Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bullies - Words Do Hurt

I haven't been honest enough regarding bullying. I wrote "A Kind Place to Sit" as a way to pay tribute to the people who didn't bully. But the reverberations of being bullied can continue on through your life. I am a 50 year old wife and mother. I have a very satisfying home life with a great husband and typical teenage boys. We have a lovely home, and I have very close friendships. And yet, to this day, when I walk into a room full of women, I am scared. Now intellectually I know that if they dislike me or disapprove, they will resort to the slightly more civilized method of cold politeness, and simply not include me in their gatherings. But it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that they will not like me because I am too weird or anxious in their presence. Why am I that way? Because I was conditioned from a young age that I would be excluded, made fun of, even circled and teased. So like Pavlov's dog, I expect little and receive less. Being bullied is not something you easily recover from, and as one friend who was also bullied put it - even though I appreciate the adult I became, I can't help but feel that they took something from me. Did you experience bullying? Who terrorizes you? Has it impacted your life? Has it impacted your children's lives? And how do we stop the bullying and exclusion of others? Why do we find it so hard to accept each other as unique and wonderful in our own way?


  1. I have to thank you for being so brave. Very few would have the courage to be so honest about how bullies have affected them and how the experience continues to affect them today. I think fear, jealousy, and ignorance bred bullies, and I hope that by being open with my children, and non-judgemental they won't turn into bullies. I don't know. All I know is that mean girls sometimes grown up to be mean women, and it hurts.

  2. I have the same feeling as adult about not fitting in, and I trace it to feeling different in high school--having gone from small Catholic school to public high and feeling invisible, outcast. I think I bullied myself at a most vulnerable time, and that's not easy to recover from. Last night's Glee had a nice take on it.
    My husband is teaching our son to fight back, just in case he gets bullied as my husband was for being small. I'm sure with boys it's more of a physical thing, and my rule is if there's more than 2, run; if only 1, fight back...
    I've felt silent bullying in a job where I was the scab and was ignored, much like high school. I can better cope with it now, though, and it makes me stronger. I recite the St. Francis prayer a lot. And I try to remember that I'm never exempt from terrorizing others in some way--the adult form is gossip or cold shouldering, for me.
    I let a Pastor bully me in a writing workshop once, and that stymied my writing for years. He was wrong, and I learned to say WTF to my misgivings, and write anyway.
    I've been a party to listening to my neigbhor bully another neighbor at the bus stop, in front of children. That's been the worst, and I still have to ignore him, even though he forced my neighbor friend to move. So most days I'm reminded of the force of bullying, either at work or at the bus stop. It's a topic that never stops. We probably need an ongoing column about it...

  3. Unfortunately the bullies often never see their own reflection.

  4. I was terribly bullied at school and somehow always felt it was my fault. Now at 44 I shy away from bully-like people and still go out of my way to avoid contact. I guess for me it has stayed with me but I am, at least, trying to teach my daughter how to stand up for herself and not to give in to bullies.


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