The Average Life of A Victim of Bullying (Part 2)

Did you guys check out yesterday’s book review? Tammy Farrell was gracious enough to let me read an advanced copy of her first ever published book, The Darkness of Light. The book was fantastic and you can bet I will be getting a copy on my bookshelf by the end of January. I’m a sucker for the whole historical fantasy thing. Mix in some mythology and I’m hooked. If you guys are interested, there’s a chance I may have a giveaway for an electronic copy of her book in the near future. I’ll keep you all posted.

This is the much-anticipated Part Two of my bullying story. I highly recommend you read Part One (Friday’s Posts) before going further. Keep in mind this is the story of my average day. Some where worse, some where better. As time went on, the bullying decreased and I was left to overcome my own scars. However, this isn’t really about me at all. This is the story of every bullied child. As I said before, this is average. Those children, too, face worser days and better days. Experience life as they know it every school day and ask yourself if it would be worth the risk to stand up for them.

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This photo, “School Bokeh” is copyright (c) 2014 Ryan M. and made available under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license

Wrapping your arms around the ball, you tell them you want to play with it. As you suspect, the statement makes little difference. The resolve is in their eyes. They will take it. Using all the strength in your tiny body, you grip tightly as the arms of half a dozen peers grab, scratch and rip at you. It was only a matter of time before the ball was loose enough from them to snag.

They walk away, laughing, with the ball they wrenched from you. Somewhere inside your soul, you feel proud you did not give up. Still, the strongest feeling you have is defeat, as you walk outside to play without the ball. You and your friend play alone at recess, playing games you’ve made up. Sometimes you bring a deck of cards and practice shuffling. No one else ever approaches you.

When recess is over, classes resume. They are the same as they are every day. You again throw yourself into your studies. Old enough to understand what college is, you know that is your only ticket out of this mess. There you can reinvent yourself. There you can find a group of people just as weird as you. There you can live out life without fear of harassment. All you have to do is survive this next decade….

When school is over, you line up for the bus. It drives to a large parking lot with dozens of buses. You get off and walk to the one headed to your home. Standing in line, you try to appear nonchalant. In reality, you are trying to be hyper aware of everything around you. Do you have all your belongings? Is anyone touching your bag? Who’s behind and in front of you? Do they notice you? Is anyone on the bus? You’ll never forget the time one of your peers spat on you out the bus window. It had rained, and you weren’t sure if what you felt were just raindrops. It was the laughter that tipped you off. Always the laughter. Laughter is never a good omen.

The trip home is similar to the morning bus ride. After a whole day spent staring at books, you sometimes enjoy the escape of your Gameboy.

When the bus lets you off, you walk home, making a point to avoid other peers. There are only a couple blocks between the bus stop and your house, but those few blocks are out of the eyes of any adult or supervisor. You ignore the laughter and attempt to appear calm. You pray no one will stand in your path. No one will chase you. Just get home. Don’t run home. If you run, they will know they have won. Just walk, but walk fast. You just need to get home.

Finally in the safe haven of your home, you again go through the motions. Homework gets done and dinner is eaten. Eventually, you throw yourself into the escape of a good book or video game. Here is a place where there is no fear of disturbance. From the safety of your basement, you can fully immerse yourself and wonder into a world where you are strong enough to defeat your enemies.

Someday, you tell yourself, I will be strong enough to defeat my enemies.

(I’m writing during a slow period at work. A co-worker came to chat and asked me why my eyes are red)

Eventually, it is time for bed. Your sanctuary is darkened and you hide under layers of blankets. As is your custom, you pray to God. You list all the people you care about, including the poor, the sick and all that have less than you, wishing them well. In doing so, you remind yourself that there are plenty of people out there who are worse off than you. There are also people in my life who care for me. You can’t deny that.

As the darkness stretches on, there are other things you can’t deny. How you wished had more friends. How desperately you wished life was different. The prayer’s tone changes as you beg whatever deity will listen. Can you bring you just one more friend? Is it too much to ask to have at two people your own age who like you?

Maybe it is too much to ask. After all, these people wouldn’t laugh at you if there wasn’t something to laugh at. You are weird. You are broken. You are worthless. Deeper into the despair you fall, begging through your tears that tomorrow will be different. Please, let no one harass you tomorrow. May they all leave you alone.

Long ago, you learned how to cry silently, letting your face contort with your emotions so you won’t cry out. The room eventually blurs, view through your tears. The last thought you have before you drift to sleep is how unworthy you are. Unworthy of the things in this room. Unworthy of the blankets that cover you. Unworthy of the loved ones you burden.

Your face relaxes. As your face relaxes and the last of your tears pour out, you wonder why you are allowed to live.

You wake up to the sound of your mother’s voice telling you to get out of bed. By the third time she calls, you have finally stubble into the bathroom. After going through the usual routines, you sit for breakfast. When everything you need has been securely gathered in your backpack, you walk out the door towards the bus stop.

This is based on my average childhood experiences during grade school. It is meant to depict how I thought and felt during an average middle school day. This is who I was after being bullied for many 
years. This was my struggle to survive. I do not mean to undermine the experiences of others who have been bullied. There are people who had it and who still have it worse than I did. My hope is to build
understanding of the emotional turmoil that results from bullying. Through that understanding, I hope more people stand up to bullies and speak out when they see someone bullying another.
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14 thoughts on “The Average Life of A Victim of Bullying (Part 2)”

  1. “these people wouldn’t laugh at you if there wasn’t something to laugh at”

    That theme seems to come up several times in this blog post. Probably because that’s how people who are bullied typically feel. When I was getting my PhD in sociology we talked about the social construction of reality, including the social construction of personal identity. We seem to be hardwired to take other people’s opinions of us into account as we develop our own self-concepts. And yet our identities don’t have to be determined by other people.

    Sometimes understanding the bully’s motives helps us to know that their behavior has nothing to do with us. Sometimes it helps to know that at times people bully people who they feel threatened by. The most beautiful girls and women are among the most likely to be bullied, for instance. Or, bullies miss the more profound things and bully over superficial stuff. They may bully you because of a perceived weakness, which may actually be a strength: an ability to feel deeply, for instance. Or, they may bully someone who desperately needs love and comes across as needy. It’s not bad to need love. It’s human. But a person may not be getting it. Or you wear glasses or are poor, or something. That doesn’t make you a bad person.

    It can help to see the superficiality that lies behind the behavior.

    And, bullies typically feel shame, and try to project their own shame onto others.

    I wish you the best in overcoming your scars.

    1. I guess I needed a way to explain the behavior of my peers. Why me and not someone else? Why are they kind to others, but not to me? It seemed like the commonality was me, so I assumed that was the problem. I adopted an attitude to exist in spite of my peers. As I said in the comments of Friday’s post, I survived.

      I’m not sure if I can say I have any scars beyond the memories these days. I’m pretty happy-go-lucky. Mostly, I just want people to understand what happened to me so it doesn’t happen to someone else.

    1. That does sound bad, doesn’t it. But there’s a difference between malicious laughter and normal, jolly laughter. At least, I like to think so.

      …. and now it dawns on me how odd it is that I always love relatable villains. I wonder if there is something there…

  2. “As is your custom, you pray to God. You list all the people you care about…..”

    did you ever pray and ask god to ‘take care’ of the bullies?

    when I was a teen I read a book by C.S. Lewis on the psalms and he pointed out things I never noticed when I was younger, like the fact that some of the psalmist would air their frustrations to god ‘god, please smite my enemy!” …’god please bash the brains out of my enemy’s baby!”…..whether or not the psalmists ‘really’ meant those things (most of the time they didn’t because they would end the psalm with ‘but thy will be done’ ) isn’t really the issue; but that it helped them in praying to god and ‘yelling’ out their frustrations to god about the people who were being ass holes to them……

    1. I never wanted anyone smited. The way in which I explained the world placed me as the defect. I saw the people who treated me poorly turn around and be great friends to others. They were good friends, students and children. I never looked and though to myself that they were at fault. I was at fault. I still hated how they made me feel… but they made me feel that way because I was the defect.

      It was a vicious thought process really. I remember talking to God like anyone. “Hey, there. How’s it going?” was a typical opening. I’d list friends and family members by name. As I learned more about the world, I add all the poor, the suffer and any who had less than I did to this list. Sometimes I would list specific countries or areas I knew were having issues (clearly this is where my interest in human rights started).

      As bullying progressed, I started to beg for a friend. (in a year or so after I started that, new neighbors moved near me and they had a daughter my age. We became great friends and, while she wasn’t in my grade or school at the time, I considered her an answer to my prayers).

      Once I had a nightmare, and I started to pray that I would not have a nightmare tonight. I’d rather not dream at all.

      As you can tell, my prayers got long at night. It was common for me to fall asleep in the middle somewhere. I had to be having a pretty restless night to get to the end.

      I consider prayer one of the ‘lucky’ aspects of my childhood, whether there was a deity listening or not. What I didn’t know at the time was that listing out the people and things you are thankful for is a method people use to lull themselves to sleep. This process allowed me to vent all the feelings I kept inside during the day instead of letting them fester inside. My life’s outcome may have been completely different without prayer.

      This is one of many reason why I’ve been looking into different religions. None of them may be perfect, but I don’t know what would have happened to me as a child without my trust in God. That’s something I want my children to have. Maybe they will grow up and still believe. Maybe they won’t. I don’t care so long as they have someone to talk to during those tumultuous times in childhood where you feel like there is no one to turn to. When there is no one, God is still there.

      1. “This is one of many reason why I’ve been looking into different religions. ”

        this is sooooooo off topic but this sentence of yours made me think of this;

        I’ve been reading this book this past week by a professor who used to teach at a conservative Christian seminary (but got kicked out after he published this book) in which he talks about the Christian religion…specifically the way Judaism sort of evolved alongside the other religions that existed thousands of years ago…its one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in recent years because the author keeps true to his Christian faith and belief in Christianity; BUT he has such a beautifully tender way of looking at other religions and doesn’t seem to discount them or attack them…..oh well…sorry it has nothing to do with bullying or prayer!

        p.s. prayer has always been the most difficult aspect of my own faith; I find it easier to pray the ancient prayers or to pray the psalms then to come up with my own prayers….when I try to pray whatever random thought that comes to my mind I too often get discouraged for some weird reason……

        1. I think I started by using the prayers they had us memorize in school. It just didn’t resonate with me. So, one day I decided to talk to God like Divinity was an average person sitting next to me. It just felt right, so I kept doing it. That isn’t to say ancient prayers and psalms aren’t important. I’ve always believed that the method of prayer, like the method of worship, matters very little. What matters is our personal truths and what happens to resonate with the individual that we are.

  3. I’m sorry you had to go through that =(

    In primary school I was shy and quiet to the point that it was awkward central. I was voted captain of the school in my last year and wasn’t quite sure how it happened as I was barely talking to anyone and when I did they would keep asking me to repeat myself because I wasn’t talking loud enough.

    High school was a nightmare. The first 2 years was about realising that I didn’t fit in with any group. I was the outsider. The girls would refer to me as “the lesbian” and the boys would try to bully & beat me into submission.

    I used to be saved from high school by my mother all the time because the principal of the school would often call her to come get me as I was locked in his office away from the boys that wanted to beat my skull in because I’d stand up to them. Apparently that was provoking and unwoman-like behaviour. I told the principal he could kiss my ass too. I was a rather unruly child. I’m not sure how I went from the timid shy reader who didn’t talk to the girl who was waving a chair in the face of one of the boys who wanted to choke me against the wall some more and yelling at him but I guess somewhere along the way I learnt to stand up and not let them win. I think something snapped in those 2 years of starting high school. I was quiet and withdrawn all other times until they pushed me to the point where I’d fight back. Avoiding them and any situation that was going to lead to a confrontation wasn’t always an option.

    Children can be so mean. :/

    1. My hardest experiences were in middle school. I, too, was soft spoken at the time. I think I earned a lot of hell because I did whatever anyone asked in grade school. If they wanted anything, I was more than happy to give it. Eventually, everyone stopped asking and just took. Starting around the age of 10, I finally started to work on myself (since I did hate myself) and part of that was learning to stand up for myself. It was hard and I choose my battles carefully. People did not appreciate my change of heart and that’s why things got bad. My parents asked if I would rather go to the public school, but I was afraid that more peers would only result in more bullies.

      By high school, everyone seemed to accept their cliques. I was in the misfits. None of us belonged anywhere so we belonged together. The “skaters and stoners” shared my love of videogames, anime and art, so I made friends with them. No one messed with them. They weren’t afraid of a fight. I’ve always been small and am not much of an athlete. I couldn’t win in a physical confrontation if I wanted to. But because no one wanted to mess with them, they didn’t mess with me.

      Things slowly got better in high school. I started to force myself to do things I was afraid of – like sing in a solo vocal contest – to prove that fear had no power over me. I no longer needed my emotional walls to survive, so I started trying to tear them down. It’s not that easy. Thank God for writing. Sometimes that was the only way I was able to get anything out.

  4. Your writing, both part one and two portray such strong emotions, I had half a mind to stop.
    I wasn’t a victim of bullying so I have no idea how you (or others) felt when put through all that and I am not going to pretend like I can understand. But I am so glad that you didn’t fall and made it through.
    All the best to all your current and future endeavors 🙂

    1. I had half a mind to stop, as well. It wasn’t very fun reliving this part of my life, but I felt it needed to be released. Thanks for reading ^_^

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