Advice Friday, a day I typically devote to responding to your style and shopping questions on Facebook.
Today, however, I am really struggling with what to say! This isn’t about who I voted for – you don’t know, so please don’t assume. No, my sorrow today is not over who won or who lost…
It’s about pain.
It’s about division.
It’s about half of our nation wondering if they should feel afraid of the other half.
But mostly, it’s about bullying.
Many of you who are close to me know about my son, who is one of my biggest heroes in this world. He spent the first half of his life in doctors’ offices and therapy sessions, working to navigate the cards that have been dealt to him in this unpredictable world. (You can read more about his story here, if you’d like.)
When my son was in 4th grade, that’s when the bullying began. Apparently 9 or 10 is the age for many kids, when they stop seeing other children as just friends, and start deciding which groups or cliques they identify with. One attention-needing kid identified my son as different, and they all ran with it. Day after day, he suffered, while I fought to understand what was happening to my child (who wasn’t able to communicate it very well), and then fought his own school teachers and principal to make it stop.
I’ll never forget the day it all came to a halt. The day the blood froze in my veins and my world stopped spinning. We were driving home from school, after a long and unproductive meeting where his principal had flat-out told me “maybe his version of processing the world is causing him to imagine he’s being bullied, because the kids in my school wouldn’t act this way.”
From the back seat, my son said, “Mommy, what are the least painful ways to die? Because I think I would like to just go to Heaven now.”
I couldn’t breathe, but pulled over and turned around as quickly as I could manage. Tears were streaming down his cheeks. And mine. My 9-year-old child wanted to die, because of how other kids, his own friends – in fact, one of his best friends – were treating him.
We never went back to that school.
This week, I have worked hard to maintain a positive attitude and deeply-rooted belief that things will always turn out the way they are supposed to, and God is with us through it all. But the news reports of children chanting “send them home” to their own classmates – who were their friends just 48 hours before! – has me weeping. Stories of hate crimes, and Muslim women being attacked because their head coverings make them easy targets, and apparently the KKK is throwing a parade…
My friends, I am floored by this all! And honestly, I’m a little angry. Not angry at politics, because they are part of our American system and we all know the rules. No, I am angry at bullies!
So today, instead of my usual fashion post, I’m choosing something different than what I see in my news feed, on TV, and the internet.
I am choosing to be exactly the same person I was before this week ever happened.
I will wear a safety pin on my shirt, and make this pledge:
As before, I will respect every person in my community who has come here from another country, seeking the chance to build a new life for yourself. Whatever reason brought you here, you are equal and I love you.
As before, I will respect every person who has a religious belief that’s different than mine. You are equal and I love you.
As before, I will respect my very dear LGBTQ friends and family members. You are equal and I love you.
As before, I will respect those who have different political views than I do, and their right to them. You are equal and I love you.
As before, I will respect my friends, family members, neighbors, and everyone I meet whose skin or DNA makeup is a different shade than mine. You are equal and I love you.
As before, I will respect all women, of all ages and sizes and ethnicities, and will not judge you on appearance, clothing, beauty, color, or your decision to wear either a burka or bikini any darn place you please. You are equal and I love you.
As before, I will respect all people of disability, special need, or medical challenge, visible or invisible. You are equal and I love you.
This is my promise, because I can not change how others feel, but I can be responsible for my own actions and thoughts.
Furthermore, if I have judged, internally or out loud, any of the people listed above, I want you to know that I AM SORRY. I repent, and ask your forgiveness, because acknowledging it is what helps us change, and be better. I’m not perfect, so tell me if I say or do something something judgy! Hold me accountable, because that’s not the person I want to be!
I also promise that I will not be a silent onlooker, if I see judgement, bullying, racism, sexism, or harassment occur around me! That’s harder, because I’m a woman and I know what it’s like to fear bullies, too. But every time I see someone picking on a fellow human being in this great nation, or any other, I will step in and make a stand. (This article has great tips for how to intervene when you see bullying: https://sojo.net/articles/what-do-if-you-see-islamophobic-harrassment)
Because it only takes one person to change the course of another’s hate. One person could have stood up for my son, and his entire childhood would have been different.
I could not be there in the moment, to be that one for my little boy, and I will always regret it… But I promise. If I am there and I see it, I will be that person for you.
Please do the same for me, and I will cling to the hope that we will all be ok.
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
16 thoughts on “Why it’s More Important Than Ever to Stand Against Bullying”
Beautifully stated Tanya. I think of your son often. When you first shared that story it pierced my heart because from age 13 to 17 I was bullied every single day at school and I remember asking myself the same question he asked you and begging God to let me die. So bullying tugs hard on my heat-strings. How blessed he is to have parents who step in and do something. I’ll wear a safety pin too (I like that idea) and support your pledge.
Carol, my heart aches for you! I wish I could go back in time and be that person for you. My hope is that this entire chapter in our nation’s history is a huge wake-up call for us moving forward. Time to make an extra effort to be nice to each other.
This made me cry. Peace and love to every one of us.
Love you Ammo! My apologies for the tears. Hugs my friend!
Thank you for your heart and expression of what is in so many of ours. oxo
Thank you Kay! I appreciate your kindness and camaraderie! We are in this together. ❤ XOXO!
Many many blessings and heart felt, positive energy to you and our sweet babies that will grow up in this day and age where there are so many keyboard and vengeful bullies. It’s truly heartbreaking and infuriating. If I had the ultimate cure or magical phrase or… something…it’d give every dime I had to cool the sting and pain of hurtful words.
Thank you Sarah! I appreciate your kind words! XOXO!!!
This also made me cry. Since I’ve moved to Texas and my kids into the public school system we’ve experienced bullying and it’s been difficult to witness from the vantage of a parent who can’t always be there to protect the babies they hold so dear.
I have to say that you are one of the few people I know that truly embodies acceptance and love in a thoughtful, always evolving way. This week has been horrifying and things only seem to get worse. My FB feed is filled with news, shock, anger, etc, completely from people who share my mindset. I’ve been a part of it.
It’s been helpful to go out into the community and begin talking to people with other mindsets so I can understand a broader spectrum. This is why, last night, I thought to search out my old friend, you. I thought if anyone could show me how to accept other views with dignity and love, it would be you. And here you go. Always a shining example, my gorgeous and thoughtful friend.
Amy, your words made me cry, too! Miss you, lovely girl. So sorry to hear about your dear sons and what they are experiencing. 😦
I understand the anger, and the hurt, all around. It feels like a dark cloud hangs over our nation. I wrote this because I felt myself drowning in it, and needed an outlet to channel my pain. I choose to fight back – not against politics, but against mean people who take advantage of those they perceive as weaker, or smaller, or less valuable than themselves. I’m done with being passive or timid! Linking arms with each other means picking up those who are down, and it also means stopping the blows of those who do harm. It takes all of us.
I love you, always have and always will!!! If we’re ever in the same state again, let’s do coffee. Until then, you and your sweet boys are in my heart and prayers!
Beautifully written and expressed Tanya. I was a victim of bullying at a young age too. Your son will grow into a caring, sensitive young man who will love others like you do. He will learn from what he’s gone through and he will help to make the world a better place. I am sorry for his pain, yours and for the pain in our country right now. Thanks for sharing your heart.
Thank you Jan. I am so sorry for what you went through, too! That kind of cruelty stick with you, and is hard to heal. May you find hope and love my friend – you are in my thoughts and prayers! XO
You really brought tears to my eyes today Tanya. Your thoughts so eloquently describe my own feelings. I am an optimist. I need to believe that we can all be more loving, more understanding and more accepting of those around us regardless of our differences. Thank you for putting those thoughts into print. I will share your thoughts as my own!
Thank you Susie! I’m honored by your words, and happy to bring encouragement during this tough time. ❤ Hugs to you and your family!!! XOXO, Tanya
Well said Tanya Your dad would be so proud as am I
Thank you Leroy! That means a lot to me. ❤ Xoxo to you and Debbie!!