I got this letter from an eighteen-year-old girl after she read my piece on called “Lessons from Middle School We Keep Forgetting,” which I had shared again on my Facebook page.
I am so happy that I found your page. I have been silently reading your posts and the responses from your “tribe” for a long time, and when you posted about “the populars” and middle school, I finally had to participate.
You are very inspiring. What you write is so honest, and I think it is going to help a lot of people. I have dealt with relentless bullying for my entire school life. I am still finishing school; I just started my senior year. When I started school, I was at a very small country school, and there were only about seven girls in my class, and they all just decided they hated me from day one. Everyday, they told me how fat and ugly I was. Whenever my mom came in to tell the teachers about it, they all said how nice and lovely the other students were, and they suggested she get me some help. I got to a point when I was so sick from this, like physically sick. My body just manifested everything that was happening to it on the outside, and I was sick all the time. Finally, when I started middle school, I thought it would be better, and it kind of was because I made a friend, but I was still horribly bullied, and, this time, it was by older kids.
Finally, when I started high school, I found an amazing group of friends that I am still friends with, and we take care of each other. Of course, there is still so much bullying, but at least I have people who have my back now. I also struggle with what I think is becoming a full-fledged eating disorder because of all this bullying and because of how much like shit I feel all of the time because of what I’ve been told about my body and myself for so long.
I really have to just thank you for sharing your heart and your experiences. Reading your page is making me stronger, I feel. I really hope to keep reading and getting lifted up by them everyday as I finish this school experience and try to move on to better things. I find it amazing that women are fighting so long and hard for equality and rights and a voice, when everyday, really, it is women who are taking away these things for other women. We treat each other like shit, and it is so nice to come to a place on the web where none of that happens, and it is all about helping each other and being loving to one another.
Please just tell me it gets better after high school.
Thank you, A.
It does get better. My friend Gina Frangello said,
“I think there needs to be some kind of campaign like the fabulous It Gets Better one for gay teens; this time focusing on the very real fact that so many kids who are terribly bullied end up being the movers and shakers of the adult world and how adulthood offers those who didn’t ‘fit in’ to narrow childhoods or limiting towns/neighborhoods a chance to allow themselves to shine. So many young women, who at A’s age turn against their own bodies, end up being the most confident and generous women whose lives impact others—like yours, Jen (and other women we know). It’s so vital to hang in and wait for the day when you can write the script to your own life…”
I am not sure what the campaign is yet, but it will start here. With you guys, my Positively Positive family. Post a note to A if you like, as she will read this as well. I love that I have high school kids that read me and follow me on social media.
Any of you other kids reading this, yes, yes, yes, it gets wildly better!
Let’s start the campaign right now. Please let A know any experiences you have had with bullying or any sage wisdom or love you can offer. Let’s move from a fear-based world to a love-based world. Right now.
It does get better A! Thankfully, you are already experiencing that.
I was bullied by my brother. He used to call me Amy Big Butt when I was in MS/and HS. I too went to the edge of an eating disorder but then backed away and turned to athletics instead. When I went away to college on the east coast (as far away as I could get from San Diego) no longer stigmatized by the Big Butt tag, I was considered “exotic” because I was tan and had blonde curly hair at a campus where the population that was about 40% New Jersey Jews. Wow! Did that ever throw me for a loop. Exotic? Who’s kidding who? It took me many years to fully embrace my inner and outer beauty (some days, even at 51) I still struggle, but they are fewer all the time). My husband loves my ample derriere and I stay away from malls, fashion magazines and TV ad just to be safe. It can be difficult in this world of superficial and material idolatry to love oneself, but it can be done!!
And oh yeah, welcome to the tribe!
P.S. My brother is now obese, miserable and unhealthy…and still an abuser. Meanwhile, I’m healthy, loved and healed.
I had to go searching for this poem but it was worth it. It was written by a father about his daughter but it could have just as easily been written by a secret admirer (which the father is also). So often people are reticent to pay someone a compliment. Just know, A, that there are many people out there thinking wonderful things about you, but may not know how or have the courage to speak them to you directly.
by Eamon Grennan
At her Junior High School graduation,
she sings alone
in front of the lot of us–
her voice soprano, surprising,
almost a woman’s. It is
the Our Father in French,
the new language
making her strange, out there,
fully fledged and
ready for anything. Sitting
together — her separated
mother and father — we can
hear the racket of traffic
shaking the main streets
of Jersey City as she sings
Deliver us from evil,
and I wonder can she see me
in the dark here, years
from belief, on the edge
of tears. It doesn’t matter. She
doesn’t miss a beat, keeps
in time, in tune, while into
our common silence I whisper,
Sing, love, sing your heart out!
What beautiful honesty you write with. I can tell you have a beautiful heart, one that is strong and brave. That will take you far for sure.
If there is one thing I can add or share its that this is a great opportunity to learn to love and value yourself on a deep deep level. At 27, I’m just learning how important that is and how little I showed myself that I am loved and valuable. Though I was never bullied by someone else (that I know of), I’ve been beaten down, over and over and over again, by a really tough critic–myself. But I’m learning to see the real me when I look in the mirror. And when I lock eyes with that person, can see deep into myself, I’m moved to tears. Because the person that is there has SO much love to give, so much beauty, so much power. It’s pretty cool.
I offer this exercise–one that I’ve been doing recently that has really started to help: on a clean page in a journal or notebook, write down 3 things you love, value, or are impressed with about yourself. Now, do this again every day for 20 more days, 21 days total to really reinforce this thinking and behavior.
Sending you so much love and light.
This note is to A about the future. I am 81 years old, but I still remember the taunts of “Hello Pinochio!” My”friends” called me Percy for persecution complex. Thereafter I was a highly awarded school principal, a Doctor of Education from Columbia U, retiring after 40 years, and the mother of 4 successful children, grandmother of 10! I learned to appreciate myself, forgive and seek to like and love everyone, see the beauty behind even nasty people, and being appreciated by all friends, family, and acquaintances.Hang in, be cool, and say to yourself,” I’m sorry for all those kids.” And walk away. They’ll get the message. Have a beautiful future and stay strong!!!!