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His Cutting Began in Second Grade, Mine in Fifth

At the moment there is a video going around YouTube. As of today it has just over a half-million views and was uploaded in early August. It’s an eighth grade boy named Jonah who, through a series of Sharpie-scrawled messages on index cards, admits that he is the victim of bullying and that he is scared to return to school because of it. I can completely understand the fear of starting a new school year, one without your friends who have moved on to different schools, but the part that hurt me the most is that he admitted that the bullying began in first grade and his first attempt at cutting was in second grade.

Mine was in fifth.

I wasn’t the cool kid. I wasn’t from the right side of town. I didn’t go to the right church and I certainly didn’t wear the right clothes. My mom put me in a much nicer public school than I was supposed to attend because they had an early morning foreign language class and it was near my Grandmothers house so I could walk there after school allowing my mom to work full time without leaving me home alone or in daycare.

I can’t say I was completely innocent myself, there were kids that I made fun of too and I feel horrible about it. John, Jane and Jaime were their names. Kristen, Scooter and Logan were my tormenters. I was pushed off monkey bars, hit in the face with ice balls and called all sorts of creatively painful names. It was part of growing up I guess.

When it all became too much I took sandpaper to my wrists. I rubbed until the sandpaper was stained red with blood and my bone was nearly visible. I told my mom I fell in ballet. The physical pain took away the emotional pain, I was only 10. I didn’t know how to deal with emotional pain and I wasn’t close enough with my mom to talk to her about it.

Addie is in first grade. She is 4 years away from the age I was when I turned to physically hurting myself to dull out the emotional pain I allowed others to cause me. While I know Addie is okay at the moment, I realize it could all change in a very short amount of time. I have done all I can to teach her kindness and compassion and I hope with my whole heart she remembers it when there is someone being tormented at school.

It’s up to as as parents and mentors to break this cycle. Looking at Jonah’s face in this video, I know that pain. I know the exhaustion of not wanting to fight anymore. I know the appeal that giving up holds. I know what it feels like to hate myself.

But I also know that I have a million things to live for, and despite my youth I knew I had a lot of things to live for back in elementary school and junior high.

These kids, just because they are in littler bodies doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of knowing really big pain. We need to help them navigate their pain. We need to take care of them. We need to lead by example. We need this to stop.

Jonah said he is tired of building himself back up only to be torn down again … oh, how I get this. It is so much easier to be destroyed by the words of one meaningless person than it is to be built up by the support of dozens. One of the hardest things I have had to learn is to remember compliments and forget insults.

I am almost 30 years old.

How in the world can we expect kids to recognize the difference?

It gets better, Jonah, and I promise you I am doing everything I can to make sure it continues to get better. I hope every parent can say the same thing.

{video via Brittany}

 

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