When I walked inside the halls of my high school at the age of 15, I never thought I such a terrible day would ever happen to me.
A little back story- I have always been the “chubby” friend.. I literally was the biggest one in gymnastics, and the only sport I ever tried and was remotely decent at, was soccer. I couldn’t run like all the other girls on the team, because I was overweight. Not just overweight, but tall & overweight. And I towered over all the other girls, all the time, so I got stuck in the back of the field my entire soccer career.
I remember seeing all my other teammates tryout+join the high school soccer team, and transition out of the league we were in, but I just couldn’t get myself to do it. I was afraid of being called fat, or afraid of giving other people having the opportunity to laugh at me on the field.
So welcome freshman year, where your hopes are high for a great new year, with a TON of opportunity to meet new friends (around 500 students my freshmen year) and I thought it was a good start to build confidence that I lacked majority of my life.
I saw a lot of fresh faces, and a few months in, I started making some new friends.. or so I thought.
So I started having a little crush on this one guy in my class, and I would let him cheat off of me every day in class, so that he could make straight A’s and not have to worry about anything.. since he really wasn’t the brightest of the bunch (or so he played that card pretty well.) But one day, I got sick and tired of it and told him enough was enough and I told the teacher to please move my seat.
It was that next week when I walked into school (2nd semester of freshman year) and saw everyone staring at me.. in a bad way (start of the terrible day.) I didn’t understand if I had food on my face, if my make-up was messed up, or what in the world they were looking at..until I saw a stack of papers stapled together that one of my “new friends” that I had met was carrying around in his hands.
I asked him what it was, and he was reluctant to say, so I took it and started opening the pages and my stomach dropped. It was a book about me. About how fat I was.
You know that feeling when you just want to hide and run away, and act like something never existed? That was exactly how I felt in that very moment. I felt so small. So helpless. And I just wanted to breakdown and cry in the hallway.
The book was pictures of me comparing me so rather large things such as “Sheridan is as big as a hippo, or Sheridan is so fat that she reminds me of a …” well, you get the point. After a couple of pages I threw the book at the person who was holding it and pretty much ran to my first class.
I didn’t know what else to do besides to tell my closest friends, and there really wasn’t much they could do about the situation either. My brother was probably the least protective brother during those years (he is one year older than me,) and I didn’t really have any other options.
It felt like this day would NEVER end but I knew I wanted to go report this to the school counselor before the end of the day was over. She stated that she was vaguely aware of the situation, and told me that there would be consequences for whoever decided to type up this book and distribute it throughout the whole school (of about 2,000 people.)
Once it finally came back that it was the guy I had a crush on, and it all came down to the fact that I wouldn’t let him cheat off of me, I was devastated. I was so so embarrassed and I even questioned my entire self worth, and thought that everyone must think the same as him now. Thankfully they didn’t and it took a long time for me to understand that.
Y’all it was one of the hardest days/years of my life that I have had growing up, and I want you all to know that bullying is NEVER ok. It’s never ok to make fun of someone because of the way they look, their sex, their disability, or their race. It’s NEVER ok!
It took me years to forgive this person, and one day (it must have been a good 4 years after the incident occurred) he reached out to me. He apologized for ever doing that, and making me feel that way. He owned up to his responsibility and I 100% appreciated that.
For so many years I let my weight and my self-worth be determined by others. I never had the understanding that beauty comes from within, and that I know I am beautifully and wonderfully made in Gods image!
I never grew up appreciate my chubby cheeks, or my pretty smile, or my amazing curls, but now it doesn’t matter what the number on the scale says, I know my self-worth and I am fully aware that it is not up to anyone else to decide, but me.
Do I want to get back to that obsessed with the gym 6X/week Sheridan who was in the best shape of her life, prior to 8 kids (my 6 + my 2 heavenly babies?) Of course! And one day when I choose it’s the right time, I will! But for right now, I am choosing to love my littles and raise them to my best ability.
I hope my children never have to experience hate/bullying from other kids, but Shane and I both know we cannot protect them from everyone! We also know that it’s our responsibility to teach them to stick up for other children when they see bullying occur, and not sit back and do nothing at all. Or if they see that kid in class sitting by themselves, to move over and be friends with them. It’s so easy to do, but y’all please have conversations with your children. I was so glad that I could be open with my mom and tell her, and I am so thankful for her being there for me when I needed her the most.
I’m hoping to spread awareness and to spread love. The power of forgiveness is amazing, and I am SO thankful that God is working on me, and healing wounds from my childhood. I am also so thankful that I am able to share them with you all, in hopes to be able to reach one person that may have gone through something similar, to let them know that it’s ok to talk about, to let them know their feelings can exists, and that we can help be a voice for someone else who may still be struggling.
Never let anyone take your shine away!