A few weeks back I finished the show “13 Reasons Why.” The show was disturbing and compelling. Love it or hate it, it forces dialogue about bullying and mental health. I was personally affected. Deeply affected. I was pulled back into the pain of my past. Into my own dark abyss filled with a broken heart and a damaged mind. I do not have 13 reasons why, but I have an idea of my what, some whys, and the reason I am here today. This is my survivor’s story:
My early childhood started out innocent and happy. I grew up simple, but I had the assuring love of my family. We moved around quite a bit, and I experienced my first bullying when we moved to a new grade school. I was a tiny and painfully shy kid,
and I was easy target because I don’t talk much. Two girls decided to take my things
on a weekly basis. Pencils, pads, cases, hairclips, money. My mom started getting
suspicious because I wasn’t the type who loses things, so when I keep coming home
with lost items, she knew something was up. But I didn’t want to say anything because
these girls would threaten me bodily harm if I talk. One of them would pick me up and squeeze my body hard to show me that they were serious. I was horrified. Suffice it to say, it was my first rude awakening to the world of bullying and mean girls.
But that was just the beginning. Grade school got better when I made a few friends and fell in love with learning (aka I’m a nerd;). Then high school came. I was transferred to a new class and it was like the first day of grade school all over again. Oblivious to the high school hierarchy, I offended a Queen Bee (one of several, I later learned.) At that time, I was fairly soft spoken, so I must have uttered one wrong thing her way, and the war was on. Unfortunately for me, this war was pretty lopsided- since I was the new kid, she rallied everyone against me, she would make snide remarks loud enough for everyone to hear, she would make sure the other Queen Bees (or Queen Bitches, really) would spread the word against me, so that even people who barely knew me would think the worst of me. It was the war of the words.. Except I barely uttered one.
As much as the physical side of bullying hurt me in grade school, the emotional toll of gossip and ostracism in high school devastated me more. I was always a positive person. But I found myself slowly clouded with pessimism: First there were tears of disbelief and sadness. Then a heaviness and weariness overtook my body, making me sick and weak. My mind was filled with confusion and I doubted my self-worth. And finally, my soul was drained. It felt empty, with nothing left to give, and with no one to turn to.
I was almost completely taken over by my darkness. Almost. My story could have ended tragically if it did. I had some reasons to die. But I was blessed to have found better reasons to live:
- Parents- specifically my mom. They never knew how deep the darkness was, but they knew I was lost. For parents that value academics, they did not hesitate to pull me out the end of the semester to take me out of my personal hell. They did not know it then, but they literally saved my life when they did.
- Music/Poetry- my songs were my only outlet of expression. I couldn’t turn to friends for fear of betrayal (which some did) My early songs of love and rosy gardens turned into songs of heartbreak and loss. Edgar Allan Poe fascinated me. Nonetheless, dark songs and poetry gave me the courage to express the dark side of me and allow me to release them.
- Friend(s)- One particular friend is most significant. She remains one of my best friend to this day. I’m not sure she remembers this, but on one particular event when another Queen Bee (or King Bee) started another round of malicious attacks on me, she gently held my hand and smiled. No words, just the simple but most valuable touch of friendship. She had offered me the saving grace I needed on my most hopeless moment.
- GOD- the most important one. the one true Savior. First off, he gave me #1-3, so that in itself were more than enough reasons. He also revealed Himself at my lowest point. In the midst of tears and weariness, when I had wanted to give up, He came to me. His presence enveloped my heart and protected my fragile soul from completely losing it. My heart started to sing His songs, and my soul started seeing His hope. Through it all, He walked with me. And He carried me. And He lifted the burden that was long wearing me down. And as my circumstances pushed me towards darkness, His grace and love lifted me back up to the light.
(To the above reasons, I may have been too consumed by my sadness in the past to have expressed my gratitude then. Allow me to express my eternal thank you now. You have and always will be a most valuable part of my life. You have no idea how you saved me then. And continues to save me still.)
I struggled to write this post… I am struggling as I am writing it now. Digging into my past is never an easy thing. Bringing up a time full of shame, anger, and sadness can be overwhelming. And emotionally exhausting. I am in tears reliving my ordeal through this post. But as hard as it is, it is also freeing. And I do not write/blog just for personal venting alone. It is my one hope that one lost soul can read this, and know that there is light, that there can be light at the end of it all. Then I would feel that my difficult past was not for nothing. And my darkness would have served it’s purpose for the higher good.