I am writing this as a victim and survivor of bullying, which I suffered from the age of three to 16. I was also physically, verbally and emotionally abused from birth to six years old.
My father was the worst. His violent temper, constant lies, and evasion of responsibility, his yelling, and accusations, were the beginning. He would pick me up and shake me, hit me and hit me until I cried. I remember the tense atmosphere. I can recall running up the stairs, him chasing me. “Nooooo!” I cried, but then his hands were on me, and I felt blow after blow rain down. Another time he picked me up and threw me across the room. Then there was the time he threw me against the wall, slamming me against it. He even tried to throw me out of the window. I was in constant worry of something setting him off. I wanted to reach out, to emotionally connect but time and time again, I was ferociously rebuffed. I wanted to cry because I felt sad, but that made him angry, too. So I kept my feelings to myself. I was terrified of receiving another round of hitting. When would it come? So I was fearful of sharing with others in case I got hurt – not just physically but emotionally, too. I began to dream that this was possible. I dreamed of a life where everyone surrounded me; everybody loved me, and I could be safe. Every time I got hurt, I would zoom off to this dream world to escape. I thought I must be a terrible person to get this punishment. So I developed Avoidant Personality Disorder. Daddy did that.
Then there was the school bully at elementary school. He was stocky, slightly overweight, mean and threatening. One day I had to go outside the classroom because I left something in my bag in the cloakroom. While I was there, the bully showed up. Maybe he skipped his class. He saw me and an opportunity. He came up to me and asked me what I was doing. After I replied, he told me he thought I was stupid because of the way I used to pretend to drive a car around the playground (I had a vivid imagination – you know, thanks to my father – see above). He told me only crazy people do that and began to rough me up. He pushed and shoved me around, grabbed my bag and kicked it away. Then he pushed me down and tussled with my clothes. I was terrified since I was still extremely shy. Then he got up and threatened me with dire consequences if I told anyone. So I told no one.
There were also the twins from another class at Camborne School (1984-1988) who saw me in the school library when I was 15. “It’s interrogation time,” they began, ominously, sitting down next to me. “Are you mature yet? How many times a week do you masturbate? So, how do you make babies? Have you ever kissed a girl? Are you still a virgin? Why haven’t you lost your virginity yet? Do you want a girlfriend? If you were in bed with a girl, what would you do first? Can you ejaculate? Do you have ‘wet dreams’?” I’m using all the formal vocabulary for this article, but actually, they used the slang, rough stuff, so just use your imagination as to how it really sounded. This abuse went on for about 45 minutes. After they had left, I felt extremely upset, tearful and with that kind of gasping, lump-in-your-throat type of feeling. I decided I had had enough. I kept silent and solemn for the rest of the day, then went home. I finally poured it all out in front of my parents. My third dad carefully wrote down everything in a notebook and telephoned the school to make an appointment. He was great. There was a meeting with the headmaster and some top people, and the twin’s parents came to speak to my parents. The twins were punished, and there was a dramatic reduction in the teasing I received from them and others. I was left alone from then on and my final six months at school passed pleasantly and without incident.
Now, of course, I am a Certified Life Coach. I can use my knowledge of adverse early life experiences to advise clients on how to get out of these negative childhood backgrounds and into a new life. A life where they feel confident to make the decisions they need to make to achieve the dream life they’ve always wanted in a way that is meaningful and brings peace to them.
If I met my bullies today, I would offer forgiveness. Not only because forgiveness is powerful and not just because I think I’m a “nice guy.” Rather because I now have some of the insight, I lacked at that time.
To my father, who is now dead, I would say: “I know why you did what you did. Your anger and selfishness and constant lying were the result of your bossy, self-opinionated, “couldn’t take-no-for-an-answer” mother, who, when you were a kid, badgered you and bossed you around and, when something bad happened, would interrogate you mercilessly until you told the truth. Then she would give you such a hard time about what you did when you told her that you learned it was easier to tell a lie to keep the peace. You felt unheard, and your opinion was dismissed for hers. I can understand how this made you angry, made you feel like you should put your needs first and made you tell lies. I can forgive you for that. However, you chose to take it out on my mom and me and couldn’t handle being married. Instead of turning to the light and searching for the truth, you chose to exert yourself by being even worse than your mother in some attempt to make your mark. In so doing, you lost Mum and your children and never saw me again for the last 24 years of your life.”
To the elementary school bully, I would say: “I don’t know where you are or what you are doing now but I now understand that you behaved the way you did probably because you had a bad family background. You hadn’t been taught how to share uncomfortable and negative feelings and saw in me everything you hated – the weakness, shyness, and insecurity that you were trying to cover up. Is that right?”
To the twins, I would say: “You shouldn’t have done what you did. I know it must have been frustrating to see me living in a dream world, talking to imaginary people and being shy and awkward and saying silly things. You couldn’t understand what I was doing, and I couldn’t explain it either. I can forgive you for getting impatient with me. However, you chose to treat me like an idiot and assumed a negative cause and the questions you asked me were designed to make me feel small and stupid. I hope the punishment you received will make you think twice before you treat anyone like that again in the future.”
I would then invite all four of them to learn what I have learned and embrace the life and light that I have found. I would work with them as their Life Coach to achieve their dreams, confident that, in my experiencing them at their worst, they will be inspired by their former victim to uncover their deepest insecurities and find the means to leverage that into a life that’s something better.
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