My Life: Red lipstick (Lesson 3)

Bullying is a big problem that affects lots of kids. Being bullied can make kids feel bad, and the stress of dealing with it can make them feel sick.

Bullying can make kids not want to play outside or go to school. It’s hard to keep your mind on schoolwork when you’re worried about how you’re going to deal with the bully near your locker.

Bullying bothers everyone — and not the kids who are getting picked on. Bullying can make school a place of fear and can lead to violence and more stress for everyone.

In elementary school, I was a victim of bullying, and it affected my childhood. I was a target for bullies. I was an introvert and often anxious. I lacked self-esteem in 5, and 6th grade and found most of my time talking to myself. I was in the people-pleasing business.

Bullies are often attracted to that personality because they feel they can manipulate.

The first bullying occurred on a bus trip home from school on a Friday afternoon. I knew I was prey to bigger kids, so I always sat in front of the bus so the driver could see me. On this day, we happened to have a full bus, and I ended up further back by the older kids. As I walked in the aisle to my seat, I locked eyes with the old boy, and they started to laugh. As I sat down, I sank into the green duck tap bus seat and pushed up against the window. I felt like I was waiting until the moment these kids would make their move.

Weirdly, I wasn’t nervous but instead resolved to it. The bus started rolling, and I could hear the kids talking out loud and laughing. Danny, who lived in the same mobile home park, was known as a bully and well known for smoking, drinking, and stealing. He had his own little gang, and they caused a lot of damage in the park and in the small community of Highland we lived in. Danny didn’t have a father figure. His mother was an alcoholic, and his brother Jeff was the leader of the house. Yet he still couldn’t get his brother under control.

Back on the Bus.

Danny and I didn’t have many personal engagements, but the ones we had didn’t involve violence. Danny made fun my thin body. I was so small you could see my heart beating. Yet, he never touched me, and I could live with that.

As I looked out the window and started to daydream and I let my guard down. I notice it was hushed and the bus driver didn’t instruct us to lower our voice. Those feelings of anxiety came back. I felt so overwhelmed it made me want to pee. My body started to get hot and started to perspire.

The bus came to a stop, and the kids started to get off. One of the girls who I really liked named Crystal walked by me and said, “David be careful they have my…” the boy Todd behind her pushed on her backpack to have her move along. As she was getting off the bus, she looked back to me and shook her head and shrugged her shoulders and mouthed “No.” She wasn’t talking to me, but to kids behind me.

With the two stops left, I was almost sure I was going to make it out unscathed. The bus stopped and pulled over. I looked out the window to see what was happening. The bus driver ran over a cat. She opened the bus door and walked off the bus. At the same time, I heard feet move, and then the back of seat moved.

The bus driver got on the bus, and we continued. I could hear the kid behind me breathing. It was belabored. I peaked back through the seat, and I noticed he was getting something out of his bag. We came to the next stop, and kids started getting off. The boy behind me got up, and at that moment, my body went numb.

The boy grabbed my hair and pulled me up and grabbed my chine. I looked right into his face, and I will never forget it. He looked poised and determined. He pulled out lipstick and started marking all over my face. The kids block the driver, so she noticed nothing. As he finished, he pushed me down and walked away, laughing.

I was silent and alone with lipstick on my face and my pants wet for me urinating from nervousness. I didn’t cry or ask for help, I wanted to handle this moment on my own. I got off on my stop and walked directly to the mobile home clubhouse to wash my face. I cleaned up and walked home.

It was hot enough that my pants air-dried to urine, but it smelled.

I got home and skipped passed my mom, who didn’t realize her son was assaulted on the bus. I went to my room and laid down. That evening I promised myself I would fight back and do whatever I could to defend myself.

Even though this experience was terrifying, it was a cold hard reminder of the world I was heading into. If I weren’t going to hold my ground, I would be pushed over. I wish I could say it stopped, but it didn’t. I put up a solid fight and the sharp pencil I carried taught these kids on some occasions I was going to put up a fight.

Preventing bullying is something I learned and now teach my kids. It will happen, but how you respond is all that matters. If you hid in the corner, it’s most likely going to happen over and over again.

I learned the most crucial lesson in my life, and that was to Stand tall and be brave. It’s easier to feel brave when you feel good about yourself. The good news is that kids who are bullies can learn to change their behavior, but this kid never did and ended up in jail for a long time for abuse of his girlfriend. So many lessons to share with my kids.To be honest writing this helped me relive it only to feel stronger and more intune with my mental thoughts of the passed. Truly rewarding. That’s a win for me and you.

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