How Being Cyber Bullied After Going Viral Will Make Me A Better Parent

Sarah Martin Photography018What a week it has been!  I am beyond blessed and humbled after my What Having Four Kids (Including Twins) Has Done To My Body And My Confidence post has gone viral.  I have enjoyed every comment, email and message from mothers telling me they have “parallel stories”, “been inspired by my story” and “needed that honesty”.  I truly feel a bond to mothers across the world and know that me sharing my story is helping others who have been struggling with body image.  I partially wrote this piece for my three daughters.  I hope that one day they can read this and be inspired as well.

When I sat down one evening to write this piece it just flowed out of me within an hour.  I had been thinking about my own body image quite a bit throughout the previous week and decided last minute while going through my photos for another post to put it out there.  I never in a million years thought it would be shared thousands of times, read millions of times and be interpreted in countless articles across the world.  I thought I was writing an honest, from the heart piece that would be read by my few hundred wonderful followers.  I sat down at my desk after my kids were in bed while enjoying a glass of wine, chomping on Mentos and listening to Yo-yo Ma thinking “wow, I haven’t enjoyed writing a piece like this for a while, I must do this type of personal piece more often”.

Along with the incredible stories and thank-yous has come criticism and some pretty hateful words.  I learned quickly to stop reading comments on other sites when the bullies felt the most anonymous and address one that got to me a bit.Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 1Of course there will be people who disagree and want to challenge what I have to say.  That is not only expected but is good to create conversation.  But, I have learned that there are adult bullies out there and am learning how to take a breath, let it go and move on.

I grew up without social media.  Being born in 1983 I had a Walkman and then a Discman and finally at the end of high school ICQ became popular.  Remember the exciting “uh oh” noise alerting you to a message?  I can even credit ICQ for solidifying Mike and my relationship as official boyfriend and girlfriend.  But I never experienced cyber bullying.

We have a strict zero bullying tolerance in our home.  Our son Holden has been praised by many teachers as a sweet soul who has been known on more than one occasion to make deals to get a toy to another child who wanted to play with it.  He has also been the victim of bullying. I was able to help him in that situation by giving advice and relating as I too experienced bullying as a child and as much as it pains me to say so, was the bully from time to time.

In today’s society, so much, if not most of our social life takes place on social media and that has scared me for when my children reach the age where they use social media.  I had never experienced what going to school with social media being available was like.  The anonymity.  The cliques.  The judgement.Sarah Martin Photography025

Although I don’t have any pearls of wisdom or tricks on how to deal with cyber bullying, I can honestly look at my children and tell them that I have experienced it.  I have had to process hateful anonymous words and be able to let them go.  It’s okay to feel it, address it and defend yourself when necessary and find a way to move on.

I will continue to pour my heart out on my blog and from time to time (like now) use it as therapy or my own personal diary.  Even to just help sort out the thoughts and feelings in my head, get them out of me and move on.  It is so worth it when I stay up (too late lately) at night reading all of your amazing stories and comments and feeling such a connection with all of you!

Photography by Sarah Martin Photography