I know this may not be a big surprise to most of you but here goes… Hi my name is James Crawford and I was bullied.
They say that which does not kill you only makes you stronger. Well that’s a load of bull. I was always the small skinny kid in school and seemed to have “Easy Target” printed across my forehead. Life was hell. I hated school.
The range of abuse that I suffered ranged from name calling, property damage, physical attacks, and lastly death threats. All this is even before my fellow classmates knew I was gay. Now I know the “Smart thing" to do was talk to my parents and teachers but like so many of you I was let down. “Boys will be boys” or “they’re just kids, they are not being serous” are just a couple of the excuses the grownups used as they swept the indents under the rug and with every excuse the tormenting increased.
Now let’s not forget about the wonderful advice everyone likes to give. “Don’t take it, stand up for yourself” that got me knocked to the ground a few times. What about the afterschool special “stand your ground and the bully will back down”? Yep you guessed it, knocked back on my ass with everyone laughing. This advice might be helpful for some, but for a skinny boy these sayings are lies and will just get your butt kicked more. But don’t worry did you forget “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” … well it didn’t. It made me damaged. My self-esteem levels were at rock bottom. I would avoid looking in mirrors because I couldn’t stand the loser I saw. I would dress in bright ridiculous color camouflage just so that people could pick on my choice of clothing rather than picking on me directly. I thought I was worthless. I hated myself, and thought of “ending it all daily.
There is only one thing that stopped me…it was the love of both my family and the few friends that I had. If it wasn’t for my them telling me how much they loved me, constantly reminding me of my good qualities, and just being there to talk to, when I needed to know I wasn’t alone. Without them I would never have made it to discover life actually does get better. (Never underestimate how much just being there to listen can do for someone.)
I recently went back through my high school year book and looked up some of the bullies on Facebook. I know it’s not good to measure your success on others’ failures but… that day I wanted to email them all “LOOK AT ME NOW B####es!!!!” but my Mother raised me better than that. (Thanks again for taking all the fun out of things Mom. J) instead I took the high road and sent them a friend request saying “Hi, hope everything is going well” and silently forgave them.
Well, James, you're a better person than I am - I don't think I could offer my friendship to the people who bullied me at school, even though it's forty years on. What do readers think? Would you accept the friendship of someone who made your life a living hell? Could you do it? Are you big enough to forgive? I hope some of you are.