For as long as I could remember in school, from kindergarten onwards, I was teased for being different in some way. I was a tomboy. I was competitive, I was aggressively competitive in athletics and academics alike. I was bright, with a strong streak of "right and wrong". I was also impulsive, with a quick temper. These things made me a vulnerable and easy target for bullying. The more I got bullied, the worse my behavior became. I was angry, and I lashed out, and became more impulsive. I was "diagnosed" with ADHD, and was heavily medicated for this from age 7 through 18, with incidents of toxicity because of doctors mishandling my dosaging. I lost interest in athletics, and gained weight, adding more fuel to the fire for the bullies. I wore glasses, which were "dorky". I enjoyed math, entering and doing well in math competitions. By high school, my interest had plateaued because it was labeled as "nerdy".
I even, at times, lashed out and bullied others in the cyclical pattern of "the abused becomes the abuser". School administration labeled me as a problem because bullying behavior wasn't observed in others, only my reactions. The handful of times that I physically beat up my tormentors were the times I was punished to the highest degree of my school.
Bullying has a profound, deep, and lasting impact on it's targets. While I cannot chalk up the misfortunes of my life outside of school to bullying, I know that it altered the way I thought of myself, regarded my talents and intellect, and made me socially anguished and hesitant. For years, bullying shaped my life, and to a lesser extent still does, though time, therapy, and healing have helped that. In my own perception, I was just as worthless, fat, stupid, ugly, dumb, and so many other things that cannot and should not be uttered because they are so hurtful and derogatory.
It was only when I was in my early to mid-20s that healing began for me. Martial arts was integral. Feeling empowered, feeling that it was OK as a woman to be assertive, to feel like I had the tools to protect myself, all of these feelings were new and priceless.
For those who are being bullied: please find help in what way you can. Keep making your voice heard. Silence will only hurt more than what bullies do. And know that there are those of us who have hurt like you, with you, and will be there for you.
By writing some words below, you are showing your support and letting everyone know they're not alone.