many questions and one firm statement

I was bullied in Junior High: pantsed, laughed at, mocked, knocked around, chased, tormented…

I was fast, though, and, when I could, I would run.  I’d run away from my tormentors, run away from my bullies, run away from the pain…  Sometimes I managed to get away clean.  Sometimes I didn’t.

Regardless.  I could never outrun the shame and humiliation.

I often wished I had the courage to stand and fight, to take the punches and kicks, and lash out with my feet and hands, returning blow for blow.  I wished I had the strength to turn my shame into channeled fury.  I wished I had the fortitude to turn my fear off, to not worry about what they would do to me if I stood to fight, to not worry about what it would mean for my school career, the suspension, the possible expulsion.  I wished I could inflict the kind of pain on them that they had inflicted upon me.

But…

Would that make me as bad as them?  If I hurt them as they had been hurting me would I too be a bully?  Where was the line between defending myself and taking it too far?  Would I have known that line?  Would I have ever even come close to the line… me, against all of them…

Would I be a different person now if I had?

Because I like who I am now.  I like where I am now.  I love the people in my life and I wouldn’t give them up for anything.  Did those terrible experiences in junior high set me on this path?  Did I have to go through those trials and tribulations to make it here, to appreciate what I have now?

As much as I wonder how my life back then would have been different if I had chosen fight over flight, I wouldn’t go back and change anything.

However, if my little prince is ever bullied, I will let him know it is okay to stand and fight, it is okay to set aside the fear of the consequences and give as good as he gets, because if the time comes we will face the aftermath together.

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46 thoughts on “many questions and one firm statement

  1. Who we are now is a result of everything we’ve gone through before. I wonder if I would as incredibly cool if I hadn’t survived the trials and tribulations of childhood.
    Of course, if the Prince thumps anyone who pulls that crap with him, he’ll probably turn out even cooler!
    (I jest.)
    (But he can aspire to be as cool.)

    Plus he’s got great parents to help him along.

    • 😀 He does have pretty awesome parents, I’ll give him that. And that is the plan – to have him turn out even cooler. He’s already better looking, so it probably won’t take much for that to happen.

  2. I´ve tought the same thing several times.

    Not sure I ever want to thank my bullies, but it´s kind of weird that I still say “Hi” when I meet them – and all the can do is stare at the ground. My life turned out to be pretty amazing, not sure we can say that for all of them. The effect of their action got me to where I am today – in some odd twisted way.

    And if your kid ever gets bullied – there are always solutions and lessons to be learned.

    • Well, you are one step beyond me. I’ve never once said “hi” to any of my bullies after the fact. If I met any of them today I don’t think I’d even give them that much of my time…

  3. I was bullied in middle school. And yes, it still affects me many years later. I wonder if that bullying though made me sensitive to when my younger son was bullied in public school and made me more willing to start homeschooling because of it. We’ve been homeschooling for seven years now, and both of my boys are turning out pretty well and are sensitive to others being mistreated. I know you and your wife will do great by the little prince.

    • Thank you for the vote of confidence. My mom offered to home school me too, when she saw that I wasn’t enjoying school anymore (I never told her everything that was going on). We made the decision together to have me stick it out though… and as I said in the post, that isn’t really a decision I would change, for me.

      • Oh please know I didn’t mean it like that. That was a decision you made for yourself which was appropriate for you. I was just telling you about the decision we made for our kids which was appropriate for us.

      • 🙂 That’s exactly how I took it. I knew you weren’t calling us out. We all have to make the decisions we feel are right at the time, no worries at all.

  4. DJ this was a brave post, and a brave share in Carnie’s Corner. I understand what you are saying. I was bullied terribly in school. I honestly believe it does make us who we are today. It’s all a journey. I wouldn’t change it for anything because to do that I would have to throw out the good with the bad. Now when my kids are bullied it cuts me deeply, and like you, I feel that they should be able to defend themselves against it. This was very thought provoking. Thanks!

    • Thanks for commenting… I still find it interesting that there is no way I would change any of that from my past, because I don’t want to change who I am now, but I’m still not (I don’t know the right word to go here) “okay” with it all. That seems to be a bit of disconnect. Shouldn’t I have made peace with the bullying that went on if I’m happy now? I don’t know… I hope the little prince never has to go through any of that. I hope that one day bullying will stop altogether. What do you do for your kids when they are bullied? What do they let you do? I can’t imagine how it must “cut you.” Thinking about it now I would want to line the culprits up against the wall…

      • I know, and it never leaves you. I don’t think there is any making peace with it honestly.
        I just hold my kids and keep dialogue open with them. I contact the school and get them heavily involved and I have always made sure to foster a closeness in my kids “family is forever. We are always here for you. No matter what happens out there in the world, we are your safe place. It will be OK”, and with that as a base they are more able to cope with the crap the world dishes out. But having said that, one of the hardest parts of parenting is letting go. It’s realising that you can’t live your kids’ lives for them, can’t fix everything. You will find this out as your prince grows up.

      • My parents fostered that attitude in our home too – family will always be there for you, family will always have your back… I knew that, and that did help me get through the tough times, but, that still wasn’t enough for me to tell them everything.
        I hope the prince tells me everything…
        Letting go sounds terrible…

    • No swirlies… plenty of wedgies, and indian burns, and noogies…
      Thankfully no swirlies. That might have actually been the action that would draw me into conflict.

  5. I had one kid that bullied me. But then, for some reason, another bully decided to protect me in exchange for something I can’t remember. They fought and it was stupid.

    • I had friends that would stick up for me in elementary school, but found myself mostly alone in junior high… I don’t think that anyone ever fought for me though. What happened after they fought? Did the one stop bullying you?

      • Ugh. What to do, what to do… will there always be bullies? Have there always been bullies? Will you tell your kids to “turn the other cheek” or to fight back if they find themselves being bullied?

      • I told them to defend themselves, and so far, the couple times it’s come to it, they have. I also told them that under NO circumstances will they throw the first punch.

      • I think that’s what I will tell the little prince too. I can’t remember if that’s what my parents told me too… it sounds like something they would have said. I wonder why I never did?

      • That was really the only time. And the kid didn’t touch me, he just came over and started running his mouth. That’s when the other kids came over and, well…

      • I didn’t either. Really, not many people messed with me. As in, ever. I just remember this instance for some reason, probably because it happened in 5th grade at Catholic school….

      • A single moment of discord in an otherwise peaceful environment? We had fights nearly once a week at my junior high. That makes it sound pretty bad, but it all seemed normal to us.

      • I don’t recall there being that many in any of the schools I went to, which is surprising now that I think about it. Or maybe I just didn’t care to watch or talk about it like a lot of the other kids did.

      • I think I only saw one fight firsthand – it happened right outside a classroom and our teacher jumped out a window to break it up (that was memorable). I don’t remember them being subjects of conversation either. It was just known… as bad things always are at that age.

  6. If you had reacted in kind i don’t think that that would make you a bully. A bully is a coward that picks on people less able to defend themselves, they humiliate and annoy, reacting by throwing a punch in return and even to the point where your rage takes you to the point of beating them up doesnt make you the bully. You are still the victim, but at that point you have chosen to defend yourself.

    • I definitely see a difference between protecting oneself and bullying… but, at the age in question, would I have known where to draw the line? would I have been satifisfied with just defending myself or would I have taken it further…

  7. I was bullied from primary school straight through my whole school career. I didn’t fight back to start with, I didn’t want to get in trouble and I was a great tree climber (they were not haha). I started fighting back in 2nd (maybe 3rd) grade after I had my face split open with a rock. My parents had complained to the school, my grandfather grabbed one of the kids and threatened to throw him off a bridge (Grandparents, gotta love ’em) but these boys had it out for me bad. My parents finally gave up and told me to deal with it and when they came after me on the playground, instead of taking off to my tree I beat the snot out of three of them before the fourth ran away. It never changed. They never stopped. I fought back until the 7th grade when another kid who’d been watching it happen all year had enough and slammed one of the bullies head into a locker and then told me what I needed was some friends to have my back and he and his would be happy to fill the position. High School went a lot smoother, they stopped physically knocking me around, but the verbal never stopped.

    I don’t know if fighting back would have changed anything for you, Dj. It certainly didn’t help me stop it from happening. I hated school lol It did make me who I am though, and I like who I am. I’ve come across a few of the guys who bullied me the worst back then and they have no real sense of self, no inner happiness. I actually feel bad for them. Kind of. 😉

    • Thanks for your sharing your story too. I guess that old often portrayed adage that if you stand up for yourself the bullies will leave you alone isn’t always the case… That’s good to know.

  8. Thank you for sharing such a deeply personal event. When I was 9, someone I thought was a friend, did something that shattered my self esteem in one fell swoop. It was both physical and verbal. Afterward, if someone said anything bullying to me, my retort was always a blank look, coupled with “you think I don’t already know that? Go away now.” I think it took out any joy the bully would have earned, and I was left alone.

    • The “own it” method. I tried that a few times too… maybe I wasn’t ever convincing enough with it though because it never seemed to work. I was never bullied by people I considered friends, but I had plenty of falling outs over the years because I saw in the type of behavior that others directed towards me.

  9. I too was bullied but at a slightly younger age and for being the “wrong” race. Like those who commented before me, I never got over it either. BUT when the beast ran into bullying issues, it made me a more sympathetic and understanding parent. We were always there for her IF she wanted our intervention, which she didn’t. Hers was verbal, not physical but sometimes I wonder if that doesn’t make the scars that much greater. She doesn’t trust easily and is afraid to give anyone any ammunition with which to taunt her. That makes me sad but I also see that she is a stronger and more empathetic person for it. As a parent, I don’t know the best way to handle it but she always knew that if she chose to fight back, we’d have her back. Oddly enough, the young lady who was her biggest bully is now one of her best friends. The young woman had a bitter experience in high school and lost a close relative to whom she’d been particularly unkind and was never able to take back her words. She’s spent the ensuing years trying to “make good” with those she mistreated. I think she is now one of the beast’s biggest supporters. By the way, it’s wonderful to have a child who tells you “everything” but beware…sometimes you don’t really want to hear it ALL. You guys are on the right track and are going to be wonderful parents!

    • I have a friend who has already given me the “be absolutely sure you really want to know everything before you raise them to tell you everything speech.” Now that his daughter is off at college… and er, um, enjoying life… he’s had to tell her a couple times “I don’t need to know things like that!!!” Hilarious and terrifying at the same time. 😉
      Thanks for sharing your and the Beasts’ stories about bullying. I think that’s very cool that one of the beasts’ tormentors has turned around and become a supporter. I think that speaks volumes about the beasts’ character as a person. I don’t think I have it in me to forgive any of my bullies… let alone befriend them.

  10. DJ,
    Through love, support, education and understanding you and your son will fight bullying together. I feel your son will be safe with you. Call me a hippie all you want.
    Le Clown

    • Le Clown,
      I can think of several things I would call you before I ever called you a “hippie.” Thank you for the kind words… I certainly hope to provide a safe environment for the little prince, but as was pointed out by my parents after I published this, they had no idea the extent to which the bullying was occurring because I never told them. So, if he doesn’t tell me…? I don’t know. It scares me that there will be situations in life I can’t protect him from. I guess that’s just part of being a parent.
      Matticus

      • Matticus,
        I am with you. I had written a post myself last year on the topic, about my child, one that I had to remove for reason X, in which I explained how grateful I was that my child was able to communicate a situation that had occurred at school. I was only able to be there for my kid, and talk. You are a loving dad, your son is very lucky.
        Le Clown

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