A little note about the death of Amanda Todd:
There seems to be a lot of uproar about the attention to the death of Amanda Todd versus the deaths of many other students, friends, children, brothers, sisters, what-have-you. I would like to make it known that here at You Are Wanted, we don’t condone the death, the suicide, of ANY PERSON because of bullying. It’s sad and sick that it has to take even one death for anyone to be aware that this is happening. And let’s face it: if people like Amanda did not commit suicide because of the actions and words of others, it would never come to anyone’s attention that kids do this all the time.
Our hearts bleed for everyone of those lost souls. They bleed for those families that have to find their children, their brothers and sisters, with their candles snuffed out.
Now, I am absolutely enraged by the fact that people (no one I’ve seen on this page, thank goodness) are taking Amanda Todd’s death as an insult to the deaths of other children just because they have not gotten as much publicity as she has. Did it ever occur to those people that perhaps the families of the fallen before her have chosen to keep the deaths out of the media so they didn’t have to relive it every time they turned on the television or logged on to the computer? No, I suppose not. It seems to me that these people, who say they are so against bullying, hate crimes, and the like, are still the ones that are silently continuing to bully Amanda for being pretty and for being the one that got the attention, even though she is already gone. I feel as if Amanda’s family has pushed this into the media and has kept it IN the media because they are sick of seeing this fall by the wayside and they are sick of seeing this happen altogether.
The only thing I can say about all this hullabaloo and this uproar over the death of one girl, regardless of how pretty she was, is this: Shame on all of you. Shame on you for continuing to bully her, even at the grave. Shame on you for using her death as a way to be angry about the deaths of other people, just because they haven’t gotten the air-time that she is getting. Maybe this is what it will take for us to see less deaths or for us to see the publicity that needs to be brought to light about EVERY child that is killing themselves over the words and actions of others.
You all need to think before you speak. Bullying comes in many different forms, not just one. And it needs to stop.
Things will get easier. People’s minds will change. And you should be alive to see it.
For all the victims of bullying.
Where do I begin? There’s so much I want to say to make it easier. Tomorrow’s on its way. Do you believe I want to take your painful memories? I know you want to run away and I know that you can’t see tomorrow.
Caroline, let me wipe away your tears and give you life. I’ll make you feel beautiful again. Caroline, don’t throw it all away, I’m here tonight to take away your pain.
Yesterday is gone and everything that made you cry has fallen to the ground. I’m here to bring you home, I will always take you back. You haven’t let me down. I know you want to run away and I know that you can’t see tomorrow.
Caroline, let me wipe away your tears and give you life. I’ll make you feel beautiful again. Caroline, don’t throw it all away, I’m here tonight to take away your pain.
And when you’re feeling all alone and you can’t go on: Remember I am here.
And when you think you’ve gone too far, I‘ll meet you where you are. My arms are open wide.
Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.
I was pondering something the other day and it got me to thinking about lots of things that happened to me as a child in school. As a woman, I’ve already got a hard enough time getting through society without all the added pressure to look cool and have lots of money; but as a little girl, I spent most of my time in school crying in bathroom stalls and hugging the wall in the hallway to avoid being looked at.
I remember going through elementary school already not liked because I didn’t attend kindergarten or “kinder-club,” as it was called, with the rest of the kids in my class. I didn’t move to Rochester until I was going into the first grade; but mostly, I had a good time in school. I had a few friends that I liked and they liked me and we were happy as clams, playing at recess, reading together, playing at each other’s houses. It was like that until the 5th grade when I started noticing that other kids had more money than me and they started noticing that I didn’t have as much as them. Then I started to notice that the teachers paid a lot more attention to the kids with money than they did to my friends and me; but it didn’t seem that much more extreme than that around that time, the 3rd and 4th grades. When we got into the 5th grade, though, it was all different. For reasons I could not (and still don’t, to be honest) understand, the kids were different. Where they were before nice and somewhat accepting, they were now extremely hateful, mean, and clique-y. I hated it. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t hang out with the girls that braided each other’s hair at recess and talked about boys during lunch. I wanted to know why. I asked them several times, but they would just laugh and walk away. Eventually, I just learned to ignore it. My old friends weren’t my friends anymore because somehow, they’d figured out that magic process of becoming friends with what I called the “popular” kids and they weren’t hanging out with me anymore. I just played at recess alone or read books. It was easier than trying to get them to pay attention to me.
Then, one day, it all came crashing down.
It was raining outside so we couldn’t go outside after our 5th grade lunch and had to go back to our classrooms to find something to do. I remember that there was supposed to be a teacher on duty in our room to keep us from getting into trouble, but that teacher was somehow absent. I was off in my own corner reading a book when one of the “popular” girls approached me and asked me if I wanted to sit with her group next to the radio where they were listening to “cool” music (cool back then was probably NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys). I’d never really had a reason to mistrust any of them, so I just agreed blindly and followed her over to the table that the radio was sitting on and perched myself on top of a desk. I found out that it was one of my old friends that had told them to invite me over. I was happy to be included. I was offered some pretzels, which I turned down. I didn’t used to eat as much as I do now. After a while the music was turned down and we started to play one of those “20 Questions” games where you have to answer what they ask you or be labeled a chicken. When it came to me, I was afraid of what they would ask and rightly so. They asked me my deepest, darkest secret (up until then, anyway): “Who is your biggest crush?” I didn’t want to tell them, mainly because he was one of their friends from a different class. I was mortified; but they told me that if I wanted to stay in their group at lunch time recess, I had to give them a truthful answer. I looked to my “friend” for guidance, but she wasn’t paying attention. So, I took a deep breath and plowed on to tell them who it was that I “liked.” Once the words left my mouth, his first and last name, they lost it. They laughed until I didn’t think they could laugh anymore; and then they told me that I couldn’t hang out with them anymore, called me a freak, and told me to leave them alone. I think, at the time, I was in too much shock that something like that could have happened that it didn’t really sink in. However, it seemed by the next day that everyone in the school knew who I liked, including the boy himself. That was when it really started to hurt and I went home crying from school every day that school year after that.
When I started middle school, none of the kids had changed, except perhaps physically. They were suddenly all prettier than I was and knew it. They called me fat and ugly on a daily basis and made me realize that my clothes weren’t as nice, my shoes weren’t as expensive, and I didn’t have the cool locker decorations that they all possessed. The only release that I found was in reading or singing in choir, which I had found, but not particularly enjoyed before beginning middle school. I found a niche with my singing voice, which was, seemingly, the only thing I was better at than they were; but even the teacher in that class seemed to have somehow been paid off by the parents of the popular kids and didn’t take notice to the fact that I was a pretty good singer. I made a few new friends that seemed nice enough until they drug me into their drama and decided that they wanted to be like everyone else and cut me down anyway they could. When I was in the 7th grade, I wasn’t unhappy. I was finally learning not to take what the popular kids were saying to me to heart and was spending the night with my new friends, doing our nails and hair, still playing with Barbies, and talking about which boy was cute and which wasn’t; but for some reason that I don’t remember, my friends and I began to fight. We would call each other’s houses in the middle of the night just to prank, trash each other’s lockers, and even steal clothes and books, just because we were mad. One day, though, my friends all decided that they were better off with the popular kids and needed to drop me in order to become friends with them. They started a rumor about me that was not only untrue, but extremely vulgar and disgusting. Rumors spread like wild fire and within a week’s time, the entire school had heard it, except me. People would come up to me in school and allude to the fact that they knew something I didn’t by making what they thought were clever jokes and asking questions. I, being blissfully unaware of the fact that something more was going on, would answer the questions and be laughed at while the people walked away. I was so confused until someone finally told me what was going on. I don’t remember who it was, but part of me is unhappy that they told me. I think I could have been saved a boat load of heartache if I hadn’t known all along, but I suppose I would have found out eventually. So, once I knew what everyone was talking about and that everyone was talking about me, it hit me pretty hard. I remember walking into my last period, home room class at the end of one day in May 2002, realizing that everyone in the entire classroom was staring at me, trying to decide whether to laugh or just stare. Earlier in the day, I had spent a moment with the one person that was still talking to me normally, making a list of the people that had come up to me directly and said something about the “rumor.” We decided that if the list exceeded 10 people, we were going to take it to the administration and see what they could do. In the end, I think we listed off about 25 people that had come to me directly and made a joke about the stupid rumor. And then I walked into that home room class. I think I went into shock. I truly can’t remember. I remember feeling someone’s arms wrapping around me, because somehow I had fallen to the floor crying and they were dragging me away and to the nurse, because I heard someone say that I wasn’t breathing. I remember talking to the counselor, vaguely. And I remember that she didn’t understand. She told me that it was normal school bullying, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t a few kids that had a beef with a guy in the back of the classroom. It was 500 students against 1. Even my mom didn’t understand until that day. I went home from school with that faithful friend in tow and called my mother to tell her that I didn’t want to live anymore. And then I hung up the phone and looked up into the crying face of my friend who was so emotionally shaken by the fact that I was going to kill myself that she threw up, essentially making me focus more on her than my pain. And so, somehow, the police were called, and I was taken into a holding cell in the police station until my mother could come and pick me up. The next day, she went into the school and ripped the principal and all of his staff a new one, thinking that it would help. Funny thing is the principal asked me if I wanted to just end my particular school year that day and just come back when the next year began to I could get away for a while. In other words, he wanted to get rid of me rather than having to deal with 500 other kids. Amazingly, I told him no. I wanted to be stronger than that; but the school year ended soon after that and a few months later, another one began, I was picked on more than I ever had been before. My hair was pulled. I was tripped. I was beat up a few times. And whenever I tried to tell someone, they would tell me that if I found myself up in the school office one more time, I would be expelled. They assumed that it was me that was causing the issues when all I did was go to school, read, and try to avoid a confrontation. I barely passed my 8th grade year to move on to high school because I was so stressed. I almost refused to go to school, but I kept pushing through until I could get to high school.
When I did start high school, it was a little better, but not much. I just ignored what was going on around me. I followed the walls through the school, sat in class, did my homework, went to my locker, and went home. I didn’t talk to anyone anymore. I didn’t try to make friends. I just wanted to get out. I got through my freshman year with the protection of my older brother who was a senior that year. When he graduated and I entered my sophomore year, I was a little more scared. I didn’t have anyone to protect me. It started off pretty bad. I was still “fat” and “ugly” as I was reminded every day at lunch and sometimes in between classes. I had a boyfriend, but that’s more of a different story that doesn’t pertain to this one. I had a few acquaintances that I wouldn’t really call friends. They were just people that sat with me at lunch. I joined a club that made me feel at least a little bit accepted. I did a little bit of work with them, but even what little bit I did with them was thwarted by people that hated me for some reason. I remember one day at lunch, I was selling raffle tickets to raise money for our club and rather than buy tickets, a group of the popular kids crowded around my table, grabbed my roll of raffle tickets, threw it on the floor, and proceeded to unravel it and kick it down the hallway. Then they threw my lunch on my lap and my books and papers on the floor. I was late to my 6th hour class because I spent 30 minutes trying to clean up the mess they’d made of my things. The next week, I was reading a book in the library during my study hall and the same group of kids approached me, one of them knocked the book out of my hand, and hit me in the face. And I got into trouble because they were laughing and the principal had come in. All I had been doing was reading and minding my own business. The only part of my high school career that meant anything to me were my junior and senior years, because I was part of choir and my old club and won several awards for singing and leading other students. I never remember being happy through any of it though. Sure, I was a little proud, but I was depressed because I still felt like I was that fat little girl that couldn’t do what the popular kids could. In truth, I wasn’t even overweight; but they reminded me every day that I wasn’t what they were and it made me feel less than a zero. I started hurting myself when I was 16 and didn’t stop until very recently. The pain that they dealt to me felt, somehow, less because I was the one that was hurting me.
When I graduated, I was left with all sorts of complexes, which included the fact that I constantly needed to know what time it was and that whenever someone was laughing, I always thought it was at me. I went off to college and hated myself even more because I couldn’t make friends. I was too afraid. Even now, four years later, I’m afraid to let my walls fall because I’m scared to death that those monsters and demons are going to come out and haunt me all over again. I got a prank phone call last year that brought up that wretched rumor again and I thought to myself, “Three years later? Even now? Really?” There are moments when I don’t even want to leave my house because I’m afraid that those evil people will be waiting outside my door to say something, anything else that will just send me over my edge.
I want, every day, to write to those girls that made me feel the way they did and ask them if it makes them proud of themselves to know that they hurt someone the way they did. If they feel good to know that they have left someone with such a complex that they still have nightmares at night and are scared to go places. If they are happy that they did so much to one person that they left scares, both emotion and physical, all over their arms and legs…
So, girls please. Remember that the people that you make fun of and pick at really are people. They have feelings. They aren’t just someone that was put on this earth for you to make feel badly about them until you find something better to do.
And if you’re one of those girls that are getting made fun of, remember this: You are beautiful. No matter what anyone tells you, you are the most wonderful you there could ever be. Just because someone tells you that you aren’t good enough doesn’t mean you aren’t. I think you are incredible for making it this far. I think that you are wonderful, beautiful, amazing, spectacular, ravishing, goofy, spontaneous, and just perfect. And if you ever feel like you aren’t, come back here and read this. There is no reason to feel like that. Remember you are beautiful. Remember you are perfect.