Minimizing Someone’s Story: My Angola Article Was a Teachable Moment

Typically, I have used my blog as a way to vent my frustrations with Conservative Fundamentalists in Christianity and their fallacies that they perpetuate in “the name of God” concerning homosexuality and same-sex marriage. After all, the bulk of my time, outside of the family, is studying the Bible, and other progressive scriptures, as well as, communicating my idea of God’s love, truly. This blog began as a divinely-inspired idea, to really push myself this year; to push myself physically (stupid MCL injury), emotionally (I could fill a lake with my tears), mentally (No, more passive-aggressive, Tammy. Wooo), and spiritually (breaking out of the Fundamentalist crap, I was brain washed with) and I’ve done just that. 

I’ve been transparent in all those aforementioned ways; talking about, albeit briefly, my eating disorders that were a manifestation of being bullied in junior and high school, as well as, being lost in the shuffle of a large family whose father was dying of a terminal illness. The goal when scribing these past feelings and occurrences isn’t to making anyone a bad guy (sorry, anonymous commenters), but showing my beautiful, artistically talented, and stubborn son, Andrew Gabriel Thomas (11 years old) that even his awesome, badass mom was a “victim” of bullying and also was a bully later in life.

My son has been bullied moderately in the past two years and we’ve had numerous discussions about the mentality of childhood bullying; the social construct in which it is built – often times, it is a learned behavior from the home in an indirect manner – and it’s a near projection. Those children (and adults – adult bullying is more prevalent than some realize) project their insecurities, their awful home situations, being ignored at home, suffering their own emotional disillusionment from careless parental units, and the list goes on and on. But, from my experiences, children can relate better once someone they know (like a parent) has been through a similar experience.

Enter: FROM SILENCED TO FEARLESS: BEING BULLIED IN ANGOLA, INDIANA

A day after I published it, I read it to Andrew and Alicia (leaving out a few parts), they are separated by one year. Also, they are complete contrasts of one another. Alicia is confident, “popular”, the quintessential likable little girl – and lately, she was struggling with voicing her concern against bullying — classic case of peer pressure.

So, I wanted them both to know that although, I am compassionate, intellectual, generous, and overall a positive badass, I wasn’t always like that.

So, I read it to them.

Immediately, my daughter runs and embraces me. “That’s so sad, mommy. I’m sorry.” And I look at her and I ask, “Why do you think I wrote that, Alicia.”

“To show people you were bullied and so we don’t bully and others don’t bully and to know that I should stand up for Andrew when people call him chubby and I love you.”

You have to imagine a talkative little girl just saying that really, really fast. My children amaze me at what they can grasp contextually — often times it’s us, adults, that limit their capabilities.

As for Andrew, he didn’t need to say anything. I already knew his pain because I was Andrew at some point. But, I also recognized, how Andrew holds onto that pain and it reflects in his schoolwork. I acknowledge how he withdraws from certain social activities because he’s fearful of words.

“I try to be nice to *insert fellow classmate* but they just call me fat and laugh at me.”

My heart hurts so desperately for him. I can feel my heart in my throat and my tears are welling up in the corner of my eyes because I can feel his hurt. I can feel his hurt deep in my stomach. I can feel his hurt deep in my soul. I can feel his hurt in my spirit.

“Andrew, sometimes, I can’t explain why people act so awful. It’s not YOU, Andrew, but rather it’s something you represent. Just know, that you aren’t any of those things they say you are. You are beautiful. You are smart. You are valuable.”

“I know, Mom. God made me to be special.”

As a parent, it’s difficult to watch your children emotionally brutalized especially, when you barely escaped it yourself. However, you learned from your experiences; you learned how shitty people can be; you learn about the psychology of the human psyche; you learn how that can externalize and manifest, and in the process, you do everything in your power to encourage and support your child and their unique awesomeness.

That’s why I shared my bullying story.

It wasn’t to slight any one particular person, but rather show what can come out of a terrible rain storm and that’s this beautiful rainbow of hope and promise.

If I inflicted hurt unintentionally, I am truly sorry for that.

However, this was for my children; a teachable moment for them to learn from my haphazard mishaps and mistakes.

That being said, don’t minimize my story – or anyone’s story – with “it happened so long ago” or “kids will be kids” and my favorite, “you’re being a bully” because you can’t understand my pain, just as I can’t understand yours – and yes, I realize every person on this green planet has a story, bullies and the bullied, perpetrators and the victims, the malicious and the compassionate.

This past year has been tremendous and all of that glory belongs to God. I have finally stood quiet and listened to my Lord as He has placed being “true to thy self” in my heart. I have gained patience, love, and serenity and let go of years of bitterness, anger, and rebellion.

I am so grateful to have a patient God yearning for my own happiness.. I’m finally getting there.

Gratitude.

Understanding.

Compassion.

Forgiveness.

Mercy.

Love.

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has a story; this is mine.

You’re free to tell yours.

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