In sharing my story, people from my past might see stories of themselves. Not stories that they just relate to, but actually "Hey, that's me she is talking about" moments. I wrestled with this when I wrote Blogging Through My Fears.
You see, eventually some of the kids that teased or bullied me when I was 9 yrs old may have lost touch, were put in different classes, or on different teams and didn't have contact with me, or a number of other situations. They may have also become kinder, or just lost interest. Though I was bullied continuously from the age of 8 years old until I was 17 years old it was not always by the same person. Sometimes it was by people who were once my best friend.
I want to touch on the teasing and bullying from the bus. One of the "girls", now a woman, from the bus actually contacted me after I posted the blog. I thought that this might happen, and was struggling internally how to deal with it. She never knew how I perceived the bus from way back then, and she actually didn't realize my emotions were ever hurt. That is understandable.
This woman explained to me that there was bullying that was happening to her on the exact same bus. I was blind to it because I was new, scared, and in survival mode. I did not know the pain she experienced. I was younger, and tried to hide beside my older sister. We all would only ride the bus together for a complete year, as my sister and the girl mentioned would start riding the middle school/high school bus, and I would remain on the elementary school bus for a few more years. That girl would then be the youngest and one of the smallest on a bus of older kids, where she was the subject of being bullied more. We all experience so much that we keep bottled in. We were all in survival mode.
What I wouldn't give to go back to those years, knowing what I know now, and just reach out to hold her hand. She could reject it, or accept it, but either way, to give her a moment to realize that I was a safe place.
More about that girl... As she became a little older I had a chance to get to know her under different circumstances. Her Girl Scout Troop was the "Big Sister Troop" to my Brownies Troop one summer. We coupled up with them a few times for meetings, and then attended a camp-out with them. At the meetings, the girl assigned to be my "big sister" was missing each time. This is where the older girl became my friend. She offered to include me and take on as a second "little sister," At first I was nervous, but those fears quickly went away. She made me feel happy and safe. The anxiety I dealt with at every meeting was calmed when she held my hand.
We attended the camp-out. This was a huge anxiety provoking event for me. Nights away from home, my first time camping, and I wasn't the most popular girl in the troop, or in general. My assigned "big sister" was there, but didn't seem to have much interest in me. My substitute "big sister" stepped in. She always included me. She was full of smiles. I felt at ease knowing she was there. I continued to view her in this light through out school. Even when my sister and the girl had differences in High School, and my sister always seemed so upset by her presence, I still had a fondness for her. I figured their disagreement was High School drama. We never really spoke when Girl Scouts ended, as we were is different grades, and walked in different circles, but she remain as a happy memory now. I no longer associated her with the school bus. I no longer even thought of her sisters when I thought of her. I just saw her as an individual.
I then saw this same person as an adult, I was shy but didn't show it. As adults we sometimes do not know how those from the past perceive us now, and this is something that heightens my anxiety. I noticed how she still had the same great big smile, and I was confident that she was some one I could converse and spend time with it life every allowed it, or one of us was to reach out. We were in a "Mommy and Me" music group together for a few short weeks, and we would say"hello" and smile across the room. I should have reached out, but I didn't. We lost touch again. This is not where our story ends...
I am often questioned: Why I do forgive people so quickly? Why do I give second chances. Why do I continue to try to connect to people that I may not have connected with early in the relationship? Why do I try so hard?
The answers to all of those questions are simple. We are all hiding pain. We are all hiding who we truly are. We are not always going to put our best foot forward immediately. We are all going to stumble. We are all going to make mistakes. We are all going to need someone to forgive us at some point. I have hurt people. I have made mistakes. I am not perfect. I was nervous to expose the story of how I perceived bullying in my early years. There is an importance to it though. This same woman does not realize what a blessing she has been to me as I have started to let my story unfold.
If I would have put up a wall to this girl, stepping up as my "big sister" for a few weeks, I wouldn't have seen her for her. I wouldn't have "friended" her on Facebook. I would not have reconnected. I would not have found one of my biggest supporters as I struggle through exposing so much of my past. I would not known her story.
You see, this woman told me last night how she prays for me and my struggles. I was humbled once again. People we may not consider to be doing so are praying for. God calls people to work in our lives behind the scenes. She thinks of me, and prays for me. How AMAZING is that?
What I have noticed is that she is usually one of the first people to comment on my posts. She tells me I am beautiful. She tells me that I am strong. She says things to me that truly I truly need to hear. She touches my heart. These are the gifts I receive from a person that I could have chosen to shy away from. She describes me in the ways that I used to describe her in High School. I would look at her in awe and wish I could be more like her, and her sisters when I was a teenager. They had it all together, even after facing SO MANY of life's challenges. She has not had it easy, yet she always appears strong and confident. She has that great big smile. This amazing woman reads what I write!! She pays attention to me, my stories, my words, my feeling. She notices my pain and anxiety. She ENCOURAGES me! When she posts I always turn to Joe and I show him. Her words mean that much. I should have told her how much her words mean prior to this.
Take the time to get to know each other better. Sometimes we need to look beyond past hurts. How we perceive things to be may not be how they truly are. Don't shy away from people you find annoying or different. Get to know them over time. They may have a story to share. They may just be God's answers to one of your prayers (or some one's pray for you). Take your blinders off. Take off your masks too! Let people see you for who you truly are. Stay humble.
On that note, I thank my FRIEND for her continued support. Her posts mean the world to me. I am blessed to have her as part of my world, and I am honored to have her prayers and comments. Friend, I see you for you. I see your battles, your strength, your courage, and your beauty. I know I have told you before, as big as your scars may be, I NEVER notice them. You out-shine any of your scars.