Sunday, April 15, 2012

It Gets Better

"A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever." - Jessamyn West

For those of you who've read my facebook statuses over the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to raise awareness of the new documentary that just came out entitled "Bully". As the title suggests, it's about the bullying epidemic in our country, and follows the stories of kids and families who have been impacted by bullying.

And cue the thirteen year old version of myself entering the scene.

There's this kid in the movie, Alex, whose parents cannot for the life of themselves understand why their child didn't tell them about what was going on at school or during his bus rides. Why couldn't he just tell someone about what was going on. Of course I came up with the obvious answers: he had not developed fully enough to understand that his parents are a safe space, that he didn't realize yet that he doesn't have to put up with that garbage, that the "it gets better message" just hadn't reached him yet. But when it comes down to it, I don't know if the twenty seven year old version of me is any more prepared to face my own scars that bullying left behind than the thirteen year old version of Alex was. At twenty seven, I could still barely tell my husband that night after the movie about the bullying I was subjected to growing up. And it SUCKED. I was eventually able to share things with him I've never told anyone. Ever. It made me realize though, that although things get better for these kids, and I truly believe that and hope those kids choose life long enough to hear that message, that the things you've heard said about you, never fully go away.

I can still picture the faces of the kids who taunted me. Some of them even started being nice to me in high school, but I never forgot, and still haven't. The girl who barred me from her basketball court in gym class, simply because I wasn't popular enough to play on her court? I haven't forgotten you. The two boys who on the bus in seventh grade made fun of me numerous times about my weight? I haven't forgotten you. You may have grown up, maybe into bigger and better people, people who don't bully anymore, but your words, much to my dismay, will never leave me. I still struggle with who you told me I was back then. So thanks for that.

But I'm lucky. I didn't let these little punk asses take my life away from me. I grew up, made quality friends, and married a wonderful man who thinks I'm beautiful, no matter what I weigh. But some kids, aren't so lucky. Some kids believe the words of these bullies and internalize them so much, that it becomes their new reality, and inevitably, they take their own life because of it. My heart breaks for these kids, who don't know yet that the person making fun of you? Is really, actually, just an asshole who is trying to put you down because they're just as confused as you are about who they are.

The movie is a must see for not only anyone who has kids or works with kids, but really, for anyone with a heart. Period. Anyone who plans on participating in our culture and society, thus inevitably coming across kids at some point, should see this film.

What brought me back to this blog was the realization this year that silence is simply not an option anymore. Silence, because I'm too scared to speak the truth, cannot happen anymore in my life. So I am pledging to speak up for the silent, to speak truth when it needs to be spoken, and to take a stand, even if it makes me look like an idiot. To, no matter how hard it may seem, always choose love.

And really, I do encourage you all to go check out the movie if it's playing near you. You can see if it's at a theater near you by clicking here. If enough people go see this movie, it will be able to spread to more theaters throughout the United States, spreading the message of love that so desperately needs to be told.