Consequences of bullying – Part 1

This short title hardly explains what I actually intend to share. So here is more expanded one:

What not to do when you are getting bullied and how bullying can impact ones adult life.

I have written this multiple times over the years on papers which I threw away, tore in little pieces, even burned. But I never had courage to share it with someone else. Although I knew that this is something I’ll need to share eventually. It will read like a like story of my life, which it is, short version of it anyway. There is simply no other way to tell it.

Deep breaths and action…

I was born in the dark of the winter with a bang. Umbilical cord was wrapped twice around my neck, because that‘s how dragons are born, right?

In my babyhood I was quite silent. At least that’s what my mom says. But in kindergarten I remember myself being quite active despite my quiet nature. I liked to participate in different activities and such. I like to think that I was a silent rebel. I didn’t sleep when we had to, my first love was there and so was my first kiss. Quite a nice time I think. And of course life outside kindergarten was great too. I had my dad, my mom, my friends. What else a kid of that age need?

And then at age six my life turned upside down. At least that’s how I look at it.

First big blow came with a death of my dad.

Car accident happened or maybe some bigger conspiracy, who knows. Everyone was supportive of course but that didn’t help much. I remember clearly how someone said that the hair of that driver instantly turned white as he struck my dad. I also remember a hole in my dads head and my tears at his funeral. By that time I had been to few funerals already but to bury your dad is something else.

Fun fact: I have been to more than dozen funerals but I have never been to a wedding. And with all these funerals I reached a point where I began to laugh in them. Not loud of course but close enough. My mom had to “shush” me most of the time, but it didn’t took long for her to start this laughing thingy too. Also it seems that my grandma nr. 1 was laughing in funerals too. So I think it’s in the family.

Second big blow came in a form of a simple scare.

A friend of my mom (godparent in fact) invited us to her house. Her son decided to scare us from behind the door in the dark. Possibly to cheer us up or something like that. Such a great idea to scare a kid whose dad just died.

Ha fucking Ha!!!

After this scare I cried uncontrollably in my moms lap. They tried to calm me down but without much success. And therefore I cried for a while.

All this was told to me by my mom because I had no memory of this at all. In my own interpretation of this event, scaring happened outside on the corner of their house. It was still dark and sometimes monster scared me not the kid.

Anyway this simple scare was initiator for my stutter and all my future experiences that this story is about.

School

Next year came and my school experience began. First four grades I spent in the school my dad and I helped to build. If playing in enormous pile of sand counts as helping that is.

At first my stutter wasn’t noticeable. My mom doesn’t even remember when I really began to stutter. I know that in the first grade I stuttered but I didn’t think about it as a big deal.

Memory splash: One time there was some kind of anecdote contest I think. And teacher for some unknown reason chose me to stand on the stage to recite my anecdote. I was stuttering that time for sure. So I have no idea if others laughed about me or my anecdote. Most of my life I thought that they laughed about me, but now I like to think that they actually laughed about my anecdote.

Years through the first to fourth grade wasn’t that bad. At least I don’t remember lots of bad things, oh wait I do… Wild memories appear…first one is where some kid stole my gloves…second where my grandma went to school, not sure if these two memories are connected but I know that her going to school played back at me later.

These two memories kinda stirred up other ones but I don’t think they are relevant at this time. It’s funny how memories sometimes work.

Dark years

Now it’s time for what I call my “Dark years”. Fifth grade and onward. Five years of constant everyday bullying…Saturdays and Sundays and summers not included…thank you baby-internet at that time. Otherwise I have no idea how all of that could have ended.

All I remember is fucking darkness at this time. Nice times I had are more like stars in a clear night sky.

Bullying probably didn’t start right away. It ramped up as time went on. At this time I was already becoming more and more silent because of my stutter. And I have no doubt that my silence only encouraged my bullies to keep going. So, I suppose the first thing in what not to do list, is to not encourage your bullies.

Little note on my awesome friends.

There were three main boys. Let’s make them a gang.

One leader who was the one who began all this. And he constantly smelled like shit. I’m not even kidding, some internal digestion problems probably or he always pooped in his pants (unlikely). So he turned his smelly vulnerability into an attack on more vulnerable kid who was silent and had stutter. Perfect. That’s what I think could be his motivation.

First follower. Asshole who probably thought that making fun of stuttering was fun. I really have no idea about his real motivation.

Second follower, followed mostly because of the first one. Plump rose-cheeked bitch. Good at math but with no opinion on his own. If encouraged probably threw some insults too. Mostly stood behind and laughed along.

With other classmates I had good relationships. With some I had really good relationships. Probably there were some protests from my classmates about bullying but not successful I suppose. And it’s easy to overlook these good relationships when the only thing on your mind is to be as far as possible from everyone.

Oh…and what so called adults did. Nothing. Our class teacher young as she was didn’t saw what was happening or chose to ignore it, which in that case is even worse.

Inner world

This is the place where I think I can introduce beginnings of my inner journey or my inner world. Even if it was revealed to me much later when I began to work with myself.

Imagine that bullying every day is like someone is stomping on you constantly. This stomping is so painful and powerful that you retreat in the farthest and darkest corner of your mind. Just to keep yourself out of the external pain.

And this is exactly what I did (as in all credit goes to my subconsciousness for this) and in all seriousness I say to you all to never ever do this. All these years while I was bullied I was going deeper and deeper away in my mind. It made me hella strong to endure this everyday bullying but the cost for it was too damn high. So my inner world was in absolute darkness for all these five years and even more years to come.

How to bully

Bullying itself consisted of different levels of imitations of my stuttering, laughing about it, laughing about me, verbal abuse and possibly some physical abuse also. It doesn’t look much but as they say “words cut deeper than swords”. And in this case they cut very deep.

During these years I distanced myself from everyone. I had one friend with whom I sat at every class and I’m grateful about that. Of course logically I tried to avoid these three at any cost. Breaks between classes I spent mostly alone. And because I lived like five minutes from my school

I always arrived to the first period at the very last minute or later (cartoons were partly a second reason for that too). Everyone who tried to get close to me I pushed away. That included those who actually tried to comfort me. Which in my memory stands out as two girls that tried to talk to me, but I pushed them away (I think that was one of the rare times I cried in the school). And as a little reminder I went deeper and deeper away in my darkness.

I swallowed bullying like a champ. I kept it to myself. No idea why I decided to do it, at least 99% of it, but that’s what I did. I didn’t seek for help, I didn’t share how I felt, not even to my mom, I simply allowed to be bullied. And a result of it? I actually had to think how to describe it…Internal decay I would say describes it best. While on the surface I looked and acted like a normal child of that age, inside everything was crumbling, decaying, leaving a shell of a boy on the outside. It was easy to put on a smile that told “I’m Ok, don’t worry about me”. But that was not how I felt at all.

I became extremely shy. People made me sick. Interactions with people made me sick. I spoke only when I actually had to and there was no other choice. I remember that I had to summon everything I got just to go and buy something in the shop. And I never spoke with cashiers unless I had no choice at all. My sense of security was damaged to the point where I felt safe only when I was completely alone. As an example, when I was walking on the sidewalk and someone walked toward me, doesn’t matter if it was an old lady or some other kid or god forbid group of people, I would immediately cross the street where no one was walking. And I became tid bit paranoid. When someone laughed I automatically thought they are laughing about me.

My self-esteem rapidly decreased. I disliked my voice, my body, mostly anything about myself. My stutter became so bad that I was stuttering almost every word that came out of my mouth. So for most of the time I chose to be silent.

As we go even deeper, I was afraid to speak my mind, to exchange and share my thoughts, interests etc. So in group projects I was quite useless. And I can go even deeper, because this fear turned into shame. I became ashamed of my own voice, of my thoughts, of my body. And this shame lingered around for a really long time.

Imaginary friends

While we are here, let me introduce my two best friends that kept my sanity in the check. One was Johnny, think of John Wayne type cowboy. Second was Wolfy, he was…well…a werewolf, always in his wolf form. I talked with them, laughed with them and the best part was that no one knew about them, just me and me. This is actually the first time I’m putting them out in the open. And I suppose that thanks to them I was able have a half-normal life during these years.

Now…at the school I was a loner, that was a dark, unpleasant place for me. But outside the school I was like every other child. I played with others, went exploring, climbed trees, got bruises, got wet until bones etc. I don’t even think I told these kids about me being bullied. And they were really cool about my stuttering. I didn’t even mind to explain why I stutter. You could say that these kids and activities were acting like anchors that kept me above the water.

But as I said it’s easy to forget these happy times, when you are crying and screaming that you hate the school and don’t want to go there. You simply hate everything about it. Hell, I cried while I was going to the first period. At the school itself I tried not to cry much, I simply swallowed my tears also.

Itch here and there

My body even showed physically my hate to the school. Every autumn when the school began I had weird, itchy allergic reaction all over my skin. Reason for this was that I was allergic to apples. At least that’s what we thought. Only years later I understood real reason for this allergic reaction, because body showed it to the extreme that I need to get the fuck out my job. For now I’ll just say that I was pretty close to death because of my dislike to the job (and this job was a lesson on its own). And guess what…I smiled and cracked jokes while nurse made injections to stabilize me.

On we go. While we talk about near death you might think “Has a thought of suicide crossed his mind during these years?” And I say yes. Yes, I thought about suicide multiple times. Even played around with ideas. I had two favorites actually. One was jumping from my balcony in gracious head- first dive and second was good old wrist slicing. But I chose to keep living for two reasons. I couldn’t do it because of my mom. I played out so many scenarios what would happen if I would die and in every single one it broke her. She was strong, but not that strong. Second reason was that I thought of suicide as an act of weakness and cowardice. Now my mindset is different but at that time this belief kept me alive. Also we had a cat, so that can easily be a third reason to keep me on the living side.

A mess

By the end of the ninth grade I was a complete mess. I was hardened to the point where nothing could reach me and nothing could get out of me either. I didn’t care about school anymore or people in it. There was an option to stay until the twelfth grade, but all I wanted was to get away from this school and everyone associated with this part of my life. My hate and anger was boiling inside me at this point, but never got out because I simply didn’t allowed it. And as a result both of these things constantly burned me from the inside. Once I allowed a tiny piece of it outside when I was writing a message for our time capsule. In this message I wrote from all my heart “ How I hate this school, everyone in it and how I will never return to it. “ These are probably not the exact words but idea is still the same. Funny enough I returned to this school years later anyway.

So I left this school with a smile on my face. I was truly relieved and happy when I turned my back on everything. But in the neat line behind me followed all my anxieties, shameful feelings about my self, my super low self-esteem, fears from talking, people, sharing and so on and on. And this line was extremely long. It was like “Oh, you are going away, leaving everything behind. Starting new life are you? Nice…nice. But guess what? we will follow with every step you take. We will mock you, make fun of you everywhere you go. Freedom is nice and we will follow everywhere you go.”

Continue to Part 2

A penny for your thoughts