A thought I had about bullying

Hello there! First topic I create. I thought about this letter I sent HS’s Benjamin Sledge. It was a response to a mail he sent to the mailing list on Bullying and the show Cobra Kai. I kinda liked what I wrote and ended up showing it to my therapist.

Thought about posting it here, just because. It also happened to be a great venting at a rough time. If anyone out there had a similar experience with bullying (particularly on feeling like you owe bullies to allow them to do their thing) I suppose its always good to know somebody out there went through the same thing. If not, then I still appreciate the read. A comment even more.

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*Benjamin.

Writing something not knowing if you will dare to send it is odd. Just read your Tuesday e-mail (the one revolving around Cobra-Kai). It made me think of another text. A video to be specific. It was about bullying depiction in the Harry Potter movies and book series. It essentially upheld the notion that usually bullies do what they do, particularly as kids, because they can’t handle something else going on at their lives (the example being Malfoy bullying Ron and Harry as a reaction to an unloving family structure or something on that line). I found myself agreeing to that until I went to the comment section (Alas! That crucible of bigotry and banter, yet so unavoidable). One person pointed out something pretty on-point, bullies are still doing something horrible and it is not to be expected from children to see them as another victim.

The reason I write back (or not, still not decided) is because I was bullied as a kid. We didn’t call it bullying back then (it was seen as this rather outdated foreign thing in my country at the time, turns out its now a very real thing) and I do believe I wasn’t actually bullied throughout my entire K-12. But I recall feeling out of place and unwanted by the group through the whole ordeal. It began early and I think I learnt ways to cope. One was to simply bow down and let any slight go past. I was often told that if I just played as if I didn’t care it would just go away. Thing is I was a sensitive kid and it went on despite my best efforts, so I must have shown it did affect me. Of course standing up to myself was an option. I did take karate classes when I was eight or so, but I was just little and not very disciplined. (BTW, kudos on getting a black belt so young) Standing up to myself often ended in more traumatic experiences that tended to make me think I was in the wrong. So another thing I learnt was to always look into myself for something I might have done wrong to improve and get the other kids to like me. At some point I must have twisted that into simply looking the wrongs in me.

And here’s where I tie it up with that Harry Potter reference I made before. Among the things I learnt was to see my bullies not as monsters, but as other victims. Notably, my class had a volume of students whose family was either breaking up or dealing with tragedy. Two kids had lost their dads by third grade (one used to be OK to me but turned into a bully short after his father passed away) and many more had their parents either gone or going through divorce. I was told to be compassionate of them, but in the process I allowed myself to be used as a release valve, which now, as a 30 year old, I know it’s not alright.

Though, here is the deal. I agree with the quote you sent by Martin Luther King Jr.* (I will paste it below) *Yet almost 12 years since I graduated the effects of the treatment I was served with as a kid and the perceived lack of empathy from my classmates still left a scar, not just emotional (today I feel some sort of sadness and sympathy for the kid I used to be and the apparent hopelessness I found myself in) but also in the way I behave. I still have severe trouble dealing with people, acknowledging my own standing and rights in front of others, feeling secure and confident in general and have gone in and out of mild to moderate depression through a decade. It has left tangible and rather harrowing effects on my life, so it feels almost unnatural to do other thing than feel some level of hatred.
And again, I don’t want to. I know for a fact I don’t truly hate these people. The times I’ve met them, even my worse bullies, I don’t feel like ranting and lashing out at them for something that happened around Fourth Grade. I ask them about their lives and feel genuinely glad for their success. Yet when I walk away, I can’t help thinking that I should have been more assertive, aggressive even.

Luckily, I am at least dealing with the aftereffects. I have grown into being more confident and trying to split apart self-destructive thoughts learnt at those years from the constructive ones. I have made progress and still have a long way to go. I still don’t know if I will ever talk to my former classmates about those experiences. I think I probably should ,somehow, I just don’t want to be a bully myself about that.

Your letters are truly helpful in all of this, and I thank you for them. The one on January 13th was particularly well-timed.

Yours truly. *

<<* *“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”**>> Martin Luther King Jr. Probably from a sermon in 1957.

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Hey @ElMarto

Thanks so much for sharing your letter here! It truly is so helpful to others seeing that they are not alone in their experiences. Bullying has so many effects, consequences and layers so it can be hard to untangle all the emotions felt and can easily turn into self deprecation and thinking that something is wrong with us and if we could just fix whatever that was we wouldn’t be bullied and that takes it’s toll. That being said it sounds like you’ve experienced a lot of growth and healing with your experiences with bullying and are continuing to do so! Thanks again for sharing this with us!

Sincerely,
Hannah

Hi @Hannah2911.

That is one of the reasons I feel brought me to share this particular letter. Feeling that nobody could possibly understand what you go through or that nobody else has gone through anything similar could very easily bring you to hopelessness and a sense of mistrust in your own feelings. I have been going through that ever since I graduated, and its still a part of the work I am doing on myself. Being able to share these experiences and knowing that others have gone through something that may resemble your own does help tons.

While I have made that growth, thinking about this, I feel, still takes a lot of my time and energy. I am somewhat stuck between the thought of having to let go of it and having to deal with it instead of running. Writting it down does help to set lines and try to order things.

thanks for your reply.

That makes a lot of sense. It allows you to process and sort through what you are feeling and the experiences you’ve had while also giving support and gaining support when hearing that others have gone through similar things.

I feel as though anything that has caused us a lot of hurt will take a lot of our time and energy in order for us to process and work through it. So although it still may occupy your thoughts frequently, it doesn’t mean you haven’t made a lot of progress or that you won’t continue to make progress. Working through things like this isn’t a black and white process (although it sure would be nice if it were) so it will take time and writing it out I think is a great step in helping yourself through this process!

Hold Fast,
Hannah

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