BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - When my daughter asks me what my job is, I tell her, "Mommy tells stories."
It's what I've dedicated my life to for the last twenty years.
I'm the interviewer--never the subject.
Until one morning in late March when I stumbled across a post on Facebook.
There was a picture of me with my hair blowing in the wind.
The caption read, "She need to be fired. This [expletive] head been [expletive] up for years."
The post alone stopped me cold.
Reading the 200 plus comments that followed, that brought me to tears as I described to psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow.
"I can't say I was angry. I wasn't mad. I was just like, 'Why? What, what gives you the right to do this? Why do this? What is the benefit to you?," I explained.
The posts called me a monkey, Chewbacca, and worse...from people I don't know.
Some of them were folks I attend church with.
My daughter--they dragged her into it as well.
A few days later--a second post popped up.
This time, WBRC was tagged in it, so now my co-workers and my supervisors could see the whole thing.
"I think what got me was the piling on effect and I think that's one of the problems of social media, is that people can be, what I would phrase, cowards behind the keyboard. They feel they can say whatever they want to say and it's okay to do that and it has no impact," I told Dr. Josh. "So I just kind of dealt with it on my own for several days. I didn't tell anybody. I didn't talk about it because it's embarrassing."
But then, my stylist Lisa Carter reached out.
The commenters had tagged her in the post, too.
"I was like, 'Oh my God...how can someone actually do this to another person?' You're not even realizing the words you've put down there. What are you saying? You don't know the person," Lisa said.
"How did you know this had sort of affected her," Klapow asks.
"She was hurt, she was sad, she was a bit more quiet. She wasn't her same jolly, jumpy self like she is," Carter explained.
Of course, the news didn't stop because of the bullies.
But for about a week, I would hear them in my head every day when getting ready for a live shot.
Or I'd hear them at church, in the mall, when I was with my daughter and honestly, I became afraid.
"Are people going to comment? Are they going to continue to say stuff?" I described to Dr. Josh. "You just think about, is there going to be more?"
But anyone who knows me knows my faith is foremost.
It just took a little prayer to be reminded of how much I love me--that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, regardless of what people say.
I had been wanting to change my hair for several months...even before the comments.
So I decided now was as good a time as any to do it. So I did.
But it was strange: In the midst of it all...I got an epiphany.
Not about me, but about our children, my own child...and what they can be confronted with every day.
And the ah-ha moment was this: This is what kids are going through who are being bullied on Facebook, Snapchat--cyberbullying.
Imagine our children who are still trying to figure out who they are, still trying to gain that confidence, yet they are faced with this same sort of bullying day in and day out.
The life-changing consequences of bullying -- and what we can do to help -- is the focus of a story I'm working on for Part 2. You can see that story here. Birmingham mayor Randall Woodfin opened up about bullying for Part 3 of the series, which can be viewed here.