I was teased as a kid, mostly for things that were not in my control. I wasn’t good at sports. I liked to read books and watch TV. I wore glasses. And I grew fast in every place, making me the first in my class to wear a bra. That was the worst. It was bad enough the neighborhood kids teased me already, but now a tsunami of stupid came my way from the whole school.
Starting in the fourth grade, I spent my school day dodging a snicker here, an insult there and teasing everywhere. Boys were stupid and girls were just mean. It was upsetting and frustrating. And without a core group of loyal and protective friends, it would have been unbearable.
Not that it was any comfort, but at least I wasn’t alone. I started to see other kids bullied every day for one reason or another. Teasing, snickering, pointing, pushing and shoving, it was all the same. The bullies drove people to humiliation and often tears. So, one day, I got mad and decided to fight back.
The last straw was when I saw some kids cornering a new girl in class and teasing her because she stuttered. She was crying and I was furious. How dare they. It wasn’t her fault she stuttered.
I stood between her and the bullies and stared them down, rifling verbal retorts at them like rapid gun fire. No matter what they said, I countered their blows and eventually they walked away. It worked. Until the next bully. Rinse and Repeat.
But from then on, I decided to be a fighter. Whether it was me or someone else, I was going to meet strength with strength.
I read even more books to help me learn bigger words and better jibs and comebacks to thwart the aggressors. They hated big words they couldn’t understand. I read about inspiring strong women and girls who defeated their foes. And eventually, I understood why they bullied.
Some people are just mean, but most have something in their lives that they’re afraid of. Maybe someone picks on them. Sometimes they feel inferior by a fault of their own. And often, they are scared by change and differences, so they try to dominate another.
My experience was the more I stood up to bullies, the less they bothered me. To quote something I once read, “I was not the path of least resistance.” I’m not saying that my way was the best way. It got me in trouble a few times, but instead of raising my fists, I raised my voice.
As I grew older, it became a strength and sometimes a weakness. It made me trust a little less and created a hard shell around me. I let plenty of people in, but I was always ready. And I never backed down against any injustice with a zero tolerance for bullies. Parents, teachers, bosses, other adults, bullies usually don’t learn, they just grow older.
When my kids were small, I protected them furiously. I saw history repeat itself with my own son and imparted my philosophy to him and encouraged him to find a supportive group. He did and it helped.
So, I decided my next phase was to champion the cause and tell my story and the stories of others who, found different paths to deal with their bullies and be the hero of their own story.
Now I write a series of middle grade and ya books called “growing up girls” to tell their stories and show how they triumphed over the stupid boys and mean girls who chose to make their lives miserable.
Life can be difficult when your flaws are spotlighted like a shining beacon for all to see. But if you write your own story, you are in control of the narrative. You can erase those who pick on you, just for being you. And in the ultimate revenge, as the writer, you command the bullies’ fate.
To those who bullied me, I got the last laugh. Bullies beware. Be careful who you hurt because they could write your story and seal your doom in black and white forever.