Ever so often, when they looked at me, spoke about me, or to me, they likened me to a masterpiece; my beautiful soul and the person I was, “an absolute work of art,” they said. It was on one of my darker days that I mistakenly reflected on what this could imply, and I came to a crushing realisation. They were comparing me to expensive art. Art to be admired, revered and adored. But never to be acquired. The ones that would choose to take possession of this kind of wondrous creation would know exactly what it was worth, but would keep this knowledge and the creation itself hidden – so it could never be damaged, or coveted.
I didn’t want to be a masterpiece. I wanted to be someone’s intricate jigsaw, to be finished piece by painstaking piece. When the picture would be completed, there would be a sense of pride towards me. I would be proudly displayed, for their entire world to see, rather than framed away under lock and key.
I didn’t want to be a masterpiece. I wanted to be a lovingly knit jumper; the result of someone’s focused labour. The very fibre of my soul would weave seamlessly with theirs, blending moments and memories to wrap us in the warmth of the lives we shared.
I didn’t want to be a masterpiece. I wanted to be someone’s meticulous needlepoint. As much as they’d have to strain to get things just right, and as much as they could get pricked on occasion, they would persevere because they knew the end result was worth it. I wanted to be worth that effort.
I didn’t want to be a masterpiece. Unless it was to that soul that believed my perceived outward beauty was only enhanced by the love that overflowed from my soul to flood the lives of those around me.
I didn’t want to be a masterpiece. Unless it was to the artist that understood why I existed, and loved me for it.
I didn’t want to be a masterpiece.
“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?