In grade 7, I got to go to choir camp for a week. I had a wonderful time and was so proud to have been chosen. When I got back to school, no one would talk to me. A girl, who I had considered a friend, had decided that she didn't like me anymore and neither should anyone else. I was in an extended French class in an English speaking school, and we were already pretty insular. They didn't do anything physical; it was mostly the silent treatment and the occasional insult to my clothes, hair, freckles, posture... and yet, it was a horrible experience.
I didn't know who to talk to and I didn't know what to do. To this day, I still don't know what brought any of it on. I used to brave out the day and then come home and cry for an hour, wash my face and go downstairs to have dinner with my family. I don't think my parents even knew about it; mostly because I didn't want them to. It finally ended after a few months when one of the girls I used to hang out with sat beside me and said, "I'm sorry. I don't even remember why I was mad at you."
I can look back on my high school boyfriend now and realise that he did the things he did to me because he was insecure. He was abusive and he did not do anything he did out of love. He tried to make me feel like the only way I was worth anything is if I was beside him. I need my girls to know that they are worth a thousand of anyone who would make a person feel like they're worthless to make themselves feel big.
I can look back on the man who attacked me in university and know that he will never be whole. I can make sure that my daughters don't keep their mouths shut about anything that happens to them because they feel that they will be the one who is persecuted.
Every now and again, it hits me; I am a mom. I have two beautiful, brilliant, exciting girls... and I can't protect them from that kind of thing. Someday, they are going to feel like I felt. They are going to feel left out, and alone and like no one cares. Just the realisation breaks my heart.
I am going to do all I can to try and help them be themselves; to be so strongly aware of who they are that some idiot making fun of them, or telling them that they aren't worth anything won't have any effect at all. My fervent wish is that my girls grow up strong and brave. That they know their worth and they defend themselves, physically and otherwise, from anyone who would try to diminish them. Most of all, I want them to know that no matter what, I am always here for them.
My job is to help them get off the ground; to applaud them when they fly and be a safe place to land when they fall.