You never get over it, no matter how long or short your period of bullying was.
Especially the psychological bullying that is the speciality of girls.
The main aspect of that sort of bullying that I personally noticed was:
It’s almost impossible to get help from the teacher.
After a few months of getting left out, made fun of, etc. etc. I decided to go to the teacher. It was what everyone always told you to do if you were being bullied. Then the teacher can sort it all out and maybe even punish the bullies.
The issue in my case was that my bullying was almost invisible.
It was the sort of bullying that was pretty much imperceptible unless you were personally involved over a long period of time. The sort that broke you down over months until your self confidence was a tiny fragment of what it used to be.
But when I went to the teacher, the only difference it made was to make it worse. Then I got added comments of ‘What are you gonna do? Tell on us?’ Cue laughter. And the teacher was ‘keeping an eye on it’ which pretty much amounted to nothing.
At least if I got stereotypically ‘guy’ bullied, then the punches would fly and the teacher would see the evidence. Then either I would have moved schools or they would have been suspended or kicked out. Something would have happened.
But over the years I’ve found that the residual effects don’t really go away. Of course they fade slightly, but it’s not the same.
Everyone is always looking at me, and judging me. Even when they’re not.
So this is part of the reason it can be tough for me to walk alone outside anywhere. Especially busy places.
It’s like I think that I am a beacon that everyone can’t help but stare at. And they must be thinking something bad about me. Like my clothes are stupid or my hair is a mess or there’s something on my face. Anything that could possibly humiliate me, I think they’re internally laughing at.
Now, these days I know that that obviously can’t be the case, but those thoughts are more intrusive than logical, so I think they’ll be around for a while.
Anyone laughing near me, is laughing at me.
This one is pretty self explanatory. Whenever I walk past a group of people, usually younger people, and they laugh, they are laughing at me. Or some aspect of me that I haven’t realised is so unfashionable or silly looking that people can’t help but laugh.
This, now I’m older, is usually followed almost instantaneously by a shake of the head and an internal facepalm. I realise how stupid I am to think that I am somehow the centre of everyone’s universe, and that they care more about a tiny aspect of a stranger than they do about their own lives.
I now have an irrational fear that everyone is going to leave me at the slightest thing I do wrong.
It manifests itself in a need to please people around me, even change my opinions to match my friends or just those that I’m in a conversation with.
I’ve been told that because of this I can come across ‘needy’, which of course just made me panic even more about people turning around and hating me.
This also comes across in my personal relationships, or lack thereof. I have been single for… A very long time now. And this could be due to my fear of getting close to people. I feel that everyone is going to do the same as my bullies, after years of being my friends, suddenly turn against me and make me feel like dirt.
This doesn’t help with physical intimacy either, of which the most I am comfortable to do is hugging my friends. A huge amount of trust is needed before I can even think about being mentally and physically close to someone.
This will be harder to get over. But I’ll keep on trying.
And all of these things can be present in the least obvious toes of people too. I have a friend who, on the outside, is bubbly, happy, and the most confident person I know. But inside she is going through all of the same things that I’m going through. And all because of bullying.
Bullying is a part of growing up, a sucky part, but one all the same. If you weren’t bullied you were probably a bully, and quite a few bullies don’t even realise that they’re bullies.
I’m sure that my bullies didn’t even realise how horrible they were making me feel. I doubt they even thought they were being mean, no matter how obvious it was from my side.
But being bullied has a way of making you nicer, of making you see the world from other people’s sides, including people more, and just generally taking others into consideration.
In a way it was a good thing for me. Even though I have the issues mentioned above, I still wouldn’t go back and undo it if I could. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today. I probably wouldn’t have noticed and helped the girl who is now my best friend in the world.
So even though it might take me a lifetime to mend the broken pieces that my bullies left behind, I like who I am now. And that’s a big thing to say.
I hope anyone who has ever been bullied can also overcome anything that they have because of the bullying. And I hope you can learn to like yourself too.