Damaged Goods – The Long Lasting Effects Of Bullying
I was asked by DJ Flexx to put together a page on anti-bullying. I started to do the normal everyday thing. Post some information and links. Click here for help. See your guidance counselor. Tell an adult. Blah blah blah.
But then it hit me. Maybe I should do a little more.
You see, I CAN do a little bit more.
I was the victim of relentless bullying myself for most of my childhood. I don’t fit into today’s standard mold for the ‘perfect victim.’ Today, the focus seems to be on gay and lesbian children or ‘hate crimes’ because of ethnicity. I guess it’s a PC world. I don’t fall into any of those categories.
No, my crime back when I was a kid was that my parents dressed me funny.
We were a middle class family, but my father had grown up poor – and he didn’t see the value in name brand clothes or even attempting to keep up with anything that resembled modern trends. While other kids wore Nike sneakers to class, I wore K-Mart knockoffs. Other kids wore Levi’s. I wore Toughskins. Other kids had wire-frame glasses. I wore plastic horn-rimmed glasses that made me look like Gomer Pyle.
Haircuts? Forget it. While other guys got to grow their hair out, my parents insisted on a short cut that looked like I stepped off an Army recruitment poster. They mixed up the perfect ‘geek’ formula then sent me marching off into the battle zone. The results were predictable. Name calling. Beatings. Isolation. For years I was the social outcast.
The most vicious attack was one afternoon on the Junior High School playground. I was nearly beaten unconscious while the rest of the kids formed an arena around me to prevent my escape. There were no teachers. No monitors. No help. In fact, the other kids just cheered.
I was robbed that day. They didn’t take my money. They took something deeper. They took my dignity. All of them.
I spent everyday alone from then on. If you approached me, I clenched my fists and expected the worst. I learned my lesson. ALL PEOPLE WANT TO HURT YOU.
Senior Prom? Nope. Homecoming? Forget it. Come to think of it, I didn’t date one single time in high school. Not once. But hey. Bullying doesn’t have any long term effects, right?
You know the bitch of it? That kid is long gone now. I’m a grown man. But the psychological warfare that you go through stays with you. It never leaves you. I still don’t trust anyone, not really. Only to an arm’s length. Deep down, I’m still waiting for that circle to form, for that punch to fly, the cheers to start.
Can you trust anyone? Can you, really? That’s the lesson.
I tell you these things because I want to change you. If you’re bullying someone, you need to know what kind of damage you’re really doing. It’s not just for today, or for next week or for ‘a little while.’ It’s forever. You’re creating damaged goods.
You don’t have to be buddies with everyone. Just live and let live. The kindness you receive is equal to the kindness you give, and there’s enough hate in the world already, isn’t there? Just turn on the evening news. Why do you need to spread more of it in the hallways at school?
Stop. Think. You ARE better than that. Or maybe you’re not. There’s a fair amount of **** floating out there in the world, too, I guess. That’s reality. The prisons are full of that reality.
If, God forbid, you’re on the receiving end – don’t shoulder that burden alone. It’s a long and lonely road, my friend. Don’t do it. Get help. There’s many links on this page, and many out there on the net. Reach out. You’re part of the solution as well.
So am I. That’s why I’m telling you this now. God Bless you. And good luck.