Bullying, Am I Gaining Acceptance Through Facebook (FB) was originally written August 2010. This post by far in the blog titled Morbidly Obese and The FB Transformation has had more readers than any of my other 63. Since my spiritual awakening I've wanted to readdress and rewrite posts that have made an impact on others lives and my own. This is the first post I wanted to take on in my rewrite hence "The Rest of The Story". The main goal of my rewrite also correlates with my vision and overall philosophy in life which is to to impact my readers in a positive way by One Heart, One Spirit, or One Soul at a time! My blog has been read in 95 countries and opened by over 16,000 people. If I can just help one young person going through the trials and tribulations of being bullied or to awaken the parent of a bullied child through my writing then my goal has been reached! If only someone was there to help me! Then again, I could not be helping others now without real world experience. God bless everyone reading this! Here we go!
Wikipedia describes Facebook as social networking website launched in February 2004 that as of November 2012 has almost 652 million active users. Users can add people as friends, send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves. I signed on to FB March 19, 2009. I currently have 666 riends in my network. I remember when I signed on to FB. I was very nervous about sending friend requests to my former bullies. Even 27 years later I did not want my tormentors having access to my life not knowing what would happen. A friend told me that was then and this is now! That people had changed. Was she ever right! I never dreamed the impact it would make on my transformation and spiritual awakening.
As was previously stated in my first post I am opening myself up and will tell you a true life story about my adolescence of being bullied that even today at 48 years of age I have a hard time accepting, It is embarrassing to myself and will probably make you cringe!
I graduated high school in 1982. I ranked 130 out of class of 132. Unlike today at 305 pounds, I graduated high school at 155 pounds. The proverbial 99 pound weakling! Just a skinny kid getting sand kicked in his face! I absolutely hated grade and high school. It had to be the most difficult time I've ever endured. I hated my life. During my high school years I lived in a car, an apartment and right before graduation I moved back in with my parents. The fact is I was picked on unmercifully in school. In grade school my family lived in a house that was rented from the Catholic school I attended. My parents did not have a car (even to this day) and I had to ride the city bus, walk or sometimes hitch hike everywhere I went. I was nearing graduation and decided to escape my life by joining the US Air Force. Since I was only 17, my parents had to sign up for me. I made a deal with the US Air Force that I would graduate high school before going active duty. I almost didn't make it.
If I had only found out before I was an adult that emotional scars hurt a lot more than physical ones my life may have turned out differently. My first episode of bullying took place when I was just 7 years old. Before my family moved into the home owned by the Catholic church we lived in a bad part of Memphis. That neighborhood today is surrounded by a 20 foot wall of concrete just like a prison. There is only one way in and out. We lived across the street from a rehab center where my mother would baby sit. I would make extra money by sweeping the sidewalk of the rehab center. While sweeping one day the next door neighbor, Paul who was a lot older and bigger than I was knocked me down. He took the broom I was sweeping with and put it across my throat. Paul then let go of the broom, took out a knife and threatened to kill me! I can remember frantically begging for my life! I'm sorry please don't kill me! He covered my mouth to drown the noise all the while telling me he was going to kill me! I could feel the knife in his left hand, poking me again, and again, and again like he was going to carry it through! I later found out Paul was mentally handicapped and could have closed the deal. As I continue to edit this post I now remember an alley cat my sister and I called Fluffy. My mother use to feed him every night. She'd call "Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!" and Fluffy would come running up for dinner. One day Fluffy quit showing up. It was rumored Paul buried Fluffy with her head sticking out of the ground. He got a lawnmower! No need to describe the rest! This is maybe why I felt so scared and vulnerable! At 7 years of age I was a prisoner in my own house! While other kids were outside playing I would stay in my room hiding, looking out for Paul, afraid he was going to kill me!
Needless to say my life being threatened had an impact on my entire childhood. I felt I could go to no one for help. As a teenager I went to my mother once. She ignored my pleas for help or didn't want to believe it or take it on. I tried to explain to her how I would not fit in with the other kids. I even asked my mother if she ever knew someone in school that got along with no one and had nowhere to go for help? Why was I being tortured? Why would no one help me? Not even my own mother! I needed help! I was only a kid! Probably why I had mommy issues all the way up to her death just 6 years ago. I got the much needed closure a year later after her death talked about in another post called the Closure! Freud would have a field day with this one!
Both of my parents worked. My father never taught me to fight. I never played catch or any other sport with him. He worked very hard and provided for his family but was pretty much not involved in my life. I'd dare not go to my dad with a problem like being bullied! I was struggling with what kind of mood he would be in coming home from work! I can remember my sister and I as kids looking out the picture window for our father to come home running to hide until we found out what kind of mood he was in. I was a scared little boy at school and at home. In the last year I've been involved in a homeless ministry where I am learning the meaning of love. I've finally been able to tell my father I love you! His response to me over the last year: "Okay!" Even today at 48 years of age I cannot recall a time where my father has told me directly I Love You! That's just his way though! However, It has taught me a very valuable lesson. My twin daughters are 21 years old and every time I've ever talked to them over the last 21 years the words I Love You are exchanged! I see my father today a frail, old man of 77 and I ponder what I was afraid of?
I barely remember participating in any school sports program or even attending a school ball game. My parents did not own a car, not even to this day. I wouldn't be able to get there till I turned 16 anyway. I told my parents I wanted to join a gym and take karate. That never happened. For some reason I remember confiding in the trainer at the gym about being bullied and going home bruised, with no self-worth, and crying constantly. He told my mom about my troubles. It would cost my parents money so it didn't happen. The trainer told me about the conversation he had with my mother and how it fell on deaf ears. So in high school I would continue to skip lunch, and take round about ways to class avoiding my tormentors. I did not give them a chance to hit or push me around. People thought I was on drugs because I would sleep through all of my classes. I wasn't on drugs. I can tell you I slept through classes just so people would leave me alone. I was basically just taking up space. I also grew up during the Iranian Hostage Crisis. My nationality is Lebanese and Italian. I have the features of a middle easterner. I hate the song Refugee by Tom Petty (January 1980) and cringe to this day every time the song comes on the radio. You may think it's funny but the song just afforded people another chance to make fun of my ethnicity. During my high school years I endured a lot of physical bruising and torment. I just wanted to end it all (Yeah, I just said it!) or run away and not see anyone ever again! With a young, undeveloped mind I had pondered what effect this would have on my loved ones and tormentors. I had even daydreamed of my own funeral! There were times I'd go home from school and look in the mirror. I'd be disgusted with what I saw! I would cry my eyes out and physically bang my head against the wall or punch myself in the face, or take a sharp object and press it against my body. Never enough guts to carry it out though! The psychological impact of being bullied was too much to deal with.especially with no family support. I can recall times where I couldn't stand it anymore!
I had even tried to change schools. The bullying followed me! I went to East High for a short period of time. The school is predominately African.American. So as a non-African-American student I just drew more attention to myself. My life was again being threatened because I didn't fit in. I really think someone at my other school had said something. So I went back to my former high school. I live with regret everyday that I never took up for myself! Who knows how my life might have turned out?
There has been a lot of media about cyber bullying. In the last couple of years on FB I've shared posts on teenagers that have committed suicide due to constant bullying. It breaks my heart to hear stories like this! I know the loneliness and helplessness these poor children felt. Just imagine a young person being miserable enough to take their own life. There are unfortunate times where I can relate to these poor souls. Where were their parents, teachers, clergy? I even think back to my own childhood. I went to a Catholic school. My tormentors were the same people I worshipped God with. I had even confided in a religious Brother telling him my trouble and comparing my life to the persecution of Jesus Christ. Of course as an adult there is no comparison but try explaining that to a 15 year old. My plight fell on deaf ears yet again! Could be why I still struggle with religious issues today.
Some 30 years later I still have dreams of inflicting physical harm on my tormentors. Do not worry this would never happen in real life because I am a spiritual man, have common sense and I've grown up! Revenge is not in my realm of possibility.
A reoccurring dream I've had is a real story that happened to me. I've included the real ending and the way I wish it would have ended.
It's May, 1982. I am 17 years old. It's graduation night in the high school gymnasium. My entire family is in attendance (My Mother and Father, Grandmother and Grandfather, Sister, Aunt and Uncle, and Friends of the Family). Part of the graduation includes a slide show of the seniors in different scenes. Guess what? My picture comes up and one of my tormentors yells a racial slur. I can still hear the breakout of laughter to this day. At this point I'm wondering if my family heard the comment and laughter at ME? I just sank down in my chair. I couldn't even graduate without being made fun of.
Ending 2: I had originally written a full paragraph of the dream I've had on getting mind boggling revenge. It was so dramatic and violent I decided to delete it from my blog. The fact is this will NEVER become reality. I am not depressed anymore and will not lower myself to this form of violence.
Also as part of this rewrite I wanted to share the worst case of bullying that has ever happened to me when I was in high school. Even to this day only one person knows about it! I don't know if the bully even remembers it. It maybe the closest I ever came to losing my mind or disappearing forever! I cannot remember the exact sequence of events. The teacher had left the room and I had a bully come up to me and punch me in the face for something I said. I'm sure I had probably said something stupid. However, did it call for having someones fist connecting with my face in front of a class of 30 people to see? After being hit I got up from my chair and left school. It was all a blur after that! I think someone tried to come after me. However, I was in shock. I heard nothing about leaving the school campus. I wonder if they knew what had transpired? I know this person today and have not brought it up. This is one closure I need to get before I die!
I wanted to add more to my rewrite so I went through my yearbook the other day. One of my main bullies wrote the following: "Kirb, Well Kebs, it's almost over and we'll be gone. 4 years of being wild and crazy. Stay out of trouble and keep on rockin. We mess with you a lot but we never mean it. Stay cool like you are and keep on keepin on. Your friend *****. (If he only knew the truth!)
What's strange is some of the same people that made my life miserable as a child are now close friends with me on FB. From Texas I have even put on an annual get together in Memphis at a local sports bar 3 years in a row to give my former classmates the opportunity to reconnect with each other. I have even stayed at a former bullies home and met his family. We've had dinner and even worked out together. We are close friends now! So I ask is FB gaining me acceptance from over 30 years ago and the much needed closure to an adolescence of misery? If it is, then so be it! All I know is FB has been an integral part of helping me lose weight, gain confidence and bring me out of depression. Every facet of your life controls who you are as an adult. I think my childhood was only one of many parts of what made me morbidly obese and depressed. I firmly believe that what made me miserable as a child has helped save my life as an adult. So to all of my FB friends that I grew up with "Thank you! Each and every one of you has helped me save my life!!!"
Author's note: This story is extremely sad! It could have been prevented and my life could have come out different in so many ways. Do not live your life with any regrets! If you are an adolescent and reading this YOU CAN GO SOMEWHERE FOR HELP! I didn't! Please do not make the same mistake I did! There is someone out there who will hear your pleas for help! Bullying is a lot different today than it was 4 decades ago. It is being taken seriously! Do not give up! Talk to your teachers, clergy, parents, police, etc. Do not become a statistic and a memory! Your situation IS NOT hopeless! There is someone out there that loves you. If you think there is no one, remember that God loves you! If all else fails send me a Facebook friend request and I will be your friend! We can share a common bond!
By writing some words below, you are showing your support and letting everyone know they're not alone.
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