I have felt the crushing weight of being lost and lonely in the darkness.
…of wondering what the point of even getting out of bed is?
…of just wishing and praying that the pain will go away, so that I’ll finally feel whole again. Only to wake up day after day after day after day wallowing in a pit of depression with no escape in sight.
Depression was my constant companion for years. I struggled with so many thoughts and feelings and questions.
I took medicine and sat on therapist couches and went to meetings and groups and sessions and you name it.
It all stems back to being bullied. The fact that my entire young life I battled insecurity and never feeling like I fit in. I felt like I was too much for some people, and not enough for others.
Once I lost Tommy (if you missed my post “Cutting and Mending”, I discuss the horrors of the grief I felt and consequentially the self-harm that came from it) everything spiraled out of control and I was depressed and didn’t know how to deal with anything anymore.
But I want to focus this post on the bullying and its effects. Why am I choosing to write about this topic right before Christmas, you ask? Because SO MANY people are dealing with hurt and pain around the holidays, and I want to talk about it. Head on. I want to call it out and look it in the face and tell it that it has no power over me… Over us! Let’s band together and fight it together.
Growing up I was bullied at school and in youth group at church. The older I get, the more I realize how much this shaped me and how hard I have to fight the lasting effects of being treated a certain way by my peers, teachers and some of the adults in my life.
I am a very quirky, theatrical gal and my parents always went to bat for me. They celebrated my uniqueness and met with principals and pastors and called out my bullies’ parents and always stood up for me. If I hadn’t had them as a safe place, I don’t know what I would have become.
Yes, I had some good friends and other “havens” of course. But on the whole, I was very isolated and alone. My best friend, Niecy lived down the street from me. I would write letters to Niecy throughout the day to give to her in the afternoons when we would play Power Rangers and Barbies. Writing to Niecy kept me sane when I didn’t have people to talk with at school.
This is the oldest picture I have of us… and then below is when she was Maid of Honor in my wedding. Thanks for sticking by me all these years, friend. You are truly an angel on Earth.
When I was in second grade, the girls in my class had reached a new level of cruel. During recess I was alone, per usual, and I was sitting on a stone wall on the playground and using a little stick to dig around in the dirt in one of the flower beds, counting down the minutes until we went back to class. I remember this so vividly, as if it weren’t 25 years ago. I felt isolated, but also on display, because the girls were all whispering and laughing openly at me. One of the girls (Liz, who before I had considered a friend), walked over to me and said, “What are you doing?! Digging your own grave? I hope so, because no one even likes you and we all hope you die.”
I’m sitting here letting the dust settle on that one. Writing it down is painful. I’m hurting for that little girl. And no, I’m not talking about little girl Liz. (And don’t freak out that I’m writing some actual names. You most likely don’t know them and if you do know them, there’s absolutely no way you could tell if they were the same ones, so it’s all good. No slander here!)
I know most good Christians would say something now like:
“Oh, I can’t even imagine what she was going through. Clearly she was really hurt to say something like that.”
Or, “Looking back I just really pray for her that she got her stuff together and that she’s doing well now.”
I don’t really think either of those things. I don’t care about Liz.
Don’t get me wrong, Jesus loves Liz. He died for her in exactly the same way he died for me. He pursues her and wants to have a relationship with her. And that is an incredibly beautiful truth. And when push comes to shove, I truly do pray that I will spend eternity with her.
But I am also a flawed and sinful human and I embrace that sometimes more than others. And honestly? Sarah, Alison and Liz can bite me. (that’s right, I said it. Because I always come in hot with the raw and the real, and Lord knows you feel the same way about someone, but maybe you just can’t say it out loud…. am I right?)
The truth of the matter is, the person I feel bad for is little Stephanie. Because girls can be so stinking cruel. And these ones, and so many others down the road were horrible to me. And that interaction hurt me deeply. Females cutting me down, tearing me apart. The boys were horrible too, but their insults were all directed more at my body. The girls’ cruelty was directed at my core being.
I don’t remember the other things they said and did to me. I blocked it out. Ask my mom, though and that woman can tell you. Deb Chisholm has gone to bat for me more times than I can count. She is the definition of a Mama Bear. She never questioned me or second guessed anything I told her. She believed me and then fought for me. God bless her.
I could write for ages and give specific examples of all the things that happened in those formative years, but I’ll spare you the details. I don’t want to relive any more stories of the cruel and terrible things that were said and done to me. It’s not helpful for our purposes here. I want to steer this towards the underlying issue, which is: the lies.
I love music. It speaks to my soul, and this song has wrecked me recently, so I had to share it. It fits nicely right here, so check it out.
I was putting my worth and faith and trust in the wrong thing. People. Humans. They can be beautiful and incredible and do wonderful and amazing things.
They are also, well…. human.
I know I’ve hurt people and I’ve caused pain and I’m not above any of it. When we put all our security in human beings we will be let down 100% of the time.
We have an Enemy and he comes to steal, kill and destroy. In the same way that God uses people in my life to uplift me and help me, there are people in my life that are used by the Enemy to uproot me and tear me apart. That make me question who I am and my worth and make me feel lower than dirt.
When I’m drowning in the lies of the Enemy, I must consciously grasp for truth. I have to cry out and beg God to help me see the light and help me see who I really am.
Every morning and every night and sometimes throughout the day I make Frank repeat 3 phrases to me:
1: Frank is a child of God.
2: Jesus loves Frank.
3: Frank was created with a purpose.
Then we repeat it for Bob, me and Chip. Then we speak it for whoever Frank chooses to bless with that precious baby voice of his.
I want to ingrain in that sweet little head the truth of who he is. He is beloved and cared for by the Creator of the Universe. He was bought with the blood of Christ and he was NOT an accident. He has been given skills and a personality unique to him to be used to help and love others and treat people with compassion and shine like a bright little light.
And these things are true for YOU too. Whoever you are. Liz, Sarah or Alison if you’re reading this, (although I doubt you are!) these things are true for you as well.
Whatever weight you’re carrying going into Christmas, I pray that you read these things and believe them. I went so many years believing the lies that I’m not enough or that I’m too much, or that I need to change this or that. I finally had enough. I live in confidence (although sometimes I still struggle, believe me!!) that I am here for a purpose and that I am ENOUGH.
I pray that confidence for you as well.
Merry Christmas and may God fill you with the light of His unconditional love. No matter what you’ve done and no matter who you are. No matter what choices you’ve made or what lies you’ve believed.
Keep your head above water and know that you are loved, you are NOT an accident, and you have incredible purpose.
I’ll leave you with one more song. This one I listen to when I’m struggling and just need to be reminded of who I am. Cheers.