Start With You

When you know yourself you are empowered. When you accept yourself you are invincible. – Tina Lifford

I’m finding so many of my friends really discovering this concept in our 40th year.  I guess there is something magical about turning 40.  Self acceptance is something I talk to my kids about daily, yet it is the one thing I struggle with the most for my own life.  The recent onslaught of gay bullying, teen suicides, internet bullying and more has me talking to them more than ever about not letting other people get to them.

Since first grade, my daughter has been bullied by a few girls at school.  I went through every channel to try to make it stop.  After meetings with parents, teachers, principles, etc.  I learned that the only way to deal with it was to teach her to not be affected by it.  People who bully find their ways to get away with it one way or another.  Once it has started, it can linger with actions and looks that only the victim can see and feel.  Children don’t have to be handicapped, gay, or gawkishly different.  Bullies pick their prey, and go for it.

I struggled for years to understand why they picked her.  Thanks to their behavior, she saw herself for the longest time as a dork and a loser and someone others didn’t want to be friends with.  Last year, something changed.  We were riding home from a softball game with one of her upper classmates in the car.  My daughter began to get upset about one of the “mean girls” on her softball team picking on her.  I heard it and saw it, and I wasn’t happy about it.  All of a sudden, with one statement, her life changed.  The one-year-wiser classmate said to her, “Oh my God.  When are you gonna get the fact that the reason they all pick on you is because you are prettier than they are.  The boys they like like YOU, and they have hated it for years. ”  Her response was, “No, the boys play with me and pick me because I am good at sports.”  Upper classmate responded, “Maya, you are good but you aren’t that good.  Look in the mirror. You are killing me. Ignore them and it will be over!”

In a moment, it was over.  She started going to school with her chin up higher, suddenly making new and different friends, and has yet to get involved in anything negative or any drama or anything painful.  No one has been able to hurt her, and she is constantly letting things roll right off her.  I’m amazed.  She is, all of sudden, kind of invincible.

Note to self:  look in the mirror, like what you see.

I’m not trying to downplay the epidemic of gays being bullied.  I’m extremely bothered by it, and think the first place to begin a solution is to ensure my children aren’t in fear of homosexuality, and are compassionate and caring to anyone who is different from them in any way.  I think what I’m trying to say is we need to talk to them about not being in fear of differences, and also encourage them to talk about it with each other.  Mom and Dad can blah blah blah about it all day long.  When they hear it from each other, it may really sink in.  No matter what makes us different, when we learn to be good to each other, perhaps the bullying, beatings, shootings and suicides will be a thing of the past.  One can hope.

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