Painting stories is a series where I share my current works. Sometimes it is how they came about. Sometimes it’s more of a story I associate with them.
Your mum just got home from work, and she’s asked you about your day. There’s a long pause as you deliberate telling her about the boys picking on you at school, and then you shrug and say “‘t was okay.”
This isn’t a new thing.
There are always boys and girls who pick on you, shove you off the swings, call you names, steal your stuff, and paint tits and penises over your drawings. Sometimes you snap back at them – call them pigs, or throw a punch, just to remind them that you can – but most of the time, you just put on a blank face while the insults sink deep into your skin, and embed themselves into your very soul.
Sometimes, you imagine yourself as some sort of monster – you must be, for them to hate you so. You don’t trust the mirror to show you a true reflection. Only they can see you. Only they understand.
You mum doesn’t understand. Whenever you do muster up the courage to tell her, she just shrugs and says that kids will be kids, and their opinions are not worth your time. It’s not what you want to hear, but it’s better than her lying to you. It’s better than coddling and it’s miles better than calling their parents.
It’s better than her saying nothing, and confirming what you suspect all along.
I wish there was an easier way to tell you, but your mum is right – their opinions are not worth it. It’s just… there’s no way to say it without making you raise your heckles.
Garden variety bullying is what you will encounter all your life: people with big mouths and small hearts who get forward in life by stomping on everyone who is weaker. You envy their guts, but deep down, you know that’s not right. It’s not what you stand for.
It’s not so easy to be yourself.
And you will spend many, many more years chasing the approval of these bullies before you ask for help in extracting yourself from that rabbit hole. It’s not easy. Every little bit of progress feels impossible, and you just want to drop back to the bottom of the pit.
Just keep on climbing.
Image: Lilith’s brood.