When I was in elementary school, I was given the dubious award of “Crybaby of the Year.” The boy who gave me that name was a little thug who would get his friends to line up and take turns trying to make me cry.
I wasn’t smart enough to catch on and start crying at the first shove or slap. Oh, no, I would bite my lip and fight back the tears and really drag out the punishment before I’d give in and start bawling.
Back then, nobody talked about bullying. I got a lot of instructions to “toughen up” and “let it roll off like water off a duck’s back.” I was told to go into the bathroom until I could get myself under control; come out when I was ready to act my age. The boys who tormented me on a daily basis were not seen as the ones with the problem. I was the one with the problem, because I was the one who cried every day.
I never really thought about the long-term effect that had on me until much later. Sure, I dealt with other bullies over the years. I was, after all, an overweight bookworm from a poor neighborhood, and I had a habit of quoting Shakespeare and Albee at random moments. I was pretty much a bully’s dream come true, practically delivered with a bright red bow on my nerdy little head.
But I had friends. Most of them were basically as weird as I was, and we learned to glory in it. I got to be pretty good at ignoring any detractors. I rarely cried anymore. I didn’t realize how far I had gone to the opposite extreme until the night of my car accident, when I lay sobbing, strapped to a backboard with my broken neck and every part of my body restrained in some way, with my family repeating, “But . . . you never cry!”
I’ve cried more in the past three years than I cried in all the years that came before it. I’ve cried tears of pain and frustration. Fear and anger. Hurt and loss. It’s been hell, but I finally stopped crying again in these past few months. I’ve been a phoenix rising from the ashes of my former life. I feel like a newborn at times, like an impossibly old woman at others.
A few weeks ago, I shared some pictures of myself here. They weren’t flattering pictures, but there was something so freeing about putting them out there. So empowering. After baring so much of my soul during the course of my recovery, my divorce, and my fresh start, I was shocked to discover that posting those pictures felt like the most intimate, most personal thing I have ever shared. I felt naked. But I felt good about it.
At first, the comments were great. So supportive. Then came the others, all from the same person.
I don’t blame you for being afraid to show these. Your disgusting and you should be ashamed of yourself.
You shouldn’t show these pictures to anyone. In fact, you shouldn’t show your fat, disgusting face at all.
I’m not surprised your divorced. Why would anyone stay with an obnoxious pig like you?
I had always vowed that I would approve any comments left on my blog, that I wouldn’t be the kind of blogger who only allows the positive ones to be seen. But I just couldn’t do it this time.
She kept at it.
I don’t know why you post stuff like this. Nobody wants to see your pictures. Nobody cares what you have to say. God you are such a loser. Why don’t you just delete your pictures so we don’t have to look at your ugly face any more? While you’re at it, you should delete your whole blog and your stupid books too because nobody wants to read those. Just delete yourself you fat fucking sow. Nobody will miss your sorry ass.
Today, that same person attacked me and another person in the writing forums. I’ve edited out all references to the other person to protect her identity.
Stop being a smartass all the time and thinking you are better than everyone else. Go away and strive to be an acceptable human being before you post again.
Lots of people think . . . you behave repulsively and wish you would go away. . . you are the one’s trolling this site so why don’t you go and take a good look at your behavior and be as disgusted as the rest of us. . . . facts are facts and you behave horribly.
Big AL – Please shut up. I said please, that must count for something. You started this . . . by being supercilious, obnoxious and high-handed, so don’t try to blame anyone else.
“Big Al.” Because I go by my initials in the forums: A.L. Big Al. Another “joke” about my being fat?
I shouldn’t let the vicious, childish words of one person bother me.
I am forty-eight years old. I have three wonderful children. I have an ex-husband who is still one of my best friends. In the past year, I have published three books that all have decent reviews.
I survived injuries in an accident that would have killed most people, and I have fought my way back against challenges that I never could have imagined, including a battle with depression that has pushed me to the brink of suicide on more than one occasion. I have hit rock bottom more times than I can count, and I have the gravel in my ass to prove it.
I am a survivor.
I have gone through Hell and back, and it’s a round trip I never could have made without the support and friendship of the incredible people in my life. My friends, my family, the followers of my blog who take the time to leave encouraging words in the comments. I may not always be good about answering, but I always draw strength from you.
In the past few years, I have come to believe that there is far more good in this world than bad. Somehow, walking through fire has made me an optimist.
So why does this hurt so much?
Right now, I am the six year-old little girl biting my lip and doing my damnedest not to cry. I can’t seem to “toughen up” or “let it roll off like water off a duck’s back.” Tonight, I am tired and hurt and alone. That’s right, I’m defeated by a bunch of fat jokes.
Childish, but there it is.
Tomorrow, I’ll wake up and limp to the kitchen for my pain meds and my coffee. I’ll stretch and try to get all the parts in working order before my kids wake up, because I can’t bear for them to see how much pain I face on a daily basis. Then I’ll face them with a smile, and I’ll thank God for their beautiful faces, and for the strength He gave me to survive to see those faces every day.
Tomorrow, I’ll be able to snap back into never-let-them-see-me-cry mode. I’ll put this all into perspective, and I’ll look at my tormentor with fresh eyes. I’ll see her for the childish little twat she is, and I’ll be able to understand that she is the one with the problem, not me. I’ll be able to shrug it all off.
Tomorrow, I’ll be able to see the humor in the fact that my tormenter has a blog about fighting bullies and cyber-crimes. I’ll laugh about the anti-bullying book she is writing even as she drowns in her own hypocrisy, and I’ll be able to remember that I am the adult here – the adult with a very full life with so many wonderful people, so much to be thankful for.
Tonight . . . tonight, I’m going to have a good cry.
Tonight, I’m crying for all of it: the car accident, the lost career, the pain, the humiliation, the divorce, the struggle to pay my bills . . . most of all, I’m crying for all of us who once learned not to cry.
UPDATE: Just wanted to share a new comment from the barrage of messages still coming in from the same person:
You think your all the shit but your book bombed! Hahaha I cracked up so hard! After you hyped yourself up, your dumbass book bombed! Do us all a favor and STOP WRITING. Don’t you get it? YOU HAVE NO TALENT.