“There are friends, there is family, and then there are friends that become family”
~ Unknown ~
“There are friends, there is family, and then there are friends that become family”
~ Unknown ~
Much to your chagrin, I’m no longer the naive girl of yesterday, but the wise woman of today. And the beauty of getting older is the wisdom you store up and the realization that you’re perfect just the way you are and always have been. Also, you realize that you never needed certain people in the first place and that certain people don’t belong in your life. You, OHS class of 90, except for two- two people, are “certain people.”
Another great thing about getting older is that you become completely secure in yourself and comfortable in your own skin. You can speak your mind no matter who sees and hears it because you could give less than a damn what others think.
Who are you, anyway? Who are any of you? I’m the only one who can decide who I am. I’m the only one who has that kind of power.
So many people tell me things, and it is people you’d never expect. ‘You know? Those who tell you stories of people you could care less about and regardless of whether you want to hear them? Yeah, those types. Believe it or not, some of them are people you think are your friends.
Oh, yeah! They stop me in places like the supermarket and the gas station, or when I’m passing through. They tell me that many of you keep up with my social media posts and read my blog regularly. Yep. I know all about it.
So, I don’t doubt that you’ll read this blog post too, so I’m writing this to help you indulge yourselves. Because you only expose yourselves and your obsession.
To be real, I could care less about what or how any of you are doing. Because you were only people, God was teaching me to look out for. You were lessons, not blessings. And the things I take away from having the displeasure of even knowing you are these:
I survived because my determination to remain standing superseded your desperation to tear me down. I survived because the fire inside me burned hotter and brighter than the fire you ignited around my feet.
My efforts to reach happiness and success outmatched your efforts to keep me miserable and in failure. And my strength to keep going was much bigger than the force you expended to stop me. I prevailed against odds that would’ve proved overwhelming for the likes of you.
I graduated because I kept pushing myself and went on living through enormous threats and circumstances under which you wusses would’ve dropped out. And the thing is, most people would’ve hated you. But I don’t. ‘You know why?
Because hate is a waste of energy, and I’d rather spend my energy focusing on my goals. I’m too busy working on me and pursuing my own agenda than to hate on anyone. I make it about me. That’s right, class, all about me, my family, and my goals.
“Just because you think it’s cute or funny to make somebody embarrassed or humiliate them, think again.”
“It’s not that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but it’s your best friends who are your diamonds.” ~ Gina Barreca ~
Telling you to “get over it” is typical of bullies. The reason they tell you this is to shame and to silence you. In telling you to “let it go,” bullies make you out to be unstable or a drama-filled person who carries a grudge and can’t leave the past behind.
I don’t hate my classmates. I thank them. Because if it weren’t for my classmates, I might have never found my niche and the thing I enjoy doing the most. In their torment of me all those years ago, they inspired me to become a champion for the bullied, an author of 4 books, and a blogger whose niche is bullying. So, I thank them from the bottom of my heart. In truth, I can never thank them enough.
Here’s the thing. There’s a difference between holding a grudge and accepting that you suffered abuse. You can acknowledge what happened without holding onto bitterness and hate.
Grudges, bitterness, and hate – unhealthy
Grudges are unhealthy. A person who carries a grudge has anger, resentment, and hate boiling inside them and will often seek revenge. A grudge-holder handles any past victimhood he suffered in very destructive ways.
People who hold grudges only let the past hold them back from growing, from enjoying new friendships and relationships with others, and from success. Because a grudge holder carries so much anger and bitterness, they only repel people who would be potential friends and partners. They only attract more negativity and adversity into their lives.
Acknowledgment of Past Victimization – healthy
On the other hand, acknowledgment or acceptance of prior victimization and how it hurt you is one of the healthiest things you can do. The person who does this doesn’t hold a grudge and doesn’t hate the people who abused her. She only feels sorry for them.
Survivors who accept the past realize that there can be valuable lessons learned from being a past target of bullying and abuse and often use it as their rocket fuel. Like I have done, they do years of research into bullying and into the mindsets of bullies and the victims they select. They consistently search for answers as to why bullies bully, what bullies look for in victims, and much, much more.
They then speak out about their experiences and the pain they suffered to bring awareness to the world- consciousness that, yes, such evil does exist. A former victim who accepts the past freely talks of and spreads awareness of bullying and abuse only grows and acquires wisdom. She then uses that wisdom to reach out to others who endure the same or to prevent others from experiencing the same pain she did.
You would be surprised how rewarding this is to a survivor. Through using past pain for good, many survivors have achieved healing and gotten closure. Also, these people often make fulfilling and life-long friendships and connections through their work toward their cause.
Expect your old tormentors to come for you if you raise awareness
Sadly though, it’s easy to get these two things confused. Former classmates from school have accused me of being bitter and full of hate. They have blasted me for having the gall to speak out and write about the brutality and the vile and downright devilish behavior they displayed years ago. Luckily, I see right through them.
‘You see? Even years after the fact, abusers despise it when you take the pain they caused you the past and turn it into something that can help people. And when you take something that was meant to defeat you and turn it into something that helps others, and only makes you stronger, oh man, do they hate that!
All that time, they tried to tear you down! All that combined effort! And still! You didn’t drown! You only took it and turned it into something positive, and all that work they put forth to bury you ended up wasted! Understand that bullies become furious when they realize they weren’t able to destroy you.
Anytime you speak out about any past abuse you suffered, it should be not only accepted but expected that your old tormentors will come for you, telling you to get over it. Not only are they angry at you because you didn’t crash and burn, but they’re also very much afraid that you’ll expose them somehow or that you’ll succeed. Don’t take it personally.
Instead, take it as confirmation of their guilt- as proof that they were and still are the ones who have the problem. When old bullies bash you for speaking out, they only out themselves. Don’t let them silence you, nor allow them to stop you from reaching out to those who need to hear your story because you might end up saving a life!
Turn your pain into power! Be a friend and advocate for the bullied!
I feel compelled to discuss how these shows get their ratings to give parents who permit their children to watch them, a better understanding of what subliminal messages their child may be receiving.
Sadly, reality shows which receive the highest ratings also have the highest incidences of peer abuse or most commonly called, bullying. Peer abusers (bullies) love drama and are drawn to it like flies to feces! Bullying brings drama…always! The more altercations and confrontations a reality show displays for viewers, the more drama it brings.
More drama means the show is more interesting to viewers. The more interesting the show, the more views the show gets, and the higher the ratings the show receives.
Also, the more drama a certain reality star brings to a show (usually by bullying others on the show), the higher the show is rated, and in return, the higher the star is rated by producers of the show and network executives…all because he/she brings the most drama. For a reality star, this not only guarantees them a spot on the show’s next season but also much higher pay, with producers and execs offering the bullying star hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars!
This equals great rewards for bullies on the show…rewarding and encouraging despicable behavior! Think Teresa Guidice, “Real Housewives of New Jersey”, or Nene Leakes, “Real Housewives of Atlanta”.
In my opinion, both of these women, who are in their 40’s and 50’s, have shown some of the most queen bee, mean girl behavior of anyone on television. Should they even qualify as stars? I don’t know about anyone else, but in my opinion, watching women in this age group display such girl’s room/locker room antics is sickening and an embarrassment to my generation of women.
This behavior is unbecoming of women of any age but looks downright ugly coming from women of middle age, whom you would think would be a better example to younger females
Parents need to sit down with children and explain that just because reality shows make bullying look glamorous does not mean that bullying is okay. Bullying is anything but glamorous, especially to victims.
Sadly, high ratings for these shows speak volumes about the society we live in today- that the bulk of society apparently has an insatiable appetite for trash. It is glaring proof that in the eyes of a vast majority, crap is king. It shouldn’t be any wonder that bullying and peer abuse is so globally rampant today.
Parents and grandparents must either forbid kids to watch these types of reality shows or, if they permit them to watch it, they must also explain to the children that just because certain behavior is shown on television, does not mean it is acceptable in real life. We must also stop prioritizing petty and poor values, one of which is the misguided belief that being the most popular, liked, or the toughest kid on the block is what life’s all about.
Books by Cherie White
Reality shows and the present epidemic of bullying.
I believe that one of the reasons that bullying has become so out of control in our schools is because of the overabundance of reality shows on television, which seem to glorify and glamorize the abuse of others.
Shows like, “Bad Girls Club”, Jersey Shore (which I think are the absolute worst), and The Real Housewives franchise, are shows in which people as old as their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s act like middle schoolers in a locker room brawl. Grown men and women, whom you would think would have a modicum of maturity, often resort to name-calling, bashing others, and yes…even hair-pulling, shoving, punching and kicking.
When I see this, a question always comes to mind: “What kind of example and message are these shows and their stars sending our children and teenagers?”
It’s true that violence has been shown on TV and in movies for decades. However, before reality shows were heard of, TV was not real and kids of my generation understood because our parents never let us forget it. We knew that what we were seeing was only actors playing the parts of fictional characters in fictional shows. Moreover, we were taught not to try anything we saw on TV in real life because it would put us at risk of getting hurt and/or worse. We grew up with the understanding that, “It’s only a television series” or “It’s just a movie” and none of it was real.
Sadly, as television networks slowly run out of ideas for fictional shows and reality shows gradually take over the airwaves, TV is becoming less fictional (and interesting) and is sending the message to kids that bullying is okay, or that you have to be a bully in order to move up in the world…that to get ahead, you have to step over another person. Such a shame!
Most of the biggest reality stars are lousy role models!
Books by Cherie White
As a survivor of bullying, people often ask me, “What’s the worst thing about being bullied?” Here are my answers:
It’s the pinned up fear and rage you feel but don’t dare show. It’s the paralyzing social fear that sets in. It shuts you down and leaves you withdrawn from the rest of the world. Once people have bullied you for so long, you become intensely paranoid and suspicious of every person you meet. Any laughter you hear, you automatically think, is directed at you.
It’s the confusion. You know that you should take a stand against the bullies. You know that you should speak out about it, only you don’t know how to do it and you’re terrified that it will only make things worse.
It’s the unanswered questions that play in your mind a thousand times a day. “Why me?” “What have I done to these people” “How do I fix this?” are the questions you have in your head every time bullies surround you and harass you. You know what you want to say to the bullies. “Look! Leave me the &%$# alone!”, you scream inside your head but don’t’ dare say it because you know what’s likely to come next.
It’s the feeling of loneliness and isolation. When we suffer bullying, not only do bullies smear us to keep us isolated and from making any new friends, but we- WE automatically put up walls of protection to keep other people out, which only reinforces the separation from others.
It’s the loss of your entire personhood. You forget how to smile, how to laugh, and how to have a good time, and how to connect with and interact with others. You’re no longer that vibrant, happy, and healthy person you once were. And each insult, each back-biting rumor, each physical attack, each joke, and each prank cuts a little deeper, chips away at your self-esteem and brings you lower. You feel trapped. You feel as if your bullies are holding you hostage!
Bullies can ruin a target’s life! And they can alter your entire life if you don’t make the changes needed to take your life back.
I won’t kid you. To get out of the hole that your bullies have forced you in, you will have to work hard.
You’ll first need to get out of that environment (if possible), then change your entire mindset, which means altering your thought patterns, your attitude, and your whole demeanor. And this change won’t happen overnight but may take years.
However, you must be patient and put in the work and time if you want to take back your confidence and your happiness. But I promise you, it will be worth it in the long run, and you’ll be so glad you put in the time and effort!
Victims often pick “friends” who only tolerate them or those who wish them ill will because they’re often lonely and desperate. For so long, they have been wrongly alienated from others due to rumors and lies that bullies have spread about them to keep them from making friends. Because the target is so hungry for a connection…any connection, he/she will befriend anyone…and I mean anyone! They are not selective with who they call “friend” and end up latching on to people who are not even worth knowing…predators, who only take advantage.
Also, young victims often assume that to be “cool”, they have to have a big circle of friends. This is not true.
With that being said, I want you to know that if you are a victim of bullying, you do not need a whole slew of people in your life to be happy nor to feel like or be a whole person. You only need your family and a few true friends. It’s safer this way. Wouldn’t you much rather have just a handful of true friends than to have an abundance of frenemies? I know I would.
In fact, you should prefer to have enemies over ‘frenemies’ because, with an enemy, you know exactly where they stand without having to do any guesswork. However, with frenemies, you will always be the last to know after being played for a sucker.
If at any time you wonder about a person…if your intuition is telling you that something is “off”, put some distance between yourself and that individual and do it fast! Instinct is trying to warn you.
If your so-called friends are only tolerating you, stabbing you in the back, or sabotaging you in any way, it’s time to eighty-six these leaches to your self-esteem. And the sooner you do, the better!