Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Me Vs. The Bully

Anti-Bullying has been a topic that has been in the media a lot recently. The first story that went viral was that of Jennifer Livingston, a US news anchor who received a e-mail attacking her appearance and weight by one of her viewers. Instead of ignoring the email Jennifer spoke out against bullying and stood up for herself. Her story went viral on social media and received millions of views. The most recent story is the suicide of Amanda Todd. This young girl was a victim of bullying both online and in school. The torment led her to take her own life after previous failed attempts.

For me, both of these stories hit home on a deep and personal level. Jennifer Livingston, a successful and beautiful woman, was brave enough to stand up to her bully. The unnamed viewer had said she was a poor role model for young people for making the choice to be obese. Livingston's response was basically "you think I don't know that". She said "To all of the children out there who feel lost, who are struggling with your weight, with the colour of your skin, your sexual preference, your disability, even the acne on your face, listen to me right now: Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies."

For many years I allowed my self-worth to be defined by what other people thought of me, not any more. My self-worth is defined by me and only me, by what I define as important, my values and ethics. I am more than a number on a scale or the size of pants I wear. I am important and valuable in this world. It took me a long time to see things this way because, like I said, for years I allowed people's words to define how I felt about me. I allowed other people's opinions to impact my decisions in life. I have taken back control and am more conscious of my choices and decisions, I own them!

The second story, Amanda Todd, who took her life last week saddened me. I was fortunate enough to not endure serious bullying in High School, but I struggled. I remember sitting in the halls on lunch, alone, and see the popular boys walk by and laugh in my face. I sat there and snarfed down my chocolate bar. To be honest, when I look back on High School most of my memories are sad. I suffered with depression and it was not until after high school when I was out of my house that I was able to get a prescription for anti-depressants which helped turn things around. I felt alone in that time of my life, I was suicidal but suppressed those urges with food. It is a deep, dark, place to be in, to feel like no one loves you and that you are better off ending things. Most nights I would cry myself to sleep hoping I would wake up and the pain would be over. I am one of the lucky ones to survive through this, it came with wounds and scars, it came with significant weight gain but I have battled that now and I have overcome the emotional daemons that plagued me. I can say now I have the tools to deal with the darkness and my life is more full of light than dark. I came out of this a better person.

Something I realize now is that no matter how much I was made fun of in school, really the biggest bully I faced was myself. I said some pretty mean things to myself, I beat myself up daily for my weight and appearance, I secluded myself and withdrew from the world because I felt I deserved to feel that pain. Often we are the worst critics of ourselves, so my challenge for myself is to live each day with positivity in my heart. To be positive in my thoughts and beliefs, even though that is often very difficult. Be the best you - you can be and your world will reflect it.

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