Welcome back to ALL THE RAGE APRIL! Today on the blog, I have a lovely and moving post from Siobhan from Conversations of a Reading Addict about bullying and the power of books. As someone who was bullied as a kid, I really related to this post. I hope you guys will read it!
Courtney Summers is one of those authors that transcends genre. Although they are classified as contemporary, they reach more than just that audience. In this post today I wanted to share my personal experience with Courtney’s books and how they affected me.
Bullying is something that the characters in Courtney’s books and I have in common, I have always been overweight, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t. When I was small I never really noticed the difference between me and other kids, until one day someone pointed it out. I remember his name to this day. Kastrel. I took the school bus with him, I was in middle school at the time, and he would call me all kinds of names. One of his favourites was Titanic. His taunts were daily, and in front of everyone, including my friends. Some might say, why didn’t they help you? Well it’s more complicated than that, I never let it get to me. At least I tried. No one really knew how much those words affected me. Until one day it went too far. I was on the playground, minding my own business when Kastrel came up behind me, pushed me to the ground and sat on me, telling me that the Titanic needs to give him a ride. It is by far one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life, which is probably why I still remember it to this day, almost 20 years later. It was at that point that I cracked and told my mother, she tried to get the school involved but they never did. So she told me to do something that I think all children should learn to do. Defend yourself, however you feel the most comfortable. So the next day when he came at me again, I did what my mother told me to do. I defended myself by punching him in the face. The school ultimately tried to suspend me, but my mother went all HELL NO on them and instead Kastrel got expelled.
Although I stood up for myself, and that in essence made me feel good, it left an everlasting scar on me. One that no one can see, even to this day. Every time I would look in the mirror, especially in high school, I would see the Titanic. This haunted me for years. It made me question everyone around me. I was jealous of friends hanging out without me, thinking they were talking about me behind my back.
And that lead to me losing my best friend for over a year. And it was when I read Some Girls Are while I was in university, that I understood that maybe I wasn’t alone. And maybe what happened to me was something to give me strength. Some Girls Are changed my life. What I felt for Regina, was what I was feeling for myself. I hated the way I looked, I hated what others saw in me, and I hated that I did nothing to stop it. Bullying is a silent killer, something that hides in the shadows and gets to you when you least expect it. Like when all your friends have boyfriends in high school and you are the odd one out, and you know why. It was very hard for me. I wore baggy clothes, hid behind concert t-shirt and jeans. I wore black eyeliner and died my hair black, green, blue etc. I listened to heavy metal and screamo music. It was almost as if I was drowning out the girl inside. And that didn’t change until I reached university, and I was introduced to Courtney’s writing.
In university I found…well…me. I shed caution to the wind and decided fuck this shit, I am a big girl and I am going to own it. So I took away the makeup and the weird hair colors (I kept the music for a bit) and decided to try and find the real me. And wouldn’t you know it, it changed my life. I met new people, I was happier in general because I stopped caring. I was happy and that was enough. To this day I still struggle with my image, but I no longer see the Titanic in the mirror, I see Siobhan and I want to thank Courtney for showing me that I am not alone in this world. That we need to talk about these things because bullying and topics such as rape and abuse need to be taken as seriously as ever. Because the victims deserve to be treated with as much respect as anyone else. My story is not as severe as most. I do not claim to know their struggles, but I have had my own and they have shaped me into the woman I am now, and I am proud of her. She is strong, independent and sure of herself. Something I never thought I would be in my life. - Siobhan from Conversations of a Reading Addict
Thank you, Siobhan, for your heartfelt post. I appreciate it so so much.
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- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)