People incessantly say, “Actions speak louder than words.” People want proof, you say you love me – okay then, prove it. Once you prove it, then I’ll believe you.
Oh, you love me do you? Okay, I’ll believe you until you prove otherwise.
Is it an issue of trust, or are we sick of hearing empty promises and receiving sweet messages on a birthday card that end up carrying no merit?
Do you ever say something because it sounds good, because that is what you think you’re supposed to say? When you say you will do something, do you do it? And most importantly, do you know the consequences of your words?
This is Peter’s story.
He cried in the shower, he would take showers so he could cry. His sisters pestered him, “you’re such a girl; you take the longest showers. We’re supposed to take the hour showers.”
“It’s my time to relax, the steam loosens up my sinuses,” was always the excuse.
If his eyes were red, the shampoo had got into them. If his face was flushed, the water was extra hot.
Sometimes he’d pretend the gush of water was Niagara Falls that he was on the Maid of the Mist. Other times, he was standing above Upper Yosemite Falls looking down at the ants of people below him.
Most days, it was just a shower to wash it all away.
It was the only place where he found solace, where his classmates couldn’t steal his lunch money, where he wasn’t ridiculed for the silver circle of hair behind his right ear, and where he couldn’t hear his sisters asking his parents, “Why is Peter so weird, he has zero friends.”
For four years he was mocked, badgered and called names that I do not wish to repeat. Classmates invited him to fake house parties and girls asked him to homecoming only to make a scene that they would “most definitely not ever go” with him to a school dance.
“Some days I wished the guys would just punch me square in the face, just knock me out, put me in the hospital so I didn’t have to hear the newest ‘jokes’ they’d created about me.”
It wasn’t until Peter met Julia at age nineteen that he found his place in the world. During the summer between his freshman and sophomore years of college, Julia and Peter worked together at the lake renting out water toys, kayaks and paddle boards.
At dusk every night they would close up the shop and chitchat – small talk, whose football team would rank higher in preseason polls, their study abroad plans and future career aspirations.
One evening in the middle of June Peter caught Julia behind the kayak storage shed with her face in her hands and her knees to her chest.
“Her story isn’t mine to tell. But after that night, I was no longer going to let my perpetrators control my destiny, my happiness,” Peter expressed.
“Can you tell me why or how this just, hit you?” I wanted to better understand.
Peter told me to look out the window. “You see those clouds? There are some that are moving and others that seem to stay and linger? If the clouds linger, they can build, blocking out more sunlight. I had let my bullies affect almost every good thing in my life – even after, beyond high school graduation. And I didn’t realize I had, until Julia so vividly described her pain.”Peter chose to rise above his adversaries, finding the resilience to channel his pain into Educational Psychology. Today, Peter is a school counselor, having received his Bachelors and Masters degrees on his way to earning a Doctorate.
He shared his favorite quote with me, “The tongue sharp like a knife, kills without drawing blood.”
“After years of hearing ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,’ I finally came across a saying that was brutally honest.” That quote is engraved on a piece of cherry wood and stands erect on his desk today to remind his students to think before they speak.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “statistics from the 2012 Indicators of School Crime and Safety show that an adult was notified in less than half (40%) of bullying incidents.” To learn more about bullying and the warning signs, please visit stopbullying.gov.
 Many hypothesize that these are the wise words of Buddha; however, it has not been documented.