8 Ways to Heal from Bullying

Bullying is very traumatic and impacts self-esteem; it often takes many years to heal. People who’ve never endured bullying cannot comprehend how it can change your life. The good thing about leaving a toxic environment is that once you’re gone, you can begin healing and rebuilding your life. However, in many cases, it’s easier said than done.

Here are eight things you can do that can help you heal quicker:

1. Seek Therapy.

Though I realize that there’s a certain amount of stigma that goes with it, getting therapy is the best and most important thing you can do for yourself. Therefore, you must do what you must do to take care of yourself. Moreover, don’t concern yourself with the opinions of others about your care. Right now, you must do what’s best for you.

2. Rest.

When you’re fresh out of a bullying environment, you’re more than likely to be exhausted. Get plenty of sleep. Take some quiet time for yourself. Go on a walk in the park on a beautiful day, or take a pajama day. Get all the rest you can get for a few days.

3. Music.

Music is therapy in itself. Once you’ve got plenty of rest, put in some easy listening for relaxation, maybe some slow jams like TLC or Keith Sweat? Or pop in some dance grooves and rock and roll to make you feel upbeat and like dancing.

There’s nothing that lifts the mood like shaking your booty around the house to some Janet Jackson or Paula Abdul hits or rocking out to some Van Halen, Judas Priest, or Def Leppard. Whatever your taste in music, you’ll feel much better when you do. So get out those CD’s or stream some music on your computer.

4. Lean on the people who love you.

When you’re recovering from bullying and a toxic environment, one of the most important things you need is a network of love and support to balance the positive with the negative. Therefore, keep company with the people who uplift you, love you, and make you feel good. It’ll help you salvage the confidence you’ve lost.

5. Do things you enjoy most.

Indulge in your hobbies and favorite activities. Hobbies allow us to be creative. Therefore, if you create, you feel accomplished! So, rake in those little successes! You’ll feel so much better!

6. Exercise.

Exercise is a major stress-buster. And you can get rid of all that negative energy like anger and depression by sweating it out either in the gym or, if you don’t feel like going anywhere, a workout DVD.

7. Take a trip.

After being in a toxic environment for so long, sometimes, we need to get away for a while. Visit a family member in another state. Embark on a camping trip in the mountains or hit the beach and relax in the sun as you listen to the sounds of seagulls and crashing waves. I guarantee that you’ll return home feeling much, much better!

8. Treat yourself to a day or night out with the guys or gals.

You and your pals could go to a concert or out to lunch or dinner. Maybe go window shopping or to a bar and listen to a live band. In other words, don’t isolate yourself. Get out and have fun. Because sometimes it pays to go out and paint the town red!

Just go easy on the drinks, as alcohol is a depressant!

Healing can take a while to do and may also take much work. But in the end, it’ll be worth it!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

A Long Recovery from Bullying (Part 2- Graduation and Beyond)

Graduation was bittersweet. Although I was happy to graduate high school, I was sad because I would miss my classmates and teachers from Roseburg High. I felt that it ended too soon.

My first five years post-graduation was full of ups and downs. I struggled with bouts of depression and didn’t know why. I was on the rollercoaster again and desperately wanted to get off but didn’t know how. Having babies and being a post-partum new mother only doubled the depression that was already there.

I lived, and I worked. I was a mother of two small children but only going through the motions and surviving- existing. It felt as if I was living on autopilot. But then, something amazing happened!

In 1995, I came across a magazine article while on my lunch break at work. The article was about a kid severely bullied at school. Like me, his bullies had tormented him so horrifically that he thought about suicide and eventually transferred to another school. Also, like me, his life changed for the better. He, too, had made a complete turnaround and finally gotten the chance to experience the friends, fun, and excitement that high school was supposed to be.

Reading this article was a turning point for me, and finding it was one of the best things that happened. This piece in the magazine answered so many questions and confirmed that none of the abuse I’d suffered at my classmates’ hands was my fault. The article was also validation that there was never anything wrong with me. It only cemented the truth I’d always known deep down inside- I wasn’t to blame for their abuse.

They were the perpetrators.

They had the issues.

I was being held responsible for problems that were theirs, not mine.

With this confirmation came my empowerment!

During those years, many people, including a few well-meaning family members, had often told me that the bullying I suffered was all in my imagination or wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be. Many more had said to me that I brought it all on myself. Deep down, I knew better.

blame accuse pointing finger

In my heart, I had known the truth years before I found this article and held on to it. Maybe this personal knowledge was why I resisted my bullies and fought back, even if it meant getting hurt. And perhaps it was why I suffered so many physical assaults. Nevertheless, I needed confirmation- a second opinion of sorts, and the article was exactly what I needed.

At that moment, everything fit together like a perfect puzzle! I cannot express the relief I felt. It was as if the article had lifted an enormous weight off my shoulders. My heart began to soar!

For the first time, I was able to see the bullying for what it was- abuse!

I began to thirst for even more knowledge of bullying and the human predator/prey dynamic. From then on, I read everything I could get my hands on- magazine articles, essays, books, online articles, everything that pertained to bullying and peer abuse.

There were so many unanswered questions:

“What was it about me that made me a target?”

“How had my bullies been allowed to get away with their brutality?”

“What was it about my bullies that made them so charming and good to everyone else?”

The word Answer on a puzzle piece to symbolize the quest for understanding in answering questions and concerns

“What were the ingredients to their charm and allure?”

“Where had their intense hate, mean-spiritedness, and sadistic natures come from? What had precipitated it?”

“Had they too been abused, or were they just spoiled, coddled narcissists infected with schadenfreude?”

So many questions haunted me and increased my curiosity. So, I continued digging for information, like a police detective eager to solve a case.

During the late nineties, I came across Tim Field’s BullyOnline.org and hungrily read every one of his articles. The website was massive, and it took a while to read. I went through it with a fine-toothed comb. If I had questions, I emailed Tim, and he would always reply in a timely and courteous manner.

Sadly, Mr. Field is no longer with us. He passed away from cancer years ago.

It’s been 25 years since I found the article that changed my life, and I cannot tell you how many sources of information I’ve poured through. I can’t measure the truckloads of knowledge attained and how much just the knowing has empowered me.

Between experience and two and a half decades of reading, research, and study, I’ve gained insights that have empowered me even more. That article back in 1995 set me on a path to greater knowledge and a passion for helping other bullying targets through writing and advocacy.

I’ve found what I love to do, and it is so rewarding!

I thank God for placing that article in front of me that day at work. Otherwise, I might still be wandering in the dark and trying to find my way.

That magazine article truly changed my outlook on the bullying I suffered. I no longer see it as something that ruined my life. No.

I see the bullying as an event that gave me a fiery passion for speaking out about my own experiences and sharing the knowledge I’ve gained to help people who endure bullying today. It showed me my life’s work and, through that, gave me eventual confidence and happiness.

I do not need to hate my bullies, nor to take revenge. Turning abuse around to the benefit of others is how I turn victimization into power! And that, my friends, is the best revenge a person can ever take!

If you’re a target of bullying, know this:

What’s happening to you is wrong and it isn’t your fault. You never asked to be brutalized, you do matter, and you are enough!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

A Long Recovery from Bullying

PTSD

First and foremost, I’d like to thank Amber, a friend and fellow blogger who inspired me to write this post.

The healing certainly didn’t happen overnight. My trial by fire ended during my senior year when I finally managed to escape my Oakley High School bullies through a school transfer. My new school, Roseberg High, felt like a paradise! Everyone there accepted me as I was, and I made so many new friends. I felt safe again and was finally able to relax and be myself.

I felt as if my life was finally beginning, and I could finally put Oakley High School behind me and move on. But it didn’t come without a few hang-ups. The last several months at Roseburg were the best of all four years of high school, but I didn’t realize that I was still carrying a lot of leftover baggage from the severe abuse I suffered at the old school.

Although I was in a much safer learning environment, there were afternoons during my first month at Roseburg when I’d have a long cry after I got home from school. Being four months pregnant at the time, I mistook the tears for the raging hormones of pregnancy.

Though I loved my new school and all the people there, I regretted that I couldn’t have transferred schools earlier than I had. I was grieving the loss of so many years- years that I could never get back.

My then-husband worked a twelve-hour graveyard shift, and I spent most nights at home alone. In the afternoons, he would be asleep when I’d come in from school. So, I had plenty of time to grieve.

During those times, I also suffered flashbacks of the bullying, and they would come automatically and without warning- flashbacks of being shoved to the floor, brutally beaten, cursed out, and yelled at. At night I’d have nightmares.

In these nightmares, I’d be swimming in a lake and enjoying the water. Suddenly I’d stop and look around to see that my classmates from Oakley High were in the water as well, and they surrounded me. One of them would push my head underwater, and I’d fight like crazy to come back up for air.

But as soon as I’d get my head above water and gasp for breath, they’d shove me back under again. Once more, I’d have to hold my breath and fight with my arms flailing in the water, trying to come up and get away from them.

Finally, I couldn’t hold my breath any longer and had no other choice but to give up the fight to live. Just as I inhaled and felt the searing burn of water fill my lungs, I’d wake up with a jolt. I also had another dream that one of my old bullies hunted me down and shot me. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, so frightened I couldn’t move a muscle. I’d only lay there, trembling in the darkness.

During my first month out, I also dealt with a lot of sadness and anger that didn’t show. Roseburg High was my happy place, and while I was there during the day, I didn’t have those emotions, nor did I have the flashbacks. The sadness, anger, flashbacks, and dreams only happened when I was home alone or sleeping, and I wanted so badly to forget about Oakley and live in the present.

During that month, I also felt a degree of shame- shame that I now realize wasn’t mine to bear. In my mind, I’d ask myself,

“What’s wrong with me? I’m out of that hellhole now! I should be happy about that! And I am, but why do I keep having these episodes of crying and feeling angry any time I’m alone?”

When I felt angry, I wasn’t as mad at my former classmates but myself for allowing them to tear me down and bring me so low.

I felt like a battered wife who’d just left her abusive husband!

I was fortunate, though. It didn’t take long for the raw emotions, the flashbacks, and the nightmares to go away, and I begin to focus on making great memories with my Roseburg friends and classmates. During that month, I had allowed myself to feel and to cry. I talked to a few of my most trusted family and friends.

I realized that I wasn’t wrong to have those emotions as they were signs that something was terribly wrong in my previous environment. I also began to understand that I wasn’t what was wrong. I’m thankful that I didn’t bury those emotions like so many survivors of bullying do. I’ve since concluded that what I experienced was the release of feelings that had, for a long time, been suppressed.

They were emotions that I wasn’t allowed to have in the old environment and was afraid to feel and show because I knew they’d punish me for it with more bullying. The only alternative had been to keep those feelings buried deep. And although my parents were well-meaning, there were times that neither of them could accept the emotions I felt.

Only after I got out of there did they begin to pour forth.

After a month of riding that roller coaster, I can tell you that everything finally subsided, and I felt like a new person! I didn’t get any therapy, although I should have. I was young, newly married, and expecting my first child, and everything was changing so fast I could barely keep up. So, I worked through it on my own.

Beautiful cloudscape over the sea, sunrise shot

And with the help of a new and nourishing environment, a few trusted people in my life, and new friends, I was able to get through the horrible after-effects of bullying and peer abuse. I began to set goals to learn about computers and make Honor Roll at my new school. As my grades skyrocketed and I achieved those goals, so did my confidence!

Sadly, most survivors of bullying aren’t as lucky as I was. Many take years to even get through the grief.

(Continued in Part 2)

The Empowered Target

You drummed your propaganda into my head

You attempted to fill me full of fear and dread

You thought you’d forever put me to sleep

By filling my ears with your words so cheap

But I eventually stirred, yawned, and awoke

Eventually released myself from your yoke

Got rid of your anchor and changed my berth

On that blessed day when I realized my worth

Into my life great blessings began to flow

Fresh blessings and opportunities knocked at my door

I transcended your pettiness

I scoffed at your wretchedness

Rose above your abuse

This battle I didn’t lose

Your pathetic attempts to project

No longer have their previous effect

I smirk at your buffoonery

I laugh at your douchebaggery

I scoff at your attempts to verbally batter

Because your views no longer matter

Do what you say you’ll do if you dare

What you’re going to do, I don’t care

Living in The Past Is a Hallmark of Victim-Mentality

A while back, a fellow blogger inspired this post with a comment, and she was spot on with it. For the life of me, I cannot remember who the blogger was, but I’d like to thank her in advance.

Sadly, too many survivors of bullying still render themselves, victims by living in the past. They constantly ruminate over the bullying they endured, wondering if they could have done anything differently and wishing they had.

They look back with remorse, shame, guilt, and regret. Now, it’s normal to do right after you’ve gotten out of the toxic environment that encouraged the bullying. I completely understand because I did it too. However, when this goes on for years and years, you only hold yourself back. Unnecessary baggage only keeps you down.

Many survivors trap themselves in an endless cycle of what-ifs. They keep themselves stuck and forgo opportunities to learn from and grow from their experiences. Some seek revenge. Others only bury it, live in denial, and try to rewrite history.

Understand that this is a waste of your time.

On the other hand, some survivors become conquerors. They acknowledge that, yes, the bullying happened, and, yes, it was painful, then aspire to learn and grow from it.

I realize that, once you’re out of an extremely toxic environment, there will be a period of grief. Again, completely understandable. It’s okay to mourn the loss of time bullying caused. It’s okay, even recommended, to feel angry and hurt for a while. In no way should you ever trivialize this period of mourning because it’s real, and it happens to survivors when they’re fresh out of an abusive situation.

And different people have different periods of grief.

My crying stage lasted a month; yours may be a lot longer or shorter. It depends on the person. Some may choose to get therapy, and others won’t. But there comes the point when you must move on and not allow it to take over your life. Don’t let your bullies live in your mind rent-free for too many years. They’ve already taken away enough of your life. Don’t you think?

You owe it to yourself to heal and begin to accept what happened, then learn and grow from it. Only then can you reach empowerment and find happiness.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Using Music to Cope with Bullying

During the years I was bullied in school, I’d come Home in the afternoon, and take refuge in my bedroom. I would then turn on my stereo or play one of my cassette tapes (they were the thing back then) and get lost in the music.

I was a Prince fan and hairband girl. I’d put in one of my Prince,  Dokken, Motley Crue, Ratt, Judas Priest, or Skid Row tapes and rock out in the privacy of my bedroom. I would turn the music up full blast and have it blaring so loud the entire house shook.

Other days, I’d come home and boogie down to some Janet Jackson, Al B. Sure, Salt N Pepa, or Paula Abdul. I was into New Jack Swing hip-hop as well. And sometimes I listened to softer rock on the stereo, “Money for Nothing,” by Dire Straits, “Tell Me Lies” by Fleetwood Mac, or Springsteen’s “Tunnel of Love.”

For me, listening to music always helped me recover from a bad day and made me feel great. There was nothing like bebopping all over the floor in my bedroom to the beat of a great song. It seemed to make all my troubles and worries disappear. It was what made me feel alive!

Today, I still listen to those songs either through my music downloads, on YouTube, or I play one of my numerous Prince CDs.

The music of today just doesn’t have it- doesn’t have the heart and soul it used to. The music of today is all about “me me me- all eyes on me” and is doused with blatant, in-your-face sexual profanity, or it’s pity-party music, as I like to call it. Yuck! Who wants to hear that?

The music of my day was music that you could let your kids listen to without fear. Here are a few more reasons I prefer old rock over this new crap.

1.Rock music from my era was about having a good time. It made you want to jump up and shout! New rock is too emo- it’s about “my partner left, and now I want to die,” or “Mommy and Daddy didn’t love me enough, and now I’m one messed up individual.” No thanks.

2. Old rock didn’t have the blunt vulgarity that today’s rock has. What profanity we had in my day was more innuendo that went over the heads of most small children. Sadly, some of the lyrics in today’s songs are downright cringeworthy.

3. I like old stuff. Old songs take me back to a time when life was much simpler.

4. Surprisingly, I’ve noticed that many of today’s young people listen to music from my generation, which is refreshing! Because you know the music’s good if your kids like it too. My oldest son loves AC/DC and Ozzy Osborne, and just the other day, I had the pleasure of seeing a car full of teens riding around with Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” blaring from their car stereo. Now that put a smile on my face!

‘You see? Back when I was young, if we were caught listening to music from our parents’ generation, we’d be ridiculed so hard by our friends and peers we’d never want to show our faces in public again. So, knowing that kids still dig music from our day is truly amazing!

Music is great medicine and has always picked me up. I can say without a doubt that I’ll be a devout music lover until the day I close my eyes!

Are there any music lovers out there among my community of blogger friends and readers? Feel free to comment.

Learned Helplessness Explained from Personal Experience

A Very Bad Place

That god-awful place I was in years ago is a place I never want to return to. There was a time I’d given up- a time I felt that I had no control over my own life. Instead of running my life, I let my life run me. Even worse, as much as I wanted to fix it, I didn’t know how.

All I knew was that my life was a constant battle- a war I never volunteered to fight in but one I felt I’d been involuntarily drafted into- with no furlough, no R&R, and one that seemed to be never-ending. I was as a ship without a rudder.

Bad things kept happening back-to-back and I didn’t know what was broken. Therefore, there was no way of knowing how to fix it.

It looked as if everyone else was happily enjoying life- getting what they wanted (or more appropriately, what I wanted)- everyone except me, and I was sick of always being an exception.

I had been programmed to believe, though subconsciously, that love, success, anything good and meaningful, was for anyone who wasn’t me. I felt that God loathed me and wanted to punish me by blocking me from any kind of happiness, satisfaction, and contentment, while making sure I’d see everyone else reaching successes and enjoying their lives.

And I hated them all for it. Even worse, I hated God for seemingly blessing them and cursing me- for allowing me to suffer and seemingly leaving me to fend for myself, then cutting off ways for me to do it. I felt that it just wasn’t fair. I stopped talking to God. I wanted nothing to do with Him. I either wanted to ignore Him flat out or curse Him in my heart. I was angry- no. I was outraged!

Depression Concept with Word Cloud and a Humanbeing with broken Brain and Heavy Rain

I was in such a bad place and life sucked- royally!

It was as if He were forcing me to suffer and, at the same time, rubbing everyone else’s successes and blessings in my face. It was the feeling of being starved and denied essential nourishment while being tied to a chair and forced to watch everyone in the room eat heartily and enjoy a huge feast.

That was torture!

It’s Only the Result of Learned Helplessness.

But you see? This is what learned helplessness does. It programs you to believe that you’re at the mercy of Fate! You ask yourself, “what’s the point?” After so many disappointments and heartaches, you come to feel that there’s nothing you can do to change your situation- that you’re just “stuck with it,” and “that’s just the way it is.”

Learned helplessness forces you to believe that you have power over nothing! You’re just a leaf being blown about by the wind- a car without a steering wheel. It is as if your life has been set to autopilot and there’s no way you can navigate its direction.

You come to believe that you should just roll over, resign yourself, and accept your fate and station in life- just go with the flow and let yourself be blown wherever the wind decides to take you.

At the time, therapy helped a little, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t enough. It only allowed me to keep existing instead of living. All the therapists wanted to do was shove anti-depressants down my throat, which, in most cases, left me feeling like a zombie- like I was just there, and that’s it. They were only treating the symptoms and not the root cause.

The Turning Point

My saving grace was when God showed me what I needed to do. And what pulled me out of this dark pit was when I began reading personal development and putting everything I learned into practice. I was hungry for any knowledge I could use to make a better life for myself. I ordered and devoured book after book, and I continued to practice the new habits I’d learned everyday until it became like second nature, and I no longer had to think about it.

The transformation didn’t happen overnight. It took a few years but I was amazed at the results and the good blessings that begin to flow into my life almost immediately!

I now realize that all along, I’d always had the power to change things, only I’d never known I had it.

And power you don’t know you have is power you don’t have because it’s power you can’t use. You cannot use anything you don’t know you have.

A Positive Outcome

In general, I’m a happy person today. I’m confident and comfortable in my own skin. I know who I am and what I want out of life, and I go after it with excitement and fervor. Yes! Now, I get excited about my life and about the future!

This is not to say that I don’t have days when I’m not at my best because I do. Things will still go wrong as they most certainly will for anyone of us. I just have a much better way of looking at it and it doesn’t feel nearly as bad as it used to. I may not have total control of my life, only God has that. But I have control over much more than I did years ago.

Any time I even suspect that I’m slipping back into the “old mindset,” I quickly begin counting my blessings and reminding myself that there are many people who have it much worse than I ever had it and before I know it, I’m back to where I need to be.

But most importantly, I’m making my peace with God and there’s nothing better than that!

So, I want you to know that, if you’re in the same bad place, you don’t have to continue living there. You have more power than you realize, you just don’t know it’s there. You do not have to accept everything that you’re not happy with and that brings you pain.

You do have the power to change it. I’ll show you how in the next post!

How Music Helped Me Cope with Bullying

During the years I was bullied in school, I’d come Home in the afternoon, and take refuge in my bedroom. I would then turn on my stereo or play one of my cassette tapes (they were the thing back then) and get lost in the music.

I was a Prince fan and hairband girl. I’d put in one of my Prince,  Dokken, Motley Crue, Ratt, Judas Priest, or Skid Row tapes and rock out in the privacy of my bedroom. I would turn the music up full blast and have it blaring so loud the entire house shook.

Other days, I’d come home and boogie down to some Janet Jackson, Al B. Sure, Salt N Pepa, or Paula Abdul. I was into New Jack Swing hip-hop as well. And sometimes I listened to softer rock on the stereo, “Money for Nothing,” by Dire Straits, “Tell Me Lies” by Fleetwood Mac, or Springsteen’s “Tunnel of Love.”

For me, listening to music always helped me recover from a bad day and made me feel great. There was nothing like bebopping all over the floor in my bedroom to the beat of a great song. It seemed to make all my troubles and worries disappear. It was what made me feel alive!

Today, I still listen to those songs either through my music downloads, on YouTube, or I play one of my numerous Prince CDs.

The music of today just doesn’t have it- doesn’t have the heart and soul it used to. The music of today is all about “me me me- all eyes on me” and is doused with blatant, in-your-face sexual profanity, or it’s pity-party music, as I like to call it. Yuck! Who wants to hear that?

The music of my day was music that you could let your kids listen to without fear. Here are a few more reasons I prefer old rock over this new crap.

  1. Rock music from my era was about having a good time. It made you want to jump up and shout! New rock is too emo- it’s about “my partner left, and now I want to die,” or “Mommy and Daddy didn’t love me enough, and now I’m one messed up individual.” No thanks.
  1. Old rock didn’t have the blunt vulgarity that today’s rock has. What profanity we had in my day was more innuendo that went over the heads of most small children. Sadly, some of the lyrics in today’s songs are downright cringeworthy.
  2. I like old stuff. Old songs take me back to a time when life was much simpler.
  3. Surprisingly, I’ve noticed that many of today’s young people listen to music from my generation, which is refreshing! Because you know the music’s good if your kids like it too. My oldest son loves AC/DC and Ozzy Osborne, and just the other day, I had the pleasure of seeing a car full of teens riding around with Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” blaring from their car stereo. Now that put a smile on my face!

‘You see? Back when I was young, if we were caught listening to music from our parents’ generation, we’d be ridiculed so hard by our friends and peers we’d never want to show our faces in public again. So, knowing that kids still dig music from our day is truly amazing!

Music is great medicine and has always picked me up. I can say without a doubt that I’ll be a devout music lover until the day I close my eyes!

Are there any music lovers out there among my community of blogger friends and readers? Feel free to comment.