a new job this week and have been so exhausted every day. A few nights ago I plopped down in my recliner after my shift was done at 8:30pm. The third story in and I read the headline, 13 year old commits suicide because of bullying. I found myself with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Another sweet soul with so much potential and life, gone because of something so preventable. 💔
By now you should pretty much have a feel for how I am and my feelings on certain things if you’ve been reading along. If you actually know me then you definitely get it. I’m a bleeding heart with little filter on my mouth. I’m not afraid to stand up for what’s right and I’ll vocalize my feelings when I see something I feel as wrong. I befriend those who may need someone, I enjoy the company of people with a wide range of personalities. I am aware I am considered odd and don’t fit in with a few different groups of people. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, that I’m flawed and am still working on myself and may lose people in the process. I’ve had a hard time accepting this and honestly I still wish everyone liked me and that I fit in like I see others do. Every day older I get I accept it a little more and it becomes more ok with me. Do I like it? No. Is that how it goes with everyone? Yes. This topic is a deep one that strikes a cord in me, here comes a lengthy but worthy of your time post.
At five years old I had long, blonde hair, wore colorful and crazy outfits and had round, rainbow glasses. By fourth grade I had a full mouth of braces, had elastics and headgear. I chose to wear them all day long rather then just at night since it would cut a year off my time with them. I had those painful, aeful glasses for five years. Five. Years. By freshman year my braces and glasses were gone and I started to come into my own. I made more friends in highschool, found my passion for art and golf, had a couple boyfriends and learned a lot of life lessons. I had a few friends who had stuck with me through it all and for that I will always be thankful. At the end of the day though it was my family who got me through it. My sisters were my best friends and my parents were the rock I needed. They loved me through it all, coached me along the way and lifted me up when kids had knocked me down. I was never truly bullied like I hear about now but let me tell you, some comments and remarks still stick with my today. I feel that insecurity still carry with me even now and I have to tell my 13 year old self to sit down because I’m an adult and I can be myself and not have to worry about others opinions and judgements. To this day when I go back to Maine to visit, I’m remembered as the girl with glasses and headgear. I’ve even had a few ask me if I was in a wheelchair as a kid because for some reason they thought I was. I laugh and brush it off, it doesn’t phase me as much now but I’m thankful I was able to process my feelings in a proper way when I was a kid so I could come out the other side ok. It made me have thicker skin, taught me to laugh at myself when appropriate and to also sympathize with those going through similar things as me. It also taught me to have a voice, to be an advocate for others and to brush off those who feel the need to tear others down to make themselves feel better.
I’ve had several times where this lesson has come into play since I graduated from school but nothing was as trying as having it happen to my own son. My sweet son, struggling with communicating his feelings, stressed from bouncing from place to place and with only one parent in his life at the time. I’ve posted before about my fitness journey but by the end I was so burned out. The tipping over point that led me to stop going to the gym was Brody being bullied. There is a daycare at the gym where I would drop Brody off while working out. Brody is non verbal and at this point he had not started at the school he attends for kids with special needs. This was also before his diet change, he was struggling so hard with aggression issues and was having tantrums and anger issues regularly. It was difficult for me to leave him because I knew he could be difficult to understand and care for if you didn’t know him well enough. One day I went to drop Brody off and a 7 year old kid ran up to Brody and I and yelled “Brody, don’t come in here. No one likes you”. I’m already tearing up as I type this because to this day it has to be my most painful parenting moment. I was sick to my stomach while running on the treadmill and after fifteen minutes I jumped off and scooped Brody out of there. A few times when I had picked him up he had been separated in the baby area by himself, away from all the other kids. Other times he would be sitting alone in the high chair table or crying and wandering around. I took a few days off and forced myself to get back. I go in, open the gate and here comes the same kid. “Are you leaving Brody here? Nobody like him. He’s mean”. There goes my heart, shattering in a million pieces.
There are so many more things were said to Brody and I, I would say about six instances I clearly remember where this happened. I addressed it with a manager who promised it would be taken care of, he would follow up the next day and it wouldn’t happen again. My issue was the workers watched this happening and did nothing. Just watched and dismissed it. Anyway, I waited the next day for follow up and nothing came. I took a break from the gym for a month, how could I go back? I ran outside, did home workouts but finally went back after some time. A week into returning and the same thing started happening again. One day I looked at the daycare worker and couldn’t control my facial expressions. It was a “hello!” Face with my hands thrown up in the air. The worker said “******, that’s not nice” then tells me to have a good workout. I couldn’t leave my child there, took Brody and left. I sat in the parking lot, cried so hard I couldn’t see and called my dad. The next day I went to the gym and asked to speak with the manager in charge of the whole gym. I spoke with her, explained everything and she seemed understanding and supportive. She had me work out while she sat in on the classroom to observe. A half hour into my workout I was pulled out of the gym by a daycare worker saying my son hit someone. I was met by the manager and so began the most most appalling conversation in my adult life.
Sometimes when I get upset it’s like my mind is in a fog, I’m too mad to vocalize what is going on in my head. This is how I felt listening to the manager, telling me it was my son that was the bully. How I need to be working out while I can get a sitter for him or choosing to go to another location since this one was not a good fit for him. I tried to defend my son, explain what would help and why he does the things he does. I realized it was pointless, this woman was close minded, that my son was a thorn in her side and I we left it would be an easy solve to the problem. She told me if I wanted to stay there and workout they could just come get me when he was “being a bully”. I should have asked if the same thing was applied to other kids who had hit or who said cruel things but I was too stunned at what I was being told. I realize my child is not perfect but I know him well enough to know that typically his anger stemmed from him trying to communicate and not being listened to or respected. That situation really taught me so many things and set a fire in me to try to make a difference in any way possible. I vowed this would never happen to my child again and I stick with it now. Disability or not, adults or kids, this behavior from the manager AND child is unacceptable.
There is no excuse for bullying. None. Kids are a direct reflection of their upbringing and parenting for the most part. As an adult you have a choice, sit by the wayside and allow behavior this to continue or to make a change. We are raising the next generation of kids, by deciding to have children you’ve agreed to shape a humans life and to be a role model for them. It’s not easy and no one is saying that, there are times where you may feel uncomfortable, disliked and afraid to do what’s right but it’s your responsibility. If you don’t do your part, the bullying and cruelty will continue, more lives will be effected and lost and it could be you or your family suffering one day. You just never know. This situation with Brody was one of the reasons I started this blog and my heart is happy knowing the impact is has had. While my reach is small, it can be a ripple effect that may make a difference some day. Please don’t dismiss problems that arise, be an advocate and backbone for those who need it. In the note the 13 years old boy left before killing himself he said one teacher helped him but it was not enough, no one else helped him. Imagine if others had taken it more seriously, that poor boy would still be here. At 13 his life was just beginning, he could have been the one to cure cancer or be our next president. He was someone’s kid, sibling and friend. He could have grown up to be an amazing parent, shaping the generation after his on how to be a good parent. Now he’s gone from this world and all because his little voice wasn’t heard. I can tell you from experience that a short time of being uncomfortable when confronting a situation of bullying or cruelty is worth it in the end. Do your part, it matters. So ill conclude with asking you all to join me in sending love to the loved ones who having aching hearts because of this boys absence and hoping he rests in peace. I also hope that what comes out of his death is a lesson to those who pushed him to this point, those who allowed it to happen and those who needed to see be impact words have. Thank you for reading this and sticking through something that means a lot to me. 💕