Sparkles & Stretchmarks: A UK Parenting & Pregnancy Blog

Monday, 26 September 2016

An Open Letter To My High School Bully



NOTE TO READERS: ****As I've written about previously, I am currently in regular therapy sessions for anxiety and panic disorder...during my last session my therapist diagnosed me with OCD (which I was well aware of) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder...as a result of bullying at school. 

I had no idea that post traumatic stress disorder could be caused by something like this, and it made me quite angry at myself...after all, so many people are bullied at school and are able to leave it behind them...how could I possibly have allowed it to leave me with post traumatic stress disorder!? 


After coming home and spending the day feeling angry and upset, I decided to pen this letter to one particular girl who bullied me. I found it very upsetting to write, but the following day I felt like a weight had been lifted from me...and I already feel so much better, I can now talk about my experiences without crying which is something I was never able to do before.


I thought twice about sharing this letter publicly, but I feel that it's part of the healing process...and I no longer feel the need to protect this person, I no longer feel that I am the one who should be embarrassed by what happened...and I am sharing this not for sympathy but because I want to encourage anyone out there who was bullied too to write a letter to your own bully...I can't begin to tell you how much it has helped****


Dear Carla,

You probably don't remember me.

I don't think you and I ever had an actual conversation for the entire 5 years that we spent at school together.

You spoke plenty of words in my general direction - nasty ones usually, most of them swear words - you told me constantly how ugly I am, poked fun at my goofy and accident-damaged teeth, laughed about my lack of interest in name brand trainers and sports clothes, belittled me for not being good at volleyball or net ball, had digs at me for being a "swot", and singled me out for being a loser without any friends...but we never actually talked.

I don't think you knew anything about me other than my name and what area I lived in - you didn't know what my hobbies or interests were, you didn't know what my favourite song was, you didn't know what kind of clothes I wore outside of school or what TV shows I liked to watch.

You didn't know me as a person at all.

But you knew I was quiet and nervous - you seemed to pick up on that fact pretty early on, when I started at your high school a few months after everyone else.

At first some friends of yours had taken me into your little clique, as the new girl I was exciting I suppose - but it soon became apparent that I wasn't suited to your group.

You were the bad girls - the ones who huddled behind the science building to smoke at break times, the ones who got excited when there was a fight in the yard and gathered around to try and get involved, the ones who liked to shout out obscenities during lessons and throw things at the teachers, the ones whose names were written up on the blackboard almost every lesson for referral.

I was the polar opposite to you - always quiet, always shy, keen to learn, always respectful to the teachers,  I don't think I had one single referral in my entire time at that school - maybe that's why you targeted me.

Is that why, Carla? Is that why you hated me so much that you felt the need to make my entire school life a living hell?

Is that why you felt the need to make me feel completely terrified every single day? 

Is that why, every single day for 5 whole years, I woke up cold with fear of what you might do or say to me that day? 

Why you felt you had to constantly belittle me and embarrass me in front of everyone at every given opportunity?

Because there must have been a reason why it was me that you targeted.

And I'd love to know what it was.

What exactly was it about me that warranted your treatment of me for all of those years?

Did I do something that made you think I deserved it?

That I deserved to feel that awful, stomach churning dread I felt every day as I walked up to that school building - knowing that you were in there, knowing that I'd have to face you yet again.

Did you think that I deserved to feel stupid and small and worthless every single day?

That I deserved to feel hopeless and weak and pathetic for never having the nerve to stand up to you?

You never physically attacked me but I had to live with the threat of it every day and part of me wonders if that was worse - that constant fear of what might happen, the nervous knot in my tummy as I turned every single corner on those school corridors incase you were waiting there.

You often threatened to "jump" me, and I was always certain it would happen any day now...you often shouted about how you were going to "kick my head in"

You never came through on that threat, but you might like to know that although you didn't manage to do it physically - you certainly achieved it mentally.

Because I live everyday with the emotional and mental scars that you inflicted on me.

To this day I feel ugly, and stupid, and worthless - and I know where those feelings started out - they started in French class that day.

That day when Mrs Molde asked you to sit next to me for an assignment, and you refused - shouting your unwillingness to sit with me loudly for all to hear, acting as though having to sit next to me was the most offensive and disgusting suggestion you'd ever heard.

The rest of the minions in the class laughed at your display, cheered you on...which of course made you stronger.

I kept my head down, trying my hardest to choke down the tears...because crying would be the very worst thing I could do at that moment, but as you continued to shout at Mrs Molde and she continued to shout back at you insisting that you sat next to me, I couldn't stop myself.

I shouted, for the first and only time in my life at a teacher, and begged her to please leave it alone...to PLEASE, for gods sake, just let me do the assignment by myself.

And once I spoke, I couldn't control the tears anymore ... so I sat there, sobbing, in front of everyone.

Some people still laughed.

Your friend Christina, who until then had egged you on, seemed to have a sudden attack of guilt...she called you "shady" and said you should leave me alone now.

So you did...but you carried on glaring at me for the rest of that excrutiatingly long lesson - I remember keeping my head down, I remember the words on my page blurring as I kept blinking away the tears, and trying hard to control my breathing - trying not to hyperventilate....terrified of what might happen when the bell rang and I had to face you outside.

As it turned out, nothing happened - you flounced off and got on with your day.

But I feel like I'm still sitting at that desk in that classroom. As dramatic as it sounds, I feel like part of me died that day...my confidence certainly did, my self esteem, my self worth...I never felt the same again after that experience.

But you didn't notice. You just carried right on, every day, mocking me, tripping me up, spitting at me, laughing at me.

So I want to know...Why?

Why me?

What were you hoping would happen?

Did it make you feel big to keep knocking someone like me down? You could see I had no friends...you could see I wasn't a confident person...why did you feel the need to make things worse than they already were?

I wonder if you even realise now what an impact you had on my life.

You should have been someone that I never thought of again after school.  In all honesty, you don't deserve to be someone that anybody remembers.

You weren't special, you were just another one of the mean girl clique - you weren't particularly bright but you weren't stupid, you weren't particularly pretty but you weren't ugly, you were just a normal girl who should have been forgettable.

But even now, 20 years after the last time I saw you in person, I still have nightmares about you sometimes. I dream that I'm back in that classroom with you, that you're attacking me again and I can't find the voice to stand up to you and tell you to SHUT THE FUCK UP like I so wish I had done that day.

Instead, today, a therapist diagnosed me with post traumatic stress disorder.

As a result of my experiences with you.

Can you believe that?!

I certainly can't.

And actually, it just really pisses me off - I thought post traumatic stress disorder was something that soldiers get after seeing wars or something victims of crime get after being attacked.

I had no idea that it was something a nasty little cow of a schoolgirl could cause, that could last for so many years.

And it upsets me because I have already wasted my teenaged years living in fear of you and giving you more power than you ever deserved to have....and now it seems that you've taken up even more of my life and my happiness without me realising it. 

I bet you don't even remember me.

But you ruined many, many years of my life.

So excuse me for declining that Facebook friend request you sent me a while ago -  I don't think the relationship you and I had could ever be described as "friends".

And I couldn't help but notice from your profile photo that you're a mother now too - there's a nasty, horrible part of me that wants to wish that someone treats your children the way you treated me all of those years so that maybe you might begin to understand how it feels and what sort of impact those things can have on a person.

But I know that's wrong of me...and that your children don't deserve that.

I hope that you managed to mature into a better person who is raising them to be different, and not to treat people in the way that you did.

And I hope for their sake that they never have to meet someone like you throughout their school days.

And to that 14 year old version of me still sitting at that desk in French class, sobbing and fearful and embarrassed -  it's time to get up now, walk out of that school and leave it and her behind you.

She can't hurt you anymore.

It's over.


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Sunday, 25 September 2016

Family Games Night: Crazy Claw Plus GIVEAWAY!


We've recently started a new tradition with Tyne of having Family Games Night on a Saturday evening.

Since he started pre-school we thought it was important to dedicate some time to having fun with him, once the babies have gone to bed...so that he has his own bonding time with us and doesn't feel as though he's missing out on time with us by being at pre school.

Last week, we had a new game to try out during Games Night which I'm going to tell you all about today.

Crazy Claw from Drumond Park is a super fun grabbing game which is reminiscent of those arcade claw machines we all love to hate! You know, the ones that you put about £20 into in the hopes of winning a cuddly toy that you could have bought in the pound shop anyway?

Well this offers all the fun of a grabber game without any of the expense...what's not to love?! 

The aim of the game is to grab the coloured balls while your opponents try to thwart your efforts by hitting the paddles and making the balls bounce around inside the cube, once you grab a ball you open it to to reveal a token inside.

Whoever matches 3 tokens inside to their card, wins!




What we loved about this game is that everybody was involved no matter who's turn it was, which is great when you're playing with an impatient 3 year old as even when it wasn't his turn to be the clawmaster he was still having fun making the balls bounce!

This is such a fun game for the whole family, and is suitable for 2-4 players aged 5 and up.

Competition

To be in with a chance of winning Crazy Claw (RRP £22.99) for yourself, just complete the Rafflecopter form below.

Good Luck!


To find out more please visit www.drumondpark.com 

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SundayBest - Link Up Your Best Posts!

Welcome back to #SundayBest - A brand new linky hosted by myself and the lovely Sian from Quite Frankly She Said.

Thank you to everyone who joined up last Sunday and helped to spread the word.

What I love about linkies is how it helps not only to get your blog posts seen, but it also helps you to reach out into the community more and get to know your fellow bloggers - I find myself feeling so inspired by the posts I read on linkies, and it's such a great way of finding new blogs that you'll love.

Each week we will be picking out our favourite posts from the link ups to share with you, too!

Blog Of The Week

This week, Sian chose this fantastic post from Topsy Turby Tribe as her blog of the week all about living a simpler life and escaping the rat race...a very interesting and thought provoking read!

My own choice was this recipe by Little Paper Swans for Spicy Chicken Nacho Wraps which look AMAZING...I am definitely trying these!

Blogs Of The Week, feel free to grab your badge below!

Sparkles & Stretchmarks Sunday Best



Rules


We want to keep things nice and simple, so there are very few rules and if we all play nicely then everybody benefits!

1. You can link up to 2 posts per week - the post can be about anything at all, but the theme is Best Posts so try to link up ones that you feel really showcase your blog. Posts can be old or new, as long as they haven't been linked here before.

2. You must add the Badge to each post that you link up

Sparkles & Stretchmarks Sunday Best

3) Please comment on both Host posts, and the post immediately before yours - and then do feel free to hop around and comment on as many other posts as possible - the more love you give, the more you're likely to get in return!

4) Please write #SundayBest at the end of each comment you leave so that we know you're joining in!

4) If you'd like myself & Sian to tweet your posts, just send us a link with the hashtag #SundayBest and we'll RT for you - you can find us on Twitter @Sparkles_blog and @QFSheSaid

And that's it!

Let's Get Linking!



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Saturday, 24 September 2016

#TheMagicInEveryday Instagram Community Weekly Favourites

A couple of weeks ago, myself and my lovely blogging friend Fiona from Dolly Dowsie decided to take on a bit of a new venture over on Instagram by launching our very own Instagram community...

We settled on the theme of the every day magic that you find in life - whether it's the innocent smile of your child, capturing a beautiful sunset, a moment shared with a beloved pet - anything at all, because there is magic all around us if we only look to find it.

We were inspired by the Roald Dahl quote 

"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world 

around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden 

in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe 



in magic will never find it."





Each week, Fiona & I will be taking turns to share our four favourite images from the community with you here on our blogs...as well as sharing our daily favourites over on our Instagram accounts.

To join in with this project, simply tag your photos with #TheMagicInEveryday - we would love to see your captures!

So without further ado, here are my favourites for this week...

The ones I have chosen photos showing parents & children together, it can be difficult to find ways around getting a photo of yourself and your little ones..particularly if, like me, you are often the one behind the camera - but I think these are going to be the photos that are most precious to our little ones in years to come.


Clockwise, L-R : @TreasureeveryM, @DearBearandBeany, @AlexBumpToBaby@KerryMarie3

And I HAD to give an honourable mention to this AMAZING capture from @lifeasmum_blog...Best photo I've seen in months!



My favourite of Fiona's images this week is this absolutely gorgeous shot of her partner Jacek and their boys - just perfect!




Credit: Instagram - @FiandTylerLee


And my own shot was a very rare one of myself with all 3 of my boys - this is one that Jon snapped on our sofa on my birthday last week, and I just love it!



Instagram - @Sparklesandstretchmarks

If you'd like to join in with us for a chance to be featured, don't forget to tag your images with #TheMagicInEveryday

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Devon Days Out: Family Fun At The Big Sheep


Last weekend, myself and my little family headed off to North Devon for the day to visit an attraction we've been wanting to go to for quite some time now...The Big Sheep!

The Big Sheep is an all weather attraction with a massive variety of things on offer - from farm animals, to thrilling rides, to play areas to live shows...there really is something for everyone here.

We were pretty lucky as the day we chose to visit there just so happened to be a very special guest making an appearance ... a real VIP....infact a "Very Important Pup"...




Yes, Paw Patrol favourite Marshall was on hand in the barn for cuddles and photos which just about made my 3 year old's year!

We queued for about 5 minutes to meet Marshall and have Tyne's photo taken (Noah did not want to know him!), and afterwards Tyne begged to go to the back of the queue for more cuddles!! We obliged of course, and luckily the wait wasn't too long as Marshall was on hand for scheduled appearances through out the day so everybody got a chance to see him.

Once we'd met Marshall, we headed off to explore what else Big Sheep had to offer.




We saw the animals, watched the live sheep show, cuddled an adorable sheep dog puppy, and even watched the daily Sheep race - which was really quite an unusual but very fun experience!

After all the animal related fun, we set about to try out some rides - a firm favourite was the Twister Chair-o-Planes - when I first saw it I was convinced that my 3 year old would be too little as it was quite fast and high, and I didn't think he'd like it at all....but he was tall enough and he chose to ride, and much to my surprise he LOVED it!



He squealed with delight, leaned forward and yelled out "Wooo hoo! I'm superman!" as he flew through the air on his swing chair...his only complaint was that the ride was closed when he got off, as he wanted to ride again and again!

He also tried out the Drive your own tractors, the sit and spin robot cars, the old fashioned hand-operated carousel, and the Piggy Pull along tractor ride.




Other rides we didn't get chance to try were the Eweston station train ride, the tractor safari, the rollercoaster, and the swan pedalos - they all looked like great fun but you are a bit limited to what you can go on when you have two babies with you who don't like rides much so we chose to give them a miss on this occasion.

After the rides, we spent some time on the Jumping Pillows which were a huge hit! They are kind of a cross between a bouncy castle and a trampoline but just so much fun! We must have spent a good hour or so here before indulging in some ice creams from the kiosk next to it.





We then headed to the soft play, which my little one really enjoyed - the slides looked like a lot of fun!

There is so much else to do at The Big Sheep, from battlefield to pony rides to beer shows/demonstrations, there really is something for anyone no matter what their age!


Upon leaving we noticed the sign for their Halloween week celebrations, and it sounded right up our street - we will certainly be heading back again in the future!

If you're local or visiting the area any time in the future, be sure not to miss out a fantastic family day out to remember at The Big Sheep...it's baaa-rilliant!

To find out more, just visit www.thebigsheep.co.uk

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