I was bullied.
I was bullied, relentlessly until High School. Finally, in High School things mellowed out for me.
I grew up in the country and went to the same, small school from Kindergarten to grade nine. I knew after I completed grade nine, I would then go to the largest high school in the province, one so big I knew I would be able to hide from my tormentors, where I would have the opportunity to meet new people, where I knew it would get better.
I don't really remember when the bullying started. Doesn't really matter in the scheme of things. It did start early and by grade four I was going to doctor after doctor to find out why my stomach was in knots, why everything I ate seemed to go right through me. Not many children develop ulcers due to stress in grade four, do they?
I would come home from school and collapse in my bed in tears, I would fake every illness I could think of to avoid going to school. I had such horrible anxiety that at times I didn't know what to do with myself.
I was picked on, spat on, called names, hit and kicked.
I begged my parents to move. When I started Junior High, I begged that my parents drive to a different school instead of continuing classes with the same people who tormented me in grade school. When they refused, I screamed and yelled. I told them I hated them and I wished I had the guts to just end it all... somehow...
I focused on my studying, I worked hard and kept those close to me who proved time and time again to be true and honest people. I tried not to let them see how much the taunting bothered me and I went on as best I could, knowing that as soon as I finished grade nine and started high school at a new school, that things would be different. I knew I would have a chance to 'start over' and I kept my eye on that. Soon it would be over, soon I could start fresh.
High School was really a turning point for me. By going to the largest high school in the province, I was able to finally meet different people. I was able to start new and it opened new doors for me. I wasn't crying myself to sleep as often. My anxiety started to fade, and my horrible stomach finally stopped revolting against me.
By the time I graduated High School, you would have never thought I was bullied for over eight years.
It gets better, sure it does. You learn to deal, you are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, you can focus on the good and soon, when you all age and mature a bit, you realize how stupid and horrible it is to bully and you move on.
It gets better but in some situations, I'm skeptical to say it really does.
I'm always fearful of what people are saying about me behind my back. I have zero confidence in myself and my abilities. I am a complete push-over - I rather just agree and keep things calm and cool than create ripples or waves. I do this time and time again, even when I know I should stand my ground, when I know what I am saying or doing is the right thing. I lack the confidence to do so with conviction.
To blame these character traits on being bullied might be right or it might not. I may have developed this lack of confidence even if I wasn't bullied. Anything is possible.
But I doubt it.
Hearing about Amanda Todd bulling, suicide and continued bullying enrages me, and also reminds me of how I felt. It's easy at that age to think its not going to get any better, that things will never change. We all make mistakes, we all say and do things we may not have wanted to at the time and in time it would have been forgotten, it would have gone away. But at that age, you can't see that far ahead... I sometimes felt like doing exactly what Amanda did. What stopped me? I honestly couldn't say anymore. Fear? Lack of conviction? Love of Family?
Probably, and probably the light I did see at the end of the tunnel. I had something to work towards, something that would probably offer me some reprieve.
Now, as an adult moving up in her career, raising a toddler, I often wonder. How will things be for him? Will he be bullied? What will he do? What will I do? Will my love be enough for him? Will it keep him with me until he moves beyond the torment? What if he becomes a tormentor?
And me... I am confronted by my horrible lack of confidence often at my job and now with the promise of a new position, I know that my lack of confidence will bother me every single day. I see myself back down from people often at work, curling up into a nervous and unsure version of myself when the confront me, stand before me with such amazing confidence - confidence that I wish I had.
So yes, it does get better, but it also stays somewhat the same. The difference is the older you get, the better you are equip to deal with things and better to see the light at the end of the tunnel. People are also more mature and usually don't want confrontation or to be called the office 'bully.'
I wish Amanda Todd would have hung on. While I sure she would have never forgotten what happened to her, she would have been able to see beyond it. While it still hurts me, still chokes me up to think about those days in grade school, I take extreme comfort in knowing that they are long gone.
I wish she could have done the same.. some day.