I was a bully #SOCS

Somewhere between the ages of 12-14 or so, I was a bully. I was one of those kids who made a few other kid’s lives miserable in school. Not a lot of kids, just a few. They were actually friends of mine, that I “sprung” being a bully on.  They never saw it coming. Neither did I.

I hated that part of me. I never knew why I was doing it. It made no sense that I could be walking out to gym class with a friend and just punch her for no reason. I actually did that…we were walking and talking and I punched her in the cheek. I instantly said “I’m sorry” and acted like it was no big deal. What the hell? And she stayed my friend. She was a quiet, meek sort of girl. Just like me. Except I hated that part of me, so I guess I hated it in her. And because she was quiet and meek and didn’t have a lot of friends (like me), I knew  I could get away with it. I didn’t understand why I needed to do that, it’s just something that erupted from me. I felt guilty afterwards. Shame.

I did it to a few other girls. I can remember starting a fight with a friend of mine in 9th grade. I made up a lie that I had heard her talking about me, and I punched her. We had been friends for 3 years, and I spring this crazy shit on her. Just awful.   There was another girl who was new and befriended me. She would come over my house sometimes. No one really did that, so you think I would have valued the crap out of her. Nope. This one day, I decided to become really angry at her and chase her out of my home with a big kitchen knife in my hand.  How scary must that have been for her? I can remember thinking to myself “why am I doing this?” as I chased her, scaring her… like it wasn’t even a really me. Like I was harboring a wild animal inside me and it would just break free on it’s own. I really had no control over it….or at least, that’s how it felt. It was sort of like watching a movie of it happening. When it came out, I think I felt a little powerful, or maybe in control…both things I never had in my life.

Over the years, I felt terribly guilty for how I treated them. Still, I never knew why. I just chalked it up to me being a bad person. I had always inherently known I was “bad”. I was never really sure why this was so…it’s just how it was.  I think I must have thought I was bad since my mom decided she didn’t want to live with me anymore. And I must have thought I was bad because my dad would keep reminding me that he offered me to her and she didn’t want me. He must have offered me to her because I was bad? Is that what I thought? I’m not sure I consciously thought those things, but looking back, I can see that I felt them. You don’t always have to put words or labels to feelings, or even understand what they are. You still feel them, and they define you.

I continued to do “bad” things, because that’s what “bad” girls do. That’s how I made sense of it.  When I was molested at 13, that was me being “bad”.  I figured I had “let” that happen to me because that went right along with me being “bad”. So, it only made sense for me to have sex with other guys when I was 14, because I was already so “bad” for doing what I did at 13. Even though I told those boys no, and looking back now I can see that what really happened is they raped me…I thought I was just “bad”.  I had no control over it. It was just who I was. It was me. I was bad. Not even just bad…I was a whore. But hey, we all know whores are bad, so really, what’s the difference?

When Facebook came on the scene, I found a few of those girls and apologized. They had moved on, of course, but seemed genuinely happy to hear me say I was sorry. I apologized for ruining what should have been the best years of their lives. I couldn’t give them an excuse, because I didn’t have one. That was 7 years ago, and I hadn’t started therapy yet. I was still bad.

Fast forward to now. I’ve been in therapy for a year now. And I don’t mean “just therapy”. I mean deep, painful, hard work therapy. I was going twice  a week for most of this spring and summer. Writing up to 10 times a day in my journal.  Peeling off those 30 year old layers resulted in PTSD…nightmares, flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, confusion, panic…really life changing stuff.  I describe the whole therapy process as a giant jigsaw puzzle. After I process a few layers, I’m usually able to put a few pieces together. Last week, the pieces that seemed like they just might fit was the piece of me being a bully and the piece of me being sexually abused. I wrote to one of my victims and asked her about the timeline. She remembered it vividly (which sucks, because I know she remembers it because that’s when her life was hell because of me). It was right around that time. I’m still not sure if it was right before the sexual abuse started or right after. If it was right before, it must be related to my mom leaving. If it’s right after, it must be related to the sexual abuse (or maybe the physical and emotional abuse of my stepmother?) Either way, in the big picture, the point is moot…. it’s not going to change what happened. I have my answers….I was a bully because I suffered trauma. Does it really matter which trauma caused it? No, it doesn’t.  Trauma is trauma. Which one is minor details. All I need to know is that my trauma caused someone else’s trauma, and that sucks. We are in our 40s now, and they have all moved on, and even consider us “friends” now, so I am grateful for that. And hopefully, by me making amends, maybe when they think back to those awful times, they might not be so awful now. I’d like to think their memories sting a little less now that I’ve reached out to them, but I’ll never really know.

One thing that does not make this whole question moot is… most bullies do what they do because something bad happened to them. Well, I can only speak for myself. Maybe some kids are just born bad, or just have bad role models… but I really don’t think that’s the answer for most of them. I love that schools and society are addressing bullying now. Back then, it was brushed under the carpet as “kids being kids”. That’s wrong. Kids kill themselves from bullying. It needs to be addressed. But I also wonder…if someone had dug a little deeper back then…if they had found out why I was acting that way…do you think I could have been saved? Saved from 30 years of carrying that heavy load of guilt and shame inside me? Saved from making lifelong bad decisions because that’s all I thought I was worthy of?  I’m not going to wonder too much…it’s a moot point. The past is the past. I can look back at it, but only for so long. I need to look forward, because I’m not going back. I’m moving on. All I can do now is try my best to add happiness to the world, including to myself. I hope by doing so, I might reduce the amount of bullies in the world…even if just by one.

 

This post is in response to the prompt “moot” in part of Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. It’s  neat way to stimulate writing. It’s organic…we can’t edit it. So, what you just read is raw…straight from my brain to yours….

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Dec. 17/16

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8 thoughts on “I was a bully #SOCS”

  1. You’re doing an amazing job of connecting the dots. Bravo! I remember bullying a girl across the street who was a bit younger than me. The thing is, as I was being a bitch to her in her driveway, her mother was upstairs with an open window, and at some point, she told me that was about enough. I was mortified that I got caught being such a shit. Probably stopped me from doing it more.

    It really sucks that people were so unaware several decades back, about bullies. And in truth, I don’t know how many people today, are aware that a person bullies because they are in deep pain. And if that pain were investigated, I’m sure lots of school teachers and administrators’ hair would curl.

    As a society, we are so unbelievably uneducated about our emotions and our behaviors. Sometimes it’s stunning.

    1. It really makes me think deeper about the people who caused me my own childhood trauma. They must have been hurting, too. Not that this minimizes any of the pain I’ve felt, but it helps me to understand why it happened.

      1. Ironic (or synchronous) that you’d mention about people who hurt you probably had their own pain, because I literally just finished writing a post about pain (I’ve got one or two to post before it). It was actually sparked by a Facebook post an acquaintance of mine made that showed she was holding onto old pain. When I made a comment, she didn’t understand where I was coming from, and my comment went a little bit sideways. In any case, I can say with 100% assurance that people who cause trauma in others, definitely carry their own pain. And that pain, as valid as it is, does not invalidate yours for a minute.

  2. I have to say, I admire your strength and courage – and your honesty – really – because I can relate to everything you’re saying – and damn it – it’s not easy to work through 30 (or more in my case) years of guilt, shame, confusion, mixed feelings etc. It’s one hell of a roller coaster ride – and when the “good days” are good, it’s a miracle in itself.

    so thank you – for finding a way to write and share your experiences

    1. Thank you. This post was a hard one to put out there, for obvious reasons. I’ve had an overwhelming urge to purge everything from my soul this year…. good and bad, though mostly the bad things. I think it’s the only path to freedom/healing/inner peace. Just when I think I’m almost done with this journey, another layer appears and I have to purge that one (purge=writing/talking the crap out of it). I’m beginning to realize I’ll probably never be “done”, but that’s ok. The never-ending journey is way better than being stuck where I was.

      Sorry you can relate to it, but glad you found me:)

      1. So much what you’ve just said resonates …. it IS an ongoing journey, which despite the really hardest of moments, is STILL better than being stuck and worse yet, in that “numbed out” zone which is the result of sitting in silence and pain for so long. I guess the important thing to try to remember when it’s hardest, darkest, is that we have weathered storm after storm …. so, these moments will pass, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
        As for “done”? Well, I’ve personally been “working the healing” process for a long time, and I think the difficult thing is understanding that it will not be a fast and easy “solution.” A life time of cycles, patterns, behaviours, repetitive and self-destructive thinking and self-beliefs (even if they were never true) doesn’t disappear over night …. it takes work, lots of it, and love, self-compassion and support ….. and I guess the the real hope is learning, even when it’s really tough, that for the new moments when we’re actually good with things, with ourselves, and then we share and offer this “new best” is what makes it worth the “struggle.” Peace, as a gift to ourselves, for ourselves, and then offered to others has to mean something – at least, I hope so.

  3. I love the bravery you showed in writing this. I was never a bully myself and was really lucky to be only bullied by the boys. I sidestepped the bullies at school. I know now that hurt people hurt people. Bullies are insecure and that’s for a reason. They were hurt and rather than feel the hurt they project it. You are not doing this any more. Bravo !!!

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