I was verbally, physically, and emotionally bullied throughout my childhood into my early teens. It was my faith that saved me from being engulfed by the darkness of bullying.
As a child I always knew that God was there for me. He kept me company when I felt alone and isolated, he wiped my tears when I was bullied at school daily. In the stillness and quiet of the night my mind would race with worry, with fear, and with anxiety. Facing each day was a struggle, but God was there, stoking the embers in my heart, inspiring me to persevere.
I remember my grandparents buying me a starfish from a recent holiday they’d been on. It was beautiful, and at night I used to hold it in my hands as I prayed. I called it my lucky starfish because amazing things happened every time I poured out my heart.
As a teen life was harder and I was bullied for my appearance. Once at High school, while walking down a corridor, I knew I had to pass by a particular group that didn’t like me. A boy grabbed me by my shirt collar, pushed me into the wall, and groped me. No one did anything. The rest of the day was a blur.
In my own company I was safe and having the house to myself after school was a perk of getting older, but the bullying remained. Alone, I would turn over hurtful words and threats in my mind. I was so tired of feeling worthless. In the kitchen, stirring my cup of tea, I reached for some painkillers to quieten my throbbing headache and knotted up stomach. For a moment I passed the packet between my hands. Dark thoughts swept through me. Could I really keep going, would this nightmare ever stop?
The silence in the house was oppressive. I felt closed in with no escape, yet loud and clear in my mind was the urge to put the box down. I threw the box into the cupboard and ran upstairs, once again God wiping my tears.
Anti bullying week reminds us that speaking out against bullying is essential. Suffering in silence should not be an option.
Bullying has been a huge part of my life. It has changed me inside and out. It is only now as an adult I can look back and see where Christ led the way. Christ’s call and compassion lit the path through the roughest terrain in my life; it was as if I was following a huge dot-to-dot pattern.
I’ve not joined up all the dots, I’m still on that journey, but I do know for certain that I am not worthless, that Jesus is my friend, that God watched over me as my Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit kept the fire in my heart ablaze when I wanted to put it out for good.
Amy Sheridan is a mother of five and a journalism student at Salford University. She blogs at sittingatthewell.wordpress.com