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Well, I’ll share my story about bullying. And it’s up to you, if you want to do the same, in the comments below, or contact me, privately.
I haven’t blogged for awhile. While I’ve had topics that I’ve wanted to write about, I haven’t felt the best and I’ve had a lot of head clutter. And I already go in to my blogs, with cognitive disabilities that make it harder for me to edit when I’m in this mode.
Then in my newsfeed on Facebook last night, the following link below, appeared. And somehow I looked at the blog that I’ve been wanting to write more in depth about bullying, needed to be written by me. NOW. For me and for millions of innocent others. But if it helps one person, I’m grateful. Note, this blog isn’t gender specific about bullying, like the link, below. As both males and females get bullied and emotionally abused. By strangers, people they know and people who are supposed to be loving them without harm.
I remember the first mean thing said to me. I was 5 years old and I was in pre-school at a local synagogue. I was rushing up a large staircase and fell. Which was not easy for me to do and this older kid, who observed that, told me I deserved that because I was a clumsy, ugly and fat elephant.
My kindergarten pictures have a scar, where I was hit in the face the first week in school by a bully, who thought I apparently was too fat but not ugly enough, on the bus, on the way home from school.
I’m NOT exaggerating when I say that I got teased EVERY SINGLE DAY, from kindergarten til my senior year in high school. My being able to breathe, apparently pissed off many people, in multiple cliques.
I was an introverted, polite and kind kid, for the most part, but I kept to myself, mostly. For good reason. I had a few friends, but not very many. I didn’t expect them to defend me.
I loved to read. I had taught myself to read by the time I was 2 1/2. By the time I was in the 4th grade, I had a college level vocabulary. But I had both a voracious appetite for food (I inherently used food as a coping mechanism from the time I was a toddler, which SO conflicted with the diets I’d been on since the 3rd grade) and for books. I’d read and memorize encyclopedias, dictionaries and phone books. I didn’t have a photogenic memory, though.
The bullying ONLY got worse, as I got older. Two not so fun, but kind of ironic facts about me. If my being the heaviest person, EVER, to have a straight gastric bypass takedown, isn’t ENOUGH irony, for you. Here’s some more…
According to state standardized testing in the 9th grade, I qualified for my school’s Gifted and Talented program. I also managed several months later, to FAIL the 9th grade. Which is quite a feat. Because I had years and years, of just trying to emotionally survive going to school, I guess my mindset at the time, was that homework, was optional. So the junior high I was attending, was making me REPEAT the 9th grade. Because one of my younger sisters, was going to be in the 9th grade, that same year, my parents thought it was only fair, that I go to another junior high, in the same school district.
The principal of my new school was justifiably outraged, at the lack of support I had received for the last 3 years, at my other school. He told me on my 1st day of school, that if I passed the semester with a “C” or better in all my classes, he would advance me to high school. However I had a new set of bullies to deal with in my new school. I got mostly Cs, one D and failed one class. He saw the bullying I was up against, and still advanced me, thinking he was doing me a favor, to my high school.
It was NO better there. It was much worse. Just older and smarter bullies. And many MORE of them. I however found, that years of not studying, as smart as I was, I wasn’t the smartest person in the room, any longer, so I couldn’t even take satisfaction in that. Not that I had anybody, but myself, to share that with.
In the middle of my senior year, I got teased by one of many bullies, in a science class. And I FINALLY broke. I started hysterically crying and couldn’t stop for THREE days, straight. While the principal of my school, excused my absence, both he and my parents decided that maybe I should try the other high school, in our school district.
It was NO better, there. It was worse, because yet again, I was thrown in a new school, didn’t have good social skills and was more bullied than EVER. I dropped out of high school in the middle of my senior year, and ended up getting my G.E.D, in May of 1988, a month before I would’ve graduated high school. By then I was working full time. And thank goodness, I had good interview skills before the digital era, because I probably set a precedent, in lying on a resume or interview, to cover the fact that I didn’t graduate from my high school, to get decent jobs, which I always had, while I was able to work. I’m not a pathological liar though.
I still started community college the following year, at night and it was easier. While working full time, during the day. Karma (which I’m not sure I believe in, not for my sake but because of things like kids get and die from cancer, among many other things) was on my side and I for some STUPID reason, decided to take a Speech class, as an elective. Given my lifelong fear of speaking in public. By then, I had somewhat of a justifiable fear of just speaking (in my private life, as it was necessary for work reasons, obviously). One of the kids who was especially horrible in bullying me, the semester I did my repeat of the 9th grade, at the other junior high, was in my Speech class. For someone who had a horrible fear of public speaking, I managed to get an A in every speech, including my class. And most of my speeches were about weight bias and how horribly being teased, effected me. The guy did end up apologizing for what he did.
I ended up going on the internet, specifically AOL, in 11/1996. I by then was a responsible single mother of 1. I was surprised how badly I would get bullied for being “fat and ugly”, being in my mid 20’s. In chat rooms and by random strangers who’d get a hold of my profile.
This is NOT the blog where I go into about what life was like the 6 years I was thin after my gastric bypass in 12/2001. I will say at my thinnest, I put up with some thin bashing, and I found that equally disturbing. I do state in other blogs, the mindfuck of that. As for someone who ended up losing 107 lbs, at her thinnest (I was “only” 100 lbs overweight the week of my gastric bypass) but was quite unassuming about it, it really rattled me that I’d get bullied and it did piss me off that I had to lose weight to gain people’s respect. But again, that is in other blogs.
I still get bullied to this day. The internet and social media gives people multiple ways to tell both young people and adults of how much they HATE someone and the superficial crap, that they HATE them FOR. As well as bullying goes on in person to both young people and old. It’s got to stop. NOW. There can never be enough initiatives to combat bullying.
While there’s not much that I have to be proud of, as a parent. The one thing I taught my son, was not to see race, sexual preference, weight, religion, or really anything that was to be stigmatized. While I wasn’t an activist then, I didn’t want him to get bullied or be a bully. As misguided as my parenting got, at my very sickest mentally, I kind of isolated my children, not wanting a cruel world to hurt them.
When I think about how horrible the incessant bullying was and still can be, not just for me, but others, it blows my mind that it’s acceptable. And my beloved daughter who’s only a tween, still, has to live in this world, that can be so cruel. As well as my son, who’s now an adult and had a completely different mother. There’s not much I can try to protect them from as their Mother. Or ever be able to show or explain, just how much I LOVE them. But hopefully I can help make this a better world for other children and adults. Of course, as well as for my beloved children.
Truthfully, If I could have, I would have been the 8 year old begging to get a gastric bypass and her G.E.D..There’s NOT one fond memory that I have of my school years. PERIOD. It was horrible and traumatic. The only thing I’m in awe of, is that it took another 20 years, for my mental health issues, to blow up. And again, as I said in my very (and even more rantier) first blog,that I don’t believe it’s that shocking, that the 35 days I spent in a psych ward, in August of 2008 (after my “one and only” suicide attempt), there was 2 other high school peers of mine, who were also brutally bullied, and had been frequent fliers in the mental health system, for most of their adult lives. Not passing judgment on them, just stating an understandable to me, fact.
As an activist, who follows other anti-bullying activists, I’d like to say and for some it’s true, it WILL get better.
But what happens for those of us, where it DOES NOT get better???
As FORTY years later, I’m STILL getting bullied. But I’m not the vulnerable little girl who everyone loved to pick on, who couldn’t defend herself. Or anyone else. I’m 45 years old and have a voice now. But I didn’t as a child and didn’t have one, until my early 20’s. Between that and my life circumstances. That’s where both the anti-bullying, body diversity and mental health activism, as well as human rights activism, that I try to do, is so important to me, and can help others.
I used to make a joke, before Columbine, that it’s a good thing I didn’t see the movie “Heathers” until after I was out of high school, which “Heathers” came out 10 years before the shoootings at Columbine.
I’m most definitely NOT saying that people who get bullied have a right, to take people’s lives. The absolutely DO NOT. But this is where if someone isn’t born with a lot of mental health issues, where they can be created. Because intense and constant emotional bullying and abuse can cause lifelong medical and psychological harm. If people can survive or live through it. And sometimes, they can’t.
People have a right to live their lives, with peace of mind. Of much as they are capable of, just as long it’s not at the expense of others. There isn’t a lot of that for those of us who are bullied, especially by multiple people on a daily basis, whether it’s strangers or loved ones who are doing this. While my life circumstances weren’t the worst in the world and the what, why, who and where, is still of relevance. I had a lot of potential, much more than I’m living up, to. Even though again, mostly due to medical reasons, it’s nothing short of a miracle, I’m still alive. And can articulate in ANY intelligent thought, at all.
However, I’m living a life, that I couldn’t fathom, as someone who was a responsible single mother in her early 30’s, ten years ago. And I was a fairly productive person, most of my life, until my late 30’s, when I had my nervous breakdown and then my suicide attempt.
What to do then, if it doesn’t get better? Whether someone’s a child or an adult who’s getting bullied and it’s having serious consequences on their lives? Get professional help. IMMEDIATELY. Realize, that when someone has nothing better to do than bullying someone, that’s NOT a reflection on who’s being bullied, it’s a poor reflection of the bully.
Please believe me, when I say that.
Everyone is entitled to a life where they have peace of mind. If you can learn with support (and lots of times it does need to be professional) , how to deflect the bullying, you don’t take on, others’s negativity. Knowing this, can change people’s lives, only for the better. No one has to absorb and internalize other’s hatred of them and hate themselves. I learned this the very hardest way. And I’m not playing total victim, here. I’ve made poor choices, too. But largely due to self hatred for decades, that inadvertently ended up hurting those I love the most.
Because unfortunately, when people are surrounded with negative messages about them, constantly, very few people can tolerate that without hating themselves, thinking that it’s justified. It’s NOT. It doesn’t help that in the media, that we are told every day that something is wrong with us. There’s a lot more money to be made in making people feel bad about themselves, than in self acceptance.
The one thing that helps me the most, when dealing with bullies, that I hope that can help those who suffer bullying and abuse to not only get professional help, and not own other’s hatred of them, is to remember this. It’s kind of a corny “meme” that’s gone all over the internet, but it’s so true.
It does help, enormously, to try and realize that “EVERYONE is fighting a battle, you know NOTHING about”. You don’t forgive others’s horrible transgressions, for THEM, necessarily, though. But if you can do this without harming yourself,, in any way, you do it for YOURSELF. You don’t have to though, wish others well, for those who don’t treat you the same way. Again, this is where I say, if at all possible (and I do struggle with this, at times, but try to be mindful of my words (and ONLY using words) on the rare occasion, I do engage) apathy, is the best route.
I will ALWAYS have more to say about this. But I want to hear what my readers have to say,if they experienced bullying, their experiences, if they are willing to share it.
Important Notes: Again, I am an activist NOT a clinically trained or credentialed medical and mental health professional. People in crisis need acute evaluation, supervision and treatment in an acute care facility or what a IN REAL LIFE, in person, professional, deems necessary best for you. This is ONLY appearing as a disclaimer, for the first and last time at the end of a blog, because I really do believe that this blog can help. But no blog and no one on the internet, can help like acute professional care, in appropriate facility, when in crisis.
Also note, any comments that are potentially triggering to my readers, will NOT be approved….