This is the seventh part in my 12-part series The Inner World Of Bullying.
Dog Eat Dog World
I learned to be strong due to my experiences being bullied. It isn’t the way you should learn it but it heavily influenced why I am so strong today. I wouldn’t have survived if I wasn’t strong but you don’t start off all strong and tough, ready to take it all on and you aren’t always feeling that way throughout the whole process. It is pretty much thrust upon you and you have no choice so you do what you have to do. There is an image of people who are bullied which you see in mainstream media all the time. It’s the stereotype of a person who is being bullied as weak and helpless. While there is certainly times you feel that way, people who are bullied are some of the strongest people there is. As I said you aren’t left with much choice but to be so. Sometimes mainstream media can accidentally make bullying attractive to a certain type of person. They may not set out to be a bully (although arguably there has to be something in them for them to start bullying) but they see this bully being put across as yes nasty but also the one who holds all the power over this poor helpless victim. Power is attractive to a lot of people. Dog eat dog world and all that. And they think that I’m going to be the bully because what’s the alternative? If I’m not the bully, then I will be the bullied. That’s the mindset. It’s quite toxic really. I was bullied a lot because I was introverted. Being introverted is seen as being helpless and weak often too in mainstream media. The stereotype is that an introverted person is a doormat and I have been advised a lot that if I don’t speak up I will be walked on. That is an incredibly narrow view of my personality. Yes I’m introverted, shy, quiet and I have social anxiety disorder. But when I’m pushed to it, I can stand up for myself. There is a steel there. It’s survivor mentality. But admittedly bullying can chip away at that and I have had to fight and fight to keep that strength going. And I have thus far succeeded. Does that sound weak and helpless to you? In saying that, I shouldn’t have to fight my way through and neither should anyone else. But that’s a perfect world and we ain’t living in a perfect world darlings. In the next section I am going to give you an example of a few statements to watch out for from secret bullies.
Statements To Watch Out For
- Life is not fair. I have had to be strong so they should stop moaning about things, stop talking about their feelings and get on with life like I have.
- People are too sensitive. You have to toughen up in this world. Get over yourself and stop being so offended.
- Stop blaming your problems on everyone else and playing the victim.
- You got hurt and now we all have to listen to it. Well boo-hoo, I have not got time for this because I am such a strong person with a life.
- I live a very productive life and I have learned how to cope. These people need to learn like I have.
These are just a few examples but the underlying message in these kind of statements is to show how immensely strong and able to live the person saying them wants to come across. And I’m sorry but empathy is a huge thing you have from being bullied. Bullying is a trauma, people tend to forget that sometimes. You don’t leave a situation where you have been bullied without scars. You don’t just leave that situation and a couple of months later it’s like it never happened. Sure after a while you move on but those scars remain and while your experience doesn’t define you it certainly shapes certain things about you. Being a human being too going through that trauma you will always have feelings and emotions about the situation. You just will and it is really bullying language to say you are too weak and should really be stronger about these things. In saying that there is an exception and a slight contradiction to what I’m saying because these type of statements are also often said by people who have been bullied themselves. Yes I know I said being bullied causes you to be empathic and that was very much my experience but not all people who are bullied react to their experiences the same way. How I cope with my scars from these type of experiences and from other traumatic experiences is mostly to write my feelings out. When you have all these difficult feelings and emotions you have to find a healthy way to look after those feelings and emotions. But sometimes people don’t do it in healthy ways. That is what the next section is about.
The Subtle Bully
Some people who have been bullied become bullies themselves. That can be very obvious kind of bullying or it can be subtle. It is the latter I am going to discuss here. Obviously I judge the fact they become bullies because as a person who has faced it, bullying disgusts me. However I also know they are hurt and insecure and they are acting out because they have scars from their experiences that they don’t know how to handle or express. In that way I can feel an empathy towards them because facing that shit is hard. Going back to what I was saying at the start, the mainstream media puts across an image that strength comes from being emotionless and that you totally have everything together. Dog eat dog world again. If you ain’t the person who is strong enough to not talk about your feelings and get on with things then you are the weak and helpless, right? Not really. You can have so much together in your life and still be very in touch with your feelings and emotions. Actually the latter helps you to do the former better. Feelings and emotions and being in touch with those things is not “soft”, “weak”, “helpless” or “overly sensitive”. That mindset is very much a bullying mindset. I’m not saying everyone who thinks that is automatically a bully but a lot of bullies think that and they bully and put people down to prove they aren’t “soft”, “weak”, “helpless” or “overly sensitive”. For a person who has being bullied who reacts this way, it is because they want to be “strong” so as not to bullied again. Who cares if you hurt other people in the process? Sure they shouldn’t be so sensitive, should they? In a way it is a protective shield but it’s a shield born of insecurity and a need to fit the type of person their bully or bullies always said that they should be in order not to be bullied, what the mainstream media always said they should be in order not to be bullied. I’m not saying every person who has been bullied needs to get in touch with their feelings and emotions. That’s just my way. But risking hurting people by being a bully yourself is certainly not the way to go.
Why I think I am so in touch with my emotions and feelings is possibly down to the fact that when you are being bullied, you haven’t much time to be. You are coping, surviving and trying to get to the end of this, wondering when that wonderful day will come. You are often so stressed that getting too in touch with your feelings and emotions would probably be more stress. The first experience I had of being bullied was during practically all of my school years and while that was happening I was not as clued up on the aftermath of bullying as I was in my subsequent experiences. Now I know that there is things to unpack and that no matter how confident you are there will still be things to unpack. I did think in the first experience that when all this is over I am going to do so much better in life than my bullies. All that jazz, I am going to be more successful than them. My life will be better and when they see me and how great I am doing while they are living shitty lives and have nothing in their lives they will be so jealous. It was a coping mechanism and it was a bloody good one too. I actually believed it too. But I was young and I know a bit more about life now but that’s taken many years to learn. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t wish them bad because I’m not like that with anyone but less successful and happy than me, sure. It didn’t seem fair to me that they could have everything or more than me and still get to torment me for many years. To the best of my knowledge my life and their lives have been pretty much similar in success and happiness. Maybe in certain ways like with everyone I have had more success and happiness and vice versa. When I realised that or heard something good which happened them which hadn’t happened me it hurt me. Alternatively I was glad if my fantasy came true in a mini way where something good happened me that didn’t happen them. It felt like justice for the torment they caused me and for the scars they left me with. But what I failed to see then and what I see now is that I was given in to that whole idea that being successful, happy all the time and “having a life” was the measure of a person and that if I could be that then it all balanced out and that I was winning the battle. I was winning nothing! Which brings me to a statement to watch out for: People should know life is not fair and get on with it like I do because I am strong enough to. The irony about that statement is that I know it better than most people. Is it fair that people can bully you for most of your school life and yet they get the same out of life as you do? Is it fair that people can bully you for most of your school life and yet they have no scars but you are filled with things to unravel and piece back together? No, it’s not very fair but it’s way things are. So when I hear that statement I’m like yes, I do know it. Only too well. And I have learned to accept that because my life is not about those people anymore or trying to show them how excellent my life is. It’s about me and how I feel about my life and for the most part I am really happy and proud of my life and the person I have become. I don’t need to make anyone jealous, impress anyone or be validated by anybody. I impress and validate myself in a non-cocky way and that’s become more than enough for me.
I have said a lot about the negative of mainstream media in this post but there is progress certainly made from even say ten, fifteen years ago. It’s a work in progress but certainly we are going in the right direction. Lots of people come out of bullying experiences with mental health issues or a lot of scars and the way mental health and emotions and feelings are spoken about is not quite there but it’s improving. I grew up in a time when mental health was even more made a stigma than today. I have known people who had mental health issues who grew up in a time where it was made even more of a stigma than when I was growing up. It is wonderful to see mental health being spoken about more than it ever has been. To hear people sharing their stories and absolutely helping so many people living in silence and helping people feel less alone. People are also more open about their emotions and feelings and we are very slowly getting beyond the idea that having those things is “weak”. I think it is incredibly healthy and I think it is slowly getting to be easier to not have to pretend you are a robot in order to be taken seriously as a capable human being.