So I have to admit, the response I received from last my last post Passive Aggressive Bullying, It’s a Thing, was not what I anticipated. 1. It’s rare that I get so many comments. 2. The people that LOVE Mikey is amazing. 3. The sympathy we received via post, comments, texts, FB messages, etc was overwhelming.
I think I need to say first and foremost, thank you. Thank you all for loving me and my family so much.
But I also need to reiterate that this was not a passive aggressive (ironic) plea for sympathy. We are strong, and huge positive strides have been made in this particular situation with all involved. My whole intention for writing the article was awareness. I think this type of thing goes on more than we are aware, and most often, it is instigated by parents.
This whole situation with Mikey hit me so hard because it was done to me also. It wounded me so deeply, over 20 years ago, that I am still dealing with the affects of how it has played out in me as a person.
It was the summer between 6th & 7th grade, circa 1992. Salt-n-Pepa playing on the jam box by day and watching 90210 while writing in my Sanrio diary by night….. my parents decided we would start attending church. I was reluctant because I assumed I would not know anyone. The first time I went to youth group, I recognized a popular girl from my school named *Britney and within a week, we were BFFs. I went away to church camp with her and my youth group that summer. Just like many christians, youth camp was where I got ‘saved’ and had my first emotional experience with the Lord. Who are we kidding, when you are a 12 year old girl, everything is an emotional experience. But being in a church group, experiencing the Lord, having a new (and popular) best friend, I came back to school in 7th grade a totally transformed person. It also didn’t hurt that I had grown six inches and ‘blossomed’.
My new life at school was more amazing than I could have ever dreamed it to be. *Britney’s mom picked me up for school daily and made sure my outfit was on point and that I was wearing lipstick to match. Britney took me in to her popular circle and everyone at school thought I was a new transfer student. The girls all befriended me. The boys all gave me attention. I was confident in my new found salvation in Christ. I was given the freedom to walk home to Britney’s house after school every day where we sat on her waterbed and gossiped about the boys we both liked and who wore the cutest outfit to school. I was living my own twelve- year-old-former-fat -and-shy-girl fantasy. Looking back though, let’s just call this unhealthy codependency at a very young age.
All my time was spent with Britney and her family. We were in the same homeroom at school. We rode to school together. We were together after school. We cheered together. We were at church together. All the things= together. The point of this junior high flashback of my glory days is to point out how truly invested I was and how much a part of my life this friend was.
That next summer, Britney’s family had a falling out with the pastor and several families in our church. When my family did not leave the church with Britney’s, it started what would become, still to this day, one of the worst years of my life.
Returning to school in 8th grade and NOT being as enveloped in Britney’s life as before ignited a spiral pattern of sin that I still currently fight. Her mother insisted that we could no longer be friends. Her mother began to invite other girls from our crew over to her house all the time in my place and suggest to them reasons why they should unfriend me. I don’t write this to blame the mother, but I write this to let you all know that as moms, we have power. More power than we realize.
By the middle of 8th grade I had exactly zero friends left. Girls would verbally harass me throughout the school day making fun of my ‘developedness’. Groups of girls would in unison say “Hey Bitch” as I would walk by. This crew would call me out of class and into the counselor’s office and tear me apart writing lists on the whiteboard of everything they despised about me. Lunch was spent sitting alone reading my Bible. In class the only people who spoke to me to me were the teachers. I hid in the bathroom and cried during passing period between classes. There are no words to describe the pain I felt that year. I gained twenty five pounds. I started losing my hair. My breakouts took over my whole face, more than the average teenaged skin. I begged to be drop out and be homeschooled or to transfer to private. It took everything in me to wake up every day and go to school. This photo was taken just 6 months after the one above. My face here shows my misery.
After eighth grade, I begged still to not move on to high school with this crew where I felt crucified. My parents refused to homeschool me and private school was out of budget for my military family. So I went on to high school and tried to recover and reinvent myself. With a larger pool and people who didn’t know how awful I allegedly was, this was not impossible. But I still had to face those girls in the hall. I still had lowered my head when they walked by. I still doubted myself when I tried out for cheerleading or ran for student office or tried a new club. Even as a senior in high school, I still heard those same words and voices that were spoken to me by them four years earlier.
Twenty+ years later I have moved on and become a functioning adult who has friends. Obviously. But there is one thing that to this day twenty years later I still struggle with: female friendships. I keep females at arms length initially. Then, if they share similar values (not necessarily spiritually, but in regards to parenting, hobbies, lifestyle) I let them in. But once I see there might be some sort of shift in values, or habits, or things we have in common, I shut down and push away. I fight fear that the emotional involvement I have with them will turn into pain. This issue has haunted me my entire life as a side effect from junior high and I never realized the spiral of that pattern until I went through a recovery program at church last year.
Reader, I need you to know that I am okay. I am not writing this sob story for pity, just like I didn’t write Mikey’s story for pity. But I am writing this for the moms and dads. Parents we have so much power. You have no idea how your words can influence the social trajectory at school. One comment from you can be the fuel that sparks an entire revolt on a person. Physical acts or emotional isolation, either way it’s still bullying.
You telling your child to stay away from someone or teaching them to emotionally bully gives them power that they are not equipped to have.
*Names have been changed so that I don’t totally throw anyone under the bus.