Saturday, December 14, 2013
Hello there, so this isn't the normal sort of post I make but I have been thinking of making a post like this for awhile now because this is something I feel really strongly about. I think the real reason I felt compelled to make this post is because I was bullied extensively in middle and high school, more so in high school then in middle school. The bullying got so bad that I started skipping school in grade 10 and ended up dropping out around grade 11. It is not something I am proud of or advocate (skipping school and dropping out) but at the time it was the only coping method I knew to do. Going to teachers and telling my parents never made a difference and so I spiraled into a deep depression and had ridiculous anxiety that continues to this day. I know I'm, sadly, not unique in this experience. I've met so many people who were also bullied at one point or another and have come across many bright people who also ended up dropping out because of bullying.

In my beginning years of school I was quite popular with the other students, I was confident and silly and also a kind person. I'd like to say I was kind all the time but I know it's not true and it's something I really wish I could change. However, I went through puberty early (around 10), which was not the least bit comfortable. In my mind, budding boobs equaled fat and fat equaled ugly and undeserving. A rocky relationship with a step-parent and acne didn't help either. I touched a little on these things in a few previous posts but I wanted to discuss it more at length because I know there are people who have experienced or are experiencing similar things and I want you to know you are not alone and I promise you, good people are out there! My years of bullying are still something that give me nervous pain in my stomach when I think or talk about it so I rarely discuss it with other people and I usually feel almost a sense of shame when I do speak of it... I'm not even sure why, it could be because I wish I had reacted differently or because I'm afraid that someone will read that I was bullied and treat me differently. I also feel somewhat like a failure for dropping out of school like I did, especially because I was always a good student. After seventh grade my math skills dropped dramatically but I maintained an A or a B in every other class. Okay, sometimes I got a C in gym but gym sucked. I did attend community college for almost two years but I never received a degree. Sometimes I wonder what I missed in the history, biology, English, and creative writing classes (those were my favorite classes, can you tell?) that I missed and it fills me with regret because I quite enjoyed those classes. Luckily I have found the time to read about history, attempt to brush up on my vocabulary and syntax, even do some creative writing in my own free time as an adult but I always feel a little behind for missing the time that I missed. I'm even thinking of jumping back on that pogo stick by taking some college classes.

This morning I came across this post on tumblr and then this video on youtube and I highly recommend you watch it.

It is still hard to watch things like this because I remember what it felt like to have an entire class or even "friends" clam up, ignore, or even walk away from me while I was being bullied. I'm not entirely sure what hurts worse, the vitriol of the bullies or the silence or even laughter from the people who were witnessing it going on and didn't do a single thing to stop it. In the beginning of the bullying I mostly ignored it or would even, shamefully, cry. As time when on I fought back by hitting (after a student punched me really hard in the head), threatening, and cursing at the bullies. None of it really worked.

The main message of what I want to say is that if you see something happening that you don't approve of, whether you're in school or at work or at the grocery store buying an almond croissant, please say something. Speak up, it can mean all the difference in the world and even if it doesn't, at least the victim will not feel like their left alone to fight their battles. Bullying leaves eternal scars on your psyche that never truly go away and bullying changes and touches many of our lives. Teach your kids (or future kids) to stand up for someone who is being victimized, teach yourself to stand up for someone who is being victimized, and never be shy to disagree with something you know is wrong. Studies have shown that when a bully is stood up to by another person, they usually cease their activity. I can't personally imagine or understand what it would take to be a bully but the type of behavior they exhibit does not demonstrate contentment, courage, or confidence. 

I'm a realistic person and I know people aren't always going to get along but if only one person decides to speak up one time, it would be worth it. I want to assure those of you who are still suffering that I am suffering too but my life is so much better than I ever imagined it would be. I have a supportive fiancee, fabulous friends, a warm house, and live a pretty happy life now. Only you can control where you decide to take your life, I'm almost 30 years old and I know I'm still affected by my past - I still get nervous in crowds, I still battle depression and anxiety, I still sometimes get a sense of dread walking past a school or a group of giggling kids, and job interviews are very hard. I'm still afraid to meet new people or share my past with them but I promise you it gets easier and easier. Do everything you can to be who you want to be and live a full satisfying life because ultimately your success and happiness is the biggest "fuck you" to the people who treated you wrongly.


Courtney Erin said...

This was really inspiring to read. And I really identify with it. I experienced a much milder form of bullying when I was in junior high school but it really impacted me in a significant way and colored most of my experiences for the next ten years of my life. To be honest, it's really only now, that I'm in my 30s, that I feel like I really, truly emerging from that black cloud. I'm so sorry that you experienced the things that you did - but also happy and inspired that you seem to have been able to find something positive in it.

Courtney ~ Sartorial Sidelines

Honeysuckelle said...

@Courtney Erin - I kept re-reading and editing my post because I felt like I was having a hard time actually getting my words out right. It isn't something I have an easy time talking about but I know keeping it inside has never really helped me feel any better. It is a message I try to get out as much as possible, it is not a rare phenomenon and to say it's anything but traumatic would be false.

I'm so sorry you went through what you went through, it is amazing how long bullying can affect you. My mother recalls the bullies who picked on her in high school/middle school. I'm still greatly affected by my rough years but every single day I get stronger and stronger. Thank you so much for being so sweet, I'm so glad you're feeling like you can be lifted from your black cloud. Thank you for your continuous support, you are amazing.


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