Bullying Stories: There’s a Happy Ending to the Story, but It Took Time
I’ve grown up to be a touch un-trusting of people. In some respects, it has helped me. I can see a bad bargain or business deal coming, for example. On the other hand, sometimes it prevents me from making lasting relationships with people I might otherwise have. Maybe being bullied isn’t the only reason for some of my less productive personality traits, but it certainly couldn’t have helped.
Randi and Lori Sansone — both doctors of psychology — believe victims of bullying can suffer from social difficulties, internalizing symptoms, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa.
In order to prevent bullying, it’s essential to understand exactly what it is with reading bullying stories of victims as well as bullying stories of survivors. According to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, “bullying is repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological aggressive behavior by a person or group directed towards a less powerful person or group that is intended to cause harm, distress or fear.”
Unfortunately, without an example, it’s hard to understand exactly what bullying looks like. I think I have a pretty good idea. While I was more fortunate than many, I certainly got a taste of what it is to be on the losing end of a raw deal.
It’s never fun being the centerpiece of bullying stories, but the worse part about being bullied isn’t getting beat up or feeling embarrassed or humiliated, the worse part is that all of those negative experiences end up drifting into other parts of your life. It’s strange, it all seems to start out so simply and before you know it, everything in your life is a mess as a result of your reaction to being bullied. As a supporter of the movement against bullying, you need to learn more on bullying stories.
Bullying Stories: Bullied as a Young Kid
The first time I felt bullied I was four or five years old. My parents were hosting a small Saturday get-together for some of their friends and their friends brought their children. For a while I found a couple of the older boys interesting, particularly because they had a bb gun. I liked following behind as they ran around the property shooting at cans and fence posts. When they found a toad, my thoughts on the matter changed a little.
Toads were a common sight on my parents place and though I thought they were ugly, I had great respect for them because my father had explained that toads were gentle creatures that kept the insect and spider population a bay and that even though they were ugly, they weren’t bad. He said to just leave them be and let them help us keep the place a nicer place to live.
Of course, boys being boys, those two wanted to shoot it. I didn’t like the idea and picked up the toad and started heading toward the canal to toss it into the water where they couldn’t get to it. Well, that meant they had a new target, me.
That bb hit me square in the back and made me bawl out and drop to my knees. That lead to them laughing and promises that they’d do it again if I didn’t give them the toad. I dropped it cowardly and one of them scooped up the toad and they took off running with it. I headed back to find my dad and sat on his lap while he visited with the other adults. Like a typical little kid, I told on the other boys and my father — not being a fan of tattle tails — simply said, “OK. Now buck up and sit by me.”
Evidently no one other than my father could understand what I said through the sobs because none of the other adults said anything.
Before long, the boys returned and one of them ran up to their father holding the toad by the foot. It was shot full of holes by this time and they were bragging, “look what we found.” Their father laughed and told them something to the effect of, “good hunting,” and that was the end of that.
For the rest of the day though, every time I’d look up those boys would be pointing the bb gun at me and saying “bang! bang!” and laughing.
Funny thing though, as the afternoon turned into evening and everyone got ready to leave, the boys couldn’t find their bb gun. Everyone looked high and low and someone asked my father if maybe I’d taken it. My Dad got down on one knee and said, “Ryan, do you have the boy’s bb gun?” I was a little worried because I knew the fact that it was gone wasn’t a good thing, but I was honest with him, “no,” I said looking up at my Dad.
He looked right into my eyes and said, “I know,” and — funnier thing — he winked. While his gesture was grand, the seed was planted. I knew what it was like to feel other kids’ aggression. It got my attention and made me anxious about meeting new kids for the first time.
Bullying Stories: Bullied Alone
While being bullied over a bull frog sized toad was the first time I’d ever been scared of other boys, my pride was saved by my father. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much he could do once I got into school. Overall, I enjoyed my elementary years, save the bullies. I seemed to attract the ire of the biggest, meanest bullies on the playground.
In the 5th grade it was the kid that matured faster than everyone else that seemed to have it out for me. Not only was I smaller than everyone else, but I had red hair and freckles and buck teeth with a space between them and braces. If it wasn’t enough that I got pushed around on the playground, I ended up with the nickname “Mad Orphan Annie.”
“Mad” was in reference to Mad Magazine which had a funny looking kid with buck teeth and a big space between them on every issue and Orphan Annie was obviously a comparison between the color of my hair and hers.
Looking back I can laugh, but at the time it was devastating. I hated going to school as a kid. My grades suffered because I was more worried about what was going to happen at recess than I was interested in class. I’d have rather been beat up twice a day every day and twice that amount on Sundays than be called ugly relentlessly.
Worse than anything was listening to people say it to me in front of my little brother because his admiration was what I loved more than anything. It’s a horrible feeling having your little brother lose respect for you. It’s a terrible feeling, maybe worse than any other in the world.
It’s far worse than being picked last at recess every day because that only lasted a few minutes as the teams were divvied up. Seeing your little brother feel sorry for you stings for days.
Bullying Stories: Afraid of Every Moment
By the time jr. high rolled around, I was on survival mode. It turned out I was a decent athlete, but I was so small that I was easily overpowered by even the average athletes. I wrestled in the lightest weight class both years and while I could run fast, I didn’t have blinding speed, so I wasn’t much of a football player in the eyes of the coaches.
Another problem with jr. high was that kids that were maturing quickly were getting enough power behind their punches to do some real damage. After four years of wearing braces, I’d learned that it really hurt to get punched in the lips when they’re backed up with braces. Though I wanted to fight back, and sometimes did, most of the time it just wasn’t worth the physical pain to take on someone bigger than me.
So, as a kid I learned how to be ultra-noncompetitive. Someone wanted my place in line, I’d keep my mouth shut and give it to them. In fact. I figured out that it was best to just start out at the back of the line every time. If a bully started taking my basketball at recess and then taking it home with them after school, I’d stop taking my basketball to school.
Unfortunately, it turns out not fighting back causes even bigger problems. You become everyone’s target. What’s worse, the other kids that got bullied would shy away from me because I drew unwanted attention to them. By the time I went into high school, I had almost completely isolated myself from other kids because it was the safest, most comfortable situation I could put myself in.
Then something happened.
Bullying Stories: High School Mistake
It should have never happened to me, but I’m glad it did. For some reason, I started to take on the physical characteristics of my father. My braces came off and 30 pounds went on in a year and I grew six inches in a single summer. Even for as big as I became, I was exceedingly strong and could run faster than most of the kids 20 pounds lighter. I gained confidence and even became a little cocky. My grades improved dramatically and I began doing exceptionally well on standardized tests.
Then the worse thing that could have happened happened. I became a bully.
I didn’t even realize it was happening, didn’t understand how I was making other people feel. I enjoyed making other people the butt of my jokes, I liked the feeling of being able to intimidate other people, I took pleasure in getting my friends to gang up on high school kids that were weaker than me, I mocked people that weren’t as smart as me, I ignored girls that weren’t comely, I was a rude, mean, unlikable high school kid because I loved the feeling of being at the top of the dog pile.
IT all came to a head after returning home late at night after a track meet on the bus. Walking through the alternative school classroom a friend of mine stopped and wrote something derogatory on a photo over a girl’s face. I laughed.
The next Monday morning my wrestling coach — who also happened to be the alternative school teacher — walked into my first hour class and said loudly, in front of everyone, “Willow is in my office crying because of what you wrote on her photo. She’s not crying because of what was written, she’s crying because you wrote it.”
Of course, like all bullies, I was a coward and what I said next is a testament to that fact, “but I didn’t write it.” What my coach — a massive man, even at 70, but the gentlest giant you’d ever meet — said next punched me right in the guts, “were you there when it was written?” I answered in the affirmative and asked, “did you do anything to stop it?”
Obviously I hadn’t, so I just sat there looking at him feeling as low as I had in years and he said, “in her eyes, if you let it happen, you may as well have written it.” I was the captain of the wrestling team as a sophomore and my life was going as perfectly as I could have hoped and I was so self absorbed that I didn’t even consider how my actions might make someone else feel even though I’d spent the previous decade being called “Mad Orphan Annie.”
My biggest regret about the entire situation is that it took someone else pointing out what I’d done before I realized how wrong it was. I was most ashamed of the fact that I didn’t realize it on my own. It wasn’t until I really hurt someone’s feelings and someone I held on a pedestal knocked me off my high horse that I realized that I’d become the person I hated most in the world, a bully.
Bullying Stories: The Hapless Crusader
It would be dishonest to say that from that day forward I did everything in my power to keep people bullies from picking on weaker people. I should probably admit that I even encouraged some bullying. Turns out the kid that was bigger than everyone else in the fifth grade didn’t grow anymore. In fact, he became a target in high school and I never did anything to stop it.
The notion that I was a good boy and turned the other cheek is laughable. I took satisfaction in watching kids that had once fell prey to a bully’s antics exact a little revenge. I didn’t mind when people that once felt isolated went to isolate those who had done it to them.
While it makes me less than a good man to say if I had it all to do over again, I’d probably still turn a blind eye toward those who sought to get even. And, what I’m about to say next may be a complete cop-out, but there may be a little truth to it. Bullying people breeds irreversible discontent and hardship and the one universal truism is that everyone who has ever been bullied remembers who did it to them and if they have an opportunity to get even they will.
Getting even with a bully isn’t the right thing to do, but without question, those people that bully others should watch their backs because no one ever forgets the feeling of being humiliated.