‘Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter…’
Today I am going to share with you my story of being bullied, not only as a child but as an adult later on in life. I recently saw the film It, which follows a group of kids that call themselves ‘The Losers Club.’ Every single one of them is bullied and intimidated by other children and of course, Pennywise the Dancing Clown. I felt I could strongly relate to them, having been through something similar (minus the clown) and that is why I’ve written this post. The film is divided into two parts: childhood and adulthood, so I decided to format my post in the same way. I am sharing this story not to gain sympathy but to provide perspective and hope if you happen to read/relate to it.
In Primary School, I was definitely not a ‘cool’ kid. I had a terrible haircut, glasses and a goofy grin. You don’t realise it at the time but the first few years of school are critical for a young child. You seek friendship and acceptance from your classmates to help navigate the scary, new realm you visit everyday to learn. I thought myself extremely lucky at the time to have ‘buddied’ up with a girl named (let’s call her) Lacey. She was pretty, popular and smart. Every recess and lunch, we would play pretend horses. If anybody ever suggested anything else, Lacey would sulk and demand we do what she wanted until we all gave in. She quickly picked me to be her best friend and I felt very honoured. We made up songs together, giggled at silly boys and bonded over our love of The Spice Girls. I remember once I invited her over my house to play and she never showed up despite promising she would. She never called to explain why either. Aside from that instance, I didn’t see any cause for concern until one day, in the 4th grade, I disagreed with her about something. I cannot for the life of me remember what it was but I do know without fail that the subject matter was minute. In a flash, she began teasing me in front of all the other children, calling me ‘four-eyes’ and singling me out from our group. She made the girls swear not to talk to me and they all ran away whenever I got near. I’ve always been a deeply sensitive person so being blatantly ostracised made me cry. I couldn’t understand why she was so awful to me…
One day, I cornered her in the girl’s bathroom and asked her point-blank why she was treating me this way. Her response was: “I just love seeing you cry.” My heart sunk. How could anybody find pleasure in somebody else’s pain? It baffled me. Tired of all the bullying, I decided to suck up to Lacey and pretend to be her friend. At least that way, she wouldn’t tease me anymore. It worked and we began playing horses again. Stupidly, I confessed to one of the girls in our group that I was only faking it so Lacey could be nice to me. She ran and told Lacey which made her furious. Another girl in our group slapped me hard across the face by the bushes and Lacey began kicking me. I tried to fight back but I was too little and she overwhelmed me. When I tried to reason with her (classic little Bec trying to reason with a school bully), she put her hands over her ears and yelled ‘blah blah blah.’ I hit her with my school bag but she tackled me to the ground and whacked me even harder with her own. The teasing continued. After numerous talks with teachers and parents, we underwent friendship counseling. Lacey pretended like she was a perfect angel and I was the crazy one. I left those sessions more in despair than ever. This was my life and it was never going to change. After many discussions, my mum suggested I ‘steer into the skid.’ Whatever Lacey teased me about, I should just play dumb and agree. She would call me stupid and I would grin, unnerving her by replying: “yes I am stupid Lacey, thank you.” She would then say: “why are you so ugly” and I would answer: “well, I’m stupid that’s why.” This kept going until, in a fit of frustration, she burst into tears. I wasn’t giving her the satisfaction and it killed her. We were on the playground and I asked her one last time why she felt the need to treat me this way. Through choked sobs, she confessed that she was jealous of me. She said that being kind to others came so easily to me and it didn’t to her, therefore she wanted to punish me. I was amazed by her insight and in that moment, she couldn’t hurt me any longer. I saw Lacey for what she truly was. Her social-status and beauty meant nothing. She hated herself inside. I may not have been gorgeous or popular but I liked who I was and that meant much more than the exterior. Lacey left me alone after that. She tried to taunt me from time to time but nothing penetrated. I was immune to her actions plus I had my wicked weapon of playing dumb to draw upon. In Grade 5, I made the decision to repeat the year. It was the best thing I ever did. Lacey moved onto a different highschool than the one I would attend and I met my best friend Graham who has been in my life ever since. Thankfully, we had a great highschool experience and made many wonderful friends/memories together.
I want to mention that during Primary School, there were other girls who physically and emotionally abused me. Years later, one of the bullies ran into me at a restaurant and hugged me like we had been best friends. I remember staring at her in shock. She used to wait for me after the bell rang to kick and pinch me. I laugh about it now. Lacey was by far the worst in my opinion because I struggled more with the emotional abuse than the physical. I hated and loved her at the same time. I wanted her to like me but I also felt my stomach turn whenever she would show up to class. I used to feel like it was my fault (as I’m sure a lot of victims of bullying do) but after Lacey’s confession, I realised that wasn’t at all true. There was nothing wrong with me. I was a nice, normal girl who loved openly. Being kind was and still is the easiest thing in the world for me. I struggle to say bad words about other people. The bullies could sense that and through a deep, unseated envy, I became the target of their insecurities.
As an adult, I was no longer physically assaulted or teased but rather bullied in a different way. I was manipulated and taken advantage of. In my early 20’s, I was deeply unhappy. I worked part-time at a car-rental company in reservations/sales whilst completing my Graduate Diploma on the side. The job was boring and I was subjected to a lot of abusive calls day in and day out. To pass the time and lighten the load, I became friends with a girl named (let’s call her) Dana. She was hilarious. We would quote The Simpsons together and rock out to heavy-metal. She was Italian like me and shared a mutual loathing for the job. All day long she would complain loudly and obnoxiously. If our bosses tried to approach her, she would fly into a temper and yell. I’m surprised she didn’t get fired. In this time, she started to become dependent on marijuana. I was always offered but never joined in. She would try to pressure me to do drugs or speak out against my boss but I didn’t want to. Like Lacey, if I disagreed with her, her face would darken. I watched her scream at people in the cinemas for talking, hurl expletives at her lovely parents and isolate herself from all her friends. I was starting to become scared of her. One day, our manager sent out an email to all staff asking that we do not post anything about work on Facebook. Dana immediately felt violated. She ranted about how it was her right to say whatever she wanted on her personal profile. She posted a harsh status targeting our company in rebellion and asked me to like it. I did in support of her and was dragged into a meeting by the bosses. Someone had found the status and showed them. They told me they were disappointed in me and that they thought I was better than that. I cried all the way home. Naturally. This made Dana even angrier and after a couple of weeks, she quit but not before calling our manager a ‘fat-pig’ to her face! Not long after Dana had resigned, I left too and decided I didn’t want to speak to her anymore. It may have been cowardly but I just deleted her from everything and tried to resume a normal life. She started sending me abusive messages calling me a c#$t and even sent one to my sister calling her a slut. She hadn’t even met my sister before! It reinforced that I had made the right decision in removing her from my life.
I realised afterwards that I was still making friends with temperamental people that placed conditions/expectations on me. I had to agree with everything they said or did otherwise they had license to treat me badly. The problem here was, I was too nice and always rooted for the underdog. Bullies preyed on people like me. A few years later, I met another girl who was similar to Dana. I will call her Angela. She would boss me around and only suck up to me when she wanted something. She made fun of me for being a vegetarian at the time and I even overheard her overly racist parents making fun of me too! At first, I allowed it because I felt sorry for her. She had almost died from a severe medical condition and struggled to make friends but it didn’t take long before I saw the familiar patterns emerging. She stopped speaking to me for a long time and then one day, out of the blue, she messaged asking me to do her a favour. It had always been that way with Angela. I was only worth something when I could be useful to her. I cut her out and have not heard from her since. I came to understand that bullying can take many forms and being pressured to do something or taken advantage of is just as unacceptable as outright abuse.
Bullying is never okay but the first thing you need to understand is, it is never your fault. The second thing to note is it’s never actually about you. People will project their own insecurities/unhappiness onto a person that possesses traits/attributes they wish they had. My heart goes out to these people but at the same time, I do not condone mistreatment. If you’re a victim of bullying, work on loving yourself and all the good in the world will come to you. Do not associate yourself with people that tear you down. Surround yourself with friends that encourage you and fill your life with positivity. Recognise the patterns and form new ones like I eventually did. Also, just to clarify, I didn’t always attract terrible friends. I have a select few amazing friends that I treasure so dearly. If you’re interested in learning more about them, please read: What Makes A Good Friend?
I hope that this post was helpful in some way. If you are being abused/mistreated, please seek help and tell somebody about it. If I hadn’t reached out, I wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to repeat a year and start my life over. There is no shame in what you are going through. Just try to look beyond the abuse. A bully is never a happy person and there is always a deeper reason behind their actions. I’m here if you wish to start a discussion below.
Thank you for reading…
Peace & Love xoxo