Monday, 10 February 2014

Pink Shirt Day is Coming...My experience

It's Monday and here in BC it's a new holiday called Family Day.  Or its kind of a holiday.  Depends on who you are talking to.  The provincial government didn't really think this one through.  For me it means I get to catch up on paperwork and focus on getting shit done without the normal everyday weekday interruptions.

Every day I step out of my comfort zone.  I have learned over the past few years not to think of it like that.  But it's true.  I spend so much of my day doing things that even a few years ago would have made me sick to my stomach for days prior.

I can remember being that terrified girl trying to walk into a gym, any gym.  Now I teach several different classes where people look to me to show them what to do.  I can remember when I took my motorcycle driver's license exam being so nervous because the examiner was going to critique my riding.  It was something physical that someone was going to judge.  SCARY.

For most people that's not a big deal.  For me it's HUGE!  In my business and in my life I acknowledge that I am "different".  I do believe it's a good thing.  I don't look totally like the TV version of a Personal Trainer.  I don't seek the "typical" personal training client.  That's ok - not everybody wants that.  Being "different" however has its drawbacks.

When I was a little girl I was different.  Not only was I adopted I was FAT.  That statement sums a lot up for me.  I was teased relentlessly.  Now at 51 years old I can recognize what happened as actual bullying.  Back in the day however it wasn't recognized the way it is today.  It wasn't only the kids in school although some were awful.  It existed within my own family.  It was inescapable.  Being called whale, whaler-taylor lasted all through high school.  Snide comments by kids about my weight or my abilities were daily occurrences.  From my family sometimes it was worse.  I won't name names...but as a child being called Mama Cass over and over to walking into a room meeting family for the first time hearing "look at the size of her" to even as a fully grown adult having my elder family members feel it appropriate to comment directly to me about my weight - not in a helpful way.      I learned really quickly to make fun of myself.  I wasn't going to wait for someone to hurt me.  I was going to make fun of myself before you could.  Classic get them before they get me.

In a previous workplace I experienced the teasing as well.  One time at a convention in Toronto a group of "cool" coworkers called my room at 4am to tell me that my reservation to return home had been changed.  I could have missed my flight had I listened.   I will say that the ringleader of this group called me about 10 years after this happened to apologize - it had bothered her all those years.

Consequently I don't like being teased.  I don't handle it well - even in the most benign forms.  I don't like balloons even.  I don't like surprises - they actually terrify me.  I spent weeks convincing my husband that he should NOT throw me a surprise party when I turned 50.  I pleaded with him.  I'm truly lucky he understands this part of me and supports me.

One of the offshoots or byproducts of my past is that I have a terrible time asking for help of any kind.  I will try everything I can think of to solve a problem or make something happen before I will look for assistance.  It drives my husband nuts.  Asking for help in the past at times has resulted in more bullying and teasing so I would rather not.  Most recently asking for help resulted in my being mocked in a very public forum.  I'm not sure the person that mocked me even understood that was what she was doing and the impact it had on my personally and professionally.

So, why am I telling you this?  A couple of reasons.  By sharing my experiences perhaps someone might think twice about the way they interact with someone else.  We might not realize that the words we are using hurt so much.  Even though one person might be laughing on the outside.  On the inside it's a different story.

The other reason is that Pink Shirt Day is coming up toward the end of February.  You can bet that I will be wearing pink to support people that are experiencing bullying in their lives.  We need to make it stop.

Let's take a stand.  May your words be used to heal, uplift and support.


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