I am not going to whine by saying, “People were mean to me in high school.” High school was and is weird. When one enters adolescence, one can no longer discern between right and left but are required to discern between right and wrong. Coupled with the academic and social pressures, it is a wonder any high school student is “nice” to anyone. I get it. However, people were mean to me in high school.
Like most teens, I was lacking in the area of emotional intelligence. Like most survivors of sexual abuse, I was lacking in self-esteem and skills to defend myself. High school for me was years of rumors (most of which were not true), gum-throwing-into-my-hair incidents, shoving-my-body-into-locker moments, etc. Yes, etcetera. Yes, there was more, the most painful I’m not ready to share.
There were many afternoons I would come home from school and simply bury my face in my pillow and sob. My mom would attempt to find out what was wrong. Half of the things I told her about and half of the things I didn't. Her best advice was to keep smiling and ignore it knowing that the attacks were due to my peer’s jealousy.
I went with this tactic and I survived. But it didn't work.
Last Friday, my 13 year old daughter, a freshman in high school, and I were bickering during the ride home from school. When we got into the house, she went to her room and began crying, face down in her pillow, sobbing. I thought she was upset that we were arguing, so I at first tried to ignore it, the sound of her sadness paralyzing me.
Then, my own high school experience flooded over me.
I knew if I remained paralyzed it could potentially paralyze my daughter.
I went into her room and said, “Why are you crying?”
“Is it because we are fighting?”
She answered, “No.”
I sat down on her bed and asked, “Did something happen at school?”
Something did happen at school. It made me mad. I yelled. She cried. We calmed down and talked. In essence, I told her to never allow anyone, even her best friends, to be mean to her. We discussed strategies for solving the problem that would cause as little hurt as possible. I held her face in my shoulder and she sobbed some more.
During the course of the weekend, by talking to the person who hurt her, she peacefully worked out her issue. I would like to think that our talk helped and I am really grateful I was able to put my own experiences aside and offer her support.
I now see why a lot of parents are emotionally absent from parenting. It’s painful—painful to watch one’s child hurt while at the same time re-experiencing one’s own hurts over and over again. But the hurt is no excuse.
The bully wins when I am silent. I am done being bullied.
(This post is dedicated to Xiomara A. Maldonado who shocked me out of the self-pity that was keeping me from writing with this post: You Hide It Well: My Secret Battle With Depression.)
Miss Blackflag via photopin cc