Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Reruns for a Cause

It recently came to my attention that October is anti-bullying month. I'm not entirely certain how this tidbit managed to slip by me. Had I known, I would have planned an entire month of blue manicures, since that is not only my favorite color, but the color for the whole anti-bullying movement, and this is a cause quite close to my heart.

On my personal blog, I've talked about this several times, though I don't think I've ever gone into detail.

The first time I remember being bullied, it was in the third grade, at our Thanksgiving party. a group of girls I wanted to be friends with intentionally changed the rules of a game they were playing to leave me out. When I realized what they were doing, I cried. One of them asked what was wrong, and I gave a rather nasty response. I got into trouble while they were the "victims" of my foul language.

Fast forward to middle school, and it expanded. I was made fun of for how I dressed, what I read, my grads--be they good or bad--the way I talked, who my friends were, anything they could think of. I kept a lot of it to myself, because when I went to an adult I was always told either that I should ignore them and they would leave me alone, or I needed to grow a thicker skin. On the few occasions they actually listened, they merely chastised the bullies, which only made things worse.

One guy was particularly bad. Not only did he make fun of me verbally every time he saw me--and we had several classes together--he would knock my books off of my desk, or out of my arms, pull my hair throw wadded paper at me, and leave notes in my locker once or twice a day. he was a known trouble maker, however, so the response from my teachers was usually, "Well, what do you expect us to do?" No amount of detention, suspension, or other punishments had an effect.

Do you remember Willow, from Buffy? Season one Willow, I mean. Shy, awkward, just looking to belong. That was me. Most days I wanted to hide or run away. It was hard to concentrate, and I frequently wound up crying in class--which of course only made the teasing worse.

One day, though, I'd just had it. Instead of feeling hurt, I got angry, just like that day on the playground. That guy had been coming up behind me between every class, putting his arm around me, grabbing my stuff, whispering nasty things in my ear.

And I got mad. I snapped.

I'd never once defended myself. I tried to be good. I either ran away and cried, or I found the nearest adult--just like we were supposed to.

But nothing ever changed.

So that day I said, "Don't touch me. Ever. I mean it."

He bounded off laughing. What could I, smallest girl in the seventh grade, do to him?

A few minutes later, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

"I told you not to touch me!" I drew back my elbow and drove it as hard as I could into his face.

Except it wasn't his face.

It was my homeroom teacher's stomach.

In today's world of zero tolerance, I probably would have been expelled or at least suspended, especially if I'd hit my intended target. Had I not had the rapport I did with my teachers--and that one in particular--I probably still would have been punished.

I am not advocating violence in any way, but in my situation, it had the desired effect. Once he could breathe again, and I'd apologized profusely and explained the mistake (in the process drawing the attention of another teacher) he was understanding. Both teachers were aware not only of the boy's reputation, but that I was his favorite target. They were not aware of the severity, however.

The two of them told me not to worry about him any more, that they would take care of it. Sure enough, later that same day my science teacher caught him putting a note in my locker. He confiscated it. I still don't know what it said, but from that point on he wasn't allowed to so much as look at me, and within a few weeks was expelled, though I believe for an unrelated incident.

I still got bullied. I was still left out. But it was never again as bad as it was in seventh grade. 

Many years later, I met a girl who had bullied me in middle school at a fast food place. Do you know what she did to me? 

She hugged me. 

She acted like we were long lost friends, and that the last time we'd exchanged more than two words she hadn't tried to rearrange my braces. 

While neither of these two are on my Christmas list, the point I am trying to make is that no matter how bad things are, there's always someone who can help you. Maybe it's someone you dismissed before, thinking they wouldn't listen, or someone who hasn't acted yet because they don't realize how bad things really are. 

Second--it will pass. Eventually, they will move, or you will; you'll graduate, or they will lose interest, or you'll find that person or people who can help you. You'll look back, and their blurry faces won't even matter, except as a small stepping stone towards the strong, wonderful person you were meant to be. 

Bullies will always exist in one form or another. They make us stronger. 

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't be looking for the door when one walks into your life. 

I've done variations on the blue layered mani before (here and here for those interested), and I really like this look. I decided to go skittles style for this one, because the whole idea behind stopping bullying is that everyone is accepted for who they are.

Colors used: 
Pinky: Sally Hansen Chrome "Aquamarine Chrome"
Ring: Finger Paints "Tiffany Imposter" and China Glaze "Dorothy Who?"
Middle: Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure "Calypso Blue" 
Index: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri "Blue By" and China Glaze "Dorothy Who?"
Thumb: Revlon "Mysterious"

Don't forget to add some glitter. Never be afraid to shine.

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