I’m not sure how we got on the subject of bullying last night, I think it had to do with the Husband having watched a special on Hershel Walker earlier in the day. Hershel was a young boy in Georgia who was horribly bullied (he was overweight and had a speech impediment) and made to feel worthless by teachers and kids for years. One day he snapped and started focusing on athletics and school – by the time he graduated high school he was valedictorian and the number 1 collegiate football pick. (We re-watched it together in the evening, and it’s a really great story even if you don’t enjoy sports.)
It turns out the Husband didn’t have many friends before he started playing football. He was telling me that in fourth grade he had a few friends, but one boy got popular and made fun of him and they all decided they didn’t want him around. He said he was almost always alone during recess or after school. He said in 5th grade he remembers after school going straight to his aunt’s house, grabbing her golden retriever, and then playing for hours in the backyard and pond with the dog. Alone.
I actually started crying as he said this. It’s silly I know. Elementary school was a long time ago, but the fierceness I feel for making sure no one hurts him, and that he knows how loved and amazing he is, is indescribable.
Once he started playing pop warner football in sixth grade, he made friends and by high school he had a very solid group of guy friends, that are his closest friends to this day. All 6 of them were in our wedding party.
It makes sense now why in high school his focus was on football and friends, hardly on girls. It makes so much sense now why he is the planner of the group, always making sure the guys get together, and never leaving anyone out. It makes sense why he never wants to miss an event – he has a fear of being left behind and forgotten. (Even though I know without a doubt, they’d never forget him.) It even makes sense why if I go away for a weekend, and I don’t call, he gets so upset and feels like I have forgotten him too. It also makes sense why every time we look at a town he researches the football team. For him, football gave him a focus, a team, and many friends.
It’s unbelievable how much those young years can impact your life forever. In one interview of Hershel in his college years he mentioned he had such built up anger he wanted to go into the marines to kill people. Those exact words came out of his mouth. Luckily football became a more healthy outlet, but he has spent many years to this day working with a psychologist to handle the multiple personalities he created for himself just to get through life.
Just thinking about how I feel hearing about the Husband’s childhood, I get almost sick thinking about having our own children. How do you make sure they aren’t bullied – do you teach them to stand up to bullies? Because I know from having been bullied pretty badly for my 9th grade year, ignoring it – doesn’t make it go away, and it slowly eats away at you. How can you really make sure they know and believe they are loved, they are full of worth, and they are beautiful inside and out?