Lets be confident and kind; for all the beautiful souls looking up to us in this very moment.
This year for Christmas, two special people in my life bought me a beautiful book called, "Everyday Kindness" and I received this with so much love. I recently had three little ones in my life come to me because they have been experiencing bullying. As a parent and aunt, I take my support roles very seriously! As I sat in those moments and supported each one of them, I realized I have never spoke my own truth on this seriously harmful issue. I sat there with each of these little people in my life telling them how special they are and how to overcome these painful moments.
Easier said than done, right? I mean as I wiped their tears I was reminded of how many tears I have shed with this same issue. I remember being an adolescent and nearly hating myself because I believed all of the awful things I was being told. Not just by my peers in school, but by abusive step-parents; and the lack of worthiness I felt in my social and home lives was nearly unbearable. I would try to tell myself that everything would be ok, but it was so truly difficult for me to believe. I've never shared publicly my thoughts of suicide that took place because of this. I felt hopeless and worthless, and I believed that I did not deserve to live.
(Adolescent me trying to put on a fake smile)
I pushed through and worked on ways of healing the pain; and journaling nearly saved my life. I would write to myself and capture my pain and talk to a higher power who I believed created me for a special purpose. I also had my twin sister who helped me emotionally and reminded me that my life was extremely important to her. This kept me going and helped me to push through on my toughest days.
As I entered high school I still dealt with bullying, but it wasn't until I reached my twenties that the seriously harmful bullying would return back in to my life.
I would step out with my friends frequently; and I would have women calling me all sorts of names to my face and to my friends. I remember being physically attacked a few times, where women put their hands on me just to tell me how ugly I was! One night I cried on my bathroom floor with a black eye and alcohol all over my shirt and hair after a woman assaulted me. She told me to get plastic surgery or die because I was too ugly to look at.
One of the worst moments of bullying I experienced, is one that impacted both my twin sister and I, and one that we have never spoken of other than to our closest friends. Now I recognize that many people we knew of in our twenties knew about this, but we've never owned our truth on this harmful attack that we experienced; internet bullying.
One day I received a phone call from an old friend, and she told me that my sister and I were on a bullying website and that there were some awful things said about us. My heart sank to my stomach, and I pulled up the website and saw a picture of my sister and I with cruel comments wrote about us. I read as multiple people (some I knew and some I didn't) wrote about how ugly and pathetic me and my sister were. I didn't even know how to process what I was reading. And slowly but surely, there I went again... I started to believe those harmful words.
(Me and Felisha in our early twenties; trying to smile with broken hearts)
It took us both several years to truly find that inner confidence based on our hearts, minds, and souls. For years we took that pain and we found ourselves in unhealthy dating relationships, settling for less, not receiving respect, and not demanding our self-respect. We were such different women during this chapter. We spent a lot of time hurting about what others were saying about us, and by our late twenties, we hit our breaking point and finally did the inner work we needed to do to heal ourselves and truly LOVE OURSELVES. We put a lot of work in to our self development, and we took it seriously.
Felisha went on a beautiful independent journey where she didn't date for over a year.
We found an amazing counselor who gave us real feedback on our self-esteem issues related to the abuse we experienced in our childhoods.
We read amazing books that helped us become aware of our own self-love and self-respect.
We set healthy boundaries in all relationships in our lives; and ended relationships that were not healthy or supportive of us.
We became connected to our spirituality again; and we were reminded of the value of our souls and purpose.
We learned about the people who were harming us, and learned to love them and forgive them, for we recognized that it was their pain they were projecting on us.
We channeled all of our pain in to our purpose; and worked hard to finish our education and pursue our careers.
We learned to embrace all of our uniqueness based on OUR opinions of ourselves and not what others thought.
Today, at 31 years old; we are stronger than we have ever been.
How can we make a difference??
I share all of this with you today because it is important that we ALL get real about this bullying issue!
As parents, partners, friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, we have to take steps to prevent psychological harm. One of the main ways we can do this is by raising confident, resilient children; and by being the best example for these children. We can hold our heads high and show them what healthy self-esteem looks like. We can model to them what it looks like to be knocked down and get back up! We can wipe their tears and help them to smile by sharing love with them and reminding them of amazing they are. We can cherish them in such a way, that they don't believe the negative and mean things they hear about themselves from others.
My hope is that by sharing my journey with you, we can relate to each other and come together to share kindness. I recognize that we can't stop bullying, but we can make a difference by sharing kindness.
By being strong OURSELVES, we are strong for those around us! Let's be brave for all of the little people looking up to us who are going to need our comfort when they hear hurtful things about them. Let's come together to find ways to be the strongest, most powerful version of ourselves; and show others that they too can love themselves so much that they can overcome anything!
(EVERYDAY KINDNESS: 365 ways to a peaceful life. (2017). S.l.: BOUNTY BOOKS.)
If you or someone you love is struggling with this harmful issue; know that you are NOT alone.
If I could go back and visit little me crying and depressed from bullying, I would put my arms around her and hug her and tell her that one day she will be so surprised at the woman she will become. I would wipe her tears and remind her that this moment in her life is all serving a purpose for her self-love journey; and that she would be a better woman, wife, parent, and aunt for going through this difficult time.
I'm grateful for the woman I have become.
Share this blog with any beautiful soul that might be hurting in this moment. Let them know they are not alone.
Let's share kindness.
With so much love,