Your thoughts are the freest commodity you have. No matter what they take from you, they can never take your mind if you don’t let them.
Your thoughts are the freest commodity you have. No matter what they take from you, they can never take your mind if you don’t let them.
Let’s face it. Conflict is a part of life and something we all encounter at many points in our lives. Many targets and survivors of bullying are deathly afraid of conflict. Why? Because they’ve had so much of it forced on them in the past by bullies who just refused to let them be. Also, many targets and survivors are traumatized by the bullying they presently suffer or from past bullying.
Understand that these poor souls haven’t yet dealt with the hurts they still have, and they don’t yet know their worth and the good they deserve. Many targets and survivors of bullying suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Because of this, they’re still stuck in survival mode.
As a result, target’s cave in and give in to bullies to appease them just so they’ll shut the hell up and go away. And people do get tired of hearing self-entitled and self-indulgent bullies bitch, rant, and beat their chests when they don’t get their way.
So, the unspoken message is, “Look! Just take what you want and get lost!”
I can understand why targets and survivors end up being this way. It’s because a person gets exhausted when they’re constantly have to battle and struggle to take back their autonomy, their self-determination, their personal power, their safety, their dignity, and their right to exist. They get worn down, they get weary, and all they want is for people to leave them alone and let them have some peace.
However, this can become a problem. If you go out of your way to avoid conflict, people will soon mistake you for being weak and they’ll walk all over you. You must set boundaries. There are times when you must say no. There are even times when you may have to show your ugly side to get your point across and let people know that no means no and enough is enough.
Understand that this requires guts. It means you must step out of your comfort zone and take risks. You must risk hurting others’ feelings and making people angry. You must risk being lashed out at and retaliated against. Moreover, you must also risk losing relationships and no, none of it feels good.
In short, you must stand up for yourself and that means facing conflict.
Think of it this way, if you’re a target of bullying, you’re going to face conflict no matter what because people will bring the conflict to you. Hiding from it does no good because it will eventually find you. When you are a target of bullying, conflict is unavoidable and certain.
In other words, run from conflict and you’ll end up running from it for the rest of your life!
So, why not face it head on, better yet embrace it and stand up to people, then you can feel better about yourself later knowing that you finally grew a spine and told them where to shove it. You may face retaliation for it, but you would face it anyway because, right or wrong, bullies will always find some justification for attacking you.
Unfortunately, the label of mental instability is the easiest and most effective label to stick to a person. Sadly, a label like this tends to have loads of staying power because it’s the hardest to disprove- especially when the object of it is being bullied and mobbed.
Also, there’s a good chance that any target of bullying will be an emotional wreck because of the chronic abuse they suffer. So, there’s another reason the crazy label would be a clever label to pin to them.
When bullies label you as crazy, it doesn’t mean they actually think you are. Allow me to explain further:
Remember that bullies are big cowards and if they really and truly thought you were crazy, they wouldn’t mess with you at all. In, fact, they wouldn’t come near you. Instead, they would do everything they could to stay out of your way and avoid poking the bear.
They’d go out of their way to be on their best behavior around you because they know that if a person is, in fact, crazy, that person could rip their heads off and poop down their necks! That person could go postal and wipe them all out, then go eat ice cream!
If a person with any common sense knows someone who is factually and utterly batshit crazy, their first instinct is to walk lightly around them and do their due diligence to keep from setting that person off!
So, if your bullies don’t really think you’re crazy, why then do they label you as such?
The reason your bullies label you crazy is to discredit you in case you get fed up with their crap and decide to either report them or stand up to them. And if everyone thinks you’re crazy and you report that you’re being bullied, who’s going to take you seriously?
Labeling the target mentally imbalanced is also a way to silence and subdue the target to keep them from reporting the abuse or standing up to it. If you know that people think you’re crazy you’re going to be too afraid to open your mouth about it because you know that people probably won’t believe you. They will only say that, because of your “mental instability,” you’re probably just being paranoid.
You’ll also be too afraid to fight back because if you do, you know that the bullies will only convincingly reverse roles and play victim. Then, others will only assume that you went postal and either hurt those poor, innocent bullies, or you just threw a temper tantrum and began shouting and cursing people out for no reason. All because you’re just “crazy.”
Sure. Mental instability is one of the hardest to prove. It’s true that your bullies can never prove you’re crazy, but there’s also no way that you can prove for certain that you aren’t. And it’s why this label is just too easy to pen on someone and make stick. In fact, it shouldn’t be this easy and be so successful. But it is.
Do you see how this works?
So, no. Your bullies don’t think you’re crazy, they think you’re weak. They only push the crazy label because weakness or helplessness in a person does have a certain allure and appeal and others may feel compelled to come to that person’s aid. Helplessness sparks a natural tendency in people to want to take care of the person who is helpless, but people are less likely to help the person who is deemed crazy. Bullies instinctively know this. So, they label the target crazy to strip him/her of that allure and appeal.
In labeling you crazy and making it stick, bullies are better able to avoid being held accountable and if they can successfully dodge responsibility for their abuse of another human being, then they get to continue hurting and abusing that person freely and with impunity.
Understand that there’s a method behind the label of mental instability, crazy, unhinged, or whatever name you prefer. If you’re aware of the motives behind that label, the better you’ll be able to catch it and counter your bullies with it.
Bullies don’t only want to hurt you or destroy your good name. More than anything, they want to get into your head and alter your mind.
The worst thing about bullying isn’t the physical assaults. Cuts and bruises heal easily. It isn’t even the name-calling, the smears, the rumors, or the marginalization. It’s what it can do to the mind if we aren’t careful.
The worst thing that can happen to a target of bullying is when he begins to believe what he’s being told. The worst thing that happens is when she begins to see herself through the eyes of the very people who hate her and who want nothing more from her than her complete destruction and ruination.
Anytime a target begins to believe he is nothing, he does himself a huge disservice because he discards his own definition of him and replaces it with that of his bullies. He values the bullies’ opinions over his own.
I cannot stress enough the importance of loving yourself even when it looks as if others don’t love you back. You must continue to believe in yourself even when it seems that no one else does. You must also continue to stand your ground even when people want to bury you in it.’
That’s how you keep your confidence and self-esteem from tanking. It’s how you keep even a little bit of your dignity and it’s how you protect your spirit from being broken.
Yes, your confidence may take many blows, but it doesn’t have to die. Your self-esteem may be pummeled, but you can keep it for hitting rock bottom. Bullies may break off pieces of your dignity, but you don’t have to give them the piece of it you still hold for yourself. Your spirit may take a hard beating, but only you decide whether to let them break it.
In short, you don’t have to surrender everything that matters to your bullies.’
You have more power than you know. Your thoughts are the freest commodity you have. No matter what they take from you, they can never take your mind if you don’t let them.
“Power is not what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.” ~ Saul D. Alinsky (Rules for Radicals)
Think about that quote for a moment and realize that it’s what all bullies live by.
I look back now and realize that my bullies were in constant fear of losing control and dominance over anyone they deemed inferior. I say this because I remember that anytime I or any other target at Oakley High, countered their insults, or had our own opinion about anything, the bullies and their followers would be quick to shout us down.
They would demand that we “shut up,” or “sit down and be quiet.” They would also threaten bodily harm or instigate violent arguments to intimidate and shut down anyone who dared to exercise their rights to speak freely, therefore, asserting their dominance.
Targets were highly discouraged from having their own thoughts, opinions, or views. I also remember during a class discussion, when a teacher asked me what my thoughts were on the subject we were discussing, I only had time to get the words, “I think…” out of my mouth when another girl shouted, “You think nothing! Shut up!”
Naturally, the teacher reamed her out for the outburst. However, the others only laughed at the teacher, the teacher went silent, then continued on with the discussion and allowed me to finish my answer.
There was nothing a target could speak about that one of the bullies wouldn’t shout down and attack them with. For example:
Target: “I don’t feel so good. I think I need to call home.”
Bullies and classmates: “You ‘ain’t’ sick! You’re just trying to get out of coming to school when your dumb ass needs to learn something useful!”
Target: “I’m afraid that…”
Bullies and classmates: “Shut up! You don’t have nothin’ to be afraid of! You’re just a big chicken!”
Target to target: “I need the hall pass to go use the restroom.”
Bullies and classmates: “You ‘ain’t’ goin’ nowhere! Shut up and sit down!”
If a target put up their hand and walked away from a confrontation, one of the bullies would either physically step in front of him/her and block them from leaving, grab the target by the back of his shirt and pull him back, or follow close behind them while shoving them forward while screaming, “Don’t turn your back and walk away from me, (expletive),” or “Turn around and look at me when I talk to you!” And If a target ignored a group of bullies, those bullies would then want to fight him.
It was as if the bullies had grown desperate and were panicking. And now that I know better, I realize that that’s exactly what they were doing- feeling desperate and panicking. And they were doing it out of fear.
So, anytime bullies yell and scream at you because you spoke or because you showed any form of opposition to their abuse, realize that it’s because they fear losing their dominance. Bullies instinctively know that if they lose control over a target, they lose face and look weak in front of the others around them. They also realize that if their target has the guts to challenge their power, then it just might encourage others to follow suit and bullies can’t have that.
Bullies must have their targets, not only to get sick pleasure and entertainment from, or to wield dominance over. They must also have them as examples to show everyone else that there will be brutal consequences if they show any form of dissent. Targets are used to keep everyone else in line too.
So, always remember this, and look for a way to use the bullies’ fear to your advantage. You have more power than you know.
Since I’ve been advocating for the bullied, I’ve met and talked to so many families- parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, spouses, children, cousins and friends who have lost a loved one to suicide. I’ve read, heard about, and listened to their heartbreaking stories. I’ve watched them cry, and I’ve often struggled to find the words to tell them how my heart breaks for them. What are the right words to say to someone who has suffered so significant a loss?
I’ve listened to stories from grieving parents who have lost a child to bullying and suicide. While they told me the story of the events which led up to their child’s death, I could hear the anguish in their voices. I could sense the many questions which continue to flood their minds that may never be answered! I could feel the injustice of it all, and let me tell you; it shook me to my core!
I can’t help but feel a wide range of overwhelming emotions- heartbreak and empathy for the surviving parents and family, intense anger toward the bullies who pushed that child over the edge and disgust at the school and school district, who did nothing to help, or worse, only intensified the child’s suffering. I feel nothing but rage and contempt for a system that failed this young person and their family and at the people in power who were in a position to help the poor young man or lady but didn’t!
Although I have lost a spouse to suicide and know what it is to experience the loss from it, I realize this: The loss of a spouse is terrible and heart-wrenching. Yes. But it isn’t quite the same as losing a child.
I try to put myself in the parent’s shoes, but it’s unbearable. I cannot imagine what a parent goes through. The unanswered questions, having dreams of their child’s future, disappear! Not long ago, I looked into the eyes of one grieving mother, and I wanted to cry but managed not to. I wanted to be strong for her because she needed me to be!
My oldest son went through a period of bullying, so I know this could just as easily have been him years ago. And I honestly don’t know if I could have held up as well as this mother has!
Try to imagine having that baby you once carried for nine months- the baby you felt move and kick inside your belly- ripped from your life forever! Imagine losing that precious, tiny creature, you once held for the first time in the hospital, whose sweet little face you gazed lovingly on, and were unable to take your eyes off of!
I cannot fathom the despair of having to bury the child I was sure would someday bury me! Understand that this goes against the natural order of things! I cannot imagine the total shock and disbelief- that feeling of being kicked in the gut that goes with such a loss! And I struggle to find the words to comfort any parent who has lost a child to bullycide!
What are the right words? How do you communicate to a grieving family member how much you hurt with them and how much you long to ease their suffering and wish you could? And how you wish that there was some way- SOME way you could bring that loved one back to them.
If you have a heart as I do, you want to reach out and hug that person! You want to hold them. You want to console them. You want to take away their pain. But anything short of doing the impossible, you know, will never be enough to ease their suffering.
Like me, you try to imagine how you’d feel if it were your child, but you can’t. You can’t bear the mere thought crossing your mind. But these families have lived it, and they continue to live it every day. Understand that this is a massive loss that this mother, this father, this sibling, this grandparent will carry for the rest of their lives!
Nothing will ever be the same for them again. Realize that this is a new normal (if that’s what you want to call it) that they will never be able to adjust to. Every day from here on will be another day of struggle- another day of fighting to keep it together- another day to act like you’re okay because you’re afraid of overwhelming the people around you. How long can these broken parents keep up the charade?
Again, words can never say how my heart breaks for them. All I can do is be there for them and listen as I struggle to find the words of support and compassion they so need to hear.
Maybe the reason I struggle for the right thing to say is that there are no words! There are no words that could ever quell the grief of a loss so heavy and so devastating! No words can ever provide complete consolation or comfort. And no words can ever bring justice to the loved ones left behind.
To all, who have lost a family member- a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a grandparent, especially a child, to suicide or bullycide, know that I’m here for you. It doesn’t matter if we know each other or are total strangers. And even though I struggle to find the words to tell you, rest assured that I care. My heart cries with you, and I have the utmost love, sympathy, and compassion for you!
You are always in my thoughts and prayers!
You’ve heard the quote, “You are what you eat.” So, it goes with your thought processes. You are also what you think.
Targets of bullying can start off as confident and outgoing people. But after years of bullying and abuse, they become insecure, afraid, and withdrawn. Sometimes, they can turn against themselves. They began to think that they aren’t worthy of anything good in life. They stop believing in their own good qualities. They no longer think they’ll ever be loved, ever be accepted, or ever be successful and that nothing will ever go right for them.
Then, sure enough, things begin to happen that matches their thoughts and feelings. These poor people began to fall out with friends and family, they have back-to-back bad breaks. They finally develop feelings of self-loathing and end up alone, rejected, unsuccessful, and unlucky.
Here’s how it works:
You must realize that your thought patterns determine your outlook (attitude).
Your outlook determines your decisions and behavior.
Your decisions and behavior determine your outcomes.
Your outcomes determine your life and the events that happen in it.
All this then re-enforces your outlook or attitude.
This becomes a cycle and cycles always repeat themselves.
Anytime you think a thought, you send a message into the universe and, sooner or later, you get a response that matches, and the response always returns as an event, situation, or circumstance. And once it becomes a vicious cycle in your life, it’s damn hard to break that cycle.
Know that this cycle can be broken, but it takes a lot of time, patience, and hard work. I can tell you from experience that the changes won’t happen overnight, and the reason is that, once a pattern is set, unseen forces (like your subconscious mind, for instance) will, at first, fight against any change you try to make. You could say that these unseen forces (your subconscious) have become comfortable with the way things are and, just as most people hate change, so do the higher powers at work.
But know that if you keep at it, your breakthrough will present itself eventually. It has to after a while because of your refusal to give up.
Therefore, if you’re a target of bullying, you must be very careful that you don’t allow your bullies and the lies and toxic messages they send to influence the way you think of yourself. You must fight like the devil to hold on to your self-belief. Your life and its trajectory depend on it!
If you hold on to your positive attitude and sense of self from the very beginning, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and hard work in the future. Most of all, you’ll save yourself from a lot of future pain and misery.
I hear these stories all the time from people who have a ne’er do well brother, an uncle who’s the town drunk, or a sister who’s notorious for being promiscuous. But whether your dad did a stint in prison, or your mom is perceived by others to be the town nut-job, know that these are things you have no control over and therefore, are not your responsibility. You aren’t defined by the lousy choices or unfortunate circumstances of a few relatives.
Yes, I know that the judgement people heap on top of you hurts and hurts terribly, but I want you to know that you’re an innocent person in all of it. You’re an individual and you shouldn’t feel ashamed of anything because you’ve done nothing wrong. Realize that humans have a bad habit of lumping people into categories, whether justly or unjustly. And they’re wrong for painting you with the same brush based on bad choices a few of your family members made.
People also do this with different races and ethnic groups as well. It seems that many automatically think that all Blacks are thugs, all Whites are racist, all Native Americans are savages, all Hispanics are illegal aliens and so forth.
Yes, I’ve heard all the above statements throughout high school, in a few workplaces, even in the news media and it’s all garbage! We should all know that none of it is true. There are some of the greatest, loving, and most tenderhearted people in every race and there are many who don’t live up to the ignorant stereotypes that society likes to hoist upon them.
Therefore, I want you to know that anyone who puts you in a category with a few evil bad apples, or people who’ve simply made bad choices, doesn’t know the individual you. They do not know your heart nor your inner reality. And they don’t know what you think and feel.
Nobody can possibly know these things but you and God. And if they claim they do know, they’re only playing God by claiming to know the unknowable. Realize that when people perceive you to be someone you aren’t, their thoughts and opinions aren’t worthy of even being considered and you shouldn’t place any value to them.
In fact, you should kick these people to the curb because they aren’t worth your time nor energy. You deserve people in your life who get you- who love you for you and the good you bring to this world.
So, know that you deserve better and that you are not the labels others stick to you.
If you are a target of bullying, there are times when you get fed up with people’s crap. Then…BOOM! You snap on some creep who pushed you over your limit. Believe me, I understand and if this has happened with you, I cannot fault you for it. I empathize with you wholeheartedly.
It’s not that you want to fight. In fact, you hate fighting- intensely. However, if you’re a 5’4”, 120 lb. teenage girl with a target on her back, what do you do? Stand there and let them jump you?
Like most targets, I too hated to fight but there were times I didn’t have a choice. It was either fight or be beaten within an inch of my life. Not only the girls would try to jump me, but the guys would too and most of those redneck brutes had no qualms nor reservations about beating up on a female, even one who was little. Some of the bullies at Oakley High threatened with a knife or a box-cutter and it’s amazing I got out of there alive.
But that’s what bullying does to people if they don’t have the proper psychological tools, confidence, or know-how to deal with it. It makes them paranoid, makes them desperate! Puts them in survival mode! In other (and more scientific) words, it awakens their primal instincts. It rewires their brains in preparation for a hostile environment.
A target of bullying must live in constant vigil and adrenaline. They must always be on alert- they must grow eyes in the back of their heads and be prepared for danger every time they turn a corner. That gets both frustrating and exhausting after so long.
I cannot count the times in school I showed my booty to people after having taken all I could take. And there were times I didn’t just let off a little stream, I blew a gasket!
The longer you are bullied, the more it builds- the sense of injustice, the sadness, the rage! It all piles up! We are all human and no one can hold that crap inside forever it doesn’t matter how resilient they are. It’s humanly impossible.
You’re like a bottle of soda that’s been shaken up until it finally spews!
Like a dormant volcano that finally awakens, you erupt when that last (and unfortunate) creep sticks as much as a toe over your boundaries. Some people, you scare half to death, others, you piss off even more and make twice as determined to get you, and few see your tirade as personal entertainment.
I did that a few times back when I was being bullied and abused at school.
There were times I’d yell, curse the bullies out, throw stuff, and slam doors. I would tell people to get the eff away from me and not to come back around. I admit it. I showed the worst sides of myself on a few occasions.
I remember grabbing one girl by the hair and beating the living snot out of her in the library after she’d spent the last month getting in my face and taunting during the last class of the day.
Another bully received the business end of a fist after attempting to shove me down a flight of stairs. I remember running back up the stairs, whacking her upside the head with my purse and a textbook, then dragging her down the stairs. She seemed to hit and bounce off every step going down.
Once I got her to the bottom, I beat and kicked her until a teacher and three other students pried me off her. These were only two of the many incidents that occurred during those years.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not something I’m proud of. Each time, I remember feeling terrible about it after it was over, and everything had cooled off. No decent person wants to lose their cool and act a fool, but when you been pushed and pushed, there is an eventual breaking point.
Yes, I got into fist fights. I won some fights but lost a few too.
Sadly, it all seemed to be a cycle. After getting bullied and bullied for several months, I’d snap. Some of the tiredness bled over into my home life. Sadly, when bullies have worn you down, you’re too exhausted to even be there for the people you love when they have problems too. You’re fresh out of patience and energy, and yes, even love.
You can’t pour from an empty cup and as a result, you just don’t give a crap- about anything or anybody. All you want is to be left alone.
I look back now and realize that I didn’t handle the bullying the right way. Understand that if you don’t set healthy boundaries, this is what can happen.
Today, I’m a much calmer and happier person than I used to be. Why? Because I’m more assertive and I set boundaries. If I say no or ask someone to please stop doing something when they violate my boundaries, and if they insist on continuing the behavior, I either tell them to leave right then, or I walk away after telling the person exactly what I think of them. I then cut them out of my life.
I have learned that, although you cannot control another person’s behavior, you do have control over your own and whether to continue having them in your life. And if you refuse to associate with a person, they no longer have easy access to you. Therefore, it’s not nearly as easy for them to get to you and harm you.
So, never allow people to bully you and get out of control with their abuse. Speak out when people violate your boundaries. It’s the only way to keep the pressure from building and reaching a boiling point.
If this has been your experience, feel free to comment.
The survivor of bullying who escapes the abuse first comes out with shock, anger, and sadness. But once the healing is underway, they’re filled with renewed hope.
When school or workplace bullying experiences have exposed you to the darkest sides of human nature, you have a stronger sense of your own endurance and capability. This is all because of what you have endured and were able to overcome.
You never know your own strength until you’ve overcome bullying, especially severe and chronic bullying.
Another takeaway is that the survivor has a stronger sense of people. She can smell fakery and BS from a mile away and can spot bullies before even talking to them. The survivor pays closer attention to how people carry themselves, body language, and the vibes and energy others put out.
He is better able to avoid people who might want to harm him because he’s learned, the hard way, the importance of listening to his gut instinct and heeding it anytime something is even the slightest bit “off” about a person. In short, the survivor of bullying has learned that it’s okay, even paramount, that he trusts himself, and in that, his feelings and judgement.
On the other side of bullying, a survivor learns and develops the determination never to conform to the standards and criteria of others, but to live life on her terms because she knows what it’s like to be a slave to the approval of others. She knows what it’s like to be a prisoner to outside influences. She knows the powerlessness of having one’s pleasure depend of the permission of others. She knows what it’s like to be forced to apologize for simply being who she is and she’s not having any of it!
Overcoming past abuse gives the survivor a restored and refined sense of his worth and knowledge of the immense value he brings to this world. He awakens to his goodness and realizes that yes! He is worthy of love, friendship, affection, and of all the best things in life. He also realizes that he is loved and always was no matter what all those vile people told him!
The survivor of bullying ends up with a much clearer vision of what she will not tolerate nor settle for. She is unmovable in her refusal to kiss arse or bow down to anyone no matter what the cost may be. She’s spent enough years living on her knees and if she’s going to be punished for her unwillingness to kowtow, she’ll suffer those consequences standing up.
The survivor of bullying is also a fierce warrior for other victims. If he sees another person being bullied, he’s will stand up for that person and go toe to toe with the bullies to protect the target.
The survivor who has overcome bullying isn’t afraid to say no, nor to walk away from any relationship that doesn’t fulfill and nourish him. He refuses to be stuck in any environment that doesn’t allow him to grow and flourish.
The survivor is more aware than ever of what she deserves and goes after it with resilience and tenacity. Life’s given her enough of what she doesn’t want and now it’s time for her to go get what she knows is due her.
The survivor realizes, probably more than anyone, that life is short, and you only get one shot in this world. And she works diligently to create the life she knows she deserves, and she does it without guilt. She knows that she’s not entitled nor privileged. She realizes that the big bad world owes her nothing. And that’s okay.
The survivor realizes that there’s no such thing as a free ride because, heck, no one ever gave him anything but hell. What he understands more than anything as that all you have is you and the only person you can depend on is you. So, he knows that reaching his goals and dreams is up to him and him alone. And he works toward what he wants with a fervor.
The survivor of bullying makes it a point never to take anyone for granted but lets her family and friends know that she loves and values them. Why? Because she knows what is like to be alone, unwanted, and abused and she would never want anyone- especially the people she cares about feel that way or endure it.
The survivor of bullying savors every wonderful moment, every positive encounter, and every happy event because he has seen enough negativity.
What the survivor enjoys more than anything else is wonderful relationships and happy moments, and most of all, she’s grateful for them. She also enjoys helping others who go through what she once endured. And she uses her experiences to encourage them and give them hope.
Sometimes, you must be torn down to be built up again. Sometimes you must first be dejected and left lonely before you can truly appreciate the family and friendships you have later. And sometimes, it takes being forced into the chains of others’ approval and validation before you can enjoy the freedom of self-love and the indifference to the opinions of those who don’t matter and, perhaps, never should have mattered.