youtu.be/rWVgbTBlH9M "Wanted (Dead Or Alive)" by Bon Jovi
Please listen very carefully to the lyrics of this song before you read this blog post. They may have started out being about some kind of cowboy fantasy but - to me - they describe the effects of bullying so well.
I am always amazed at people's perceptions of the effects of bullying – especially if they have never been subjected to it. They seem to think that the effects only last as long as the bullying itself does (maybe fractionally longer). They also seem to think that the only person who has been affected by it is the person who is bullied.
Here are some other words which I consider to be very closely linked to bullying – Terrorism, Genocide, Murder, Manslaughter, Assault, Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH), Actual Bodily Harm (ABH), Mental Abuse, Torture.
I wonder how many of you would tell me that the above only affect the person who they happen to??? Or, how many of you would tell me that the effects don't last for a very long time???
Of course, you might well look at the list of words I consider to be very closely linked to bullying and think I am either exaggerating or I have totally lost the plot.
The answer to that is – neither. I am what some would call a victim and others would call a survivor of bullying and I wanted to tell you about my experience of the ways in which bullying has affected myself, my family, and my friends.
I am not going to tell you the exact details of the bullying I received (I don't want to be responsible for giving anybody else ideas on how to make someone's life miserable to the point of wanting to end it). I may give you the odd hint though during the course of this blog post as a means of explaining how it has affected myself and others around me.
Bullying can take many forms – Physical, Mental, Intentional, Implied, etc. If you are subjected to any form of it for any length of time you will hit the point where you believe every bad thing anybody says about you and you will believe you deserve all the bruises and pain you receive.
Here is a hypothetical question for you – what would you do if I walked up to you in the street and punched you for no apparent reason? Probably attempt to have me arrested for punching you. You would probably have a stronger case against me if I had picked on one aspect of your person I didn't like and used that against you – at least then you could probably sue me under the applicable Act (Racial Discrimination, Religious Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, etc).
I am going to start with the one “side effect” of being bullied which I have never been affected by – but I can honestly understand why people do become affected by it – Substance addiction (Drugs, Alcohol, etc). You could say that the side-effects bullying has had on me are rather more easily hidden and have little or no financial cost unless I choose to subject you to them.
If you meet me you may think I am a pretty tough cookie. The truth is more in the word “cookie” - they crumble easily if you bend them too far. Calling me “tough” is like calling a jelly stiff and unmoveable. Jelly is supposed to be wobbly – if it is stiff you have obviously made a mistake when reading the instructions on how to make it.
You may also think (second thoughts – chances are you will also think) I am the prickliest character you have ever met – and you would love it if I were to shut up and let you get a word in edgeways. Trust me – you do not want me to shut up on first meeting you. If I am talking to you you still have a chance to convince me that you are trustworthy. If I go silent you have a big problem (unless I have asked you a question and I am waiting for your answer) – my next course of action will be to leave your presence by the quickest means possible never to (willingly) return again. Me going silent on you after first meeting you means that I consider you to be a mortal threat to me.
Here is something else – the less friendly you appear at first the more likely I am to talk to you. Experience has taught me that the friendliest looking humans are the ones who are the most likely to cause me trouble, pain, and heartache. However, on the flip side to that – I am one of the people who is least likely to judge you on either appearances or your life story so far. What I mean by that is – you can look like the most dangerous human in existence and decide to tell me about your past drug addiction, or your Mental Health issues and – unless you do or say anything to damage me - I will not judge you for it. The minute you make me feel uncomfortable all bets are off.
Hmm – apparently those of us who have been subjected to bullying will be all too happy to inflict physical violence on other people whether or not they deserve it. Here is a confession for you – I have only ever wanted to inflict physical violence on one person (by which I mean cause them serious physical injury) – and that was because I felt they were putting me in a situation not unlike I had faced when I was being bullied – more to the point - I didn't think they were listening to me because I felt like they were trying to steamroller me into submission. Of list of many and varied reasons for me not attempting to inflict serious physical damage on this individual was actually their job (and – no – they weren't a Police Officer). In the end I merely got more stubborn and vicious in my arguing. (It is a massive surprise that they are still talking to me.)
I find it extremely difficult to trust people – even now. I may give the impression I am totally comfortable in your presence but be very careful. One wrong move and my prickles will come out.
On the other side of that – once I do trust you - you have found a friend who will do anything for you. I will support you, turn into a Sounding Board for you. Basically – I will do anything in my power to make your life that little bit better for you. I am also extremely protective of my friends (unless you do something to break my trust – in which case I strongly suggest you leave me alone otherwise the consequences could be very nasty for you).
I said I was protective of my friends, didn't I? Well, you can say whatever you want to about me – I have heard every negative comment you could make – but - the minute you start badmouthing my friends or family - watch out. And don't think you will be protected if you were my friend to start with because you won't.
This may surprise you but I am not very confident – I wish I could be the sort of person who isn't afraid of blowing their own trumpet or “bigging themselves up”. In fact, I am the exact opposite. Don't just praise me for something like writing what you think is a brilliant blog post – I won't believe you (unless you have ended up in my “handful of heroes” who I trust with my life). Prove it by doing something concrete that will show me you like it – you can offer to help me with something you learn I have a difficulty with as a result of reading my ramblings, you can tell me that you have treated someone differently, you can even take me to events so I can review them, etc. Even better – throw ideas at me for blog posts which you might like reading.
I prefer my own company. Don't get me wrong – I like being with my friends. However, there are times when I feel like I have to pretend to be exactly like everybody else. There is nothing more mentally tiring than acting “normal” especially when all you want to do is have a major “meltdown” - crawl into a corner and either hide or die (depending on how stressed you feel).
Depression? Yes – I have had it. Suicidal feelings? Same. Actually seriously considered attempting suicide??? At least three times in my life. In fact, little do they know it but one friend actually stopped me from acting on it last week. I am not going to tell you who they are or what they did but I really appreciate it.
So – you see – bullying doesn't just affect the person being bullied. Nor do the effects only last for fractionally longer than the actual bullying. After all, it has been nearly 30 years since I left compulsory education and nearly 10 years since I got made redundant from E & F Services Ltd (where I was also bullied by the man who ended up being my only boss) – and I still feel the effects of it every day.
Some days I consider myself to be a victim of bullying - other days I consider myself to be a survivor of bullying. The one thing I wish we could do is create a society where noone has to suffer bullying of any kind – no matter how old they are.
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