With my recent blogfest (except for the last post, where I talked about my ALS Ice Bucket Challenge), I talked about review bullying. pansy authors, and bully authors. Often I made little jokes, and sometimes I downright made light of the situation, but the truth is, bullying is real. And it is painful. It is damaging, and it has lasting consequences that you probably can't even imagine.
Even the strongest people have their weaknesses. Even the strongest predator can become prey, and all it takes is the changing of a small tide for the hunter to become the hunted.
It makes me wonder what these people - both the bullied and the bullies - see when they look in the mirror. I mean, I was always taught as a child that a bully is a bully for one main reason: insecurity. And we all know what bullying does to a victim - it makes them insecure. It makes them doubt.
I guess misery really does love company.
But what's behind the scenes, behind the eyes and the outer façade of the average person?
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see hair color, eye color, skin color? Do you see freckles or wrinkles, scars or weight or stray hairs? Or do you really see the person within?
Do you look into the mirror ashamed? Do you see "liar" or "thief"? Do you see "attitude"? Do you see "slut" or "pig" or "snob"?
Or are you able (yet) to look into the mirror and see "beautiful" and "lovely"? Can you look into the depths of your own eyes and see a person worth knowing?
Some of us can, some of the time.
I have to assume that you will look in the mirror and see some mix of those things. You will see your eyes; you will see the color and the style of your hair, and whether it is messy or neat. But you will also see the innermost truths of who you believe yourself to be, and this is where you gauge not only your level of confidence, but who you truly are.
If you were me and you didn't like me, you'd see eyes that don't match, a face that's just too far over the line of symmetry, a round-tipped nose that's just not perfectly straight. If you were me, you'd look in the mirror and see round shoulders, too-big upper arms, and a round body that just won't slim down no matter what.
But if you were me and you did like me, you'd see pretty eyes, just a little slanted - and enchanting because of their uniqueness. You'd see kissable lips and a ready smile. You'd see the softness of a mother, protected by the hard edges of a tough life, a body that's been put through hell and is still going strong.
And if you know me like I do, you'll see a little girl who grew up poor and afraid, a little girl who was an unwilling witness to unbelievable cruelty and sometimes unspeakable sadness. You'll see a little girl who grew up too fast in a world where innocence was stolen fast and early. You'll see a mother who fiercely protects that innocence in her own children. You'll see the ravages of empathy, evidence that "the weight of the world" is a real measurement of the burdens of life.
You'll see the grown up product of domestic violence. You'll see a grown up product of bullying.
But, because of my experiences and the experiences of the people I love, you'll see a friend to victims of rape, violence, and insanity. You'll see an advocate for the underdog, a hopeless romantic.
You'll see a heart that beats mightily, a soul that bleeds words, and a spirit that can't help but stand strong.
You know, if you were me.
What would I see if I were you?