Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How I Silenced My Bullies

My thanks to Dora Drinovac for this thought provoking piece on bullying.  Her experience and her thoughts about it.

'How I Silenced My Bullies.

'Do you ever wish you could go back to the past and do things differently?  I did, but not any more, and I will tell you why.  Of course, as so many of us do, I look back on my life over and over again, and wonder what it would be like if certain events had never occurred.  But it doesn't work that way, does it?  Everyone knows what's done - is done.  You can never go back.  So where does that need come from, to make things right?

'Personally I wanted to go back to set the records straight with my bullies from elementary school.  Then I would go even further, to high school and give them a piece of my mind.  Nothing violent of course.  But, as a victim of bullying, I do believe that I have the right to tell them a bit or two about my life.

'I would start by telling them that yes, I have been overweight most of my life.  They noticed it and they took a huge advantage of it.  They never let me forget it.  I can't (and don't want to) go behind their twisted logic, but for some reason they immediately thought that 'fat' people don't deserve respect that the thin people, obviously, deserve and get as soon as they're born.

'Why did I write 'fat' like that?  Because it took me a significant amount of years to discover, by browsing through some of my family albums, that I was just a teeny tiny bit overweight, which could have been dealt with by more physical activity.  Had I been more aware of my surroundings, it wouldn't have turned out like that.

'But there was more to my 'fat' than just eating chocolate, chips, ice-cream and other junk food.  Again, looking back now, I realize that emotional issues played a huge part in this as well.  Growing up in a household where parents often had their disputes about all sorts of things, made me anxious and my body couldn't release the stress.  I was confused and worried all the time, but I couldn't vocalize my fears.  Again...had I done that...

'I would then continue to explain to them that just because I haven't found the perfect technique for studying any subject, it doesn't mean that I'm, as they so 'lovingly' said, retarded.  That's a way too harsh a word, and it should never be used with anyone and years later, I discovered that I'm a kinaesthetic type of person and that I can't just read a subject and memorize it, because then the words and facts have no meaning to me.

'I know so many of us don't get the chance or the courage to meet our bullies after years of 'freedom', because somewhere in the back of our brains we're still holding a grudge against them.  Our emotions are strong and painful.  We're furious at them, especially after seeing that they continue on living their lives, while we're stuck in the same place.

'I'll let you in on a little secret.  It's not about them.  It's about you.  I sound like 'Dr Phil' now, ha?  Well, he has a point.  I wouldn't have said this if I hadn't tried and tested it on myself first.  A few years ago was our 10th anniversary of the final year of elementary school.  I got a reunion invitation from a friend that, incidentally, went to my final couple of years in high school, as well as elementary.  My initial reaction was not a very gentle one.  I tried to ignore the FB notifications, but I must admit that I was intrigued.  What did they look like?  What were their lives like?

'In the end I accepted the request and guess what:  it was worth it!  Even though my overly afraid brain was coming up with all sorts of excuses as to why it wasn't a good idea.  I was determined to show them just how wrong they were about me.  I understood that I was the one who allowed them to be rude to me, because I cared too much for them.  They didn't understand that.

'But when the time came to greet all of them, and I was among the first, somehow I felt that most of the wounds have healed, and most of the feelings towards certain individuals have changed so much, that I couldn't care less about their opinions any more.  Why?  The reason is:  because I'm not the same little girls that I was ten years ago.  Not anymore.  In between that span of the last day of elementary school and the last day of college education, I've grown emotionally stronger than I was before.

'I discovered make-up.  I discovered a perfect hairdresser that knows what to do with my hair.  I discovered what clothes fit me best now, while I still have some 5-ish kilograms down to lose.  I tried and tested all sorts of hobbies and classes until I discovered that writing is my passion.

'And while I had no friends in elementary/high school/college, I can safely say that  I met a group of people that accept me just the way I am, because none of them set standards that I must fit into.  We're a group of young writers that laugh and have fun, and accept new people in, because we know that we have something beautiful in common.  We found our passion.

'I have done things in my life that I'm proud of, and just by feeling that with all my heart, I know that I am not the little, scared, I'll-let-you-bully-me-because-you're-better-than-me girl.  I didn't give them a chance, because I realised my value.  They don't have to like it, but it doesn't matter.

'At the beginning of this article I wrote that I no longer want to change the course of actions that happened in the past.  The reason for that is very simple.  If things were different, I would have ended up being a completely different person.  Maybe I would have been self-centred.  Maybe I would have ended up with a child way before time.  Maybe I would have ended up being a bully later in life, just like them.

'Maybe I wouldn't have such a wonderful relationship with my parents.  Maybe I would have ended up using drugs or smoking.  Maybe....maybe....maybe....there are so many scenarios, but I know one thing:  that evening at the reunion I sat on my stool and looked at each and every one of them.  None of them was the same.  As I talked to them, and with some for the very first time that I always wished for.  I realized that the past was, indeed, over.

'I carried the same and anger for the majority of my life, by spending some time with each and every one of them, I realized that I let it go.  I let it go somewhere around the time of accepting the invitation for a reunion.

'Whether I wanted to or not, they were a huge part of my life.  I am glad that they acted the way that they did, because they forced me to get up and change some things.  I have yet to achieve some of the things that I want, but I am very close.  I'm not the same person I was.  I am different and better.

'I don't forgive their actions, but through time I learned that each of them has their own personal story, that made them do the things they did to me.  Thanks to them, now I can say 'no' to that behavior the next time I see it.

'I have to be honest.  I seeked revenge that night and I achieved it just by showing up there.  When one of my most determined bullies looked at me and told me with no irony whatsoever:  you're so amazing....well...the revenge tasted that much sweeter.  Although I wouldn't call it a revenge any more.  I'd call it a proof of my worth and the constant emotional work on myself.  The way it's supposed to be.'

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My sincere thanks to Dora again for this piece.

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