Dear Younger Me

Hey friends! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve spent the last few months working on this blog. Deleting, typing, deleting, typing. I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to divulge, so I took a break. The little girl is still reaching out for me. I can see her, plain as day, standing in the hallway of my school, with her arms reached out to me, begging for my help. So, I wrote a letter to her. In writing this, I hope that it helps illustrate that it’s OK to feel how you feel. And, it gets better. It always gets better, and you don’t have to put up with pain.

Dear younger me,

It’s OK. Not that you are being hurt both physically and emotionally, but that you feel the way you feel. Don’t try to cover it up or hide it from yourself or those who care about you. They are there to help you. Things will get better, I promise. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but the pain you are going through, is going to help you in the future. Take a minute to breathe. Cry if you want to. It’s OK. You are allowed to feel hurt, betrayed, disgusted, and angry, shame, guilt—whatever you feel, don’t ever try to feel bad about it. These kids that tell you that you are worthless, ugly, disgusting, a piece of garbage, wasted space are lies. Happy people don’t hurt other people. So, when they are hurting you, they are themselves hurting. No, that doesn’t make it OK and, no, it doesn’t mean that’s an excuse. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you don’t have the right to feel sad. You had books thrown at your head. Your face shoved in a snow bank. Uninvited to a lot of things. Beat up. Shoved out of the bus. Had your crutches tampered with so when you went down the flight of stairs, they broke and you fell. You were stabbed in the knee and had blood running down your leg and YOU were blamed for it. You had to clean it up yourself, in front of the whole class. All while trying to hold back tears or not show pain, because you promised yourself you would never let them see you cry. You were so strong. I know you think you were weak back then, but my goodness…you were such a strong girl. You never asked for anyone’s help. YOU got YOURSELF through it. I don’t know how you did it, to be honest. How you could go through that pain at school, and yet still go home and pretend like nothing happened? I really love that you turned to music as your escape. You created a world of your own, where you did have friends, and you had people to help you. You wrote your own music. You couldn’t wait to get home from school to listen to music and write more. I am so proud of you. You never turned to anger to get back at those kids. I know for many years, you thought you should have stood up for yourself more, but you got through it with grace. I am so sorry it took me so long to realize that. Maybe I wouldn’t have developed anxiety, or fallen for the wrong guys. Maybe I wouldn’t have allowed myself to get used, hurt, betrayed, lied to, and cheated on, later on in life. But you know what? It’s OK. I am sorry I abandoned you and never dealt with my pain until now. I am sorry I not only let others bully me in my adulthood, but that I bullied myself. “I’m not good enough to follow my dreams. I don’t deserve that. Someone else is better at it than I am.” But, I still chased them and realized that I am better than that. I chased something for years that wasn’t right for me—something that I wanted, but realized I was better than it. But, together we did it and we fought the odds, didn’t care about the naysayers. Little girl, you and I are fighters. We may get overwhelmed at times, scared, thinking there’s no way we can handle this—but we do. Every time. We survive and come out stronger than ever. We don’t settle anymore. When someone bullies, excludes, talks down to us, disrespects us—we fight back. Not with words, but with our faith. We know that we can’t have that in our lives anymore, we deserve better. I am going to surround you with positive, uplifting and encouraging people who will honor you, not shame you or make you feel bad for being who you are. If someone loves you, they will love everything about you and will never speak a bad word about you or other women. You deserve the world, because you fought so hard to be a part of it and make your mark on it. You will have friends and family who will betray you, bully you. But you have a voice now and you need to start using it. It’s time you put yourself first, even though it’s hard and uncomfortable to do, it’s necessary. You have to take care of yourself, no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. Love yourself. Give yourself some grace and most of all forgiveness. You didn’t deserve to be treated the way you were in school and after. There was nothing wrong with you then, and there’s nothing wrong with you now. You are you. Be proud of that. I know I am. If people can’t see your worth, then as cliché as it sounds—that’s their loss. I would rather you have one honest, loyal, honoring person in your life, than a hundred people who talk about you behind your back as though you are something that can be discarded when they are through with you. You once made a promise to yourself that you would stay true to yourself, your art and that you would rather be living in a run-down shack for the rest of your life, than to sell yourself short and live in a mansion. Stick to that. Don’t back down. You and I are a team, and I’m not letting you down anymore. I’m here for you and you have my support, forgiveness and undying love. From now on, I am going to build you up, and speak love. I’m here for you and you’re not going it alone anymore. We’re in this together. Xoxo.

-Aly

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Stop Being a Bystander!

by·stand·er
noun
  1. a person who is present at an event or incident but does not take part.

You see someone getting shoved down. A girl who is standing by herself with five other girls behind her calling her names. A family member who is being shunned and the subject of snobby looks.A boy standing in the corner of the playground because no one picked him to play kickball. Where are you? You’re there, you see it all happen, but you don’t know what to do. So, you do nothing. You think, “it’s not my battle. This is between them. If I get involved, then they will attack me and right now, I have a good relationship with them. I don’t want to ruin that.” You are the bystander. By you seeing and hearing these things happen, you are already apart of it. You now have a choice. Do you want to stand there, do nothing and encourage this behavior? Or do you want to potentially save someone’s life? I know what you’re thinking—“I’m not encouraging anything by not doing anything.” Oh, but yes you are. By not stopping it, you are encouraging it to continue.

No one necessarily wants to be involved in a situation like this, but when you are, you have step up. Whether it’s a classmate, a friend, a stranger, a family member…you have the obligation to help. We all do. Think if the role was reversed and you were the one being bullied. Your friend knew it was happening, and yet did nothing. Ignored it. Pretended it wasn’t happening. Told you that you were overreacting. Told you to just get over it and let it go. How would you feel? I know how I felt when it would happen to me–pretty worthless. You’re supposed to care about me, and yet when I needed you the most, you let me down. That’s not easily forgotten or something that is easy to just “get over”. Think this doesn’t create trust issues? You’re wrong. It does.

When you do nothing about it, you might as well be the bully. You are just as guilty and just as much to blame. It shouldn’t matter if you have a good relationship with the person(s) doing the bullying…if they are hurting someone else physically or emotionally, you need to step up and help. By not helping, you run the risk of hurting that person even more than those actually bullying. Why? Just like I stated above–you are supposed to care about me, and yet you did nothing to help me. That tells me you don’t care as much as you claim and you are only protecting yourself. And while you should protect yourself, you have an obligation to help others in times of need. I expect to be hurt by these bullies, but not by you.

You have a choice: you can look the other way and pretend that nothing is happening and hurt them even more to the point where they might even take their own life. Or, you can step in and help and potentially save a life. Which would you rather be responsible for? There are no excuses for not helping. If you truly care about someone, you should do whatever it takes to put an end to this behavior.

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

What if someone were to tell you that five years from now, you would be happy, successful, living your dreams and loving every minute of it? Where are you at this very moment–would you believe it? Would you say, “I know, I can’t wait!” Or, would you say, “Ugh, I don’t think so. No one believes in me. Everyone says I’m worthless and that I won’t amount to anything. Maybe they’re right.”

Let me tell you something. Those people that say you’re worthless? They’re wrong. I can tell you from my own experience that those people that put you down are only doing it to make themselves feel better. They are so hurt on the inside, that they can’t help but make others feel bad. They don’t want to see someone soar to the top, be happy or successful. They want to bring them down to their level. Don’t let them! I promise you, you WILL succeed and you WILL be happy! All you have to do is believe in yourself, love yourself, and push yourself.

When I was in grade school I heard this all the time: “You don’t count. You’re not going to do anything with your life, because you’re stupid and a loser.” You don’t count. Can you imagine being told that when you’re ten years old, on a daily basis? There came a time when even I started to believe it. I thought, “If they are laughing at me, beating me up, spitting on me…then I probably don’t count. I don’t have the right to succeed.” Boy, was I wrong! It took my a long time to come into my own and realize that not only do I count, but I am worthy of success and being happy! I had to take control of my feelings and my own life. I had to block out people who would try to belittle me (because, trust me, there will ALWAYS be people–adults, too–who will try to belittle you). Block them out! You don’t have to be mean about it, just simply say, “you know what? I’m living my own life, I don’t have time to be talked to this way.”

You also have to learn to stand up for yourself. I’m not talking about starting fights, because that will only add to the problem. But, stand up and tell them that you are not going to stand for this behavior. You demand respect and you deserve it. It took me a long time to learn this one, as well. People would always try to discount my feelings because I am a nice person. They would say, “Oh, she doesn’t care. She’ll get over it.” Guess what? I may be nice, but I am also extremely sensitive so no, I won’t just “get over it.”

You deserve success in your life, you deserve to have all of your dreams come true. Don’t let a single person tell you otherwise! Don’t let a single person take any of that away from you! You are worth it and you MATTER!!

Xoxo,

Aly

I Am Good Enough

This title seems like it would be easy to write. We should all feel like we are good enough, right? It should just come as natural to say “I am good enough” as it is to breathe. But, for those who have been bullied, the easiest thing to say is just the opposite. We get broken down so much that not only do we feel that we are not good enough, but we feel like we will never heal or that life just isn’t worth living anymore. THIS COULDN’T BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!

Somewhere out there, someone is waiting to meet you. Someone has been praying for you to come into their lives. You have something to offer them that no one else can. In fact, you have something to offer the world that no one else can. Don’t deprive the world of your gifts. You are valued too much to take your own life. This world needs you. Your family needs you. YOU need you. And you know what? I need you 🙂

You are worthy, gifted, talented, beautiful and you matter. Don’t you EVER forget that, you got it?!

Love yourself.

Xoxo,
Aly

I Have A Story To Tell…

We all have a story to tell. Even if you don’t think it’s interesting, you still have one. And, since I’m a believer that we should never hold back our stories, because you never know who will inspire, I want to share the most recent part of mine. Some may read this and think, “big deal…”, others may think, “that’s interesting, I guess…”, or maybe no one will read this. But, if there is one person that reads this and thinks, “hey, I’m not alone. Someone out there feels the same thing, and has been where I am today. Maybe I’m going to be OK.” That’s why I do this. For that person.

The last year of my life has been full of ups-and-downs. To be quite honest, it has been more downs than ups. It started with a restlessness in my bones. I was not happy in my work, or what I was doing with my life. I knew what I wanted to do (which was THIS, bully prevention work), but I felt stuck. Stuck in a job that while it was fun, the people I worked with made sure it wasn’t. I was being bullied at work. (Yes, friends, bullying happens in adulthood, too.) I prayed that I could get out of that job every single waking moment of my life, I prayed. I had friends praying. I had family praying. In that year, I also had two friends of mine pass away. Then I had a couple car accidents. Then, my prayer was answered when I lost my job. At the moment, I thought, “Ok, God. I know I wanted You to get me out of here, but I was kind of hoping to have another job to go to!” That turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. That was my turning point.

I spent the next couple of months digging deep into the three F’s in my life–Faith, Family and Friends. Doors would open, and then they would shut. But, the ones that stayed open I couldn’t ignore. I knew in my heart where God was leading me, but I was terrified. It went against what all of society was telling me. You know, the whole go to an office from 9-5…isn’t that what everyone wants and needs? Every time I would go to a job interview, I felt myself thinking “I just want what God wants…and that is bullying work.” But how do I do that? How do I convince my family and friends that? How do I tell them that this is what I need to do to be happy and that everything will work out? Truth is, I don’t. I just learned that when you have God on your side, that’s all you need to worry about. As long as He’s on your side, and you’re doing His plan, then you’re all good. That took a long time for me to realize.

I spent a lot of time blaming myself, punishing myself and guilting myself. So much so that I would drive myself to severe panic attacks and breakdowns. I couldn’t bring myself to let go of anything. I wanted so badly to have everything go back to being the way it used to be when I was younger, freer, happier. As you get older, you realize that it’s not your old self that’s dying–it’s your new self that’s being born. I order to let that new person grow, you need to let go of the past. I was in no condition to do that. I held on for dear life! And it literally almost took my life. I remember one night after dinner with a friend, I felt different. I felt a stirring inside of me, and it wasn’t good. I didn’t know what it meant, where it came from, or what would happen. All I knew is that it wasn’t good. When I got home from dinner, I called my parents. That’s when the floodgates opened and I had a full-fledged, honest to God, panic breakdown. I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t even see. All I could do was shake, rock back and forth, and cry. At one point, it was so bad that I literally thought to myself, “this is it. This is how it’s going to end. I can’t see anyway out of this. There’s no other way out.” I literally thought I was going to die. My Mom tried to calm me down, and help. She did as much as she could from 1,000 miles away. I eventually hung up the phone and tried to go to bed. I laid in bed praying out loud, “God, help me. I don’t know what else to say…just help me. I’m sorry.” It was then that I had probably the biggest revelation of my life so far. I sat straight up and it hit me. It wasn’t my circumstances. It wasn’t anyone else in my life. It wasn’t people who wronged me. It was me. I needed to FINALLY forgive myself. That thought never crossed my mind, in my entire life. Forgive myself for…well, everything. So there I sat, talking to myself, listing everything (and I mean everything) I needed to forgive myself for. It was then that I started to feel like myself again. And it was then that I finally made the decision that I was no longer going to punish myself, and that I was going to only worry about what God thinks. I can no longer worry about what someone else wants me to do, or where someone thinks I should be. This is my life and it was time I gave control of it to God, instead of others or myself.

Losing two friends within a month of each other was tough. I’m still not sure I will ever be fully recovered from that, but I can honestly say that when I talk about bully prevention, or plan for events for it, see kids faces light up when someone helps them…that’s what makes me happy. That’s when I feel my heart smile and I know that this is my purpose and calling in life. It may not be the easiest route to take in life, but you know what? I have gone through a lot in my life so far, been to hell and back, and I survived. So, when I do what I love, nothing will shake me. I’m a tough cookie, and you are, too.

Forget what other people say. Do what makes YOU happy. Make mistakes, because that’s when you learn. Don’t be afraid to take a wrong turn. Everything eventually leads you to where you’re supposed to be. Live your life. Love your life. Love yourself.

Happy New Year. Let’s make this the best year yet! You with me?!

Xoxo,
Alyssa

Holidays!

It’s one of my favorite times of the year-Christmas! I love fireplaces, hot cocoa, snowball fights, decorating for Christmas, driving around looking at Christmas lights, blasting Christmas music 24/7, watching sappy Christmas movies, and finding that one perfect gift for just the right person. It’s the season of giving, and I love giving gifts and seeing the faces light up. If you’re like me and like to give, please consider making a donation to Let’s All Be Friends. Your donations help us to reach more schools, more kids and more lives. When you make a donation, you know it is going towards a great cause and you are helping kids all over. Even just $5 goes a long way. You can even make a donation as a gift in someone’s name! We can send you a certificate in the mail with their name on it! What better gift than knowing you’re giving someone hope!

I hope you’re all having a happy, fun and safe holiday season!

Xoxo,
Aly

Calling All Minnesotans!

Hey friends!

Just a quick update to anyone who lives in, and around, Minnesota! I will be at the Brooklyn Park Activity Center on Monday, November 18th from 7-9 with Stand for the Silent. It will be a special presentation, where both kids/teens can bring their parents and families to experience a motivating and inspiring evening that will bring everyone closer together. Bring your families, neighbors, friends and come say hi! See you there!

Xoxo,
Aly