Today I want to share something with you that I've held pretty close to the cuff throughout my life, namely, because I wasn't fully aware of it myself nor was I aware of what to call it.
It's a pretty long post but I hope you'll read until the end.
You see, I was bullied as a child, an adolescent AND as a young teenager, and I never told anyone about it, because I didn't really know what was happening to me at the time. I always assumed it was "kids being kids" and the general nature of childhood.
Throughout my life I was always one of the most popular girls in school. I never struggled to make friends. In fact, people always wanted to be my friend. I was liked and highly respected by my peers, teachers and other adults. I was Class President in Elementary School, I was always favored as teacher's pet until I finished high school, I was an honor roll student, I received numerous awards, I was very athletic and therefore always chosen to be on "the team" and I was senior prom queen of my high school.
Now, I share all of these accolades not to brag, but to illustrate how a young girl can have so much going on for herself, have some confidence within herself and yet at the same time, still be bullied -- and still have her own insecurities that she struggled through.
You may be wondering, how can the most popular girl in school also be bullied? Well, it can happen and it happened to me.
My first experiences with bullying actually occurred within my own family. I was the youngest of five grandchildren who spent almost all of our time together. As the youngest, although my siblings and cousins would protect me from any outsider, they would "pick on" me the most. In fact, one of my cousins, who's given me permission to share this story, literally terrorized me as a child.
Although we played together incessantly, I was afraid of making him angry and him teasing me in front of our friends. Boy...did he give me one of the most embarrassing moments of my life! I'll leave the details of that story out for now. But let's just say, those early childhood experiences, coupled with the fact that I was already a very sensitive child and my parents' divorce impacted me deeply, my inner silence was birthed. I learned to keep quiet about many things and held a lot in -- without knowing what I was actually doing.
When I reached middle school, though still popular and confident for the most part, I attracted a bully into my life. We were "friends". I really liked her...at first. We spent all of our time together and had a lot of fun. But, I noticed she bullied other girls and other girls were afraid of her. She was kind to me and protective. However, I noticed eventually that whenever I had plans with other friends or didn't call her back when I said I would, that she would get mad at me.
This pattern went on throughout middle school. I reached a point where I didn't even like her. I couldn't stand her actually. But, fearing retaliation, I never spoke up. Truthfully, I was more afraid to hurt her, than anything, so, I feigned our friendship. I remained silent. She came from a very dysfunctional home and even my inner-knowing as an adolescent gave me insight and understanding to the cause of her behavior. So, I justified my reaction to her as empathy and compassion.
Upon entering high school, I was liked and well known pretty quickly, making friends with juniors and seniors my freshman year. By tenth grade, I landed one of the cutest boys at the school and we dated off and on throughout high school. We were a popular couple. He was super cute but cocky and arrogant and hung around a bunch of boys who were also very arrogant. They were a popular clique. But they were also known as the "bad" boys. They did a lot of unkind things to the girls at our school but again, we believed, they were just "boys being boys." Not realizing then that these boys bullied so many of us. I learned to be coy and shy around them. Again, fearing being "called out" as the brunt of some joke and facing public humiliation.
So, are you wondering why I am sharing all of this with you now? Well, there are a few reasons and I hope that each inspires you.
Firstly, in the wake of the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, by suicide, I want to stress the danger of our judging books by their covers. Just because someone is "popular", rich, successful, and seemingly has everything going on for them, doesn't mean they aren't coping with their own fears, insecurities and struggles.
By no means am I attempting to compare my teenage struggles with the adult struggles that gripped either one of them. Nor am I stating that I struggled with depression or suicide ideation as a child/teen. I am merely bringing caution to the tendency for us to label people that we have no idea what they are facing internally. We don't know someone, until we know someone.
Even though I was just a kid, everyone believed I had it altogether. But I was just that, a kid, and I had my own insecurities. I was still making sense of the world. However, if I had not healed many from those insecurities, I would be that exact same kid in my adult body. And though I have healed many aspects of my inner-child, of course she's still with me. We all still have our inner-child that is always with us and always needing comfort, security, and reassurance. We never lose her.
Which brings me to my second point to this blog. Over the years I grew more and more confident in exercising my voice more fully and authentically. Yet it was when my dog died four years ago when all the pain came up, that I met for the first time, my real voice. My true, authentic, unapologetic voice. The voice that I silenced for so many others for so many years. She came roaring out with a mighty force and she hasn't stopped.
Never again will I be silent about things that matter to me. I am intolerant of "meanness" and disrespect, and I am fiercely protective of my space and energy and who I call "friends". I have learned to love from a distance when it is necessary and not to judge myself or feel badly for it.
Lastly, I write this to you, most importantly, to share with you how each of those encounters chipped away at my internal voice, which in turn, impacted my creativity. I was afraid to be creative. I never trusted myself to be creative. I never believed myself to be creative. Because each "monster" told me my "creativity" wasn't good enough. So, I suppressed that part of myself.
But in doing the work to love and heal myself, I found that my voice was and is and will always be my connection to my creativity. I silenced my God-given gift and talent out of fear. But now, having found my true voice, I proudly own all of her and I give thanks and forgiveness to each person that hurt her and silenced her. If all of those experiences hadn't happened to me, I wouldn't have the stories and the passion to share and help others heal and discover their own true, authentic voice and discover their soul's calling and purpose.
Today, if you are struggling with finding your voice, your creativity, your passion, and your purpose, I would like to challenge you to write a journal entry similar to what I've written to you today. I encourage you think of EVERY single grievance that has ever hurt you throughout your life and make peace with it. Don't miss a single one. Every slight hurt to your heart should be included.
Then forgive the people that have hurt you. Yes, even from elementary school, your parents, the teacher that yelled at you...whatever it is. Bring it up, write about it and release it. Nothing is too big or too small. Something so small that may have injured you during your childhood might be keeping you from your greatest potential and purpose today. Forgive each person, that in some direct or insidious way, made you think you weren't good enough.
One of the biggest keys to unlocking our passion and purpose is in healing and forgiving the past. I know it doesn't sound fun...but if we want to truly tap into our creativity and our gifts, it's worthwhile visiting the places we've stored and tucked away. Often our gifts and talents are hidden and buried from us underneath our pain, fear, and resistance.
If the idea of this sounds completely overwhelming to you then elicit help. I am here to support and guide you to uncovering your hidden talents. They are already within you, simply waiting to come alive. If not me, find someone else to support you, so that you too can re-awaken to your gifts and your greatest potential and serve the world in an even bigger way.
I hope my stories have inspired you. As always, your thoughts and feedback are important to me. So, I would love to hear from you. You can write to me by clicking here or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also visit our private Love Warrior Facebook Group and post your questions or comments there.
I look forward to hearing from you!