Written by Sabine Demosthenes
MONTREAL – Once upon a time, there was a young, vibrant little girl named Sab. She was the typical happy girl, teased by her hero – her big brother, Don. She was born prematurely at 6 months, but since she grabbed her first breath, she was a warrior… She was a happy warrior.
Her first friend was her cousin, Sand. Sand was one year younger than Sab. The two of them were inseparable and constantly mimicked each other.
Around the age of three, Sab made new friends since her family moved to a new neighborhood. Mimi, Reg, Jackie, Ronnie, and Freddie, along with her cousin Sand and big brother Don were her crew. She felt so complete. When she left her crew to start kindergarten, she thought she would find the same kind of friends she had already made, but that wasn’t the case. It was the total opposite. This was the first time she encountered rejection and bullying. She didn’t say anything to her parents or to her brother about it because she didn’t want to dwell. She just couldn’t wait to play with her crew, lovingly called Pigeon’s Crew. For her, solace was in her crew.
Three years later, her world changed. Her family moved from one street to the next, but Sab lost her soulmate, Mimi. Even though they were just one street apart, the friendship would never be the same. They were not going to the same elementary school for grade one and faced this new chapter of their lives apart.
This vibrant little girl slowly started to lose her spark.
She was constantly bullied by the mean girl of the school she went to. This went on up until her sixth grade. The mean Nad was a total nightmare! For no particular reason, she just hated the sweet Sab. Sab was really sad about it and even afraid to go to school, but she kept it to herself.
When starting high school, she thought she would get a break, but she encountered a new version of the Mean Nad and this one wasn’t alone. Mean Mel was a total bitch (sorry for the language). With her crew, they vandalized Sab’s locker, they stole the precious pens that she cherished, they pulled at her long, thick hair in the bathroom thinking it was a wig. The leader of the crew was a mean boy, Mean Kenny E. Sab was totally unhappy and suicidal. She wanted badly to end her life, but she always thought about her hero at times like this, her big brother Donald and her parents. Wrestling was a refuge for Sab. Ever since she was a little girl, she wrestled her brother and wrestling was a religion in her home, for the whole family.
Her idol was Bret, The Hitman, Hart. In him, she saw someone courageous and very bright. He wasn’t the tallest one, but he was the smartest one! He was fearless. Sab held on to his character and his determination to get through each day, every day.
At the end of her second year in high school, oh I forgot to note – she went to a private school – she did the unthinkable…
She managed to register herself at the local high school, one that had the worst reputation. It was an act of survival for her and probably the best decision she made. The bullying she suffered at the previous schools was because she wasn’t like the other kids. She didn’t fit their definition of normal. She was curious about the world, about other cultures and she didn’t speak with the particular accent attributing to the Haitian community. So, she was bullied. When she finally started going to her new school, Calixa, she was finally able to breathe again. She rekindled her friendship with Mimi, who ended up at Calixa too. She met new friends and they were so sweet.
She even grew a strong friendship with Grace, a sweet Italian kid that was living in front of her when she moved at the age of 6.
Her confidence grew back, little by little, and her new crew was a remix of the old one with a few new faces.
She stayed the sweet girl, wanting to do good and be kind to everyone. She was broken for a while, but with the help of her friends and her family, she was able to rebuild again. In her adult life, she encountered challenges, but she is grateful to be alive.
This sweet Sab is me.
Writing this post was not easy, but I had to do it. This month is a special month. It is Bullying Prevention Month. I’m collaborating with the Children Mending Hearts (yeah!) to bring awareness to the issue of bullying. Since 2008, The Children Mending Hearts (CMH) Foundation has provided free art education programs to more than 25,000 children in the county of Los Angeles.
I always said to myself when I was younger that if I’m still alive when I grew up, I want to help children that suffer like me and to tell them, please stay as kind as you are and don’t change yourself. Better days are on the horizon.
The founder of The CMH, filmmaker Lysa Heslov (one of my heroes), had the vision to create a foundation that will inspire children to grow up to be compassionate and socially-conscious adults. For me, that is truly a beautiful mission. In the 80s and 90s, we didn’t talk about bullying at all in school. Some TV shows navigated the subject, but not like today. Lisa and the rest of the CMH team’s mission are to change the culture of bullying into one of empathy and action.
My 35-year-old heart is happy to learn about this beautiful mission.
During this month, let’s make something cool and artsy to send a message. By painting our nails blue (come on boys, it’s 2018, you can do it!) and post a picture on social media with the hashtag #bluenailsbullyfree and tag @childrenmendinghearts. I
went to get my nails done! For the whole month, I will be sporting fifty shades of blue nails. Hm, maybe not THAT many! In two weeks, I will post my nails in a new kind of blue to show my support for a cause really close to my heart.
So, let’s do it! Let’s encourage the next generation to continue being kind, being fearless, and to remember to be compassionate human beings. I sure will continue to do it. With Children Mending Hearts, I can’t wait to be part of their team and witness the legacy they will leave for the future generation.