I didn't grow up in the cyber-age. When I was a kid, your peers couldn't harrass you on facebook, or make fun of you on twitter. No one could post photos or videos of you on the internet, or send you nasty emails or instant messages.
When I grew up, the bullying, harrassing and general "mean-ness" was delivered in person.
I have always been a chubby chick. I have never been what most consider "pretty" or "beautiful" (we're not here to debate that, but if you're thinking "well, yes you are" then I thank you). That's a deadly combination when you're a kid, especially a teenager when everyone feels awkward, and can't wait to point out someone else's flaws to draw attention away from their own.
When I was about 13, I had a major crush on a guy named Ross. He was a geek; he was smart, not athtletic and he was shy. He was new to our school, kept to himself and didn't have a lot of friends. Being rejected by anyone hurts; but I'll be honest - being rejected by someone who you would expect to be happy to have a friend was even tougher.
He told me, to my face, that he wished I would leave him alone. That the world would be better off without me and that no one would ever like me. He told me I was fat, ugly and annoying and he wished I would just go away.
So I tried. Several things happened that stopped me from finishing what I was trying to do. The next day I told my best friend. She told me how sad she would be if I were gone, and how mad she was that I would just leave her. Hearing that made a huge difference.
The insults continued. I was picked on and teased and I didn't really date in high school. I was too afraid of rejection, so I just stayed away altogether - problem solved. As I got older, my confidence grew and what other people thought mattered less and less.
The next time I felt really insulted or rejected was during my separation. I had some awful insults hurled my way. Some he probably meant; many he probably didn't. It made no difference. I couldn't help but feel worthless and as though it was never going to get better. It's a scary, lonely feeling. It's like you're at the bottom of a well; you can see and hear people at the top, but no matter how hard you try, you can't get their attention. You don't need a lot of help, just a boost; something to get you started on your climb out.
For the second time in my life, I thought I just needed to be gone. I was drowing in that well, and there wasn't anyone to help me.
I was thisclose; then I got a text from a friend telling me about her day. She was upset; she needed me. I texted for a little while, and then she called me. I hung out with her that night, and her two-year old son came up to me and gave me a big hug. Then her daughter, who wasn't even one, held up her arms and wanted me to pick her up and get her out of her play-pen. Me. When I left their house that day, her little angel told me he loved me and gave me a kiss.
If I had been gone, I would never have known that love. And so much that has happened since that I would have missed out on.
We've all heard the stories about kids committing suicide; much of it surrounds gay youth who are being made fun of, insulted and basically tortured for being who they are. Messages are going out all over the internet from people who've suffered that same kind of harrassment, and showing kids that it does get better. I can't relate to that particular kind of bullying. But I can tell you this.
We all feel pain and heartache. We all get embarrassed. We all have days that we wish we could just get a do-over - or hide under the bed. We all make mistakes. Things happen that we wish wouldn't; people say things that sting. Our heart breaks. It is hard, somedays more than others, to not be sad and wonder when the next good thing is coming. But when that happens, I remind myself - it is coming. I just need to hold on.
I can't promise how, or when. But I can promise - it gets better.