Bullying is a relevant and timely topic right now, so thought I’d share my experience. A girl in Vancouver recently took her own life after some unrelenting and sadistic kids in her school drove her too far. Our city was shocked and in mourning about something that had never really been taken too seriously. I think that everyone has been involved in bullying at some point in their lives. Either giving or receiving. I’ve been both. We didn’t have a name for it when i was in high school but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I was bullied briefly when i was 10. I had just moved and kids are cruel to new students in school. It was empty and lonely. So I guess it’s no surprise, that i also became a bully.
In general, I am proud of who I am. I am honest, I have integrity and a strong ethical conscience, I have 3 World Vision kids, I volunteer with animals, and i try to be fair and respectful to everyone i come in contact with. However, there is one thing that i did over 30 years ago that still haunts me. I bullied someone.
Im not sure that it would be considered at the same level that ‘bullying’ is defined in 2012, but my friend and I took it upon ourselves to pick on a girl in high school. We followed her home once, calling her names and pushing her. We made prank calls to her house and i think we even sent the fire truck round to her home. We thought that was funny. Brutal, heh?
The tormenting was sporadic and lasted a couple of weeks, then the poor girl moved schools and we all forgot about it. I never did that again, and i didn’t really think much about it until about 10 years ago. It had always been in the back of my mind gnawing away at my conscious, but I didn’t start to really look at it until a decade ago when the guilt really started to kick into full gear.
The big question that kept wracking my brain was, WHY? Why would i do such a thing? I ruined someone’s life for a short period of time and for no reason that i could figure. No matter how hard i tried, i couldn’t come up with a plausible explanation as to why. I wasn’t beaten as a child, I wasn’t on the poverty line, and she had done nothing to me, in fact, at one point, we were kind of friends. I have spent many years trying to figure this out. I read books, i talked to people, I saw a therapist. Here is what i came out of it with.
There are a few kind of bullies; the kids who were bullied and/or beaten themselves who are carrying on and surviving the only way they know how to. There are the mentally unstable kids who include psychopaths who are prone to torture for no reason and feel no consequence or remorse….these are the dangerous ones who end if with guns in movie theatres and pulling wings of flies. And then there are the ones like me, who on the outside look fine but are screaming on the inside. My parents didn’t beat me with a garden hose or lock me in a closet but they were horrible and neglectful parents. I had no control and no safety in my life, so in a way of trying to gain both of those, i chose to bully someone. From what i understand now, it gave me a sense of control and safety. If i could control some area of my life, i was going to survive. Weird, i know….but young adults are a mess of emotions and fears that they don’t know how to deal with…and when you add an unstable and terrifying home life, they just don’t know how to cope, so they survive in lashing out where they can. That is what I did. Is that an excuse? Hell no. But it is an explanation that I am able to understand and come to terms with.
I tried to contact the girl years ago. I got ahold of her brother. He said she had no interest in hearing from me but that i was welcome to send an email through him. I did, but what could i say that would be helpful? Would “sorry” be enough? I didn’t know but i had to try. I told her that i was a messed up kid (i was) and that i was projecting the pain of my own little life. My father bullied the crap out of my mother and my brother so I got to learn it first hand. I apologized profusely. I told her that i didn’t expect her forgiveness but that i wanted her to know that i still felt the consequences of my actions. Was that enough? Probably not to the 13 girl who should have been having fun is school but was terrified to walk home, but that was all i could do. Offer some kind of explanation and move on.
The guilt still weighs on me heavily and probably will for the rest of my life. I can’t fix it but i can offer you this:
If you are bullied, know that chances are that kid is probably much more messed up that you may ever know. Any kid that bullies is going through some horrible shite themselves in order to be that person, so if they look confident and without emotion, know that it just isn’t true. There is a world of pain and fear behind that confidence and coldness (unless they are the psychopath type of bully, then all bets are off). This is not to excuse their behaviour but maybe it would be helpful to know that they are just as scared and insecure as you might be. This is how they are coping with their lives. Sad but true. Find some place to feel sorry for them inside you. Chances are that one day they will carry huge guilt and remorse for their actions. You will move past this but they may not.
So that is my story. I’m sure that will shock and disappoint a few of you. So be it. That is the price i pay for being honest, but i believe that honesty and openness are the only way to change. These things need to be talked about from ALL angles, even the unpopular ones. If we are going to deal with it, we need to TALK ABOUT IT. I am not that person anymore, but i was a messed up kid and i need to take responsibility for that, and if this can reach anyone with even an ounce of help, then I have done something. I think most bullies are just scared kids. If you sat them down and talked to them, i bet you would find a decent person in there who has chosen a negative way to deal with their fears.
Until next week, lovies.