Some brush it off as, “Bullying is part of life. We all go through it.” Unfortunately, that is true, but it’s still no excuse. Bullying has pushed its way into social media, magnifying the range of devastation to its victims. It has ruined people’s lives, reputations, and it is pushing kids to the point of suicide. In my niece’s small Ohio town, seven children, ranging from 13 to 19, have committed suicide in the last few years. I’m veering from my usual RVing posts to address and share my niece’s experience growing up in this small town.
Here are Veronica’s words:
“Before I start, I want to put a disclaimer down. I don’t want people to feel bad for me. I’ve come to live with it. I am also not looking for attention. I am here to help. I want others to see things really do look up when you think there is nothing else to look forward to.
Bullying is a real thing. It actually started in grade school. I would rather be talking about horses and playing football with the guys. I have actually got kicked to the ground by a group of girls in sixth grade. I was the odd ball. Tallest in my grade and looked overpowering. That’s when my mom invited me to basketball. It seemed like the coaches only cared because of my height.
Then middle school. My darkest days. Never in my life have I been so close to calling it quits. I was depressed. I was cutting, wearing baggy clothes all the time. I always worried about my weight. Mom guess what!! I lost a belt size!! Best day ever!! My grades dropped. Sleeping all day. My parents thought that pills would be the answer. Pills always work right!?! No, bullying was so bad for me the guys had a code name for me named Tim. Tim is fat. Tim is ugly. I can tell you that I felt bad for Tim because they were tearing him to shreds. Someone told me one day that Tim was a code name for me. I went home that day and took four pill bottles into one and just stared at them. I said this is it. I’m done. Done fighting. The thing that made me not do it was my siblings. What a great big sister. Dead. Because I wasn’t strong enough. My only outlet was basketball, and that was only in the winter. I had no friends. My friends at the time would call me just to say they were at a party and I wasn’t. But I ALWAYS had a smile on my face. NEVER showed how weak I was.
High school was also just as rough. But it started getting better. On my sixteenth birthday party, I invited everyone!! Can’t wait!! But the night of the party nobody showed. Hit me hard. It wasn’t as bad as when a guy put gum in my hair and nobody told me about it till I was on the bus ride home. Yet again, had a smile on my face. Then I didn’t get into basketball and I started eating. I was not caring about what I look like or who I had to impress, because I couldn’t please anyone. I had a breakdown for the first time and got help from Parkview Behavior Health in Fort Wayne. There I found out I wasn’t alone.
Graduating. Best word in the English dictionary when you’re 18. I started off doing great!! Then, at my job, I had a couple friends that would pretend they were my friends and would stab me in the back. It was to the point I was on I75 headed to work and I unbuckled my seat belt and was headed towards a gasoline semi. Hoping, praying that someone would see.
Then I got away from that job! My life did a complete 360°. My job took off like a rocket! I also work at a haunted prison giving tours. ME! Talking to the public. WHAT!! I got friends that would cross four oceans for me. I have never had anyone do that for me. I feel so much happier about myself. I love that!
I want to say thank you for all those people that made my life a living hell. I wouldn’t be who I am today. Helping out so many people who are going through tough times. I hope this helps someone out and to show that you can fight this. It will get better when life seems at a standstill.”
Written by Veronica Vulgamott
Veronica is my sweet niece–the one who always thinks of others first, is the family peacemaker, and the one who would rather die than hurt someone’s feelings. She’s tenderhearted, sensitive, and loving. Why kids have a hard time with children like Veronica is beyond me. Growing up, she was seen as an easy target. Their words hurt. Their actions pierced her heart. The more they saw her misery, the more they fed on it and became predators mercilessly eating their prey and, for the most part, she was silent about the pain. As an aunt who sees how precious Veronica’s gifts are, it is heartbreaking to hear how they tried to trample her spirit, pick on her to the point where she wears a poker face on the outside but is crushed on the inside, and made her doubt her value as a beautiful human being. I’m so thankful she sought help from her parents and they lovingly provided whatever she needed. I’m proud of her strength to persevere.
After a 13-year-old recently took his life in the same hometown, she decided to share her story. This is a brave and courageous thing for her to do. She still walks among people in her small town where everyone knows everybody else and all of their relatives. They know the family sins of the past and never let anyone live them down. That same tiny town where the bullies are adults who procreate to raise bullies just like them–simply because someone doesn’t fit in their ‘box’ of ‘normal’ or right or wrong. The cycle continues, and Veronica’s wish is to stop at least one child from doing the unthinkable.
I’m sharing Veronica’s story because she wanted me to. She wants to help anyone she can. These kids live with the hurt–they don’t talk about how parts of them die slowly each day. She’s not the only one. There are millions of kids out there who are victims of various forms of bullying. Not all kids are born with the ‘fight back’ instinct, and even if they were, they are overpowered or rendered emotionally paralyzed. They need someone to fight for them before they lose all hope and decide to end their lives.
Parents: Be aware. Look for signs of despondency and self-doubt. Also know that children aren’t perfect little angels. Don’t allow them to bully or be mean to others. There has to be consequences to actions. Do something about it. “Kids will be kids,” is a weak and lame cop out.
The world’s gotta change. It starts with us.
I’m proud of you, Veronica.
Please leave Veronica a comment of encouragement if this has touched you in any way.