On the night of April 14, 2016, a dear friend passed away due to complications from severe pneumonia. She had been under an inordinate amount of stress and her body couldn’t fight it off. She was someone who helped me deal with my own issues with workplace bullying, but in the end, it was that same kind of stress that took her life. Please, please, please understand that workplace bullying harms people. It harms health and it take lives. I’m saddened, shocked and angry that this happened to such a special lady.
Workplace bullying has affected me directly and it has also affected many people that I know and care about. There are still too many people that are unaware of this phenomenon and some who feel that it’s just something experienced by “weak people who don’t have a backbone.”
The friend that so many of us lost that night was far from weak. She was one of the strongest people I’ve ever known. Bullies don’t attack the weak. They attack the high performers, the competent workers who make the inept bullies feel threatened. Bullies are the weak ones.
Workplace bullying is very real. Statistics reveal that many workers have experienced bullying as either a target or as a witness. Workplace bullying affects most workplaces to some degree. And its effects are deadly. The stress it causes attacks vital organs in the body. It causes depression, anxiety and PTSD. People commit suicide because of the terrible pain caused by it. It exacerbates already existing health conditions.
If anyone wants to learn more, and I hope many do, please inbox me and I’ll direct you to several resources. Workplace bullying is not BS. At any time, a bully may direct their wrath at you or someone you care about.
God bless my friend and her family, especially her grandsons who she loved so much and who will miss her terribly.
In a few months, I intend to publish my first children’s book. It is called “I knew a girl named Buttercup Bloom.” It is a fact-based story about my struggles with bullying. “Buttercup Bloom” is a composite character of several people from my childhood and into my adult life. The first person that the character is based on is my first girlfriend, Marta, that I met at the age of seven. The most recent person she is based on is someone named Amy, a person who taught me a lot about friendship, probably without her even knowing it.
I hope with the release of this book, I can call attention to the stigma of bullying throughout the lifespan. It is something that goes on from the playground to the board room and from face-to-face interactions to cyberspace. I am a staunch anti-bullying advocate, as I hope “I knew a girl named Buttercup Bloom” will prove.
And now, the excerpt. Be kind, it is still a rough draft!
I knew a girl named Buttercup Bloom. I met her Once Upon a Time when we were young and I last saw her after we had grown up. When I met her, summer’s green leaves were changing to the reds, yellows and oranges of fall. She had bright eyes and a smile filled with pretty white teeth. She wore cute yellow dresses that were the color of buttercups, just like her name.
I let Buttercup Bloom into my life during a very sad time. I met her after my mother had died from a very bad illness. At first, it seemed that Buttercup Bloom didn’t like me. I may have annoyed her at times. But in no time, Buttercup Bloom filled the empty space that my mother’s death left in my life. She could never take Mama’s place, but she didn’t need to either. Talking to Buttercup was very easy and she became almost as good of a friend as my mother had been.
My name is Wes Wormer. I was not well-liked at school. Kids would pick on me because I looked funny to them, especially mean girls and one particular big boy. I didn’t have good eyesight, so I wore thick glasses. I had big ears that stuck out from my head like handles on coffee cups. They thought my last name was funny, and instead of calling me by my right name, they called me “Wes Wormy.” I was smaller than other kids, so the big boys liked to hit me and throw me to the ground. I had horrible ear infections when I was young, which left me partially deaf in my left ear. This affected my speech, so I talked kind of funny as a kid. The other kids picked on me because of it. Later, in high school, I was often shoved against or into one of the lockers near the cafeteria. Yeah, lunchtime was usually quite eventful.
Mama stood by my side and tried to make me feel better. She couldn’t be with me at school, but she was there for me at home. Many times she saw me cry and she tried to say the right things to make me feel better. In some ways, she over protected me. I couldn’t try out for Little League and I couldn’t join Boy Scouts. I think Mama was afraid I’d get hurt.
Buttercup Bloom was different than other kids. She didn’t make fun of me. After she got used to me, she spoke to me like I was any other kid. I never had to think about how I looked or about my funny name or my poor health – none of that seemed to matter to Buttercup Bloom. Buttercup even liked my glasses. She would take them off of my face and put them on herself, saying they made her look “sophisticated!”
It has been a while since I added any new content here! I hope to remedy that. Over the past year and a half, my wife and I have been busy being foster parents to two mischievous boys, ages seven and nine. Well, they have now been back with their biological family for a month and the “empty nest” is starting to become more and more real to me.
Now that I am not playing “Mr. Mom” anymore – at least until a new placement comes into our home – I will have more time for one of my other great loves – writing. Not that I have been completely dormant as a writer. I have a few projects that I am working on, namely a children’s book and a sort of memoir, both revolving around the topic of bullying. I also continue my assignments at Examiner.com as the Rockford (IL) Workplace Issues Examiner. You can find my work for Examiner here.
As I progress on the books I am writing, I will give updates here. I also plan to post some excerpts as they become available. I am targeting the middle of 2014 for publication of both books. They will be available on Smashwords and Amazon. Until then, keep reading whatever you can get your hands on, even if it’s just for a few minutes per day. Keep your brain sharp and your heart open!