Basketball days..

I’m about Eleven years old and I signed up for Turnpike basketball because one my childhood best friends loved basketball and his dad was the coach, I joined their team, I wanted to play sports and fit in with my friends. I knew I wasn’t great at basketball, I wasn’t coordinated and I got tired easily, I just wasn’t good at sports in general but I did hustle and played with heart. I was always nervous because I knew I wasn’t good and the crowd being there didn’t help, it was too much pressure. I knew my friend’s dad who was also the coach was not impressed by basketball abilities, I’m sure if he could have, he would have kept me on the bench for the entirety of the game.

I remember one game, in particular, I was on the court trying my best but I missed every shot, I fouled a couple times and I was intimidated by all these other kids who were bigger and better than me. At some point, I managed to steal the ball from the kid I was guarding and for whatever reason, I ran toward the basket on the opposite end of the court, I wasn’t even paying attention to my teammates or the crowd, I made a layup and score a goal until I heard the crowd boo me and my teammates looked very angry including the coach. In my excitement, I didn’t realize that I had made a basket for the other team, I saw parents from the stands grumble in disgust and the other team laugh at me, it was totally humiliating.

From that moment on, I really hated sports, I hated the competition and that everything was about winning, I hated how mean my teammates were with me when I made a mistake, I was frustrated at myself that I couldn’t play sports well despite my best efforts. Even now, the mere mention of sports annoys the hell out of me and I am sure it comes from the moments where I was made to feel like nothing because I threw the ball into the wrong basket. But what I hated the most was how grown adults could treat a child so poorly because he wasn’t the best basketball player in the world, it’s cruel. And that sticks with you the rest of your life.

I played a few more years despite me not liking it, I wanted to be with my friends but as my friends and I drifted apart, I stopped playing sports in any kind of leagues and just stuck to shooting hoops by myself in my driveway, no crowd, no pressure, just me, a basketball and my boombox. As I write this, I am filled with sadness but also pride that I had the courage to make the effort to play and came to the realization that sports wasn’t for me. And you know what, that’s ok. There is more to life than sports, I just everybody else could see it that way. 🏀

 

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Following the crowd

When I was a little kid, I was always bullied and it was usually by a bunch of boys gathered in a circle, all ready to take my hat or make fun of me or threaten to kick my ass, I learned instinctively to fear and distrust large crowds because usually when I saw a circle of people ( particularly all guys) I’d do anything I could to avoid them, I would have rather been by myself or talking to one of two other kids ( usually girls) that were my friends than to be where the crowd was and feel unsafe. Since then, I have never followed the crowd and gone in my own direction, I like to think for myself without being part of a group, I’m freer that way. 😎

A culture of bullying

Whether people want to admit or not, America is a culture of bullying and shaming, we see in the media, we see at the workplace, school and social media, we love to build ourselves up by putting others down and excluding them, And we condone bullying by electing leaders who bully others and hurl insults when they don’t get their way( on both sides of the aisle), Parents gossip and exclude others who are different from them and they never take the time to teach their children to accept other’s differences; kids see this example and run with it and take it to the school playground where they bully any kid that’s different and the teacher’s look the other because they really don’t want to deal with bullying unless they see it with their own eyes and rarely is bullying out in the open, it usually in the shadows away from the eyes of adults. We can’t fix the problem until we recognize it exists, we have a bullying culture in this country and it is an epidemic. Now what can we do about it? 🤔

Shaming those who are highly sensitive

It really bothers me that there is so much shaming online ( particularly towards men) for being highly sensitive, it is seen a weakness by many and something that should be hidden away and replaced with being “tougher” and more “dominant” A lot of these videos tell others that no one likes a highly sensitive person, it’s an unattractive quality because people who are successful have to win at all costs and sensitive people are afraid to get what they want, this is a total lie and it only serves to hurt and shame us who ARE sensitive, we aren’t being emotional to seek attention, we genuinely want to connect with others and share our feelings openly and shouldn’t be shamed for it, it’s brain chemistry, it’s who we are. So never feel ashamed of being highly sensitive, embrace it and show it the world. Much love, Dave. 😍🌷

 

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I have a bully

I have to tell you something, I have a bully. It seems like no matter where I am, he is always there to criticize and belittle me and doesn’t pass up an opportunity to make feel worthless.

 

When I’m doing well, he likes to remind of the mistakes I made in the past, he tells me no one likes me. He tells me I’ll never make friends and I have no worth whatsoever.

 

When I’m doing well, he likes sneer and say it won’t last and that I don’t deserve the good things in life and that any praise is just a veiled insult because no one anywhere is my friend, he says no one cares about me.

 

He tells me that I’m the only one who feels this way and it’s funny to him; that I feel alone. He says don’t tell anyone how you feel because they’ll just laugh. Remember the times you did share your feelings and they did laugh and ostracize you? Its going to happen again because you deserve it.

 

It hurts so much when he says all these things, I try to tell myself that he’s a bully and that everything he says is a lie but I always believe him. This bully hates me and wants to see fail and I have never found a way to stand up to him because he has always bullied me my whole life. The worst thing about that bully is that the bully is me.

Dealing with online bullies

You know, I really take pride in my writing and I do it for therapeutic reasons and also I hope my words can reach people in a meaningful way. I do mental health advocacy across all social media platforms including creating a mental health group that is growing and has become a means of support for a quite a few people, I am so proud of that.

I share most of what’s happening in my life and for the most part the support has been incredible, people are kind and their words have really made a difference and I hope that I have made a difference by being a supportive, caring person who wants to help those with mental illness.

All that being said, every so often ( I am sure it’s the same person) will go on my blog and post a barrage of insults, usually they are small and it rolls off my back but this time this person was brutal and I thought the best thing to do was to address it head on.  This person basically alluded to the fact that I whine and am looking for sympathy.  I am not trying hard enough to get a degree and that I don’t want to work and live off of my family, they said I had no life experience and I wasn’t a writer, based on my ignorance and use of vulgar language ( according to them).

Now, I don’t go around insulting people, in fact I think, I am nothing but nice. I don’t see anything in my blogs that are hurtful and I don’t think reaching out and talking about mental health is “whining”. So I have no idea who this person is and why they felt the need to say such hurtful things. But it  is clear, they are hurting and taking it out on me, which is a symptom of mental illness, because a happy healthy person wouldn’t feel the need to do that.

I have nothing left to say. I blocked them and hopefully by making this private they can’t see this post.  Right now, I am really upset and it’s the kind of thing that makes me want to share less or stop writing all together.

Online bullies on WordPress

You know, I really take pride in my writing and I do it for therapeutic reasons and also I hope my words can reach people in a meaningful way. I do mental health advocacy across all social media platforms including creating a mental health group that is growing and has become a means of support for a quite a few people, I am so proud of that.

I share most of what’s happening in my life and for the most part the support has been incredible, people are kind and their words have really made a difference and I hope that I have made a difference by being a supportive, caring person who wants to help those with mental illness.

All that being said, every so often ( I am sure it’s the same person) will go on my blog and post a barrage of insults, usually they are small and it rolls off my back but this time this person was brutal and I thought the best thing to do was to address it head on.  This person basically alluded to the fact that I whine and am looking for sympathy.  I am not trying hard enough to get a degree and that I don’t want to work and live off of my family, they said I had no life experience and I wasn’t a writer, based on my ignorance and use of vulgar language ( according to them).

Now, I don’t go around insulting people, in fact I think, I am nothing but nice. I don’t see anything in my blogs that are hurtful and I don’t think reaching out and talking about mental health is “whining”. So I have no idea who this person is and why they felt the need to say such hurtful things. But it  is clear, they are hurting and taking it out on me, which is a symptom of mental illness, because a happy healthy person wouldn’t feel the need to do that.

And people say it’s just a troll and to ignore it but it doesn’t hurt any less. So I didn’t want to do this but I have my blog private, only viewable to those who are already following me. That hurts because I know my family reads my blogs, they love it but they aren’t following me, only looking through the website. But to stop the harassment, I have no choice but to make my blog private. And it’s due to an obviously sick individual that needs serious help. I have nothing left to say. I blocked them and hopefully by making this private they can’t see this post.  Right now, I am really upset and it’s the kind of thing that makes me want to share less or stop writing all together.

 

Is there a way to report this person to WordPress if they are not a registered user ( Only posting through email?

Friends forever

Courtney had just moved to Michigan from sunny California; her dad got a new job at the Auto Plant and she wasn’t too happy about the move. “What about the warm weather and the beach and all of my friends?” she exclaimed when her father broke the news of the move. Her mother shrugged her shoulders and said “Courtney, honey, the move will be good for us; Dad will be making more money and we’re moving to a bigger house and hey, it’s an adventure, right” Courtney walked away in annoyance realizing she had no choice in the matter but she was sad to leave her best friend; Amanda. What will I do with her?” ; she thought. The move was in 2 weeks and she turned to the one comfort in her life; her journal. Writing was her refuge from the loneliness and sadness she faced ; like most teenagers feel from time to time. As the days passed; she let her friends know about the move but waited to talk to Amanda; this would be a tough one. After a week sit sat down with her best friend since 2nd grade and explained that she had to move; the two talked for a long time; cried, hugged and said their goodbyes; Courtney promised they’d keep in touch online and they could text anytime; Amanda nodded her head; wiping a tear from her eyes and the two parted ways; mostly liked forever.

A week later Courtney found herself in a strange place; in a new town and a new school; where she didn’t know anyone; it was scary. She’d never left the palm trees and hills of Southern California in all her life; except when she visited her Grandma and cousins in Arizona. Courtney started school; visibly nervous and full of self-doubt. She had trouble meeting new people and had few friends; she was shy and preferred a good book to a house party. The first day of school was worse than she even expected; no one talked to her. The teacher introduced her and no one bother to look up to greet her; some girls laughed at her because she was wearing shorts and a short sleeved t-shirt in the dead of winter; they didn’t have time to buy winter clothes and of course didn’t need it in California. Courtney walked by herself to the cafeteria where every seat was taken and none of the other students didn’t look to happy to see her; so she sat by herself. Courtney never felt so lonely in her life and all she wanted to do was go back home to L.A. After lunch Courtney found a corner in an empty hallway and just cried her eyes out in complete despair. All of sudden you heard a male voice; “are you ok, he asked?” She composed herself; embarrassed that this boy had found her crying alone and to top it off; she thought he was pretty cute. She told him all about the move and all the girls that laughed at her. He said his name was Tony. He told her not to worry and gave her his phone number and said he would meet her after school to walk her home or hang out; whatever she wanted to do. Her heart raced at the prospect of this boy wanted to spend time with her; all through out the day she kept staring at the clock in anticipation. Finally it was 3:00 pm and the end bell rang and she headed to the door; along with the rest of the student population.

She hurried to the place where Tony said he’d meet her and 5 minutes passed and then 15 and then 30 minutes; she became distraught; asking any passerby if they knew a Tony; they just ignored her. As she panicked she felt a snowflake; she had never seen snow in all her life and she was freezing; waiting for Tony to meet her. By the time it had been 45 minutes; she gave up; beginning to cry again; she had been stood up; she began to feel angry that they had moved her all the way to Michigan; angry at herself for being so socially awkward. As she turned to walk home in defeat; she heard the sound of those girls that had laughed at her earlier; she felt so intimidated by them. She turned around her heart dropped to the floor when she saw Tony with one of the girls; laughing; with his arm around her; then to her dismay; she saw them kiss; how much more humiliation could she take? And as Tony looked in the distance he saw and whispered in the girl’s ear and the rest of the group erupted in laughter; at her expense; obviously.

She shook her head in disbelief; never had she been treated so cruelly and certainly never from a guy she liked. As she walked home the snowfall became heavier and she could feel her face and hands turn red. She thought to herself “This place is so cold and I don’t mean the weather” All of a sudden from the corner of her eye she saw a big bird fly by; it was a large owl; she had never seen one up close and it was so beautiful; majestic and wise. The owl just sat there on the fence and stared at her in curious; both in awe of each other. Courtney felt all that loneliness fly away as soon as the owl showed up; “I will call you Sadie” exclaimed Courtney; as if the owl could understand her. Courtney leaned close to the owl and amazingly enough the owl stood still while Courtney buried her head in the owl’s fur; the sweet owl was keeping her warm. “For now you’ll be my only friend Ms Owl”; the owl hooted in delight. From that point on Courtney and Sadie met every day after school; finding comfort in each other and enjoying each other’s company. Friends are forever Courtney said and the owl replied who who me? Yes you Courtney said with a laugh. A there a strong bond was made which no one could break and both their lives would be forever changed.

David Aguilera| Photographer: Katerina Plotnikova

 

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