There were lots of threats, from the boy who would threaten me with a metal bar, to the guys who would gang up and intimidate me to change desks, leave the room, or just shut my mouth. However, in my case the worst of the worst was the verbal bullying. I was a sensitive kid, not in any way physically imposing, and definitely not in with the latest styles, and so the names came quickly. Faggot, homo, wimp, pussy... it went on. (I apologize if I offend anyone... but this is how it was.) They would make fun of my physique, imply their assumptions about my sexuality, mock my slight stutter or the fact that I generally spoke too fast (and of course still do.)
I tried desperately to fit in, and I sadly admit that I even tried to put myself up a notch on the social ladder by bullying others. I will never forget a boy named Darren in my Junior High. If I had it bad, he had it far, far worse. I at least had friends. He didn't. At least the comments made about me spanned a general spectrum. For him, it was simple. It was decided that he was gay. From there on every thing he did only served as fodder for the mocking comments. I will never know what he truly endured or what direction the rest of his life went, but I am ashamed to admit that I joined in with the chorus of bullying to combat the bullying that I myself was facing every day.
Every day. In grade 8, I was put in a home room without any friends. Although I did make two good friends over time, I dreaded every single day in that classroom. My teachers, as nice as they were, most often turned a blind eye to the disparaging comments. I'm sure it was easier to just say, "Boys will be boys..." and let it go, and I'm sure they didn't know that there were days that I clearly thought about the concept of suicide. There were days were I was sure that I would not be able to face another day. Being bullied put me immediately on my guard which often made me appear even more awkward and defenceless. After an amazing first summer at camp, my second without my best friend with me was quite a different experience as even there, in my safest place, I became a target. Once again it was verbal, and once again it tore me apart.
There are many who would never guess that I was the scared bullied young man that I was for my pre-teen and early teen years. When I accepted Christ into my life at 15 years old a change happened. I knew, for the first time in my life without doubt, that I was valuable just the way I was because that was how God had made me. The bullying didn't stop instantly, but my confidence in my own value changed how I processed it, and it allowed me to move past it. Most importantly however, it allowed me to move past being a bully myself. As I said, I was a bully to others, even including my brother who I guess was an easy target. However, there was a change, and by the grace of God I overcame.
Sometimes you hear a story that just tears your heart out, and today for many it is of a young girl who took her life after a barrage of bullying; physical, verbal, and sexual, that she endured through her early teen years. I am writing this blog for two reasons tonight. 1. If you are being bullied, you need to know that you are NOT alone EVER, and that THERE IS HOPE. 2. If you are a bully, whether it is in the smallest way or whether you know that it's much worse than that, YOU NEED TO STOP. For both of these points, I am convinced beyond any doubt that when one finds their identity in Christ, there is hope and there is ability. "For anyone who belongs to Christ is a new creation. The old life is gone; a new life has begun." 2 Corinthians 5:17.
If you need help (if you are being bullied, or if you realize you are a bully), talk to me at any time. There will be no judgment, but let's talk about it together