My battle to keep my daughter safe from bullies almost cost me, my own life.
WARNING THE FOLLOWING BLOG HAS A TRIGGER WARNING!
If you or someone close to you is struggling with their mental health, please call lifeline on 13 11 14. If you or someone you know is immediate danger call 000.
Being a parent isn’t an easy task… by any means of the word. It is emotionally, physically and mentally draining at the best of times. But for the most part, we wouldn’t change it. It is, simply put, THE hardest thing you’ll ever do, but the most rewarding too. What an oxymoron!
But when you put into the equation bullying for your child too… it can royally stuff with your mental health!
I had the most beautiful, happy and outgoing child. She was a joy and loved life. We would have ‘giggle fits’ where we’d be in hysterics together, laughing, then laughing at our laughing! We’d both come out of it exhausted with tears rolling down our faces. The light that radiated from my girl was unmistakable. She was pure and blissful. There was a sparkle in her eyes which warmed my heart!
Fast forward to High School. Everything started off ok… for a few months, and then it hit. Teenagers started throwing around words they couldn’t possibly understand, drama, boys and nastiness. Right in front of my eyes, I saw my beautiful shining light slowly start to dim. She lost what made her unique and beautiful and she started changing into something I didn’t recognise. As I watched her, my heart started to break. I couldn’t quite believe what was happening, and I felt so powerless to change it.
Through all my efforts, talking to the school, talking to my girl, trying to explain to her that bullying comes from their insecurities, and aren’t a reflection on her, I felt helpless, lost and utterly defeated.
Sitting back, knowing that my girl was hurting and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, my world felt destroyed. As a parent, we’re taught to always take care of our children… to put them first. And here I was, sitting there not knowing what to do, where to turn or how I could change the situation. I was frustrated…with the system, with myself. With the parents of these children who were being so horrible to my girl.
Now, I now my girl isn’t perfect… she has at times said or done the wrong thing… but she has a pure heart and soul that would never intentionally hurt someone else. So, to see this empathetic, sensitive and loving child, be threatened, belittled, hurt… sent me in a direction I never wanted to go.
While battling depression and anxiety from my own past of DV, not being able to help my daughter when she needed me most was the hardest thing I have ever been through. And started to send me on a downward spiral.
Somehow, we managed to get through grade 7. Surely this was the end of it. Just teenagers finding their feet in the big school… testing their boundaries. But, unfortunately, we were wrong. It was just the beginning.
Year 8 rolled around, and everything started off well. My girl had great marks, seemed to be enjoying high school. For the first term or two. Then, again, it all started. The drama changed from week to week from kid to kid. Everyone seemed to be in the line of fire. Every week seemed to be a different person on the ‘out’ but it seemed to be the same culprits over and over again. It got to a point where my daughter was physically fearing for her safety, and after jumping through multiple hoops to try and get her into the next closest public high school and STILL being rejected because we weren’t in the ‘zone’, after breaking down into tears in the office of this other school because my daughter was scared and I didn’t know what else I could do, after calling the Education department and them not being able to do anything because this schools rules were totally within reason…I decided to pull her out of school for the last term of grade 8. While I knew this wasn’t a great option, it was better than her feeling afraid constantly.
Being a single mum, I couldn’t afford to just up and move. I only worked part time which managed to just cover my bills… sometimes. And it seemed that this was the only way I was going to change schools for my girl to anywhere remotely better than our current school. The school itself was useless. The teachers just didn’t care. The principle’s saw it every day and never followed up. They made a fuss about bullying but never followed through. We were at a standstill. So, while I worked, my beautiful 12-year-old stayed at home. I tried everything I could think of to get her into a better school, and came out of it feeling like the worst parent on the planet. I couldn’t even provide for my girl, the most basic of needs… education. I was broken. I cried all the time. I felt useless. It started driving a wedge between my girl and I, my feeling like I was failing, and her desperately clutching at straws to make every effort to go to another school… to the point she even told me to sign away my parental rights to a friend who lived in the zone! We were fighting constantly, and underneath all I wanted to do was make things better for my girl. The spiral down continued for me when my girl told me, at 12 years old, that she didn’t want to live with me anymore. That she just wanted to live with her best friend in the right school zone. Every struggle Id faced as a single mum, every battle I had won to get us to where we were, crashed down around me. I had failed. My biggest fear in the world seemed to be in front of my face… my daughter hated me and didn’t want to be with me.
This lasted a few weeks, which was agony for me. I drank too much and cried all the time. I just wanted my girl home with me. I felt judged for not forcing her home. I felt useless for not being able to give her what I so desperately wanted too. I felt like a failure for not having the money to move. I felt lost because my everything didn’t love me anymore. My depression kept just going further and further, until I stood up one day and said enough is enough and went and picked my girl up. The weeks that followed were horrible. She seemingly hated me. I so desperately wanted her to love me again. We talked… well, more like I talked. She shut down even more. Her anxiety started getting worse… my anxiety started getting worse. Until we hit Christmas / New Year and she went to a friend for the night… I drank too much and almost took my own life. Had it not been for the ‘goodbye’ message I sent to my girl that night (which to this day I have not been able to bring myself to go back and read) I quite possibly wouldn’t be here today to tell this story. BUT I am so grateful for hitting that darkness… because it was the thing that brought my daughter and I back together. She came home, just as I was about to attempt to take my own life. And thank god she did… because now, as I look back with a clearer mind, I can see just how horrible it would has been for her to find me the next day. How much pain and trauma I would have caused? But at the time… it felt like the only option.
After that, I reconnected with my Psychologist (that I had been seeing since I left DV) and started working on myself again. We spent some time together, my girl and I… mending our relationship. We re-built ourselves back to a place of love and strength.
The next year of school arrived and she decided she wanted to try that school again. So… we tried. That was last year. And by far, the worst year of all. With multiple physical threats and almost follow throughs, with so many calls from school saying that my girl was at the office scared for her safety. With multiple attempts to talk to the principles, the deputies and the teachers, only to find them completely unhelpful and uncaring… we made the decision that for grade 10… we’d home-school. Although I had looked into this in previous years, I hadn’t found one that I could afford. No-one had told me any other way until a dear friend told me that if there is bullying involved, a certain home-school program was free! Which was music to my ears.
So, as we enter 2020, we are excited again for the first time in a while. I have made leaps and bounds with my own mental health, which in turn has helped my girl to start shining again. I have created a business which is all about empowering women (and teens when I can get there!) and have invested in myself to complete speaking and coaching courses so I can share my story and use it to help others. My businesses Empower me Happy is a blessing… and in itself is helping to reconnect my girl and I, through the planning and implementing of events and soon to be retreats! My girl is different now… but she still has that sparkle. The one that makes my heart sing. We are looking forward to this new start. And even though it will be hard for us, with me working, running 3 businesses and her home-schooling, the program we have found does it all. They log into a portal with real teachers who teach them from afar (thankfully cos I don’t even think I’d pass grade 5 these days! Lol)
We have just started, and although a few starts of year hiccups, this seems like it just might work! We are scheduling ‘mummy / daughter’ time in and making sure we do even the simplest of things. We are connecting, and my mental health is so much better. I still have ‘sad’ days… but all in all, my days are great. I use the most amazing essential oils to get through all my ups and downs. I am so grateful that I have a company that I can rely on for pretty much everything in my life! I now sleep a full night… I have oils for my anxiety and I am starting to explore and travel for myself again. Something I hadn’t been able to do for many years!
So here’s to a new year, a new start and a whole new world!
And here’s to the battlers, who despite everything seeming to be against them… they fight on. You are this world true champions.
Claire Oliver | ©Claireoliver2020 | ©thegreyspaceprganisationlimited2020