Are bullies victims too? What makes them that way? Or are they merely assholes, who don’t care about who they hurt? It is true that they are cowards? They never pick on the strong, only on the weak. Those who feel unable to stick up for themselves. It is up to everyone to stand up against them.
Having been a bully, and having been bullied, I can tell you a few things. First off, karma is a bitch. I was downright cruel in my early teens. I brought someone to tears, and I did not care. A teacher pulled me out of class one day, with the former friend I was bullying. She asked me to apologize, and I stared that teacher in the face and said no. Not because I didn’t think I had done any wrong, but that I didn’t care. I cannot reconcile that me, with who I am now, and in fact who I was a short time later.
When I was bullied it was less severe, but by all my former friends. I was bullied, because I was a bully. Karma is karma. A couple of days later, there was an extremely severe miscommunication, resulting in me coming off as terrible insensitive to an awful thing a friend had been through. From then on I was out. School was a nightmare. I had no friends. My former friends sat beside me still, as we had at the start of the year, and actively ignored me. In fact the least worse of them, was the girl I had bullied. One of the teachers tried to help, but the roles were reversed, and it was many against one. It felt soul-crushing. I cried every day for months. I remember my birthday a while later. It was just me and one friend who wasn’t in school with us, playing the computer for a couple of hours. I would have rather been alone. I felt so shit.
In my case, I was not a victim while bullying. I was a bitch. I doubt that is the case for everyone. They say many bullies, are bullied at home, by horrible parents, who make them feel like crap. The result if twofold. They model the behavior they see at home, and they lash out because they feel helpless.
For several years after I bullied my friend, even though we were estranged by my ostracization by the group, I continually apologized to her. I felt so guilty, and to be honest, twenty six years later I do. I was in school for three and a half years with people that hated me. I frequently asked them why they hated me, why I had been dumped. I was told I was blowing it out of proportion, it was no big deal, it was water under the bridge, let’s not go back there. The fact remained, I had no school friends for two years.
After two years I made friends with two people I am still in touch with. They both emigrated to the same place, and I emigrated to Chicago. They live over 9,000 miles from me, but they are still two of my best friends. I know if we bumped into each other we would have no problem slipping back into our friendship, as we have the odd time we call each other. Time difference, and all of us having kids make a huge difference. I am still in touch with another home friend. We went to grade school together, lost touch in high school, and ended up in the same college.
Do I regret what happened? Not now. Twenty six years later, indeed a few years later, I got over it. I see them on Facebook. A lot of them still live in the old neighborhood. They are all lovely people. Most of them married with kids. I think I would actually get on quite well with them, if I saw them. We have similar backgrounds, and I knew most of them for some time before ‘The Event’. In fact many of us went on a foreign exchange together a year and a half later. I spent most of it apologizing to the girl I had bullied, and we all got on just fine. I was still not over what had happened though.
If it hadn’t happened I would probably not be friends with the ones I made afterwards. Since I’ve moved, I’ve been one of their bridesmaids, and she and her husband are godparents to one of my kids. None of this might have happened if I had not been ousted by those who I was friends with at fifteen. I am still in touch with my four friends from home. I wouldn’t have it any other way. They have all visited me in Chicago, and I see the two in Ireland each time I go home. They are the best girls anyone could wish as friends, no matter how far away they are. So it all worked out in the end.
One of my children, let’s call them [gender neutral name] Jordan, is bullied a lot. They have severe ADHD, and severe Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder. That’s basically the social piece of Autism. They have very poor eye contact, although are improving with our constantly reminding them to ‘Find our face’. They have no friends, and never had, despite being in middle school. They have watched one of their siblings go to many birthday parties, have sleepovers, have a bunch of friends in their (plural) school. Now that they are moving up to more adolescent grades, my worry is even more acute. Will they be able to cope with High School? It can be tough for kids without disabilities. What on Earth will happen J? There is a person, Chris, in J’s class, that says they like J. C asked J out, and then dumped J in front of the class. J’s SPCD means that they don’t get that C is an asshole, which I have called them such to J. J knows that mommy cursing, means serious business. I tried to use kid-friendly language, but it wasn’t working, so I pulled of the big guns (potty mouth). I told J, that you might trust C in the future, but right now they were untrustworthy. They hurt you on purpose and you don’t interact with them for a long time. We found out a few weeks later, J and C had been emailing each other. Tablet was then confiscated. J had not picked up what we said. J does not pick up on social cues: how people look at you; how they speak; what their facial expression is. J takes everything at face value, and believes everything they are told. This is petrifying for dad and I. What does the future hold for J? C also asked J out to the Valentine’s Dance. J’s father and I had said J could go, before this happened. Even if we had said to avoid C, we knew J would not get it. We had to forbid J from going, which felt like crap. Why did we have to make J feel that they had done something wrong, when it was C who was a wanker (not a bad word in America, so I cane use it!).
The main thing I take from all this, is that high school (indeed Middle School) is rough, rough, rough. Not for everyone, but it was from me. And even more so for Jordan. Also teenagers are shitheads. Or at least some of them. And girls especially can be vicious. I hope I raise my three to stand up for what is right. That not being a bully, is not enough. Staying quiet is not an option. Stand up for others. Stand up for what’s right!