1. hard but liable to break or shatter easilySynonyms:breakable, splintery, scatterable, fragile, frail, delicate, frangible, rigid, hard, crisp
I’ve just come to this realization. I didn’t used to be this way. I used to be flexible and resilient, bending and not breaking. No wind gusts knocked me down. The roiling waves of San Francisco Bay and the Farallone Islands didn’t fell me. I held on to the railing of that boat and swayed and moved with the rhythm of the ocean, while all around me fellow whale-watchers turned green and succumbed to Mother Nature’s assault.
I marched through life, girded for battle against those who told me first I was “too professional, not laughing enough, too stuffy” and then a few short months later “you’re not being professional, you’re not doing it right.”
I’ve been bullied since the 1st grade when a group of classmates held me still, around the corner of the building at recess, while one little boy peed on me. I fought back by learning cursive during lunch period and doing 5th grade math in the hallway with another fellow student (he wasn’t the urinator).
In 4th grade my nickname became Dogface because I dared to excel in my studies. I studied harder and continued to get A’s.
In 6th grade, proud of my new zip-up boots that were close to the latest fashion item, I was quickly surrounded on the playground by a group of girls who told me how utterly stupid I looked with my pants rolled up to mimic the knickers they wore, showcasing my new boots. I kept wearing the boots.
In 7th grade, a girlfriend became jealous of my quarterly leather bookmarks with my name stamped on it, given as reward for straight A’s. She organized the rest of the group of girlfriends to shun me. I kept getting those bookmarks.
I could continue on through high school, college, graduate school, veterinary school.
But I’m looking for light and love this morning, not darkness and despair.
There were some very tough times. Scarier the older I got as the darkness got darker. But no matter how low I seemed to get, no matter how overwhelming the depression, I never broke. I swayed. I bent…sometimes all the way over to touch the ground it seemed. But I never broke.
I want to teach my daughter resilience. I want to teach my daughter how to bend and not break. I want to pass on to her that at the lowest points of your life, it is always better to fight back, to stand tall, to reach for the stars, to ignore the haters, to find the love, to smell the flowers, to cherish the sunsets.
But I’m faltering lately. The last three and a half years have withered my spirit. They have dimmed the light. I fight daily to appreciate those sunsets and the snow-shrouded trees, the cerulean blue skies, the crisp winter mornings.
But I’m still brittle. Some days I feel I might just snap off a piece or two of me. And then what? Do I super-glue it back on? Will that work? Do I want it to? There are parts of me that I don’t recognize now. Parts of me that have become so deeply rooted in me the last three and a half years. Hate, fear, darkness, despair.
No. I will not let the Dark Side win. I will be the 1st grader who fought back, the 4th grader who continued on, the 6th grader who didn’t let the bullies win. And so on and so on and so on.
I have been here before. Bullies are bullies are bullies. They are not me. They do not define me. We each get to say who we are. We each make our own story. The bully in the Office with no corners doesn’t get to make me break. I have fought for too long and for too many reasons to give in now.
I will be the person standing on the deck of that little boat, swaying with the waves, bending not breaking.
“These are the times that try women’s souls…”