What I Realized After My Children and I Were Bullied for Our Differences

“I’m going to out play,” I called over my shoulder as I closed the door to my house, admitting only to myself that what I said was a complete lie. “Who would I go to play with? I have no friends,” I thought to myself.

With my bag slung over one shoulder, I discretely slid into a small thicket between two roads where I lived. Once I was surrounded by nature, I laid out a blanket, a piece of paper, a candle, matches and a pencil. And then I sat down. The sun bounced off the leaves in the trees and small particles of light danced their way down to me. The wind gently brushed my hair from my face as I immersed myself in my surroundings. With a feeling of complete loneliness and desperation, I began to write. Tears ran down my childhood face as I composed a letter to God. I pleaded with every fiber of my being to be “normal.”

At that point in my life, there seemed to be an ever-growing laundry list of reasons why one could consider me “abnormal.” I had been in and out of foster homes for years. We were destitute, which led me on more than one occasion to wear my older brother’s hand-me-downs.

I was also born with a rather large port-wine stain birthmark on the right side of my face. To other children, I likely seemed unapproachable. After all, I was viewed as being physically marred and emotionally scarred, which weighed heavily beyond the understanding of my second-grade peers. I resented my irregular attributes and very badly wanted to fit in.

Fast-forward 20 years, I’m now a mother of three beautiful boys. I’m happily married and I’m living my dream. My childhood adversities, once thought to have been a curse, were, in fact, a blessing in disguise. My insecurities and desperation have blossomed into the extraordinary ability to empathize with others. My days are spent loving my children, loving my family and being grateful for my life every day.

I’ve been thinking about redefining normal for a while now. I can’t help but notice that each one of us has a challenge of some kind. Within my home, I have two family members with dyslexia, all three of my boys see specialists due to a condition known as idiopathic short stature and then, of course, there’s me with my bright red face.

I’ve had to witness my children feel like outcasts in the same way I experienced as a child. They were taunted and bullied because of their size.

It was at this point that I began to recognize the need for a new definition of “normal.” Each and every person has an adversity, and I think society has taught us all to lie about it and cover it up — in my case, quite literally — in order to fulfill a preconceived notion of who we want to be.

By letting these facades fall, each one of us has the ability to help change the world. Let “normal” become a word that encompasses everyone. I am normal, and so are you.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

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