WE often hear it said that children can be cruel.
One child’s innocent teasing is another child’s routine torture. It can be hard when you are young to realise the deep and lasting damage that you are inflicting by name-calling, but not as hard as it can be for the victim of this insidious abuse to recover from this casual classroom cruelty.
Chloe White is a 23-year-old from Castlederg who for 13 years lived with the invisible wounds of childhood bullying. From her final years of primary school until 2019, Chloe’s world was darkened as she lived in agony born from mistreatment by her peers.
But Chloe is not resentful toward the children who almost ruined her life, and she does not regret the painful path she has had to walk to get to the place where she now stands.
FINDING THE LIGHT
Chloe’s mission, now that she has found happiness, is to harness the power of social media to reach out to others, take them by the hand, and help them find a place where some light can break through.
Her story is powerful, inspirational, and shows us that, with the right help, people are capable of summoning strength and finding a capacity for self-love they never knew they had.
“The first memories I have are bright, innocent, happy childhood memories made when we lived in the South. We later moved to Castlederg, where I started a new school, and things grew darker very quickly,” said Chloe.
“It wasn’t long before my classmates stopped using my real name and started calling me Dumbo instead, on account of my prominent ears,” she recalled.
Sometimes it can be difficult for people witnessing and even participating in bullying to discern whether it is harmful bullying or harmless playground fun. But the nature of the name-calling in Chloe’s case was put beyond doubt when, as a tiny schoolgirl, at an age associated with being unselfconscious, she visited the hospital for cosmetic surgery to address what she thought was the superficial source of the bullying.
“I got my ears pinned back but I was still very badly bullied afterwards, which now when I reflect upon it, provides a certain clarity I didn’t have at the time,” said Chloe.
“When people’s words seem designed to hurt you, or you are on the receiving end of somebody’s anger, understand that there are reasons other than you for what they are saying,” she explained.
Chloe has come to the mature, if not slightly counter-intuitive view, that in some sense people are not responsible for the way they act or the things they say. She believes we are too generous in how we interpret the words of others. We afford too much credence to the bile that people spew and award them undue credit of being clear about their own motives.
Therefore, rather than taking people at their abusive word, and resenting them for it, Chloe thinks that we should understand that often times people don’t know why they are angry, hateful and hurtful.
Instead of seeing their caustic words as something to do with you, it would be closer to the reality of the situation to see them as a projection of what is inside them.
“Hurt people hurt others,” said Chloe, “and if that is a cliche at this stage it is because it is true. I am not saying hold this in your mind at all times, but trying to retain an awareness of it makes a massive difference.”
HARNESSING SOCIAL MEDIA FOR GOOD
Chloe’s experience brought her to the brink, but from that precipice she has returned with an invaluable set of insights and observations, skills and techniques, which she now shares with people on her Facebook and Instagram pages.
“For many years I suppressed everything so deeply and wore such a convincing mask that not even my own family thought there was anything wrong. What I do now is help people find the source of their pain, cultivate a baseline of unconditional self-love, and find out who they really are,” said Chloe.
Chloe will soon be distilling the lessons she has learned about mental health, self-worth, understanding the actions of yourself and others, talking and listening, and much more, into an online course.
She concluded, “I want to make a kind of blueprint of how I went from zero to thriving so that other people can do the same.”
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