Bullies find a wound & fill it with hate.
What i know
Tomorrow would be my Mom’s birthday, and I’m gonna honor her by re-posting this, and because it’s an important story about bullying and advocating for others.
We all need an advocate.
We all need someone to stand with us, by us, for us, even if for one split second.
I was maybe 6, 7 years old. Give or take. My grandmother Tilly, my father’s mother, was often very cruel & very mean and unforgiving. Unforgiving the operative word. She despised my mom; she despised her because she – my mother – stood up to her. My mother was amazing that way; not so amazing in many other ways, but she was a badass back in the day; sassy and outspoken and never took shit from my grandmother. It was Hanukkah and my grandmother was giving out – handing out – five dollar bills (a lot of money at that time) to her grandchildren; I think there were four or five grandchildren at her apartment in the Bronx on that particular Monday evening. When it came to me, she took me into her bedroom, picked up the wooden button box from the floor, and placed it on the bed. She flipped open the top, and there, scattered about, were buttons. Shirt buttons, coat buttons, suit buttons, dress buttons. She told me I could pick out two buttons, just two; I asked her, my mouth quivering, my eyes filling with tears, why I wasn’t getting money like everyone else, like all the other grandchildren. Because your mother treats me like dirt, garbage, she said in all her bitter. I walked out of the room feeling so teeny, so unwanted, so empty handed. All the kids, my cousins, looked at me. My mother – who never ever came to my grandmother’s house for any of the Monday night dinners, including Holiday dinners, came this night because my dad desperately wanted her to. She saw my little face and got up from the dining room table, a cigarette wedged between her index and middle finger, and announced to everyone that my grandmother, Tilly, was an ugly, ugly woman, and within five minutes we were out of the door by choice. My father, my mother and me. I sat – actually, more truthfully, I was curled up – in the back seat of the car while my parents got into an awful fight; my mother & father spewing about all and everything Tilly related. I carried the shame and the sadness of that night – along with my grandmother’s words – as if they were sewn on me, like those buttons, for many years. But I also carried – and still carry – my mother’s defense of me; her standing up for me, her standing up against cruelty and meanness even though she too carried and wore and acted out in anger and rage so many times – so many times – during her lifetime. An imperfect human, she was.
My grandmother took out all her rage and anger and hate on me because she didn’t like my mother; she needed to punish me, her granddaughter, because that, that very thing, would hurt my mother more. I visited my grandmother – grandparents – infrequently after that. Hardly ever. My father trekked to see his mom all on his own on those Monday nights.
When I asked my mom why my grandmother did that, she said: that’s what bullies do.
Bullies find a wound and fill it with hate.
I am no longer that little girl. But I took to heart, deep heart, the importance of advocating for other humans, especially folks who are bullied. Folks who feel less than; folks who are filled with magic but haven’t got a fucking clue. So, let’s all be the kinda humans who refuse, absolutely refuse, to fill the wounds that people carry, wear, hide, tuck away with hate; let’s fill all those wounds with love & kindness; magic and some sparkly glittery shit; honest to goddess that alone can change, transform, a human life.
And while I have you, let’s love better.
We can all love a little better.