This is month is National Bullying Prevention Month. Good on us, society. But there are still some subjects that haven’t been touched upon, some ideas that I do not fully understand or agree with, and a few hard truths no one seems to want to hear. As per usual, I’ll start with my own experiences.
Yeah, I was bullied as a child, but my bullies were a little more forthcoming than others. I’m not making light of anyone else’s dealings with bullies, just stating the facts. I had the back of my hair set fire with a match to the results of giggles and guffaws. No one asked if I was all right. They only laughed. We were playing volleyball during PE, and some kid came up behind me with a matchbook. I smelled the hair burning, then I felt the heat. I wasn’t scarred, but I had to shave my head later that day. The principle gave the boy a three day suspension. When he came back, he spread an untrue rumor that he’d caught me masturbating in the boy’s room. I became The Jerker. Nothing was done no matter who I told. Everyone just said, “They’re only words.” Yeah… just words. I was also poked excessively throughout junior high and high school. This was an unfortunate side effect stemming from the Pillsbury Dough Boy. As most of you already know, I’ve been fat my entire life, so I suppose the likeness could be true. I don’t blame General Mills, nor do I blame the guy that created the infamous boy made of dough. When the pokes didn’t seem to bother me anymore, several kids reverted to punching me in the gut instead. I’d fight back eventually, but all that resulted in was more boys showing up to help the one who had started the bullying. Then we’d all end up suspended. All of us. Yes, including me. So pardon me if I laugh in the face of anyone who says bullied kids will be fine if they only stand up for themselves. Just because you’re strong enough to fight back, doesn’t mean it will help. In most cases, it only makes matters worse.
So, why didn’t I snap and shoot up my school? Why didn’t I resort to cutting or other self mutilation? Why didn’t I just finally end it all by hanging myself in a closet? The easy answer is, I like me. I always have. Somewhere, I hold an ego so large that King Kong pales in comparison when judged by sheer size and presence. The hard answer is what I want to talk about today. I never snapped.
No one wants to believe that there’s not a lot of difference between bullies and the people they harass. Stopbullying.gov has entire lists stating the differences, but what about the similarities? Both subjects are dealing with insecurities. One needs to build themselves up by tearing others down, and the other doesn’t protect themselves because they don’t feel they can. Both subjects come from households that could be better. And finally, both subjects, in the most extreme cases, are suffering from mental instability. Bear with me, but you may not like me after this.
Cutters and suicides can no longer deal with the emotional pain. Cutters replace the emotional pain with a pain they can control, physical pain. And suicides, well, they simply end the pain altogether. I feel a great deal of remorse for these individuals, but in most cases, there are underlying causes aside from bullying. They know they’re different, whether because their mind plays tricks on them, or because they’re told they are. And yes, they are different, but not in the lesser sense, just in the overall sense. They are wired differently. Sometimes, there’s something before the bullying, and the bully only serves as the catalyst, the trigger effect, the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. In severe cases, these subjects will act out in a greater scale, shooting up their schools, killing their peers. But they don’t solely target the bullies. Why is that? I surmise, but I could be wrong, that in the subject’s mind they just want everyone to feel some of the pain they do. And if they cannot feel said pain, death is the next best option. We’re dealing with mental illness, a difference in chemical makeup. I do not feel better, or more put-together than these people. I only know they exist. And that it’s a very sad state of affairs when they are pushed beyond their capacity to deal.
Bullying, like racism and sexism and any other social deformity, will never end. We have no control over others. What we can do is provide an ear for the bully and the bullied alike. Far too often bullied children, and even adults, are told that sticks and stones will… yada, yada, yada. The truth is, those words escalate and turn into tangible things by which someone can pummel you with. Everyone has a breaking point. Luckily for me, I never reached it. I don’t even know if I ever came close to it, but I’m glad I didn’t. People snap. It’s a fact of life. When an adult goes on a killing spree at a movie theater all you hear about is that person’s mental issues. But when a child goes off the deep end, it always has to be a bully’s fault. Bullies suck. They suck big time. But, we always seem to blame someone else instead of focusing in on the real issue. Not once have we heard about a child shooting up his school not being bullied. Now, was he bullied because he was a little off kilter to begin with? Who knows? Maybe you guys can answer that in the comment section. If he was, that still doesn’t make it right. Let me be clear about that though. I am not on the side of the bully, I only want to understand what it takes to kill a classroom full of your peers. But, sometimes, as in my case, bullying made me a stronger person because I saw those aggressive kids for what they truly were. Just as different and insecure as myself. Later in life, I would use anyone who told me that I wasn’t good enough or strong enough as a stepping stone to do better.
There is no answer to bullying, there is only learning to how to cope with it. I’m all for world peace, but yeah, we’ll see how that goes. Human beings are crap most of the time. We only think about ourselves, then wonder why other people don’t understand that the world revolves solely around us.
This is my curse, folks. To see both sides of the equation. I wish I had more answers for you, but I’m trying to figure everything out as I go along, just like many of you. Maybe if we understand the mindset of these children, pre-bullied, we’d understand where the severe cases come from. Then again, as with Tom Cruise, we may never know what the hell went wrong.
Remember, I feel for you guys. I’ve been there.