To spotlight National Bullying Prevention Month, the team at Rainbow Rabbit is encouraging those who have been victims of bullying to share their first-hand accounts with us. These special individuals have faced obstacles, but persevered through tough times and have made an impact in the lives of others in many different ways.
This week’s blogger is Kristen Blackburn, a Pennsylvania school teacher. If her touching story won’t move you, we’re not sure what will.
I was involved in dance….but never made the dance team. I wasn’t naive though. I knew why. The girls all talked. Even though I had moves, no one wanted a fat girl on their team.
I was on the swim team. Always coming in last. Still getting that participation ribbon…and crying because it meant nothing. I sat alone. Prepared alone.
I remember most of my childhood as being happy. My parents made sure of it. They were the BEST at making sure that my sister and I wanted for nothing. That we were content, that we were smiling, because deep down, they knew that I was miserable. I ate my emotions.
And then it happened.
I was in middle school. In survival mode every day. I had been attacked before. Pushed around. The names I’d been called by the various groups of kids in THAT school still creep into my mind. But on this day, it was so much worse.
As I was returning to class, from lunch, I was running up the steps when one of my bullies grabbed my ankle. And from that moment on, the ugliness ensued.
I had a swarm of people around me as I laid there. The group of bullies continued to assault me. Leaving me with a shoe print on my forehead, a concussion, braces hanging from my teeth, bruised, a broken nose—and nobody helped me.
To reflect back on this, I’m not angry. I am disappointed. I’m a mom now. A teacher. And for years, I struggled with the thought of no one helping a child being beaten, a school not disciplining students because there was “no proof” (because they “didn’t have a bullying/gang problem”).
I could have gone SO many different directions. I could have internalized all of this and resorted to destructive decisions. In fact, I did have eating disorders, I struggle with anxiety and depression. These are things I battle with all the time—fears of inadequacies because of the harmful effects of the cowardly faces of bullies. But what gets to me more are those that do NOTHING.
With support from my family, I CHOSE to take a positive route. I wanted to be the change I wanted to see in the world. I wanted to be a teacher, I wanted to share my life stories with whomever would listen, because sometimes, life just stinks! But we have the ability to respond to it in different ways, and that reaction is what is important. It’s what sets us apart from success and failure.
I want my three boys and my school babies to know that it’s not failing if you get back up and try again. It’s not failing if you have to keep trying. That people are MEAN, but that doesn’t mean we have to be mean, too. Sometimes the people that are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most. Kindness matters, and we are always one decision away from an entirely different life and changing someone else’s.
My name is Kristen Blackburn. I am a teacher in a small town in PA. I have three beautiful boys, and believe that kindness and love still exist in the world today.