Friday, September 25, 2009

Gimme your milk money!

I'm about to get deeper with you guys than I ever have. Generally with this blog, I pump out a post in twenty minutes... but this one strikes really, really close to home, so I'm going to try and take my time and be really delicate with this.

Before continuing reading, please watch the entirety of the video.

Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover.

No, you've never heard of him before that video.
And thanks to the students at his school, we never will again.

Eleven year old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover took his own life at the age of eleven.

Assuming you watched the video, you know that Carl was bullied heavily in school. You know that he was bullied for being gay. You know he didn't identify as gay, or straight, because he was just a child. You know that his school did nothing to protect him. His school ignored his bullying, called it "typical".

I hate to pull a Madonna, but I, too, was bullied extensively. My school also did nothing to fight it. My mother, also, called the school constantly, met with principals. I, too, faced bullying from peers and teachers. I, too, was called Fairy. Daisy. Gay. Fag. I had my things vandalized. I had my lunch stolen. I got beat up, tittie twistered, indian burned, punched, kicked, made fun of, harassed. I had teachers refuse to listen to me. I had administrators pretend like there was nothing wrong. I had the school's guidance counselor ignore my cries for help. By the age of 9, fourth grade, I prayed every night that God would just kill me so I didn't have to go to school anymore. By the age of 9, I was crying myself to sleep every night because the lord wouldn't end my life.

I'm glad that God, if he exists, had very different plans for me. If he doesn't exist, then I'm glad I rose above bullying survived.

Many psychologists say that the self-esteem and body image you have as a child will stick with you your entire life. My self-esteem and body image are, of course, shot. My life was, effectively, ruined by childhood bullying. Sure, I rose above it; for the most part. I'm pretty extroverted, I'm happy, I smile a lot, I have a great sense of humor... but I will always fear people will abandon me, that no one will ever love me, that I'm fat, stupid, useless, worthless, and that I'll die alone - because that's what I was told in elementary school. I know that's wrong, but I only know it superficially. Deep inside, I'll always have this issue. I should have been in therapy a long time ago, but what my mom decided was adjusting was actually depression. I wasn't playing in my room all day, I was hiding. I wasn't happy, I just didn't know how to cry anymore. I got better at pretending to be okay when in reality, I wasn't a-oh-fucking-kay.

I'm not the only person I know who's been this deeply affected by childhood bullying. One of my closest friends was bullied even longer than I was. She didn't get a chance to hide in middle school and reinvent herself for high school... I was lucky that I had 3,000 kids in my high school. She had the same kids from first grade on. This friend of mine didn't have friends until she got to college. Like me, she's still constantly afraid. Constantly worried. And, little does she know, constantly Strong. She's one of the strongest bullying victim I've ever met - I see her still struggling with it, and what makes her strong is that she honestly doesn't know if she's going to pull through it... but that doesn't mean she's going to give up. I know she's going to be okay, and I will do everything in my power to help her through it.

One of my twitter friends is older than me, and went through the same abuse throughout his childhood. He went through years and years of therapy and takes 8 pills a day just to manage. Myself and my two friends are not just victims of bullying, but we're Survivors. And we're not the only ones. Unfortunately, we're not all lucky enough to be survivors. Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover was not lucky enough to survive bullying.

Bullying does not end in the classroom. Survivors take it with them the rest of our lives. I don't know any statistics to this, but I'll bet you anything we're more likely to be victims of domestic abuse, more likely to receive bullying in the work place, and more likely to let others take advantage of us. It's learned helplessness, and it's scary.

Bullying is a social cancer. It affects everyone. Everyone either was bullied, knows someone who was bullied, or bullied someone. Maybe you witnessed it in your school or workplace and chose to ignore it. Maybe you walked past the kid getting swirlies. Maybe you were holding that kid up by his ankles. Maybe you know what toilet water tastes like. Maybe you've drank coffee that your coworker makes your other coworker buy everyday with their own money. Maybe you make a coworker buy you and your friends coffee everyday. Maybe you spend $30 at Starbucks every single day when you don't drink coffee. You know it. You see it. You taste it. You do it. It touches all of us.

Please, don't let one more person end up like Carl. He deserved to live a full, long life full of hope and meaning. I applaud his mother for standing up for her son, and taking this as far as it can. My hope is that one day, school and work officials will finally recognize the impact bullying can take on a person. One day, parents, teachers, and coworkers will band together to fight the fight and end bullying in their classrooms, their playgrounds, their schoolyards, their churches, their organizations. No more victims. No more kids hanging themselves like Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover.

Every time I watch that video, I cry.
I cry.

No comments:

Post a Comment