Bullying can take form in many different ways.
Some are obvious. Someone takes a dislike to someone else and makes it a habit of picking at them. Insults, maybe even physical violence. Some bullying can take place when it’s masqueraded as ‘harmless’ teasing. Making someone the butt of a joke over and over again but laughing it off as part of their humour as not being serious. Sometimes bullying can be hard to spot, hidden amongst family or close friends.
Unless you’ve experienced it first-hand, it can be quite hard to understand what all the fuss is about. Particularly the bullying that is hard to spot. I can only speak from personal experience but bullying, which I will generalise as anyone being made to feel inadequate, that they don’t fit in or are different or that they are doing something wrong in the eyes of another with no just cause or reason.
Sometimes bullying can be solely about one thing or it can be many things. When you’re young, when I was young, there wasn’t just one reason that I felt segregated from others, it felt or at least pointed out to me that there was a dozen or more reasons why I was different and that it was a bad thing. It was pretty hard to swallow.
Those things live with you. You may grow up, become a responsible adult and have children of your own but sometimes just one thing can happen and those dreaded feelings you experienced over and over again when you was a child return, reminding you brutally that there is some things that are hard to forget.
Now let’s not feed depression. I know that the problem with being bullied is in the bullies themselves, they equally need as much time and energy spent in helping them as those who suffer at the hands of them but sometimes I feel the need to apologise for the lasting bits of damage, some I feel will never fully disappear.
For one thing, I am socially awkward. Sometimes, particularly in face to face groups or meetings I feel painfully insecure and shy. I can easily guess that this can come across as me being dismissive or unfriendly. It really isn’t. It’s more that I am caring too much about what you think about me. How crazy is that? It’s something I try and work on and always do my best to be friendly and open and loving to everyone that I meet.
I can’t take jokes about myself very well. Those common teases or pull ups that are inevitable in life can sometimes hit someone who has been bullied harder. It leaves me feeling like a killjoy. And then in the other extreme, being wrapped in cotton wool and having issues sugar coated can be hard to swallow. I’m sensitive, not an idiot. Like my weight for example. Using food as a comfort blanket through most of my adolescence and young adult life took its toll on my body and health. People trying to reassure me that I wasn’t overweight and just fine as I was, was hard to swallow. I could see the weighing scales and knew how far away from a healthy weight and fitness level I really was.
I can’t bad mouth anyone. Feeling like a mix of a peacekeeper and a loving fool. I know it can go with the territory of friends or acquaintances to want to dig at each other, especially when you’re angry or annoyed. But I can’t do it. I will always do my best to see the good in everyone, to see beauty in everyone and to trust until proven I can’t.
I’ll try and befriend anyone and everyone. Even though people can be the cause of the most pain we feel in this existence, they can also be the biggest joys too. I want to be friends with everyone. I don’t want to hide away anymore. Probably a common post-bullying feeling is that you want to be loved and accepted by the world. Not always possible.
As an adult, anxiety and my persuasion to depression is high. Some of the reasons I was made to feel different still thrive today and I think the lasting effects of bullying can remain in the details. I don’t look 100% Caucasian so people like to enquire ever so tactfully “Where are you from, you don’t look British?” Where are you from? It can be a hard question to face as a child, more so when other children catcall various insults to assume your ethnicity when they don’t believe you’re from the same place they are. Children can’t comprehend distance lands, heritages, or ethnicities. Pure innocence that gets pulled apart by questions of where do you belong, where do you come from? Like you are treading on eggshells on someone else’s land. I assure you I was born in Northampton hospital and I’ve lived my whole life in Milton Keynes but I look a little different. So ignorance can speak and it still makes me feel embarrassed and a bit awkward but nowadays I do have a well-rehearsed near-perfected response. I wish I had one as a child but then I don’t assume the results would’ve been much different.
Basically, I wanted to get off my chest about how something, anything can happen to someone one year ago or ten years ago or even twenty years ago and it can stay in part with them for the foreseeable. I don’t hold grudges, I don’t want to waste my life on negative, hateful feelings against individuals or circumstances. I just feel the need to hold my hands up and say I’m sorry it affected me. Yes, I can be more sensitive than the next person. Yes, I try to help it but sometimes I can feel vulnerable again.
Can we just be kind to each other now please?