The Mean Reds

Hey friends! I’m just going to start right off with this post, if that’s cool with you. It’s one of those days. You know, the mean reds (thank you, Audrey Hepburn/Holly Golightly for that phrase!). When you’re sad but you don’t really know what you’re sad about. Or, you do, but you don’t really want to acknowledge it. Maybe you’re sad because you’re starting the new school year and summer is over. Or, you’re healing a broken heart. Or, you didn’t get that job you applied for. Or, something just isn’t quite right and you can’t put your finger on what it is. Whatever it is, you’re sad and you don’t want to be. No one does. I don’t and I don’t want you to be, either.

Everyone experiences it in different ways. A pit in your stomach. Your heart hurts. You feel anxiety rising in your chest. You can’t seem to smile about anything. You just want to crawl under your desk and cry. You want to talk to someone, but you don’t want anyone to know what you’re going through. Someone says something rude, and that makes you feel even worse. It sucks. I used to be the type of person who would try anything and everything possible to make that feeling go away as quickly as possible. I didn’t want to be sad, face what was making me sad, or even tell anyone. So, I tried to squash it by telling myself to stuff it down as far as possible and move on. But, you know what? That only made it worse. Much worse. A few days later, it would be an all-night crying fest and feeling way worse than I would have if I had just face it head-on. So, I learned from my experiences and now I know what helps me, and I thought I would share them. Maybe they’ll help you a little too.

First off, don’t ignore your sadness. Accept it and acknowledge it. I’ve done the whole “I’m going to Pinterest and finding every positive quote I can and that will help!” And maybe that does help for some. You’re human, and you experience human emotions and feelings. Ignoring them will not make them go away, it will only multiply them.

I used to try to figure out WHY I was so sad. I kept trying to pinpoint the reason—I felt like I couldn’t move on with my life if I didn’t. Is it because of this, or what this person said, or because I did this, or they did that? What is wrong with me? Which would inevitably turn into a lot of negative self-talk, because if I couldn’t find the cause, then I would feel inadequate. Sometimes we’re just sad. That’s OK. We need to give ourselves permission to feel how we feel. What you do with those feelings is up to you—take them out on someone else, internalize them or talk about them with someone you trust in a healthy way. That’s where our power does come into play—you have the control in how you respond to those feelings. Just try to let go of trying to over-analyze it all.

Learn some self-care techniques. For me, I sometimes need time alone with some candles, my favorite movie, and my journal. Sometimes I need a dinner date with a friend or family member, or to workout. Take a walk, sit in nature, meditate, pray, take a long bath, paint your nails, give yourself a facial, talk to someone (talk yourself through something!), anything that makes you feel good inside. One thing to remember: talk to yourself as if you were talking to your best friend. If you told your best friend “you’re not good enough. What’s wrong with you?” chances are, they wouldn’t be your best friend anymore.

Listen to your favorite song, on repeat and dance! If you’re feeling really down, ask someone to bring your dinner and ask them to sit with you and talk while you eat.

Make a list of things that make you smile, kind things someone has done for you, happy memories, things you’re looking forward to in the coming weeks.

Practice gratitude. Make a list of five things you are grateful for that day and why. Be specific.

One of my favorite things to do: throwing a soft blanket in the dryer (not washing it) and wrapping myself in it immediately after taking it out. It’s literally one of the best feelings—it’s like a warm hug.

Pray/meditate. Simply praying about how you’re feeling and asking for healing and comfort is one of my go-to’s. It’s easy to forget to do that when you’re feeling crappy, because (for some reason) it’s easier to feel crappy than to try to change it. But, trust me, praying and meditating definitely helps!

If you’re sad because of something someone did/said to you, tell them. Ask for an apology and tell them how it made you feel. I know it’s easier said than done, but it can bring you closure and healing a lot faster than either trying to pretend it didn’t happen, or to stuff it down.
If you’re feeling anxious, you may have pent-up energy. Go outside, take a walk, ride a bike, play basketball, go for a run, swim. That will also give you the positive endorphins that will help with your mood.

Be kind to yourself. Tell yourself that it’s OK to feel how you feel. Breathe. Breathe in for seven counts, hold for eight, and slowly breathe out for seven. Repeat four times. Drink water (not alcohol). We all get sad from time to time, but try to remind yourself that it will get better. I promise! One bad day doesn’t equal a bad life. You have so much to live for, so much to offer this world. Every single person experiences sadness and loneliness—you, me, Oprah, everyone. You’re not alone. If you’re feeling like you can’t go on, or are thinking of harming yourself, please reach out to a friend, family member, or call this number immediately: 1-800-273-8255. You matter. Your life matters. Remember, we’re all in this together!

If you have any other ideas of how to cheer yourself up, shoot me a message and let’s chat!

Xoxo.

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Have Faith

Hi friends! I don’t know if any of you know this about me, but I write music. I started writing when I was in grade school as a way for me to get my pain, frustration and loneliness out. I would hide myself in the basement of our house for hours on end. I remember just popping in a cassette tape (some of you kids don’t even know what that is, but I promise you back in the day, those things ruled my world), and just sat there listening to every single word, replaying it over and over to listen to different aspects of the song—the lyrics, then the melody, then the drums, then the guitar, well you get the picture. When I would have a bad day at school, I couldn’t wait to get home and go in the basement to listen to music. Eventually, I started writing some of my own. Granted, they weren’t very good, but it was still an outlet for me and oh man how it helped. It was my escape. Music never judged me. It didn’t care that I was bullied at school, that I didn’t have any friends. I remember when my Grandpa Carlson died, I was devastated. It was the first time anyone close to me had died. I was 12 and I didn’t know what else to do to deal with that sadness, so as I was sitting in the basement I wrote a song. It’s actually now on my album and even though I was super hesitant to record it (I thought it sounded like a song a 12 year old would write), it’s actually one of my favorite songs I’ve written (which says a lot, because as you know, I don’t talk my music up much at all. It’s called Castle in a Carnival, if anyone wants to check it out on iTunes). I took my love of music and turned it into a career. I did it for quite some time, too, but towards the end I was putting in effort that I realized wasn’t fruitful anymore. When I stepped out of that life, I had to rediscover who I was. Music was my life. Music was ME. Without it, I had no idea who I was, where I was, what I was doing and that caused a whole lot of anxiety and mild depression. Yep, I said it. Anxiety and depression. I never experienced any of that before, so when I started having anxiety attacks, I had no idea what was going on. I just literally thought my life was closing in on me and I was meeting my doom. You can laugh at that all you want, but if you’ve ever had an attack, you know it’s nothing to laugh at. It’s real. But, you know what else? It’s also OK.

In the months, and year following my identity crisis, I exhausted my friends with countless phone calls, coffee meet-ups paired with incredibly deep conversations and wondering if I was making a huge mistake or if everything really will be OK. Though my friends never expressed it, I am sure they were sick of hearing me go on and on with “I don’t know…I am scared I will make the wrong move and my entire life will be messed up and I will never be happy ever again. What if I make the wrong choice? Will I ever know? When will I know? I need to know right this second.” Seriously, I repeated those words about ten million times. Not to mention the many tears I shed with them, and alone in my home. How many times I had to talk myself off a ledge, or how many times I had to make plans with someone just so I had something to look forward to…even if it was just going for a walk or for coffee. This was also the year that I found something else—faith. I hesitated talking about this, because I don’t want to lose followers (do I have any?!), but it’s also a huge part of my life and I would be doing a disservice not talking about it.

I had always believed in God, but never really did anything about it. I thought going to church a few times a year was enough. Then, during this painful year (OK, maybe two years) of my life, a friend invited me to her church. I thought, “well, I don’t have anything else to do, so I might as well.” Oh my, my entire life changed that day. Not just the service itself, but the feeling I got from it. I was inspired. Hopeful. Moved. Touched. HOPEFUL. That was something I hadn’t felt in so long. I was hopeful for the future. God loved me. Scars, failures, mistakes and all. No judgement. Just love and acceptance. That day, I met some of my now best friends. It felt like home to me. Like I belonged somewhere. I learned how to believe again, how to have faith, how to feel, how to trust in something other than material things, how to give up control. I wanted to control everything. I started praying, reading the Bible, reading devotionals, and those panic-stricken conversations I had before with friends, turned into conversations about things I was actually excited about. My conversations went from “how will I know I’m making the right choice? What if I make the wrong choice?” to, “I know God has amazing things in store for me. He wouldn’t bring me to this point in my life just to leave me here! I can’t wait to see what He has for me!” I went from wanting to jump off of my balcony to breathing and believing. I truly believe that God brought me to that place because when I had nothing else to lean on, He was all I had left. I used to go to bed early so I wouldn’t have to feel that pain so long, but then I was staying up late to read and getting up early to read.

He has worked countless miracles in my life, even as recent as this week. I realized that it’s not just enough to believe in something, or someone, you have to act on that belief. You have to show them, cultivate a relationship, and learn to give up control, be patient and trust the process. Let go of what scares you, holds you back…even if what’s holding you back is you.

Lately, I’ve caught myself slipping back into the funk of sadness, crankiness. That is not who I am. That is not who God created me to be. I blamed my circumstances. One of the most mind blowing things I’ve ever learned (that I just learned now) is that we are responsible for our own happiness and our own feelings. What?! You mean to say that even if something is falling apart around us, or someone hurt us…we are still responsible for our feelings? Yes! Of course, if someone hurts us, it’s normal to be upset and to express our pain, but in the end, you have to own up to your own happiness. If you can’t make yourself happy, how can you expect anyone else to? I truly also believe that true happiness and love has to start with God. I’m not here to preach or sway anyone, I’m just simply sharing my experiences. True peace, joy and grace comes from God. I’ve been a piece of work sometimes, a pain in the butt, a punk, but the grace He gives me inspired me to do the same with others. I have a laundry list of things I know I need to work on, but my number one thing is to regain my joy and zest for life. We can’t expect someone else to solely make us happy; that’s too big a burden for one person to carry. It starts from within.

We are all a work in progress, so why not just all support each other through it? Open your heart to new possibilities, new ways of thinking, new beliefs, new people, and new experiences. You never know how much it could really change your life and give you the hope you deserve. We all deserve to be happy and healthy. Not just physically healthy, but emotionally and spiritually. We deserve to have people in our lives that inspire us, challenge us, and lift us up when we are struggling.

I’ll lift you up, you lift me up, k? I’m on your side.

Xoxo,
Aly

Because You Deserve It

Hey friends! Happy (finally) spring! I don’t know about you, but I am so happy to have green grass, flowers blooming, warm sunshine, and yes, even allergies. Say what?! Am I really happy to have allergies? I totally am, because that means it’s actually warm enough outside to not wear a winter coat. For some of you, you’re happy because this time of year means you’re almost done with school. The last day of school was literally one of the best days of my entire year—I would have a countdown going at home.

Today’s topic is one that I’ve been constantly learning since I was in grade school, and posted about before (that’s how passionate I am about it). I am still learning how to do it, and it is still uncomfortable for me to do, but yet I do it anyway, because—well, I have to. We all do. Stand up for yourself. Why is this so hard for some of us to do? For me, it’s because I was told by several people growing up, that it’s best to stay quiet to keep others comfortable. If something bothers you, or someone does you wrong, just ignore it and move on. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t upset others. Yet, I was the one upset and hurt. So, by staying quiet, I ended up hurting myself for years and years. I actually would end up apologizing for things that were not my fault, instead of standing up for myself…all because I wanted to keep the peace. Friends, don’t do this. Don’t follow that example. Please, I beg of you. It is so unhealthy and toxic, not just to yourself, but honestly, to others, too. When you don’t speak up, you are teaching them that it’s OK to treat you like crap and it’s OK to treat others that way, too. If no one speaks up, it will just a vicious cycle that will never end. It can only end when you end it. Let’s say your friend is getting bullied, teased, yelled at and you know it’s wrong, but you say nothing. (I mean, you want to keep the peace, right?) Not only does that hurt your friend (obvs), but then the next day, those kids are now bullying you—you could have prevented that the day before.

From someone who endured too much of toxic treatment over the years, if there’s anything I regret and wish I could do over again—it’s that I wish I could go back and speak up. WAY up. Because—newsflash—it’s not OK and it’s not cool. Every single person on this earth deserves, and has the right, to speak up and stand up for themselves. I’m serious. This is something I hope you all believe and take in. No one has the right to belittle you, tell you to shut up, try to silence you (because that in itself is bullying, fyi). Don’t give them the green light to do that to you. No matter what, you need to stand up for yourself. Speaking from experience, I can promise you that if you stay silent, and let people treat you like that, it will take years to overcome the emotional pain you will feel later on in life. And it will be harder to enforce it. I still get nervous and anxious when I’m standing up for myself. I sometimes feel sick. I sometimes want to shrink back into my shell and retreat because that’s easier. But, it’s NOT! In the long run, it’s so much harder and trust me, it’s just not worth it. I sometimes don’t trust myself. I sometimes don’t have enough confidence in myself. I sometimes want to disappear. Still. But, I do the absolute best that I can to overcome it, because I owe it to myself to speak up. My heart deserves that.

If you see someone being bullied, speak up. If you are being bullied, speak up. It doesn’t have to be an epic speech, just a simple “this isn’t OK and I need you to stop.” Trust me, I know it’s easier said than done. But, I promise you that your future self will thank you and be proud of you. If you know someone who is hurting, reach out, help them. I didn’t have many (if any) to help me when I was younger, so I think that is a big reason why I am such a people pleaser and helper now. I don’t want to see anyone else suffer or be in pain. Just remember you need to help yourself, too.
Maybe this summer, you can make a promise to yourself that you will work on this topic. One simple thing can affect you positively in so many big ways. Be kind to others, and be kind to yourself. You deserve it. Maybe reward yourself whenever you do it. Buy yourself flowers, put a dollar in a jar.

I would love to hear from you! Tell me your stories of how you’ve stood up for yourself, others, or how you plan to! Shoot me an email and let’s be friends: letsallbefriends1@gmail.com

Xoxo,
Aly

Be Proud of YOU!

Hey, friends! Happy March! I don’t know about you, but I have serious spring fever. I’m ready for shorts, tank tops, going to the beach, fresh fruits and drive-in’s. This winter has been brutal, but to be honest, it has given me some much-needed time to sit down, reflect and realize just what needs to happen in my life at this point and what I need to do in order to make those things happen. (I am sure there are grammatical errors in here)

The effects of bullying are many. Some people don’t have any, some people have a list a mile long. Some people are able to move past them, some people it takes years. It all depends on the level of bullying, how severe, how long it went on, and whether or not it’s still going on in other areas of life. The effects I have are: anxiety accompanied by paranoia. I am constantly assuming that laughter anywhere in my vicinity is directed at me. Gossip is always about me. People talking about me. Friends/family/significant other getting tired of me and trying to find excuses not to spend time with me. Some of that actually still DOES happen, from people closest to me but you know what? I don’t care anymore because I have finally realized it has nothing to do with me. It is all a reflection of them. You want to talk about me? Gossip about me? Exclude me? Go ahead. If that’s the entertainment you get out of life, to talk about others and gossip, then go for it. It says more about you than it does about me and I no longer have time in my life for drama like that. When someone comes to me and wants to gossip about someone else, no thank you. I have realized that if people gossip to you about others, they most definitely will gossip to others about you. Sure, we all do it at some point, but I know people that do it all. The. Time. Just think if we all put a stop to that, if we all stood up for the person being talked/gossiped about. A simple “I don’t feel comfortable talking about this; he/she is a good person.” What a world of difference that would make!

Lack of self-confidence. This is big for me. I hate talking myself up, I feel conceited telling someone about an accomplishment I had or even that I like my hair today (if someone compliments me, I laugh and say “yeah right!”) After hearing people say over and over, on a daily basis “you’re worthless! You’ll never amount to anything,” it starts to sink in. When I recorded an album of my songs, I think I only told my immediate family and one or two friends. I never posted about it on social media, even though I was DYING to. I felt like I was bragging too much, or that I was conceited and people would rain on my parade. So, I held it all in. And guess what? I deeply regret it now. It was one of the happiest, proudest accomplishments of my life—something I worked for my entire life—and I pushed it down, like a pressed flower in a heavy book. Hidden and silenced. I felt ashamed for some reason. Unworthy. I am proud of it, dammit! I get mad at myself for not spreading the word, sharing pictures, showing my excitement that was inside of me. I had to learn to forgive myself of that, and I vowed to myself if I ever recorded another album again, I would shout it from the rooftops! I don’t care who doesn’t care, or who thinks I’m unworthy, stupid, undeserving…it’s my life and I’m going to live it and be excited about it. There are so many things I want to do in my life, I wish I could live to be 300 years old. I can’t let fear, anxiety, or anything else rob me of living it and showing it. That goes for you, too. Live your life. Live your dreams. Love your life. Love your dreams. Shout it all out for everyone to hear! Be proud of who you are, what you’ve accomplished, where you’re from, where you’re going. Do everything you want to do! EVERYTHING!

Bullying myself. This is a huge one for me, and ties into my lack of self-confidence. If I write a song I like, I will tell someone about it and say “yeah, it’s okay. No one else will probably like it. It’s probably lame.” Literally, those are my words. Instead of telling myself I’m good at something, I will tell myself the opposite. If I eat an entire sandwich and I’m with someone, I will say “gosh, I’m such a pig. I ate the whole thing!” Because I’m certain they are thinking that to themselves (when really they’re not). This quote is something that really hit home for me: “If you talk to your friends the way you talk to yourself, how many friends would you have?” It’s so true! We all have to be kinder to ourselves. More understanding. More grace-filled. More forgiving. More loving. Embrace YOU. Hug YOURSELF. Look in the mirror and tell yourself five things you love about yourself. Literally, do it, first thing in the morning. Write them down on post-it notes and put them on your mirror. Repeat them every morning for 30 days. It takes 30 days to cultivate a new habit, so take that 30 day challenge and learn to love yourself. Let’s take it together, shall we? Forget the past, forget the nay-sayers, stop the negative self-talk and let’s love ourselves. Make it personal and take the time for YOU.

I want to learn to love myself more, to be kinder to myself and to my heart. To listen to my soul and what it needs. If it needs rest, I will rest. If it needs a night out, I will go out. If it needs fresh flowers, I will buy fresh flowers. A bubble bath with wine? Sure! A night of binge watching old Gossip Girl? Yes, please! Going to bed at 8pm? Okay! Rededicating my life to my purpose. Forcing myself to get out and meeting new people. Seeing more live music. Writing more. Reaching out to friends I haven’t talked to in a while. Spending less money and more time with what I do have. Being grateful for waking up in the morning with air in my lungs and an entire world out there to explore. You know what? I am freaking excited. Excited for life! Excited like a kid! That’s how I want to live—with the child-like excitement for everything, big and small. Live it. Love it. Do it. You deserve it. We all do. We all have scars, but scars are beautiful and you are welcome here.

If you want some musical inspiration, check out the song “This Is Me” by Keale Settle. Maybe listen to it first thing in the morning! Dance to it! Belt it out! Believe it! Be proud of YOU!
Xoxo,
Aly

This One’s for the Girls! (and the boys who support them)

Happy New Year, friends! Did y’all have a great holiday season? Raise of hands, how many of you have your decorations up yet? If you could see me, my hand would be raised. And, how many of you set some awesome New Year’s Intentions? I don’t know about you, but I just love New Year’s. (well, let’s be honest, I love ALL holidays. The more decorations, the better!) But, New Year’s just has a certain feel to it—it’s like a sparkly new world, full of new possibilities, a clean slate, a chance to make some goals. One of my intentions (I like calling them that versus resolutions) is to be a more positive light in the world and to use my voice more. That’s where this post is going…

Girls, did you see Oprah’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globes last weekend? I mean, holy crap! She’s always been a hero of mine, and that speech just blew me away. I will admit, I was crying. If you haven’t seen it, hit up Youtube, grab a tissue and get ready to be inspired and encouraged. As I’m sure you have all heard (and if you haven’t, where have you been?!) about the #metoo and the Time’s Up Now campaign. Let me just say—the Time’s Up Now campaign is pretty incredible. Such amazingly strong, courageous women using their voice to make a huge, positive and much needed change in this world and I am just in awe of them all. Some people will argue that this is just a movement or a trend, and people are just jumping on the bandwagon to be “cool”. I totally beg to differ. This is an issue that has been going on since the beginning of time-women being treated unfairly, horribly, and have been told to just deal with it and stay quiet…and thanks to some brave women who have come forward, it’s finally being addressed. Women being catcalled, touched, grabbed, raped, attacked, getting paid way less than what a man is paid—enough is enough. I mean, really. Enough.

This isn’t just an entertainment industry issue, this is an every single industry issue. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you do for a living, who you are, what you look like—everyone deserves to be treated equally and respectfully. We are all equal. No one is better than anyone else; I don’t care what your title is, we are all human and we all came from the same place and we all bleed the same. I worked in the music industry for years, and I’ve had my fair share of disgusting and down-right awful things happen to me. I was told to just stay quiet about it, or I would lose everything. I was young, naïve, scared and I sacrificed a lot to be able to live out my dream. It was heartbreaking to see something I loved so much to the point where I made it who I was, turn out to be something so corrupt. (I’m not saying it was all bad, because it certainly wasn’t—there were a lot of things I did love. But, you know the saying—a couple bad apples can ruin the batch—or something like that.) I won’t go into details here about it, but my stories are just a tiny fraction of what other women deal with all the time. And we shouldn’t have to “deal with it” anymore. And I’m also absolutely not saying that all men are bad, either. Absolutely, 100% not! I have men in my life that are amazing, beautiful and know how to respect and support women. To those men, and men around the world, I say a great big THANK YOU! Women—this is about using your voice and for this treatment to not be tolerated anymore. We have seen in the last few months that when those brave women came forward with their stories, there was a price to pay for those that were accused. Those women gave voice to all women who have stories, but have been too afraid to say something. To those women—I say a big thank you. You have given us all a voice, and inspired us to use them. If you can do it, we can do it!

One of the many quotes I love is: “Leave this world a little better than you found it.” I’ve always tried to live by that, and I think we are on a great path right now! If we can use our voices (women AND men) to stand up for ourselves, and not tolerate inappropriate behavior, just think of how we can leave this world for the next generation and the generation after that. Equality. That’s all we want. That should be all anyone wants. No amount of power, position, title, amount of money should ever come before that…well, it should never come into play in any regard, in my opinion. There are a lot of groups out there that are focused on helping women find their voice. Google it, and you will find some in your area! I totally encourage you to join one, go to some events, get connected, get that support, get encouragement to go after your dreams-big or small. Just do it!

No more being scared. No more being hushed. No more staying small so others can be “bigger”. No more shaming. No more wage gap. No more “dealing with it.” No more pain. No more not being heard. No more suffering through it silently. We need to be here for one another. We need to let each other (women and men) know that it’s necessary to speak up. We need to create a safe place for that to happen and to send the message that it’s not ok to treat anyone with anything less than respect and decency. Girls, we are on the right track. Keep using those voices for the good. Keep making yourself proud. We were all created the same, and that’s how we should treat one another. Equal. Keep going. Keep fighting. Keep loving yourself enough to not put up with any kind of treatment you don’t want or like. Shout it. Scream it at the top of your lungs, if you want to! I’m here for you. Send me a message, I would love to hear from you! To the men who support us: thank you! Let’s just all support each other, k?

Xoxo,
Aly

A Letter To My Bullies

This is a letter I’ve been wanting to write for years, but was too afraid to. Afraid that by writing it, it would give power to other people. Afraid that by forgiving, or even acknowledging, the acts of others would mean that what they did was OK. Let me be clear: it is NOT OK. It will never be OK. But I’m done letting it affect my life. I’m done letting people walk all over me out of fear I will “rock the boat” too much. I want to rock the freaking boat. I want to speak my mind. I want to stand up for myself. If that all makes me a bitch, then so be it. I am done being used. Taken advantage of. Treated like a piece of garbage left by the curb and picked up only when someone needs it. There are certain people I want to read this, but I am pretty sure none of them will. Heck, I don’t even know if more than one person even reads any of my blogs. I’m not going to let that stop me, though. This is a letter to my bullies—from grade school all the way up until adulthood.

Dear bullies, young and old:
What you did to me was heinous. What you thought was innocent kid-stuff, wasn’t. The name calling, the spitting in my hair and in my face, punching, stabbing, drawing blood, kicking me down a flight of stairs, throwing books at my head, shoving my face in a snow bank and holding it there so I couldn’t breathe, throwing basketballs at my head, telling me I’m worthless, ugly, annoying, stupid, too this-too-that, not enough of this, not enough of that, too quiet, too loud, telling me my dreams are pointless because I’m never going to amount to anything, excluding me from everything, telling me I don’t belong and never will, acting like I am not even in the room with you, calling me a bitch behind my back when you didn’t think I could hear you, un-inviting me to things, telling me I don’t have the right to cry, I don’t have the right to be angry, sad, hurt, to feel, telling me to just get over it, telling me to just be like everyone else…I’m sorry you felt so badly about yourself to make someone else feel smaller. I’m sorry you hated yourself that much that you had to hurt someone else. I’m sorry you had to drag others down with you. I’m sorry you felt the need to hurt someone so badly, just so you could feel better about yourself. Did it help? Did you feel better? Did your heart heal from that? Did your ego get bigger? Did it make your quality of life better? Did it improve your sleep and everyday life? Who made you so angry that this is how you decided to live your life? What happened to you that was so bad? I’m sorry that bullying me didn’t make you feel better. I’m sorry that by trying to kill me, you ended up hurting yourself. I’m sorry you felt like the only way to get through life was to try to hurt me. I’m sorry your life was so bad that you had to be so mean to me. I’m sorry that as an adult, you still can’t grow up and you still feel the need to hurt me to make yourself feel better. I’m sorry your life didn’t turn out the way you wanted, so you have to turn to hurting others just to make it through. I’m sorry you hated yourself that much. I’m sorry I let it bother me as much as it did. I’m sorry I gave you power over my life and my emotions. I’m sorry I let all of the sink in and believe it. I’m sorry I ever gave you the time of day. I’m sorry I let it keep happening day after day without standing up for myself. I’m sorry I let you get away with it for as long as I did. But that’s all changing now. I met some people. Some people who told me that I am worthy, that I deserve to be happy and have the right to feel how I feel. People that told me my anxiety that was caused by all of your inner pain, doesn’t have to be how I live my life anymore. People that told me I’m beautiful, smart, whole, funny, fun to be around—and who supported me and those dreams you said were pointless. People who liked that I wasn’t like everyone else, because being different is beautiful. Eventually, your negativity stopped bothering me. Instead, it gave me strength. I had to learn how to be strong and take care of myself. I learned how to speak my mind and to stop letting others treat me like dirt. I learned my worth and let me tell you something—my worth is damn expensive, and if you can’t afford it, then get out. I know I will never get an apology from you, but you know what? I don’t care anymore. I don’t need your words anymore. I spent too much time listening to them replay in my mind for years, and I’m done. I hope life has improved for you. I hope you learned to grow up. And if you have kids of your own, I hope you teach them to be the opposite of what you were. You may have thought your negativity was going to tear me down for good, but in reality, it gave me strength, built me up and I am proud of the woman I am. I love who I am. And I hope one day, you will love who you are and you will forgive yourself for what you’ve done. I really, truly do. Everyone deserves to be free from pain. And I am now free from you. You have no place in my life anymore.

Xoxo.

Friends One Day. Bullies The Next.

Who loves a new school year?! Anyone? Hello? Is this thing on? Yeah, I hated the first day of school. Actually, I hated every day of school…but that’s normal, right? It was fourth grade. I still to this day, don’t know what happened. I went from being liked in school, to suddenly being hated and bullied. Literally, overnight. Suddenly, it went from having friends, to those same “friends” whispering behind my back, calling me names, telling me I’m a piece of trash and a loser. Lunch time was always gross for me. One day, I grabbed my lunch and went to sit in the same place I always sat, which was with my friends. Well, I wasn’t welcome there anymore. I was told to go sit at the other table on the other side of the room. I looked at it. It was empty. They said, “no one wants to be around you. So, just go sit by yourself.” When I started to walk away, confused, the entire lunch room erupted in laughter, whispers and stares. My self-esteem shot down so low that I didn’t even eat lunch for about a week, because I didn’t want to get laughed at. I didn’t want people to see me feeling sad and to give them pleasure in my pain. I eventually got written up because I wasn’t eating. Me. I got in trouble for what they were doing to me. They would throw food at me. Laugh. Spill milk on my chair so I couldn’t sit. And yet, I got in trouble for their actions. And (like I’ve said in other posts), I refused to let them see me cry.

After lunch came recess, which was even worse than lunch. At least at lunch, you don’t necessarily have to socialize (well, I just plain couldn’t). Recess, though, was different. I tried joining my little group that I had always joined. Instead, they were throwing kick balls at my head. Shoving my face in snow banks. Shoving me up against the gate by my throat and pinning me there. When we’d get in line to go back into school, they would spit in my hair. I remember one girl said behind me “why don’t you just go home and stay there forever and never come back.” When I didn’t turn around or answer, she got more aggressive saying “aren’t you going to answer? Are you too chicken? I hope you’re going to cry.” At that very moment, a teacher—A TEACHER—heard and saw everything, and stared at me with a look of disgust on her face, but smiled at the girl who was treating me like that. What message did that send to a child? That I should be ashamed of who I am. That I should blame myself for the actions of others. That I’m inadequate. I’m not good enough. Something’s wrong with me. I’m not normal. I can’t show emotion. I can’t speak up. I have to try harder to be better than who I am. I have to keep my mouth shut. I have to be someone other than who I am just to not get bullied. I have to just learn to deal with it. Get over it. And guess what? That all carried over into other areas of my life as a child, and even as an adult. It wasn’t just happening in fourth grade; it happened for many years after that. And it escalated. Big time.

People seem to think that what happens when your younger years, stays there. You move on, you get over it. For some people, yes, that is the case. For others, it’s not that easy. I still don’t like walking into places, especially places I’ve never been before, by myself for fear of being ridiculed if I don’t know where I’m going. I still get uneasy about being in a group of people, not knowing how to act because I’m scared that they will be nice to me one minute, and the next, turn on me. (Yep, good ole trust issues.) If I start to let my guard down and get hurt, I go back into my shell and retreat. That sends me all those messages again that I learned from childhood. When you go years listening to people tell you to “just get over it,” and “don’t say anything. You don’t want to cause problems,” you start to shut down in so many ways. I was basically told that standing up for myself was a bad thing, because that would make things worse for the other person and those around them. But, what about me? Who’s helping and taking care of me? No one. I wasn’t even allowed to take care of myself! I was the one who kept getting hurt, and why is that OK? It’s not. It’s never OK. You are allowed to speak up. Say how you feel. Get angry. Cry. Show emotion. Be strong. However you feel, feel it. Don’t let anyone tell you how you’re supposed to feel. Learn to trust yourself, and listen to that voice inside of you.

As you start this school year (many of you already have), just remember to be kind. If there is a new kid, include him or her. Make someone feel wanted, special, included. If you see bullying, be brave and say something. Tell someone. Take action. Bystanders are bullies, too. I say this all of the time, but I’ll say it again: your words and actions have the power to make or break someone. Which one do you want to take responsibility for?