Leah wrote to me this very powerful personal story that puts into perspective the personal damage that bullying can do to a soul. I felt her pain as I read the story she titled “They Took My Voice”. I think you will find it a powerful piece as well and see her soul and voice in each word. ~Alan Eisenberg
I was eight, and as the straw that broke the camels back, she took my voice. They all did. But none more than the teachers who did nothing. They heard her side. They heard my side. They may have believed I was choked, or they may not have. All they said was “well, you look okay, so you’re fine.” But the point was, they did nothing. Blackness had surrounded me from an arm that closed tight around my neck and they did nothing. Told me I must be mistaken, made me feel I was overreacting. From that point on, I always doubted myself, not others, but myself. I continued desperately to try to make friends. Always trying to make friends. I was spat on, painted, juice poured on, punched, freckles “picked off,” gotten in water with clothes on, had rocks thrown at me, and numerous other ridiculous things, all for the promise that they would be my friend if I did. Besides, to me, who for 13 years never had a true friend, getting any attention at all was far better than never having any. But why did it seem as though no one besides my parents knew this was not right?
I hear stories of children gaining depression from bullying. Dealing with depression while they are bullied. For 13 years I felt nothing. From the age of eight to the age of twenty I felt nothing. Four of those I was being bullied. I knew it, but again, that’s ALL I knew. The other years, I had forgotten. I’m twenty-one now, and beginning almost a year ago I thought regularly of ending my life. More recently, I cut. Only to harm, not to take my life. To show what they’ve done to me. Though while I’m in that state I do not think of that as the reason. I don’t think of anything really. I wake up and there is 50 tons of hypothetical weight holding me down to my bed. I skip classes to stay in bed. I eat all the time. I want to live now, but, I don’t want to deal with anything or anyone. When I’m alone I’m overwhelmingly lonely, and when I’m around most people I don’t want to have anything to do with them. I get really angry all the time, and I don’t make eye contact. Sometimes I get so close to leaving my seat in class and curling up in a ball on the bathroom floor just to get away from people. But then I’m too lonely.
((FYI- I’ve found other ways to cope with the urge to cut, such as petting my dogs, blowing up a balloon and then watching it fart itself around the room, pouring water on my head, and if all fails, putting streaks of red nail polish on my arm. Please try any of these as an alternative to cutting if you too get urges. Other options I’ve heard of from friends are exercising, egging your yard, gardening, or shoveling your yard. Even come up with your own thing. Some of these may sound crazy but hey whatever works.))
I’m getting help, I assure you. I have a counselor, a support group, amazing friends (finally), good, supportive parents, and most importantly a loving Savior who has already redeemed all this and is guiding me through. And I truly believe it is the combination of these factors that resulted in me finally feeling it all. But my point is no person should ever go through this. Whether they deal with it as a child, or far into adulthood. No child should ever lose his or her voice. And no teacher should let them lose it.
I want so much to be an Elementary School Teacher. However, I am still terrified of bullies, even if they are 10+ years younger than me. I want to be a strong voice and a comfort to those who are both victims of bullying and the bullies themselves. If you are a Christian, I ask for your prayers. I truly believe that if I heal I can be the best darn advocate for anti-bullying the school district has ever seen. But I need my voice back.
Thank you for reading, and if you have been a victim of any kind of abuse, I pray for your healing as well.