Tag Archives: forgiveness

Bullying and the F Word

th[1]When The Girl was in 8th grade, she was targeted by Mean Girls. She was lucky. Not because she was bullied. There is nothing lucky about it*. According to nobullying.com/causes-of-suicide/ “Teenage bullying is one of the leading causes of teenage suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death in young children.” My daughter was lucky because she was targeted by a handful of Former Friends, and the bullying consisted of them telling her “We’ve never been your friend” and running away when she approached. While the loss of a BFF can be devastating (at any age) it does not compare with the stories that make the rounds via social media or breaking news.

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Image courtesy of keyword-suggestions.com

I had no idea. I mean, I knew something was wrong – my usually cheerful, gregarious tween became curiously quiet – but, when pressed, she would only say that she was “tired”. Her mysterious fatigue (which we blamed on a growth spurt and hormones) only lasted a week. It wasn’t until one of the other mothers greeted me with “I’m so sorry that Lauren’s having problems in school” and suggested I pick up Queen Bees and Wannabes that I knew there had been a Serious Problem. When I confronted discussed the situation with her that night, she shrugged “It’s no big deal. I’m not going to be friends with them in high school, so why should I care if we’re not friends now?”

“But why didn’t you tell me? I’m your mom! You’re supposed to come to me when you have problems.”

She gave a slow “no comment” blink.

“Because I would have gone to school to kick a** and chew bubble gum….”

She smiled. “…and you are all out of bubblegum.”

Seeing that 8th grade is far behind us, you might be wondering why I’m bringing this up now. Contrary to what the EIC says, it’s NOT because I’ve been unable to come up with a topic for a post for days weeks months. My daughter went to camp last week.

I know what you’re thinking (I do! I’m psychic! No, wait – I’m psychotic. I always get those confused) What does camp have to do with bullying? Did she go to a special anti-bullying camp? No. I don’t know if they have anti-bullying camps, but if they do, they should include karate or self-defense classes (please note, WE DON’T HIT!) Was she bullied at camp? No. Did she flip to the dark side and bully kids at camp? Also no. Did she have horrible flashbacks and wake up screaming in the middle of the night? Not that I’m aware of, although when she was little she did have night terrors. Did she run through camp wearing a plastic mask and screaming “Welcome to Camp Crystal Lake – run, bullies run!” While that would have been really, really funny, again, the answer is no.

According to the youth leaders, my daughter epitomized this year’s lesson on forgiveness. She stood up in front of hundreds of young men and women and spoke about the different types of bullying, and the importance of forgiveness. She warned the campers that “If you don’t forgive fully, memories and emotions will pop up when you least expect it.” She told them that she had reached out to the girls who had bullied her to tell them she forgave them and shared their responses.

“I told them ‘I don’t mean to make you feel guilty, but I want to let you know that I forgive you for what you did to me.’” The Meanest girl (the one who wanted to replace Lauren as BFF to the Queen Bee) responded with “You have nothing to apologize for. We are the ones who owe you an apology.” A second girl responded with a lengthy text message, thanking her for reaching out because “I have always felt guilty about what happened, but never knew how to approach you/how to bring this up. I knew it was wrong, but, as an incredibly insecure tween, I didn’t have the strength to stand up to the others to stop it.” Not all the girls have grown up. A third girl responded with “I think you have the wrong number.” Which would be possible except for the fact that my daughter had JUST gotten her phone number from another friend.

I am so proud of my daughter. I think it’s amazing that she was mature enough to handle the situation on her own (although I’m still butthurt she didn’t come to me). I am in awe of the fact that she was willing to share her story with hundreds of strangers, and I think it’s incredible that she was willing to reach out to her bullies to tell them she forgave them. I’m also proud of the girls who showed remorse for their actions. The F-word has allowed all of them to heal.

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image courtesy of discovryproject.wordpress.com

Mostly, I’m impressed that my daughter has a heart that’s willing to forgive, because she comes from a long line of stubborn strong-willed women who hold a grudge. I’ve spoken before about the importance of forgiveness, but the lesson isn’t sticking. Evidently I have a lot to learn, because I still want to punch the little B’s** in the neck.

*The statistic (courtesy of bullyingstatistics.com) on bullying and suicide are alarming:

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths/year according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14% of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7% have attempted it
  • Bully victims are between 2-9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
  •  A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides amount young people are related to bullying.
  • 10-14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above
  • According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30% of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 1600,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying

If you are a victim of or witness to bullying, you can report it here.

If you or a friend are fighting thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please call. Someone is always willing to listen.

**Bullies! That’s the B word I meant – could I have meant anything else? 😉

And, lastly, a song that never fails to make me cry

Forgiveness, Part Duh!

self-forgiveness[1]Last week I talked about the importance of forgiveness. I was hoping that admitting that I am a work in process/learning to listen to Life the first (ok, third) time she whispers would help me get past this life lesson. Re-runs are annoying (although I never get tired of Young Frankenstein). Repeating life lessons are even worse.

This week my daughter took part in the 79th Annual Student Speakers Contest. The Lion’s Club gives high school students the chance to compete for cash prizes and scholarship money while working on their public speaking skills. I cannot say enough about the program, or the group of women who make up the Amber’s Light Lions Club.

We are not supposed to post any information about the contest results until the statewide completion is over, so I can’t tell you how my daughter did. I CAN tell you (at least I think I can) that I made a mistake.

I hate making mistakes.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a perfectionist, or because I have made mistakes that led to serious consequences, but I beat myself up every time. It’s what I’ve always done, and I am very good at it. One could say that when it comes to self-flagellation, I’m a professional.*#

The worst part about Miss Take? She brings along her friends Guilt and Remorse. They are not good houseguests. They come in, make themselves at home, and make a mess of everything. Their negativity chases Self-Confidence away, and she takes Happiness and Joy with her.

I learned this week that the only way to kick the Terrible Trio out of the house is by practicing self-forgiveness. After a lifetime of holding myself to the highest standard, I am learning that it’s important to give myself a break before I break something.

I am learning that Life’s  lessons can be hard, and that the lesson will repeat until I pass the test. Life is a journey, and it’s okay if I make mistakes along the way.  The good news is that, if you listen, you can learn from Miss Take.

I’m trying to listen. I hope you do too.

*One could it, but (since nobody has paid me, yet) it would be a lie

# I am always looking for ways to bring in money that don’t involve MLM. If you know of a way for me to turn pro, let me know (jk)

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P.S. I came across an excellent post on self-forgiveness. Destiny at Practise makes Permanent has a great post on the importance of Self-Compassion. You should take a look.

 

 

 

The Other F-word

Confession[1]I have a confession to make. Seeing that I’m not Catholic and am extremely adverse to sitting in small rooms talking to strange men, I will make my public confession here. As soon as I can work up the nerve. Ok here goes –

I swear. A lot.*

This should come as no surprise to those of you who read my blog. Just last week, I admitted to swearing like a fleet of sailors. It certainly comes as no surprise to my friends and family. I have been swearing since I discovered the power of four letter words while I was in high school. My family and neighbors were regularly…..entertained (for want of a better word) by slamming doors and foul language screamed at the top of my lungs. I am (slightly) embarrassed to admit that my language hasn’t improved much since high school.  I will say, however, that I no longer slam my bedroom door (but only because my door is hollow and refuses to slam in a satisfying manner).

I use the F-word more often than any Responsible Adult should (which is not really a problem, since I admit to being neither), especially now that I am a suburban soccer mom who is raising an impressionable young teen. It is what it is. I find satisfaction in using the word, whether because it still holds shock value, or because I can’t find another word that expresses my feelings of impotency and frustration when dealing with the struggles that come along with this crazy rollercoaster we call life.

I think that I am finally giving it up for another F-word. It’s not a four letter word, but it does share similar qualities. People talk about it all the time, usually in hushed tones. Like my favorite F word, it makes people uncomfortable. Unlike my favorite word, this one’s power comes from something more than shock value.

I’m talking about forgiveness

From Miriam Wesbter:

forgiveness

noun for·give·ness \-ˈgiv-nəs\

Simple Definition of forgiveness

Popularity: Bottom 50% of words
  • : the act of forgiving someone or something

  • : the attitude of someone who is willing to forgive other people

I was amused but not surprised to find that the popularity of forgiveness is less than 50%. It’s a rough one. I would like to be able to say that, as an enlightened and loving being, I am quick to forgive and forget. I would like to be able to say it, but I can’t (well, I CAN, but I would be lying). I have been reminded, repeatedly, that forgiveness is powerful, life-changing, and very important to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

I have learned that, if you refuse to listen, Life will knock you down until you do – so this time, I am listening. I hope you do, too. Don’t forget the most important part of the lesson – forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, it means remembering and letting go

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*I was overjoyed to find out that Classysassycrazy shares my fondness for four letter words