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When I was asked to participate in this blog project I was all over it. Like, hell yeah I’m in! And then I was like ::whatEVA:: I mean, did I really want to talk about bullying and my experience? It’s opening an old wound, makes me vulnerable in a way I don’t like to revisit. It was another life time. Another person. But I know every time I read or hear a story in the news about bullying, it touches a chord. Like Phoebe Prince, Tyler Clementi, and the recent case of Amanda Todd. They all make me so sick and furious. So yeah, hell yeah, I wanna do this.

My story of being bullied

I was always teased to some degree. In elementary school I was made fun of because of my curly hair. Called Medusa or Fro. Junior High I was bullied, and sexually harassed on the bus by the shortest boy in school. I’m not sure I even knew what sexual harassment back then. I never told anyone. Maybe I should’ve, but I understand what it’s like to have the urge just to keep silent. To not want to make waves or draw attention to yourself.

I was raised with three brothers, so I was way more into fishing and playing outside than worrying what the trendy new fashions were. (Stretchy jeans and save the earth shirts were AWESOME according to me). I think the first time I wore makeup was prom. I say this, honestly, almost fondly and definitely with amusement. I was visually a hot mess in high school. I had hair like Krusty the Clown, glasses, and no sense of style in clothing. But you know what? Seriously? I didn’t give a damn.

::harder::
I was happily oblivious. Who cared what others thought of my appearance? I was a choir geek (before it was kind of cool) who excelled in music and leadership within the musical community. I was in my element. I also dabbled in drama and became a Thespian.

::guitarhero::
I found ‘my people’, which honestly, helped me with the bullying. Having somewhere to go where you’re accepted for who you are is KEY. And I had a lots of friends in my music/drama community, including a solid, core group of close ones. I loved life. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t popular or considered ‘attractive’. I was happy. And for the most part people let me be.

But there was a few guys who would follow me around, call me ‘grandma’ (I get it, I did sort of look like sixteen going on sixty), and sometimes push me or throw things at me. I tried to ignore them. I made it a point to not engage and just ignore.

::orelse::
But there’s one I remember most. He was the worst. I could theorize all I want, but honestly I really just don’t know what him such an asshole. But he was, and mainly to me. I know this guy had friends and some people think he’s awesome, but for some reason he made me his target. One day we were all dressed up in nice clothes to say goodbye to the upperclassmen in an assembly. He followed me to the bathroom. I can’t remember if he cornered me inside the bathroom, or in the small hallway outside. I was literally alone with him, trapped from getting out the door. And he started on the teasing again, moving closer to me. And I just lost it. I finally snapped. I had a Diet Coke in my hand and I dumped it on him.

::rockon::
Yup. I tossed my soda all over his pretty white dress shirt. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing for me to do. He looked absolutely shocked and enraged. I was 99% sure he was going to hit me. He lunged at me and called me a few choice names, but fortunately didn’t come after me when I ran past him. After that, I don’t think he bothered me again. Maybe gave me dirty looks in passing, but for the most part he left me be.

* * *

So life went on. I went to college, got immersed in an elite music program and discovered I could be friends with all kinds of people. Popular people. And, gasp, they liked me! And they were just normal people. Like me. To which suddenly, all that “It gets better” advice, was starting to come true.

::whattha?:: ::happydance::
My confidence bloomed. Continued to bloom as I ‘grew up’. I’m not at all the same girl I was back then. I’m a lot more confident in every way. Okay, I’m kind of the after image of a makeover show after years of exploring fashion/makeup/fitness/hair ideas. I have a successful career doing what I love–writing romance novels. And I’m raising a confident, smart, daughter as a single mom. I have amazing friends and family. I’m having fun jumping back into the dating scene. I’m just enjoying life.

::romeoohromeo::
But it doesn’t matter what I looked like then or now, it shouldn’t make me a target. And the scars of being bullied don’t ever really go away. Sometimes I revert to the same mental status of someone being bullied. I’m always a little surprised if someone flirts with me–wonder if they’re just messing with me. Sometimes I often wonder if some comments I overhear are a veiled joke about me. An insult. Sometimes I’m just bracing to be teased. And I’m making a conscious effort to get over that.

I don’t think bullying will ever go away completely. There will always be someone so insecure, so miserable, they turn to hurting others. I think people are being more vocal in spreading the awareness of bullying. More people are standing against it, though sometimes not until after a victim has taken their own life. To which I wonder…why didn’t people care enough when it was happening? Or, worse, did they make a mean comment too just to fit in? We can’t just be oblivious. We can’t just turn a blind eye and be grateful it’s not happening to us. Though, no doubt, it’s the easy thing to do.

I’ve raised my third grade daughter with this simple theme: We’re the nice ones. We’re not going to be mean. There’s enough mean people, make it a goal to be a nice person. It’s really pretty simple, and it’s amazing the friends you’ll make and how you’ll feel about yourself. Why don’t you try and befriend someone who you know is struggling with being bullied. Let them know you care. Sometimes they just need to know someone cares. Maybe encourage them to get help. If you have the gonads, you could even stand up for them. It’s not easy. But there are things we can do to bring bullying out of the dark. Awareness is a big step and social media is doing wonders to get these victims’ stories out. I’m glad I made the choice to share my experience, as uncomfortable as it may be, and knowing this blog may be read by former classmates.

Being bullied is not a new thing. Please don’t be afraid to tell someone you need help. And always remember, you’re not alone. I know sometimes it feels like it, but you’ve never been alone. Somewhere, someone is hurting just as much as you are right now. And as cliche as the phrase is? It does get better. I promise.

::huggies::

Check out what other authors have to say on bullying at the links below! But first let me leave you with then and now costume pics (and I love them both!). Left: High School (Thespian Initiation week) Right: Present Date (Halloween Party)

Welcome to another Snippet Saturday. Today’s theme is Author’s Choice. Enjoy my excerpt and then blog hop to the other blogs listed below.

 

The man she wants is the one she must deceive.

Seattle Steam Book 2

Christy Wallace may be a respectable Seattle Spanish teacher, but she’s got a sultry side. She lets it come out to play during the summer, when she moonlights as a Salsa dancing instructor.

Sexy, cowboy Adam wants more time with her than just a fleeting cup of coffee, but she makes it clear that if he wants her, he’ll have to sign up for dance class. Amazingly enough, he does. And Christy finds herself falling for a charming country hick with hands as fast as his feet.

Adam’s no hick, though. He’s the owner of Adam’s Apples, the fastest-growing cider business in eastern Washington. To his own surprise, one night with her has him thinking in terms of forever. That is, until he walks into a restaurant for a family lunch—and finds Christy on the arm of his brother.

Is there a logical explanation? Or is something rotten in Seattle?

EXCERPT

“Good morning, sunshine,” Christy called out as she strolled into Bob’s Café the next morning. The smell of grease was thick in the air, and almost every table was full. Nate stood in the entryway, waiting for her to join him.

“Is it?” He yawned.

“Well, it is for those of us who didn’t have to work all night.”

“Hey, I wanted this little meeting to be later in the day.”

She kissed his cheek. “I know, I know. Thanks for accommodating me. Let’s sit down.”

Christy led him slowly through the crowded restaurant.

“Why are you so damn cheerful, anyway?” Nate grumbled, his dark eyes narrowing with suspicion.

“He showed up last night.”

Nate frowned and tilted his head, then his eyes widened. “Oh! The guy you met at the coffee shop? No kidding!”

“You kids need to see a menu?” Doris, their usual waitress, stopped in front of their booth and gave them a brief smile. Her lips were coated in an obnoxiously pink lipstick shade that hadn’t been popular since the eighties.

“No, we’re good.” Christy grinned and flipped over her coffee mug. “Regular coffee for me.”

“You want coffee, honey?” Doris asked Nate, and then turned her face away to emit a haggard-sounding cough. “Damn cigarettes.”

Nate cringed. “I’m fine, thanks.”

Doris tilted the pot of coffee over Christy’s upturned mug. Christy’s expression remained neutral, even though every fiber in her being protested the drinking of bad coffee. She had yet to find a breakfast joint that served decent coffee. But bad or good, she needed her caffeine.

“All right, you two need a minute?” Doris asked after filling the stained mug to the brim.

Nate shook his head. “I’ll have a mushroom and green pepper omelet, made with egg whites only. Oh, and tomato slices instead of hash browns.”

Doris’s lips twitched and her eyebrows rose, but she said nothing and look expectantly at Christy.

“I’ll do a six-egg, bacon, cheddar, and sour cream omelet,” Christy replied immediately. “And could I get extra hash browns with that?”

“Would you like that heart disease for here or to go?” Nate asked after Doris had walked off. “Jeez, you and my family. You all eat like crap.”

“Just because you’re eager to convert to being a health nut, doesn’t mean the rest of us have to.”

“Well, sweetie…” he rolled his eyes, “…I don’t know how you can eat an omelet made with a half a dozen eggs—loaded with fat and calories—and still stay a size four.”

“Genetics and a great metabolism. Don’t you just hate me?” Christy smirked and drank another sip of the bad coffee.

“I would if you weren’t so damn cute.” He sighed. “I hope she remembers the tomatoes instead of hash browns.”

“She’s never forgotten.”

“Yeah.” He scowled. “But there’s always a first time.”

“My, aren’t we grouchy today?” Christy crossed her legs and gave him a narrowed look. “What’s going on? Does this have something to do with your date yesterday?” His face changed so quickly she had to laugh.

“Yesterday was amazing. We sat talking over the same cup of coffee for two hours,” he confessed, leaning forward eagerly. “We have so much in common. And did I mention how hot he is? He’s a Drama major at Cornish.”

“Wow, sounds promising.”

Nate sighed and stared at his hands. “I just really think that it could be different with him.”

“Yeah? I hear you on that one.”

His attention snapped back to her. “That’s right. Tell me about the boy.”

“Grown man, thank you very much.” Christy giggled. “He’s wickedly good-looking, a charming flirt, and he makes me forget my own name when he kisses me.”

“You’ve kissed?” Nate gasped. “You’re one up on me. He sounds fabulous, Christy. Hang on to him for awhile.”

“I would, but he’s not a Seattleite.” Her stomach clenched at the reminder. “He’s just visiting. So now the question is—do I have amazing sex for a few days and then see what happens? Or do I just call it quits while I’m still ahead?”

“Uh, no brainer here. Have some sex, Christy. Before your hymen grows back. How long has it been anyway?”

“Not that long,” she protested and then averted her gaze. “A couple of years. Maybe.”

“God, I can’t even go a couple of days without masturbating.”

“I never said that I don’t masturbate. And of course you think about sex more often, gay or not, you’re still a guy.”

“Anyway!” He rolled his eyes. “What are you going to do?”

“I have no idea,” she admitted with a despondent look. “I get the feeling that if I try to have casual sex with him, I’m going to end up getting really hurt. I think I like him too much for it to be casual.”

“Hmm, I see your dilemma. Well, my advice to you is to play it by ear,” Nate told her. “If he shows up to class tonight—”

“He told me he would.”

“Then go out with him afterwards and see how it goes. How you feel.” He paused, looking thoughtful.“Ask yourself ‘Can I live the rest of my life knowing that I gave up a few nights passion with this man?’ and if you think you could look back with no regrets on passing, you’ve got your answer. But if you think you’d always wonder… I say go for it.”

“Thanks, Nate. That’s very philosophical.”

Doris returned with plates full of heaping food.

Christy grabbed her fork and then dove into her omelet with great enthusiasm.

Mmm. Bacon. A few minutes later she glanced up to see Nate watching her with disdain. “Shut up.” She waved her fork at him. “I don’t want to hear it.”

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