The effects of bullying into adulthood

Bullying affects everyone. It’s effects can last a lifetime. Be aware of some of the risks.

Some of you will understand this blog better than others. It’s been a while since I last wrote and part of me has not really felt like writing. The other part has been wrestling with depression. Why? I don’t have anything in my life that should make me depressed and yet I am. Lately, I’ve been remembering memories that were from my childhood and teenage years. Those memories have been eating away at my soul because there was a lot of damage done to my psyche during that era in my life. I was a victim of bullying and I didn’t know how to understand it or why.

In Elementary school, I had friends. I was able to feel comfortable in my own skin. I loved learning. I thrived in many ways until I reached the sixth grade. The popular kids deemed me unpopular. I was cute but not pretty enough for their circles. I craved the attention and couldn’t get anyone to give me the time of day. I didn’t understand why. The boys wouldn’t pay attention either. I was flat chested and had a good butt yet I wasn’t cool enough for them. Some days felt like I was alone even though I convinced myself that I was accepted even when I wasn’t.

Then I went to middle school. That was worse. I made poor choices. I never really felt good about anything. I had a super big crush on a guy who never even knew I existed in the same school much less the same state. Life was passing me by and I didn’t care. I couldn’t wait to get older. High school became even worse. I went to school in an environment where there were a lot of wealthy families and I really didn’t fit into the mold. Oh I tried everything. No one would let me sit with them at lunch. No one would be my friend. Thank God for my friend Renee who even though she went to a different school than I did, she kept me from feeling completely alone.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to find my voice. I found my heart and passion in several areas. I was free to do everything that I had never done before and I loved it. That is to say that I loved it until the partying stopped. Then reality set in. See, we can try to nullify the pain that we experience whether it’s physical, mental, or even both but we can’t stop the pain unless we confront it head on. If we run from our fears and our pain, the only ones we really hurt are ourselves. I allowed people to put me down and I chose to believe those put downs. I allowed people to make me feel inferior to the point that I didn’t believe I could succeed in anything. I even allowed men I loved to make me feel worthless and I believed that no man would ever love me the way I deserved. I settled for a man who put his needs ahead of mine every single time until it almost destroyed me. After my relationship with him fell apart, I allowed myself to fall for someone who didn’t love himself much less anyone else. I hope someday that he will learn as I did that when you allow everything else in this world to cause you pain, it doesn’t matter if it’s a disease like Lyme disease, true love doesn’t put you down, it only lifts you up.

Every day, suicides happen because of bullying. Become aware of how to be the solution and not the problem.

The ironic thing is that no matter what may have happened in my past or anyone’s past, it shouldn’t define who you are. Since I let others tear me down, it caused me to resent others for their success, it’s caused poor choices, panic in accepting jobs, selling myself short in the professional and personal arenas and it’s stifled me. Thankfully, I recognize what happened and even though it’s a constant struggle to move forward, at least I know that I’m not alone. There are many others who have had similar situations. The beauty of this knowledge is that sometimes we need the reassurance that others understand where we are coming from. It’s okay to talk about things. In fact, it’s really healthy to do this. When we recognize our own issues, then we can confront and defeat them.

For those who don’t believe in God, I’m not asking you to. I believe that there is a higher entity in the universe who calls the shots. I believe that there are angels. I believe that no race is superior than others. I also believe that we were all created to be unique. Maybe it’s naïve but I choose to believe in the good of things. What I don’t believe is that a person or group has the right to belittle others just because they don’t believe in the same things. Bullying has lingering effects. It can affect our confidence, our fears, even our dreams. It can make a person feel captive to their tormentors. To this day, I don’t want to return to my old high school. I always feel that I’m never enough. I’ll never be the popular girl. Nor will I be the wealthy girl. I will however, be the girl that chooses to live with respect, honor, dignity and courage. I choose to live my life to the fullest and not give the folks who tore me down for so long more attention than they deserve.

It’s take me almost thirty years to get to that point. I used to go home and cry myself to sleep every night because of things that were said and done. Somewhere along the line I had to learn to forgive the bullies and not allow them to continue to invade my mind. If I had completely done that I wouldn’t be writing this blog, but I think it’s important to let people know when you are struggling with things, because if you are struggling, the chances are that they are too. The experts say that forgiveness is necessary to move forward and it’s true. I’m just now starting to forgive those who wronged me and that’s on me. That’s a huge reason that I haven’t been able to heal. I was angry with those who made me feel inferior. I was angry with my ex-husband for the way he treated me. Then he had the audacity to find a look a like and have a child with her and I couldn’t have kids. I was super pissed with God about that issue. Then I was mad at a man I took a chance on and he let me down due to his Lyme disease. He’s let the disease run his life and made a lot of bad decisions. He runs from his demons too. I can’t fix him. I can only fix me. That’s why allowing ourselves to grow and change is crucial to keeping our lives moving in a positive direction. It’s through those changes, that we are able to soar beyond our imagination.

There are a lot of things that we become our own victims over. In my case, it’s been bullying. It’s also been a lack of self worth and confidence. But if I’ve learned anything over the last couple of years, it’s that we are all a part of a story. Sometimes the story gets a happy ending. Sometimes, it’s a continuing saga to be lived with either a predictable ending or one that keeps evolving and changing. Our stories are part of who we are. It’s those stories that help us become the conqueror or the victim.

There are a lot of days where I feel like a victim of my own design. Part of it is that I have allowed myself to feel inferior. Over the last couple of years, I still struggle to a degree to recognize my own worth but I am less inclined to allow someone to make me feel that I’m unable to accomplish things. In fact, I’m doing an about face. I’ve been doing volunteer work with an organization that is changing lives for the better. It’s called Empowered Girls of NC. This organization helps young girls achieve their dreams and reach for their fullest potential without having the roadblocks that many of us encountered growing up. Their goal is to help young girls succeed in anything that they want to achieve in this world. It’s that kind of persistence that I support.

My hope for each of you is that you find your own type of love in this world. Sometimes I think we are so busy making fun of others that we forget the damage that we do. I love to tease my friends but sometimes I don’t realize that my words come across in ways that I would never have thought as demeaning. There was a time in my life that I didn’t have to think about what I said or how it came across. Those days are so far behind me now that it does no good to look back. What I can tell you is that we are all part of the solution to bullying. Bullying leads to so many issues that can go on for years undetected. If you see someone being bullied, I urge you to help stop the cycle.

Remember you aren’t alone. Many others deal with bullying and depression. Reach out for help instead of bottling everything inside of you.

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