Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bullying Damages Peoples Lives!

In my previous post I talked through some of my feelings regarding finding that the man I had been dedicated to for the past 5 years had been cheating on me. I shared how I was bullied as a young girl in school by people playing with my heart and feelings by pretending to be interested in me,  and then finding it hilarious when I believed what they were saying. In that post I was beating myself up for once again playing the fool like I had back in then, all those feelings of being the stupid fool had come flooding back and I kept telling myself how dumb I was to believe someone could love me. Those are the same lies that I was taunted with back then, and here a good 25 some years later those messages are still very deeply ingrained in my mind. They were my "truth" as I was growing up and that "truth" effected my whole life and it is what I struggle with now as I work to replace those lies with actual truth.

I have been pondering all this lately after I finally realized where the anger at myself was coming from, and I will admit I have been simmering with a little bit of anger. No longer am I angry at myself I am angry at those kids who found it so hilarious to play with someone elses heart and lives. I am angry that they felt it was ok to treat me and others who didn't "measure up" as third class citizens who deserved to be treated like crap. I am angry at all those people who will sit back and say bullying is harmful and that kids will be kids. I am really angry at the ones who say that "you have to be cruel to be kind" and that talk about tough love and try so desperately to hide the fact that they are just mean concern trolls. A comment on one of the blogs I read in the past few weeks (I can't remember where so if it was you give me a heads up) has really stuck in my head. They were commenting about tough love and said if that is the way you love then go love someone else. That was huge for me, I thought oh that is so right on, they go on and on about tough love and having to be mean in order to "save" someone, but does anyone ask the victim if they asked to be "loved?"  I dare to wager that the majority would gladly pass on that kind of love, and would be better off for doing so. I honestly don't care how good your intentions are, if the person you are pointing them at doesn't invite you to share them, then shut your mouth, cause you aren't an undercover superhero.

Another thing that has me angry is how the adults I tried talking to when I was being bullied would react or respond. Most of the time I was told "You just gotta ignore them, they are just trying to get a reaction out of you and if you don't react they will stop" then the other thing that would happen was I would be encouraged to go on a diet, lose weight, change myself. Here is the deal folks, when a person, especially a young kid is being victimized by a bully or bullies, it is so not cool to put the responsibility for stopping it onto the victims shoulders cause lemme tell ya, they have enough to shoulder. That is the #1 reason that I stopped speaking out about all the stuff I went through, because it always became my problem, I would have to change myself or my reactions, I was the one in the wrong, not the bully. It wasn't until my late twenties  just a few years ago when I was in a group counseling session at a clinic I had gone to in California for eating disorders that I actually shared some of the stuff I went through. To me it was just my childhood, it was my normal, all I knew but my counselor looked at me seriously and said "Teresa that was ABUSE, you talk about it as though it was your fault and that is was ok but that was ABUSE and it is not ok that that happened to you and I am so very sorry you had to go through that."  That was the very first time in my life that I ever heard someone 1)give it the name of abuse because that is what it was and 2) tell me that I didn't deserve it and 3) that they were so sorry that it had happened to me. The first time I had EVER heard any of that. It honestly shocked me and I started to disagree because I was still holding the feeling of responsibility for it, then I just went silent for the rest of the session. I didn't know how to process not just that what was my normal, was actually abuse, but I also struggled to process that it wasn't my fault and that someone said they were sorry... to me...for what I have gone through. That counselor still holds a very dear place in my heart, he opened my eyes in such a profound way and I can still hear his voice and see his face as he spoke those words.

SleepyDumpling wrote a post on Fat Heffalump the other day Bullies – You Don’t Get a Cookie for Feeling Bad that had me nodding my head in agreement the whole way through. I am so sick of bullies getting a pass for their abusive behavior, and the thought of people feeling bad for them because "oh they must have had such a hard life" yeah well life is tough for everyone and that doesn't give us license to abuse others because of it. We need to not only stop bullying, and teach our children that bullying is bad and wrong, we need to give real consequences to the bullies not the victims. We need to stick up for the victims of bullies abusive ways, and we need to teach our children to be NICE  and how to treat people with RESPECT even if you might not like them for some reason. The best way to do this is to model it in our own lives, treat the people we run across in life with respect. Yeah ok it might be nice to tell kids that "it gets better" but in the case of being a fat person that isn't always true and sometimes when you grow up the adults can be even worse than the kids were. It doesn't always get better and that cliche annoys me because it rings so much of the responses that I got from the adults that should have been protecting me in order to brush me aside. It might not get better, it might get worse, but I have found in the fat acceptance community that even if it doesn't get better you can find people who will stand beside you and tell you that what has happened to you is not ok and that they are so very sorry. They also help you replace the lies the bullies and abusers throw at you with the truth and that helps you to get stronger and stand firm when it doesn't get better.

So what do you think of "tough love" and people that think that abuse and shame is a good way to help people?  What do you think of the "It gets better"saying?  What can adults do when a kid comes to them and tells them they are being bullied, how would you react?

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