Being Bullied: The Effects that Can Last a Lifetime.

9 Oct

About two weeks ago, I randomly received an email from a woman who works at an elementary school in Asheville. She informed me she had received my contact information from the program director of Easter Seals in Asheville who spoke very highly of me. She then told me there is a book club at the elementary school, and in the book the children are reading, the main character has Cerebral Palsy. Based on the high remarks she received from the Asheville Easter Seals program director concerning me, she asked if I’d be willing to come speak to the third through fifth graders about my experiences with CP. Specifically, she asked if I could speak about my experiences of being bullied during my school years.

The email was completely out of the blue, and I was stunned. To have received this kind of opportunity without searching for it is incredible, and I am excited for such a wonderful opportunity. However, the tricky part comes with the focus of the talk: my bullying experiences in school.

It is safe to say my bullying experiences were the worst part of my childhood (excluding my intense surgeries and physical therapy, obviously). As a child, I could not understand why I was being targeted out of everyone in my class. I understand now that children are especially curious about those who are different from them. However, I didn’t know why it always had to be me. During those times, I also didn’t understand why I was so different. All I wanted was to fit in, and by getting bullied I stuck out even more.

I got my hair pulled in kindergarten because I had no way of running away, I got pelted with a dodge ball in middle school because I couldn’t move away from the ball fast enough, and every day in gym class, I was picked last. Though I know those experiences helped me to develop a thicker skin very early on in life, many of the experiences were just plain cruel. There is no other way to say it. They resulted in me coming home from elementary school crying to my parents on a daily basis. I cried over more than just the bullying though. I cried over hating I was so different. I cried over not being able to fit in because my experiences were so different from most of the other kids my age. I cried because it wasn’t fair. None of it was fair. I was a nice kid. I smiled at other kids, I laughed with them, and yet I still didn’t ever really fit in with them.

The complex social aspects of school are difficult for any kid. However, they are especially difficult for any kid who may be a tiny bit different from their peers. I only hope to try to convey this to the children I’ll speak to at the elementary school in Asheville. I don’t want to berate them or tell them to stop being mean. After all, they are kids. Kids are curious, especially regarding things they don’t fully understand. I only hope to explain how children with disabilities should be treated just like any other kid. Yes, they are different, but pointing out their differences and excluding them from activities because they are a little bit unique only makes it that much more difficult for them.

Despite growing a tougher skin due to being bullied, I have carried my bullying experiences with me ever since I was a kid. I remember the specific moments in detail. I remember who targeted me, and I remember exactly the way I felt when I came home and cried. I know now that many of my bullying experiences were not intentional. They were just moments of kids being kids. However, that does not mean I still don’t remember the feeling of walking into gym class with my fingers crossed, silently hoping I wouldn’t have to be pelted with a dodge ball by the one girl who always got so much satisfaction out of being the one to hit me.

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6 Responses to “Being Bullied: The Effects that Can Last a Lifetime.”

  1. Jon-Paul October 9, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    I would encourage you to give the talks. What a great way to heal yourself and to be the shining light that you are for others. Yes, you endured much, as have I growing up gay in small towns in the 1970’s, but it made you who you are now – powerful. Use that power for good! I look forward to seeing a future post about how it went (he says optimistically).

    • ameliaclaire92 October 9, 2013 at 11:25 am #

      I am definitely planning to speak. There is no doubt about that! It is my way of sharing my story in order to give a voice to others with disabilities who are struggling but have no way to share what they are feeling. I definitely agree that my experiences have made me who I am today. Thank you so much for the support. I really appreciate it!

  2. wildhorse33 October 9, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    As you share your story, you will inspire and, in that sharing, you are a testament to survival and endurance. It won’t make your past experiences any less painful in their memory, it won’t make days any easier now, but you will be doing what your life journey dictates – you are an amazing spokesperson. An example. A true inspiration. I am honored to follow your blog and read your work. Good luck with your school visit and future writing.

    • ameliaclaire92 October 9, 2013 at 11:27 am #

      Some days it is so hard for me to understand how speaking about my most painful moments can act as support or inspiration for others, but I love it nonetheless! Thank you so much for the support.

  3. CarrieC October 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    Amelia–it is good to read your reflections. I certainly know how humbling it is to be asked to speak with children (especially) about my own life experience living with a disability. You are brave! It takes much courage to share the deep feelings and stay open for the invitations that come your way.
    I look forward to hearing more.

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