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I've often contemplated writing this piece– well, whatever this piece is going to develop to be– but have always been stopped in my tracks. This is something that I've struggled to talk about for years. There's so much victim-blaming surrounding certain aspects of bullying that I often struggle to feel empathy for myself (or my previous self, as it were). So it appeared hard for me to ever truly label myself as being bullied.
What must be taken from this cycle of self-blame is the mere fact that this inability to feel sympathy for yourself is exactly what bullies force you to feel. Subsequently, this perpetuates a culture whereby one is led to believe that what you were experiencing was deserved, acting as a punishment for something that you must have done, because karma's a bitch, right? But the truth is much of the time there is no determining factor. There is no great mistake that results in such intensely agonizing torture from those that you once called a friend. And even if there were, it is simply irrelevant.
As a teenager, it's no surprise that some people fail to see the irreparable damage they can cause a person through the act of bullying, but it happens. The truth is bullying costs lives and it doesn't matter what form it derives from.
Not all bullying is physical - in fact, frequently I would find myself wishing somebody had physically harmed me rather than persistently leaving bruises bluer than the ocean embedded in my mind. No 11-year-old deserves to be sexually objectified. No 12-year-old should face the fear of having to walk into a school full of hundreds of people and feel entirely alone. No 13-year-old deserves the embarrassment of having to sit in a toilet cubicle to eat their lunch alone because they are simply not wanted anywhere else. No 14-year-old deserves to be made to feel that the body they are inhabiting is simply not worthy. No 15-year old that is struggling to find their place in this world deserves to be told to go kill themselves. No 16-year-old deserves to have to deal with crippling mental health issues as a result of the way people have treated them. No matter what age. No matter what circumstance. Nothing about bullying is OK.
Bullying appears intrinsically linked to a person's mental health and can be a huge contributing factor to many disorders. My anxiety– as I have recently unraveled– appears to have begun as a result of the trauma I felt from a young age and the insecurity that consistently surrounded me.
I am still spending a substantial amount of time fighting back the voices in my head that attempt to penetrate my core once more and allow my insecurities to pour out of me in a desperate attempt to drown me once more. The fear that was induced so deeply within me was detrimental to my self-perception, and till this day sheds a light on how I act (and, react) in certain situations.
It appears, then, that through the experiences I went through and the bullying I was subjugated to I subsequently became a bully to myself. My bullying led me to over analyze every situation, to constantly seek reassurance from people, and to simply live in constant fear. It is probably also tied to my hypersensitivity, or weakness as many people may view it. I fear most things, and while I am incredibly skilled in battling away comments here and there and 'taking things on the chin', words have an ability to tamper with my mentality in a way that nothing else can. It takes a second to make an unnecessary comment but it is important to remember that such a comment can then fester in a person's brain for eternity. Words are an immortalized tool and while they are frequently our greatest weapon, they can also be our worst.
With words circling around my head repeating the things that used to haunt me in my daily life, I have realized a fundamental truth: while I wouldn't wish the sheer pain I felt at times from the words people used to taunt me on my worst enemy, those words molded me and made me irrevocably stronger as an outcome. So, if you are going through anything that merely resembles bullying please remember that there is hope and there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel.
One of my most vital mistakes was that I never sought help for my issues. I had one friend that I confided in entirely. I will be eternally in her debt for the help she gave me and the light she provided me when I was consumed by darkness. But I should have taken greater steps to ensure my safety and happiness. While I made it through one of the most disruptive storms I did so in an entirely corruptive manner, harming myself mentally and physically.
I never truly combatted my issues until it was far too late and thus I am spending my early 20s trying to attend to the feelings that consumed me as a young girl rather than simply embracing the now. It seems foolish for me to preach about finding help and reporting what is happening to you because I am the first person to know how utterly terrifying that prospect is. Particularly when your school is entirely useless in dealing with certain forms of bullying. But, please, I wish somebody had said to me then what I know now: you can get through this, you are entirely stronger than you believe, and those that spend their time degrading you need to be stopped. While you may feel like you're strong enough to deal with such hatred the next person might not be.
Blowing out someone else's candle does not make yours shine any brighter.