Today I watched Demi Lovato’s new video Skyscraper more times than I care to admit. It’s a beautiful song and video about rising up after being knocked down. For Lovato, apparently that knocking down stemmed from bullying, eating disorders, and cutting.
I’m not going to lie, the video made me cry. Partly because I felt her pain, and partly because I was reliving my own. Bullying has recently been getting a lot of press and I’m glad. Kids are mean. Scratch that- kids are- people are cruel and it shouldn’t be allowed. As a teacher, I don’t “allow” students to tease or bully one another, but at the end of the day, I’m pretty powerless to do anything about it. Policy says that unless a student physically assaults another one, no serious actions can occur. I literally cannot bear it. I can’t bear a student viciously making fun of another one in the bathroom, and I can’t bear the angry mother who confronts and blames me that her son is teased when I have no power whatsoever to truly stop it. I don’t know what the solution is, but it’s a problem.
And it isn’t new.
And I’m only one person who has felt how cruel others can be.
I’m not about to compare myself to kids who have been physically assaulted or threatened or tormented for years, but I do have an inkling about the pain.
I literally cried when a student this year snidely made fun of my nose- all because I was repeatedly made fun of for it’s size and shape from elementary school forward. I allowed a fourth graders words to strike a chord so deep that it opened all my old wounds.
The cruel words about my physical appearance, dress, or interests.
The friends who I thought were true, but who changed their minds.
The lies they spread all around, rallying more to their skewed view of me.
The laughter-what seemed like constant laughter-when I would walk by or enter a room.
The time I turned a corner to see a group of girls giggling and pointing at me, only to have one of them look me straight in the eye and mouth, “Bitch.”
I remember thinking that I wanted to die, or at the very least, fall off the face of the earth until they forgot.
I struggled and struggled to let it go, to forgive, to actually believe a few of them were sorry, and only to be hurt once again, all while slipping in and out of depression.
I struggled to forgive myself for any possible pain I had knowingly or unknowingly bestowed upon someone else.
Whoever said “words can never hurt me” was a liar. And I will never say that to a child.
This isn’t a pity party or a reliving of the past. It’s just me thinking about people and how our words and actions can so deeply affect others. It’s about how one day, you wake up, and it feels better and you realize you’re better than their lies, you’re bigger than all that. It’s about how periods in our life are just that-periods of time-that don’t last forever. It’s about finding self-worth where you should have sought it all along- from your Creator and yourself.
And it’s about remembering the pain you’ve felt. Remembering it because it was the first time you realized you were stronger than you thought. Remembering it so that you walk forward with a greater care and love for others. Remembering it because pain is what unites us all and it is the beginning of empathy. So let’s all make an effort to “love a little more, because everybody’s broken.”
“You can take everything I have. You can break everything I am. Like I’m made of glass. Like I’m made of paper. Go on and try to tear me down, I will be rising from the ground — like a skyscraper.”