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Your voice is strong, now right the wrong. November 7, 2013

Posted by jeneypeney in i'm just sayin', life, love harder, sports.
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A few months ago, I sat among a couple thousand people in a loud, dark arena taking in what was one of the best rock shows I had been to in a while. The music was phenomenal. The stage set was amazing. I was having the time of my life.

And I was crying.

We don’t have to take this, back against the wall.
We don’t have to take this. We can end it all.

“But Jeney – why on earth would you cry at a ROCK concert? Isn’t that an atmosphere full of screaming like a maniac, head-banging, and all-around shenanigans? Why on earth would this bring you to tears?”

I won’t lie. I was kind of embarrassed about crying at the show. I buried my head in The Actual’s chest and hid my face from my neighboring fans. But I couldn’t help it.

Because the band played one song for their encore. This song. And as the band was playing their final song, this video was projected on the screen behind the drum set. It was simply too much for me to handle.

It was too much.

All you’ll ever be is a fading memory of a bully.
Make another joke while they hang another rope. So lonely.

You see – these lyrics hit so close to home. They were sung by my youngest brother when he would come home bawling his eyes out because the kids at school were teasing him for not being able to read as well as they could.

They were sung by my other brother when he was shot in the face by a BB gun on the school bus because he wasn’t as social as the other kids.

They were sung by me when I was teased in front of everyone at a birthday party for having no idea what “being fingered” or “getting eaten out” meant.

They were sung by Amanda Todd, Rehtaeh Parsons, Jessica Laney, and countless others. Every time I hear a new story of someone being bullied, my heart rips itself apart.

Push them to the dirt till the words don’t hurt.
Can you hear me?

You’ve heard it before…  “Kids are cruel.”    “Boys will be boys.”

These are not excuses for us to continue to allow kids to be tormented to a point where they take their own lives; to be tormented at all.

“Football is a man’s sport! Get tough!”

And this. This is not an excuse for us – as adults – to perpetuate the problem.

No one’s gonna cry on the very day you die.
You’re a bully.

It would be redundant to sum up the current bullying scandal happening in the NFL because it is all over the internet. Pull your head out from the rock you live under and Google it. But I will say this:

I understand the locker room code everyone keeps preaching about. When I was at Notre Dame, the adventures of the locker room was something us women were never made privy to – none of it was allowed to leave the space and we weren’t allowed in.

Right now, there is a sign on the NDSU locker room that says, “What you see here, what you do here, what you hear here. Let it stay here when you leave here.”

I get it.

The locker room is a sacred space. It is a space for teams to bond, celebrate, and grieve away from the public eye and in their own way as a cohesive group. It is a space where the team can be exactly and only that – the team.

So when the team’s space violates a teammate’s ability to be a part of that cohesive group… when someone feels tormented in the team space by a member of their team… what does that say about “the team” and “the locker room”?

Regardless of the code, dehumanizing someone because they sought help for emotional distress doesn’t make them weak; it makes you foolish.

Proclaiming on national television that someone has ruined their career because they called someone out on bullying them does only one thing; perpetuates a culture of victim blaming.

All it takes is one child to hear about the football player who lost everything because he spoke up about being bullied. All it takes is for that one child to be hurt and ostracized by their own peers. All it takes is that child to suffer in silence because they fear the repercussions of speaking up.

All it takes? Is that child’s life.

Bullying is bullying. Regardless of age.

We don’t have to take this back against the wall.

We don’t have to take this. We can end it all.

You really want to man up? Take a stand against bullying.

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Me Loving Harder, Part One February 26, 2010

Posted by jeneypeney in a little help from my friends, love harder, sentimental stuff.
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When I was a freshmen in college, all of us little lasses were forced into these awkward orientation groups in which we attended to a bunch of pointless lectures to teach us all about what the administrators thought being in college was all about. It was in this group that I met a spunky, outspoken girl who introduced herself as Biz.

Biz is definitely a unique spirit. The fact that “Biz” was her short for “Elizabeth” rather than “Beth” or “Lizzy” was proof enough. The fact that she wasn’t afraid to let her decidedly liberal views be heard in a massive sea of conservative classmates only solidified it. She quickly became my hero.

She has an incredibly infectious smile that honestly spreads to her eyes and lights up her whole face – and everyone’s around her. She is the kind of girl that will drop everything to bring you Italian chocolates and boxed wine to cheer you up.

She has a wonderful sense of humor that she applies to everything she does (every single one of her Facebook photo album titles is a Super Trooper quote). She is an amazing artist and to this day I still have several of the pottery pieces she gave me around my apartment.

She is the most outgoing, bull-headed, and strongest women I have ever met. She never failed to be the life of a party and always had a story by the end of the night. She is an absolutely beautiful person; almost painfully so on the outside, too.

She is that kind of girl that you really, REALLY want to be friends with but you’re afraid she’s just too cool for you.

I am honored and blessed to say Biz is my friend. One of my best friends, actually.

You see, she was my person. I could go to her for anything… and sa-weet Jesus do I mean anything. She was the one and only person I could go to for everything from “What the hell kind of shoes goes with this top?” to “My Grandma was just diagnosed with cancer…” to “You will not BELIEVE who I went home with last night!”

She always listened and she never judged me.

Back in June, right before I moved to Fargo, Biz was driving through a wicked thunderstorm to work a basketball camp at Notre Dame. She hydroplaned, ran into a semi, and landed in a ditch. She survived the crash with no broken bones or any massive blood loss; but she suffered severe brain damage from the accident.

Her BPI was so high at one point we thought we were going to lose her. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I couldn’t lose my person. I never got to tell her how much she mattered to me; how much I loved and valued our friendship.

By the grace of whatever God there is, Biz did survive. She is still learning to walk and talk again, and she struggles with her short term memory. Biz and her family lost her father this past Christmas to a long-fought battle with brain cancer, and she still asks, “Where’s dad?” several times a day.

Despite all of this, she is fighting harder and stronger than I could have ever imagined. Through this tragedy she has not only showed all of us how to live – but how to survive.

Biz is one of my inspirations to love harder.

What’s yours?