Overcoming Middle School Bullying

Overcoming Middle School

Going through high school as an introvert with boy-short hair and poor parents made what most people said were supposed to be the “golden years” feel like the dark ages. I never could talk to my classmates easily and you can forget making friends. I’m not sure which was worse – the times when I was teased or the times when I was completely ignored. I thought something was wrong with me. Why was it so easy for everyone else to fit in when I felt so awkward? Why couldn’t I just be normal? I felt like I didn’t have anyone to talk to and no one understood what I was going through. Sometimes I felt like I would never make it through. Sometimes, looking back, I think I barely did.

When I was in 5th grade, my parents decided to move, in the middle of the school year (of all the times we could have moved!), so that my dad could follow his dream of becoming a full time potter. This meant that I would have to leave a school that I loved and be thrust into the wide open darkness of the unknown. I couldn’t believe that I had no say in the matter. As much as I begged and pleaded, my parents wouldn’t budge. The decision was already made. The offer on our new house had already been accepted. So, not only did I become the “new girl” in the middle of my 5th grade year, it was the last year before I was to enter the terrifying stage of junior high.

Looking back, I now realize that middle school was and is an awkward time for everyone. Hormones and growth spurts turn once-adorable children into freakish half-adults. But, at the time, I really thought I was the only one struggling. I felt so alone. All the other girls were filling out their T-Shirts, if you know what I mean, while mine stayed flat. So, my late-blooming combined with my boy-short hair that I mentioned earlier left me looking like a boy and open to ridicule. It didn’t help that I hated dresses, but that’s a different story for another time.

Before my big brother got his driver’s license and was able to drive us every day, I used to have to ride the bus to and from school. My heart would thump with dread as I stared out the kitchen window into the dark winter mornings waiting for the bus to arrive. It was only a 20-minute ride, but it was the worst 20 minutes of my life. A group of older boys would sit behind me and make fun of my hand-me-down clothes, my beat-up shoes and my frizzy hair, but most days they would just blatantly and generally point out how ugly I was. Sometimes, I would try to make some brazen retort, but they were always better at the insults than I was. I only ended up fueling their fire with my meager attempts to defend myself.  Most of the time, I would shrink as far into my bus seat as I could – trying to become invisible and trying to act as if I didn’t care.

But I did care. Back then, I didn’t knowing how to deal with the hurt, so I turned to food. It became my only friend. I had a few hours after school when I was left to my own devices and, though my mother had tried to teach me some restraint when it came to eating; all the stress was too much for me. I would plop myself down in front of the TV and gorge myself on half a package of Oreos, bagels with cream cheese, potato chips, pop tarts and ice cream – all in one sitting.

As a result, even though I had never before had to worry about my weight, this binging at the same time I was going through the lovely stage of puberty not only began to pack on the pounds, but even worse, triggered nasty mood swings.  During this time and for years after, I had no control over my emotions and I didn’t know why. I blamed my ups and downs (downs more than ups) on teenage hormones, then on stress, then on genetics. I finally chalked them up to the fact that I must just be crazy.

What I wish I knew then and what I do know now, after years of research and self-experimentation, is that the food I thought was helping me cope was actually making my life harder. I had sunken into a depression that was fueled by bad food choices. My ability to socialize went from bad to worse. And the extra inches on my waistline demolished what was left of my self-esteem.  What I didn’t realize was that I was treating myself just as badly as those boys on the bus were.

But there was a better way. You see, my biggest problem wasn’t that I had been bullied and teased. My biggest problem was that I had begun to believe the bullies. I had begun to believe that I was ugly and unworthy of love. And therefore, I had stopped loving myself. And, one day, for some reason I still don’t fully understand, I had had enough of my misery. I was tired of feeling bad all the time. So, I made a decision to pull myself out of the hole I was living in. I couldn’t control what my bullies said or did, but I could control my own thoughts and actions. Little by little, I began to show myself love again. I participated in school activities that I was good at like choir and drama, I surrounded myself with my family and my church who I knew loved me unconditionally (even if I was ugly), and I began writing poetry and songs to help work through my feelings. And then, I put down the junk food. I didn’t need it anymore.

While healthy eating may not solve all the world’s problems (though I tend to think it might), it can do a lot toward making us feel better and function at our best. Just like putting the right gasoline in your car will make it run best, fueling your body with the right foods will improve not only your physical appearance, but it will also enhance your brain function, sky-rocket your mood, strengthen your resilience to stress, clear up skin problems and give you the energy to easily get through the day.

Fueling my body with healthy food is just one way that I began to actively love myself again. When I truly loved who I was, the teasing slowly, but surely, stopped. They could not hurt me anymore.

Through healthy food, supportive friends, an uncompromising passion to follow my dreams and a somewhat newly developed compassion for others, I have found balance and control over my emotions. And I have a life filled with my wildest dreams.

I urge you to begin to listen to your heart, even if it’s breaking. Listen to your body, because it’s perfect just the way it is and it knows what it needs. It is time to begin the journey toward loving yourself. Buddha said, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” You can’t really argue with Buddha. When you love you, you are loved by someone special. 

 "Sarah Anderson, founder of Beautiful Health Within, is an Emotional Eating Expert, Coach & Writer. She provides food therapy to emotional eaters all over the country to crank their energy, drop the weight and rock their lives. Visit www.beautifulhealthwithin.com to learn more."




Jul 25 2013 in Whats New admin Comments Off on Overcoming Middle School Bullying

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