October is National Bullying Prevention Month
Join the Movement – Help Us Spread The Word
Bullying is an interesting term. It’s thrown around so casually these days, I sometimes wonder if people may have become a bit desensitized to what it means and how it feels.
It’s never something to take lightly. Bullying is the use of force or a threat to intimidate another in a verbal, physical, or emotionally abusive manner. People get bullied over their height, weight, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, political beliefs–you name it.
I’ve been on the receiving end. It’s not something I talk about often, if at all, because it’s never been something I’ve been comfortable about discussing.
Being bullied means you’re the victim. Someone else was bigger, badder, tougher, stronger than you.
It means you were weak. You caved. You let them hurt you.
I’ve been in fistfights. I’ve had an entire bus full of my fellow classmates laughing at me and calling me names over the course of a twenty minute ride home from school. Hell, I once had coworkers make fun of me because I admitted I didn’t shave my nether bits and then proceed to tease me about it for weeks after, often in front of other coworkers.
You know something?
It doesn’t matter. Not anymore. It was a long time ago, and the people who hurt me are long behind me.
For a long time, it made me a bitter person. I withdrew from all but my closest friends. Books were my sanctuary. The only human interaction I felt comfortable with was the time I spent in chatrooms online.
It wasn’t healthy. It didn’t have to be that way–but it felt like there was no escape from the people who had nothing better to do than taunt me. Even after I left the school and the jobs where people called me things like “lower than snail shit on the totem pole,” the memories only reinforced that feeling like I couldn’t do anything about it, that it was all I was ever going to get out of life. The more I withdrew, the worse it became.
Being constantly stressed, alternating between depression and anxiety over knowing what was waiting for me the next time I showed up at school or work–that’s the result of bullying.
It took a long time for me to get myself in a position where I found a job where the people valued me and my work, a long time to realize who my friends really were, and an even longer time to build up the confidence to put myself in the public eye. Being an author is something of a buffer from the hard words and the hurt, but it leaves one open to those things in other ways.
The difference is, I know what to expect from those who aim to hurt me, now. I’ve got years of experience recognizing them, and they are not the kinds of people I let into my life anymore.
It does get better. You don’t have to live with that fear and pain and depression. There are people out there who care, organizations and individuals you can turn to for help or advice:
Don’t be afraid to speak about your experiences here, either. If you need someone to talk to, and you don’t feel comfortable discussing it on the blog, you can always talk to me privately.
It isn’t always easy. Sometimes standing up for yourself is one of the hardest things in the world. Sometimes just telling someone else that something is wrong and you need help is more than you think you can bear. Believe me, I know.
You can do better. You don’t need people like that in your life.
You are not helpless. You are not alone.
You can be loved.
Be sure to visit the blogs of the other authors participating in the Authors Against Bullying Blog Hop:
Join us on Twitter using hashtag: #AuthorsAgainstBullying
Mandy M. Roth
Michelle M. Pillow
Jackie Morse Kessler
Jesse L. Cairns
Ruth Frances Long