“I’m not the only kid
Who grew up this way
Surrounded by people who used to say
That rhyme about sticks and stones
As if broken bones
Hurt more than the names we got called
And we got called them all
So we grew up believing no one
Would ever fall in love with us
That we’d be lonely forever
That we’d never meet someone
To make us feel like the sun
Was something they built for us
In their tool shed
So broken heart strings bled the blues
As we tried to empty ourselves
So we would feel nothing
Don’t tell me that hurts less than a broken bone”
There were no better words I could start this piece with than these. The magnificent work of Shane Koyczan’s spoken word poem ‘To This Day’ can pierce through the hardest of hearts and leave an everlasting mark on anyone who cares enough to listen.
I have been contemplating writing about bullying for a while now, and I just couldn’t bring myself to. Having gone through a phase of it for the longest time growing up, it brought back quite a few repressed childhood memories every time I decided to sit and write. But I know it’s important, and it has helped shape the woman I have become, for better or for worse. I also know that there could be someone out there who needed words to describe how they felt, and if mine could be the ones that help them, I would feel a sense of fulfilment in doing what I could. I know it could make a difference; I’ve had a fair share of writers do the same for me. Especially after writing my recent post on “What are you afraid of?”, I knew it was time for me to write what this made me feel.
So many parents used to think that bullying builds character. Zack W. Van says “Bullying builds character like nuclear waste creates superheroes. It’s a rare occurrence and often does much more damage than endowment.” I couldn’t have put it better myself. I’d go so far as to say that most of the horror stories we hear of bad people in this world is probably to do with a bad childhood and had some influences of bullying somewhere. This is why when kids come home and say they’re having troubles, they need to be taken seriously. I was too scared to say anything to my family because some of the people that called me names were a part of it, apart from the “friends” I had. I briefly fought back, but realised it turned me into a bit of a bully too, and that I wasn’t proud of. So I broke away from all those toxic people and started rebuilding myself, piece by broken piece. I hit rock bottom before I tried to surface up, though.
When most people meet me today, they see a confident, happy woman. An attractive woman, even, some have told me. A woman full of life, laughter and hope. Hope. That’s what they get from me too, to hope for the better things; to hope for change. This confidence, this yearning for hope, this faith in things getting better – it’s a by-product of years of being made to feel the opposite. I was the one that hid in the shadows; that wasn’t “enough”. I could never amount to much, because I didn’t have what it took. Things couldn’t change, because let’s face it, have I observed myself closely? No one could really love me, because there are way more prettier women around, clearly. No one ever said things to me directly, but enough and more of this was subtly tossed my way. So subtly in fact, that I did not see it creep slowly into my soul, poisoning it to believe I wasn’t worth the time of the day to anyone. Shane K says this really well in the rest of the poem, and that is why it strikes such a chord with me. It can break people, particularly kids, really easily. And sometimes you aren’t fortunate enough to ever recover, and you’re scarred for life. Or worse, even.
Sometimes, you’re lucky. You have people to stand up for you. Who love you not in spite of what the world says your shortcomings are, but because of them. And they do all they can to make sure you rise above the situation, and become the best version of you that you can be. If you can’t be perfect, that’s okay. They will still love you. I wish more people did that. If there were more people to stand up, there wouldn’t be any more bullies. As they say though, “Life is a ﬁght, but not everyone’s a ﬁghter. Otherwise, bullies would be an endangered species.”
But that may never be enough when you are left with a damaged soul. You’re too scared to let anyone in, because what if they pull you down from all the progress you’ve made? What if they tear down the person you’ve managed to heal yourself and turn into? Of course, at this point, you will only know by taking that risk and letting them in. Or you used the scars you have had to deal with and turn it into something positive. Become a force so strong, that everyone knows you’re one to be reckoned with. Help heal all those broken souls you can find and set them on their way to greatness. Help them discover the beauty that is them, inside and outside. And then, you will free yourself from the shackles that held you back, all that didn’t let you soar to the heights you were meant to reach.
I end this on this note; food for thought, if you will –
What if the one you bullied ends up being the only one who can possibly save your life?
This was a post I had started a while ago, and never got around to finishing. Now is as better a time as any, with the publishing of my last post, to do it. So, here goes.
Every year, I ask myself this question, in terms of the previous year I had. But it’s not so I can make new resolutions on New Year’s (because we all know how that turns out). No, it’s something I do on my birthday, to judge for myself if I still like the person I’m becoming. And to set/edit a few goals/resolutions that help mould that person.
For a while, I’ve been in a reflective mood. Trying to evaluate if I was going on the right path with my life. I generally do this around the time I think I need to evaluate/re-evaluate my goals/resolutions. Then I realised, I didn’t care if it was ‘right’. What I really cared about was if it was the path that made me a happy person or not.
What made me actually finish this piece of writing was when I was talking to someone very close to me, and she said that she was amazed at the person I’d become. That I’d changed, and yet I still remained the same. How did that work?
When I was evaluating that statement, I realised what it was. I had begun to heal from the old, not so complete version of myself. I was more confident. I was more open about what I had to say. And, as per my best friend, I was “becoming more of a woman”. Yes, he actually says things like that to me :)
Am I the best version of myself that I can ever be? No. But I’m definitely on the path to being it. And I like the way I’m going.
I have finally realised that my path to progressing towards being the person I want to be is not dependent on what people around me think. It matters more as to what I think, and whether I am willing to go to whatever lengths for it.
Something tells me I am.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about this letter when I saw the title, or even if I should be writing this in the first place. But, I figured I should. If I can’t, it’s only going to hold me back, and that is something I definitely do not want. I chose to put you guys in one letter because it just seemed apt and, also because, it isn’t fair to be only writing to one of you =)
K, you were the first boy I called my ‘boyfriend’. The first one I kissed, the first that took my breath away with said kisses. You taught me what it was to see past the things people hid behind, to discover the real gem of someone’s soul. We had our ups and downs, and though I admit some of it could have been handled with a little bit more dignity, we made it through it all. We didn’t realise the stress we were dealing with all around, and thought it was what came with the territory of being teenagers. Whatever we faced, we faced it strong. And I think our relationship started shaping the person I was to be.
When I look back on what we had, I still smile. Because we had a lot of memories back then. At the end of it all though, we were young, we were naive, and we were, quite possibly, in love. I say ‘quite possibly’ because I feel the idea of love entranced us a lot more back then, and I say this in the nicest way possible. I gave it my all, but my heart was still learning to deal with all the emotions thrown its way.
What makes me happy though, is to see how far you’ve come. How far we’ve both come, in fact. You’ve been there through some milestones in my life. And vice versa. And as I said to you before this year began, I’m thankful we’ve gotten back in touch with each other over the years. Feels good to know we’ve matured enough to be nice to each other. Thank you for being all you have.
E. Oh, what do I say to you? You started out as one of my amazing friends, and then became so much more. What I loved about our relationship was that, the most. The fact that, as friends, we could talk about anything under the sun. And then, as lovers, some more. You encouraged my strengths, which helped you develop yours too. We went through the changes of being 18+ years and in love. And having our hearts broken because of the way things ‘were supposed to be’. And rebuilt, and broken again.
I won’t rehash the past, because so many good things came from our relationship. Amazing friends, great memories, and inexplicable bonds. And in a strange way, if not for you, I don’t think I would have realised I was meant to fall in love with the city I live in. So I’m grateful for that.
What I regret is this past year taking a toll on our once-solid friendship. You said ‘things change, people change’. I tried so hard for that not to be true for us. But somewhere, I think we both sort of took a step back, and another, and another…until we were safely far enough to not be affected. And somewhere, I stopped trying. Not because I didn’t care, but because I was tired of being the one who had to try.
In saying that, I hope things start to look up, for you and maybe, for our friendship. I also hope that whatever it is that life throws your way, you handle well and come out stronger. You’re capable of it, of reaching out to your dreams. You just need to see it. I loved you, and I still hope for the friend I had before all this. I can only hope that friend is still there somewhere, not for my sake, but for the lives you will touch.
You’ve both been there at different points in my life, to teach me different lessons. To help me experience life through your eyes. To let me have people to call mine. Thank you for helping me grow. Thank you both, thank you for the memories.
Note: I mentioned discovering some old poems in my last post. Whenever I get the time, I will be publishing one =)
In every person’s life there comes a change
It may be surprising, it may be strange.
Your entry into my life was a welcome one
It was at a time when in my heart I carried a ton.
You helped me ease the pain, to make a start
In pouring out the deepest worries of my heart.
At first to me it didn’t seem right
To make you worry, or feel sorry at my plight.
But you weren’t bothered about what the world would say
You made it your mission to to brighten my day.
Whenever I was about to stumble and fall
You steadied me, helped me stand tall.
We’ve made our special world because of which we
Know each other so well, it surprises me!
Whenever you need me, know I’m not too far away
And I promise you, I’ll try to keep your worries at bay.
Through thick and thin we’ll stick together
You can be sure, I’ll be there forever.
You make me feel special; you’ve lifted my soul.
Even though I don’t tell you everyday
You mean the world to me, more than words can say!
Note: I’ve been good in following the age old advice of ‘don’t talk to strangers’, but yeah. At some point in your life, you’ve got to right? How else would you make more friends? But writing a letter to someone you’ve never met…Hmm, interesting, to say the least!
When this said ‘Dear stranger’, I was stumped for a bit. What do you say to a person you don’t know?
The only reason you are a stranger to me is because I haven’t met you yet! I have too many people who can vouch for the fact that I don’t ever really shut up. So, I’m pretty certain once we meet, I’ll chatter away quite happily about anything under the sun!
I want you to know that I will always be there when you need a friend. Whether we talk everyday, or we go months on end without a word, I will be there when you need a listening ear and a comforting shoulder. Also, if you need to be told to grow a pair, I’ll do that too :P
I also want you to know that if I include you in different parts of my life, it’s because I want to. I want you to meet the other wonderful people in my life, and get to know the things that make me happy too. You’re more than welcome to say ‘no, thanks’ and walk away. I won’t hold it against you :)
I just ask for one thing. Just because I’m nice, doesn’t mean you can walk all over me. I have a good heart, but get on the wrong side of it, and you’ll just lose out on a stellar personality in your life. I know that sounds presumptuous, but it isn’t, really! It’s just building off of a belief that I have that if I don’t believe I’m amazing, no one else will.
Here’s to meeting you soon!
Dear hopes and dreams,
It feels good to have you out of the back corner of my brain and tangibly present everywhere. Most importantly, in my heart. I know I put you on the back burner for a while, when I began putting other people’s versions of you first. It wasn’t fair to you and I’m sorry.
But today, when I realise my 30 before 30 list has a focus on you, and that I think about you often enough, I feel better. To know that my hope of spreading the joy I get with my writing is slowly and surely coming true, to know that my dream for travel and wanderlust still survives all it’s faced, to know that my hope and dream for more love in this world was not foolishly misplaced…makes me feel wonderfully happy, and fills me with content.
When I look back, I realise I have always held out my candle to you to bring me back from the darkness that sometimes took over my life. When I felt that all was lost, it was your light that told me it wasn’t. When I almost gave up on the very things I believed in, you showed me exactly why I shouldn’t. For that, and for giving me a reason to hold on and move ahead, I am, and always will be, thankful.
There is just one more addition to the three of you that exist – my hope and dream to find a love that will love me back, with all my shortcomings…with all my flaws…and all my mistakes. Because they are what make me a human, and what make the person who I am, so real. Things that can be changed and need to be will be, but there is an essence to my soul that needs to be loved. As hard (or possibly impossible) as this is to find, there’s nothing like a little hope to keep you going, right?
This, I add to your family. This, I add to my life. This, I add to my hopes and dreams.