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Bullied

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BULLIED
Courtesy of Brittany Gibbons

I've felt off for a couple weeks now, and I just want to lay on the floor, stare at the ceiling, and tell you this while the corners of my eyes well up -- so come lay down next to me and let me say it all real fast before my voice gets all hiccupy.

My kid was being bullied and I had no idea. It feels so hypocritical to write that. I was bullied. I speak out about this exact thing every day of my life.

I knew something was off, and I asked all the right questions, but nothing gave -- just a refusal to go to school. A tear-filled, screaming, drag-them-down-the-hall refusal to go to school. I did sticker charts and after-school rewards and this whole time, this whole f*cking time, I was bribing my kid to suck it up and go to school to get picked on, and I had no idea.

And then I found out. We were eating pizza with extra sauce on the floor playing Lego Harry Potter 2 on Xbox, and as casually as one would mention the weather, the words came out.

The verbal stuff. The physical stuff.

It's OK, baby, I'll fix this, it will stop.

No, mom, it's never going to stop.

Nope. No. Kids don't get to have that outlook. My kids don't get to have that outlook. Period.

Because I know that outlook. I lived that outlook, and tried to stop living that outlook more times than I want to let escape from my lips.

Now, when you realize something like this -- that your kid is being targeted and hurt -- you go through some messed-up stages. First, you just want to vomit. You want to vomit until you're completely empty and then you want to lay on the tile until roots sprout from your skin and the earth pulls you under.

Then, you get mad as hell. Like, if you had fangs, they'd be bared and snarly. Everyone who gets in your way, be it the UPS guy or the grocery store cashier, gets the brunt of your anger, because suddenly, you feel like you are the only person in the world who is angry about this, when everyone in the world should be angry about this.

Next up is the crying. The constant crying. Because every part of it feels bad. You feel bad for your kid, you feel bad for the bullies... everything just feels so incredibly bad that you can't even keep track of which part feels the most bad of all the bads that have to do with this situation.

Lastly, all the previous stages of emotion band together, leaving you this angry, emotional mess of a mother who just wants to vomit about the whole entire thing.

I don't want my kids to have these years tarnished. I don't want them to hate school. I don't want them to feel afraid there. I don't want them to miss out on any opportunity for fun and magic because in their mind, staying behind is the safer option.

I have two amazing parents. They faced unimaginable struggles, and devoted so much of their lives to us -- and to this day, they are, like, my best friends in the world. But I would be lying if I didn't admit I wish they would have done more to stop what I went through in school.

There are a million legitimate reasons why they didn't. Life was different back then. We weren't living in this everybody-gets-a-trophy, broadcast-your-problems-on-YouTube era. They were busy working and running a business. I didn't say as much as I should have.

But still, I wish they could have somehow read my mind or seen the signs I gave them. A note home from school saying I had skipped first period 27 times (my bullies sat behind me and told me I was a fat whore). My choice to stop talking for six months (I thought it would help me disappear). The fact that I suddenly had no friends to visit (they said it'd be better if I'd just die). I wanted my parents to see the truths I didn't want to say out loud -- but they didn't. And part of me resented them for that for a long time.

So it's really easy for me to sit here and make this grand statement that I'm going to be an advocate for my kids, when in reality, for five weeks, I missed it. I missed the signs.

And all the things that happened to me didn't cause an iota of pain compared to this. My insides hurt; I haven't exhaled for days; I can't stop kissing my kids -- and frankly, I'm starting to annoy them. Steps have been taken; fixing is in motion; everyone is doing the right thing; the bullies' parents have been fantastic. But this feeling that I missed it... this feeling sucks, man.

And that's what I have to say today.

This post originally appeared on Brittany, Herself.