This is so cliché, but there I was, staring out into the ocean watching the most powerful of waves crash into the shore, smacking down any castle in its path. All I could think was that (despite how lame this analogy is about to be), that’s exactly how I was feeling when I first heard the news.
It was two summers ago, my best friend and I were at the beach. One night during our trip, she confided in me about something that literally tore me apart.
When you love someone so much, their pain is your pain. What they feel, you feel right there with them. So what my best friend had to tell me physically hurt me. But I wasn’t hurt in spite of her; I was hurt out of my unconditional love for her.
She couldn’t muster up the words to what she wanted to reveal to me, so instead she lifted up her bracelets and rolled up her long-sleeve shirt, and there it was. The scars from the bullying she’s suffered from. The scars from the bullies she pretended didn’t phase her; the scars that she insisted she hid because she just didn’t want to burden or scare anyone. I gasped and started shaking. I held her hands and as I bawled she said to me, “I especially didn’t want to tell you out of all people. I just didn’t want to hurt you.”
We never really, truly, know what someone is going through. We will never be in someone else’s shoes, no matter how hard we try. We will never fully comprehend the battles and the demons some people have to face every day, the ones they’re trying to fight in their heads. Although I will never know exactly what she went through, the cuts on her arm sure illustrated to me just how serious this all was.
What hurt me the most is that I was aware this person was being bullied, she had told me herself it was happening. But my God, I had no idea the extent of how she handled it. To think that this person felt compelled to physically inflict pain upon herself out of hurt, and then keep it to herself to prevent hurting anyone else… there’re just no words I can find to encompass how tragic this whole thing is.
There was my best friend right in front me, and all of a sudden I felt like I didn’t know her. Because I had no idea what she was struggling with, and it not only broke my heart. It made me want to look into research for the aftermath that bullying causes. When I looked up the facts, what I found was a bit alarming. These numbers were more than math calculations and randomly sampled surveys, they represented people like my best friend.
This is what I found.
The stopbullying.gov site states that about 49% of children between grades 4–12 have reported being bullied by other students at school at least once during the past month. Yet, only about 20 to 30% of students who are bullied notify adults about the bullying. Can we let that sink in for just a moment…
That is essentially one in every two kids/teenagers who are bullied and keep it to themselves.
I’m so relieved my best friend was one out of the two kids/teenagers who was able to voice what was going on. You know, they say that the hardest part of our internal conflicts are accepting them, and my best friend especially showed how that can be the first step in the right direction.
When my best friend was being bullied, she was being taunted with name-calling, cyber-bullying, and aggressive and spontaneous messages being sent to her that revolved her biggest personal obstacle: her body image.
But somehow my best friend found the strength to tune all of this out of her head the best she could. She would put on her Beats by Dre headphones and blast the volume up to her favorite songs, lipping lyrics that gave her strength when she felt like she had none. Her love for music then expanded to new heights. She self-taught herself how to play the guitar and the ukulele and found strength in playing and singing along to her could play her favorite songs. She joined the cheerleading squad at her school, and although she admits she hasn’t met some of the nicest people through that, she’s also made friends that have stuck to her by her side. Because of the friends she made from cheer, she no longer sat by herself at lunch and was even voted Homecoming Princess.
So when I think about my best friend and the person she used to be versus the person she’s become today, I remember myself back when I was on the beach staring into the ocean after she told me the news. I watched those powerful waves crash, but I also watched them as they fizzled out onto the shore. Waves inevitably crash, the same way they inevitably end calm every time.
If my best friend can make it through the calm after the storm, I only hope that by sharing her story, others who identify with the person she used to be can overcome the same.
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