With all the stories in the media about bullying, it got me to thinking about my own childhood. I was bullied quite badly as a child. There was, of course, no internet, so it was all in person, face to face, and fist to face. I fought when I had to, and thankfully had parents that supported me and stood behind me when I needed them to. It made it much easier. At 12 I started taking Karate to learn how to defend myself. It helped with the physical bullying, because people became afraid to fight me, but not the verbal bullying. After grade 10, it mostly stopped. I became a dangerous target for bullies.
I don’t remember becoming depressed when I was bullied. I always had a sense that bullies were much more damaged than me and required pity, and not fear. I often question why some people become depressed and go on to kill themselves, and others become stronger when bullied. Suicide is unfathomable to me on a personal level. I always felt that giving in would be letting the bullies win, and there was no way in hell I was going to let them beat me down.
Lack of family support, social isolation, feeling like you are totally, completely, alone in the world and that there is nobody who loves you, nobody who will stand beside you. That is a part of what bullying does to a person. The physical scars don’t compare to the hurt that words cause.
Bullying is wrong. It should never happen. Ever. No child should have to be subjected to that sort of cruelty and isolation. It makes me really sad that not every child has a supportive family and that schools don’t seem to have comprehensive bullying prevention programs. I’ve read stories of victims of bullying getting expelled from school for defending themselves in a fight. It makes no sense to me.
While I am glad I chose to get in to Karate, martial arts became my passion, I shouldn’t have had to become physically stronger and learn a martial discipline to feel safe and protect myself. My parents had my back, even when educators and those in role of authority ignored the bullying. I think that is part of what kept me moving forward. That and the stubborn streak that is ingrained in me. I will never give in. I will never surrender. Ever. I will always fight for myself and those I love.
Bullying has left it’s mark on me. It taught me how to protect myself. It lead me to an art that became a huge part of my life. It gave me courage to move forward when I was afraid. I taught me the value of loyalty and trust. It also left me with scars. I trust very few. I am socially isolated as an adult, because I learned that safety meant never letting myself get close to people. I have no community.
My fervent wish is for no child to ever feel alone, hurt, isolated, or pain of any kind because they have been bullied. It leaves marks that you will carry for a lifetime, and for some, it ends lives prematurely. It is tragic. It can be prevented of only people care enough to try.