This blog has been a vehicle for me to share how the demeaning voices of bullying affected my life and my hope that finally we can end it one emotionally intelligent person at a time. My story tells of how I have answered all my bullies!
I have had an interesting life. It began living on the boardwalk in Atlantic City until I was 12. I was an outsider to my home school as I had to travel in a Jitney Bus from the age of 5 to kindergarten through sixth grade. The boardwalk was not a neighborhood and so I had no friends with whom to play just by stepping out my door. Outsiders are bullied and thus began my years of fearing school and not feeling emotionally safe.
Being an outsider was not my only problem, I was chunky, tall for my age and had the buckest teeth you ever did see. It was like wearing a bullseye and the arrows just kept on coming. Home was not the safe haven I needed for I was the oldest and my parents had their own issues. I did have one safe haven, my grandmother, Anna. She died when I was fifteen. I did have some friends who had similar situations but our times together had to be arranged especially when I was younger. We moved to Margate when I entered the seventh grade. The bullying continued but my friends became the buffer.The move to Margate was good and life had normalcy for me and my sibblings.
High School presented new challenges. I was overweight and wore braces. We had fraternities and sororities and it was considered necessary to join if one intended to be accepted. I did not join for I did not approve of the initiations(pledging) that were mean and had indentured activities ongoing. This was the first decision I made where I stood on my own. At sixteen, I made the decision to lose weight and the braces came off my teeth. However, for all four years in high school, I had the same homeroom with a boy that bullied me continuously and encouraged others to do the same. School was never emotionally safe for me though I compensated in many ways mostly due to my humor and childlike ability to play with it all. These two personality traits have carried me through the worst of times.
These years of emotional abuse and lack of support for my vulnerability had a lasting effect on me. My decisions as an adult have reflected my feelings of not feeling good enough and the lack of confidence to emotionally take care of myself. This finally happened at the age of 60 when I became emotionally intelligent. Abandonment issues and the anxiety that accompanied it rendered me powerless at times to stand with myself and to make emotionally healthy decisions. I have been most fortunate to have very loving counselors who led me to the processes that has freed me and given me the opportunity to live a full and happy life.
Thirty years ago when my life was falling apart, 2nd failed marriage, a son with significant neurological disabilities and little family support, I began this journey of self=actualization. My journey included many processes, books, therapies and research. CJ ( my Creator of Joy) became a part of this journey. CJ and the CJ program would help teach children how to emotionally take care of themselves and give them the feelings of worth even though their surroundings told them differently. These were the messages and words I so sorely needed to hear as a child. Though this was also a product of growing up in the 50s and 60s, I only heard voices telling me what was wrong with me. And yes, “We Are The Voices We Hear.” My sense of self became skewed as a result of the input from my emotional environments.
I encountered many challenges through the years including not being able to bring CJ to children. There have been very successful pilot programs in preschools and my speaking endlessly of the need for social and emotional development throughout a child’s school years. Despite several attempts to bring CJ to fruition, financial issues that resulted and the personal problems I have encountered and survived, CJ has remained alive and well in my heart and soul.
The CJ program is now called, “The Voices of CJ”. This program includes a guide for teachers, parents and children with activities that help develop the voices and behaviors needed for the emotional brain to reach development milestones in critical thinking, problem solving, and creative processing. Research, technology and becoming a global community is now propelling the concept of Emotional Intelligence into the forefront. I was somewhat ahead of my times. The time is now.
All of us at SoftStone hope to reach people far and wide with the message that, We Are the Voices We Hear! So let’s be sure they are kind ones! This surely will help bullying disappear and be replaced with children being appropriately relational and intelligent in their homes, schools and communities. Let CJ and his family of characters enrich the lives of our newest generation with the voices that create feelings of love and joy.