The Various Colors of Bullying.

 Growing up as the youngest child always seems to be classified as you being spoiled and thus getting the easy road. However, for me, it just meant being the target of the rest of my family's frustrations. What I mean is that I grew up with not just my siblings, but my parents as well constantly taking out their stress and emotional issues on me even as a young child. Between the insults and the fighting I seemed to be always angry and always looking down on myself. These issues eventually resonated into my school life causing many issues that took me a long time to recover from.

 I'd first like to give some background to my home lifestyle before I talk about my issues at school and with other children growing up.

 I have two older siblings, a brother and a sister, who are nearly a decade older than me. As a child I was always the butt of their jokes and tended to bee singled out as both my brother and sister are much closer in age and have a more solid relationship. People always told me "Well that's what siblings do", but don't seem to understand that as a small child having two cruel and emotionally angst teenagers constantly laugh at and insult the types of clothes you wear, the music you listen to, the friends you have, etc..., is not the same as have another child say that you smell or are stupid. Because of the age gap I was always trying to impress my two siblings and when I clearly did not the disappointment was overwhelming and made me feel inadequate. At a young age I developed extreme self esteem issues because of this and always felt I needed to impress others and only seemed to make friends with people that treated me just the same as them.

 My parents were in their forties when I was a child and always seemed tired of playing the parental role. I can't speak for how my two siblings were raised (for obvious reasons), but as a child my parents seemed so disinterested. My father worked 4 to 9 o'clock from Monday to Friday and during the weekends spent most of his time in the office or doing yard work. He rarely spent time with me and when he did it was either very formal or very fake. By that I mean it was almost like he was acting and not genuinely interested in me or my hobbies. My mother on the other hand did spend a great amount of time with me growing up, but was not really like a mother as much as she was more like another sibling. My mother has had emotional issues her whole life and clearly never developed common social skills or the understanding of what NOT to say to a child or at least how not to say it. She was essentially my only guidance into the adult world as a child and this caused me to get into horrible habits when dealing with others.

 The majority of my memories within my household consist of constant yelling and banging and the fear and anger that built up inside of me. Having two angsty teens and two emotionally unstable parents caused there to be a lot of tension in the house. My brother and sister were your typical pot smoking, beer drinking, party animal high school students and my parents didn't know how to handle it. I recall many times where I'd be in my room playing with my toys and out of nowhere I'd suddenly hear screaming, and very violent screaming at that (For example, I remember whenever I'd see a movie or a tv show that showed parents getting into a heated argument or something along those lines, I always thought it was too tame and unrealistic until I realized that my situation wasn't normal.), and I would just pause what I was doing and sit there, having what I later found out to be a panic attack, and I would just wait until it stopped or in some cases I would get so heated from listening that I'd join in on the fighting. It eventually got to a point where it was so common that I didn't even react to it anymore. I remember when the yelling would be directed towards me (which sometimes consisted of not just my parents, but my siblings joining them in their attack on me) I would be horrified and sometimes would lock myself in the bathroom and beg them to calm down. The way their faces changed and the body movement was so tense, it was like something out of a horror movie, in fact I used to have nightmares from it as a child. I actually have a remaining fear of things that have human form that are bigger than me (which is uncommon now since I am 6'2") whether it be a statue, some type of robotic character used in amusement parks, or even just a movie monster (I watch a lot of horror movies and nothing ever really scares me, but whenever something big and human-like is attacking people I tense up and my heart-rate goes up.). I was scared and angry most of the time at home. Now I can't say for sure I was ever "beaten", but I was certainly hit a few times and used to flinch every time my father made a sudden movement or raised his hand.

 The reason why I am telling all of this prior to talking about my situations with bullying is that I want to paint a picture of how different someone's life at home can be when compared to how they are at school.

 Basically my school life was always a mixed bag in terms of bullying. What I mean is, in some cases I was bullied by other students and in other cases I was the one doing the bullying (I only verbally bullied other kids, I was very adamant about not hitting people). The first friend I ever had was my next-door-neighbor. We spent a great deal of time playing together and it was easy to get together, but when we were at school he'd change, he'd be excruciatingly cruel and was almost using me so he could make fun of someone to impress his school friends (which him and them were a grade higher than me). I wanted so desperately to not be friends with him, but without him I was alone again and that scared me. At school we never really talked and had different teachers and thankfully spread apart over time. I eventually befriended another student in my classes who at first was an extremely nice typical kid. I became close friends with him the same as I did my neighbor. As we spent more time together I slowly became the pinnacle of his, and other friends I had's, insults. It was easy for them to make fun of me because I was too scared and socially awkward to know how to deal with it or defend myself. Unfortunately for my other classmates I wasn't the only one they picked on. I had inadvertently joined a group of bullies and when at school I would join in on their sessions of making other children feel like dog... well, you know. I realized how good I'd feel after doing it. for the first time I felt above someone and not the person being kicked to the ground (Figuratively that is). It came to a point that I would do it regardless of whether I was with them or not. This also gave me ample opportunities to release a great deal of my suppressed anger that was developed from my life at home, in fact I realized later on in life that I was very easily angered and frustrated which caused me to get into countless arguments growing up which in many cases I think made people dislike me.

 This will come to no surprise at this point, but I had also become a target for teachers and faculty. I was now the bully and was treated as such. The thing was, half the time I was bullying someone i would actually hate myself and wish that I could control it, but I couldn't. Somehow my friends never seemed to be targeted as much as me, I don't know if that's true or just my perception of it, but it always seemed like when they bullied people the faculty wouldn't notice or care. I was always more prone to get in trouble and I think it was because I was always targeted by the faculty. Teachers wouldn't let me participate in some projects and parents didn't want me near their kids (Which to be fair on myself, was mostly due to some parents overreacting to very tame childish things such as me pinching another child in a joking and non-threatening manor). While this was going on I was still being treated horribly by my friends and was dealing with the issues at home. I almost never felt as though I was a victim in any way. it was like I was brainwashed to believe I was the most awful human being alive. I grew to hate myself and I had nowhere to turn for help.

 At around age 10 I first started getting real depression and had thoughts of suicide (I didn't even know what suicide was, I just wanted to end the pain). I never turned for help or support because I thought no one would sympathize with me plus the fact that I still believed that I kind of deserved this. My depression got bad enough that my parents transferred me to another school. I dropped connections with my old friends and was staring over. By this time I no longer had urges to insult or bully other kids (at least not to the extent I had previously done). This was a private school with about 35 kids per grade and consisted of mostly upper class children that were taught false formalities (similar to my father) and how to "play the game" so to say. I had a great deal of trouble fitting in with these kids. They all liked sports (I played sports but never cared about teams or anything like that) and were very materialistic (similar to my siblings, but mostly my sister). Luckily we had uniforms so I rarely had to worry about impressing them with my clothing. The teachers were very cruel and never seemed to want to help me get acclimated to the new environment. Within the first month of school I was yelled at for not properly completing a homework assignment in the format that the school wanted ( which was because my old school did it differently and no one here told me how they want it done). That was just one of many times I was embarrassed or singled out by teachers which led to other kids thinking I was dumb and/or a troublemaker (which was frowned upon by these kids). 

 I was 12 years old and was going through obvious "changes" and was very confused and very stressed out. To make matters worse, I was about a year older than everyone in my class so I was the only one really going through this. I had no real friends, was horribly insulted and treated awful by my fellow students and even by teachers and faculty and I was going through my "changes". Just like before I was singled out as a troublemaker and never felt I could turn to anyone for help, plus by that age I was too embarrassed to tell my siblings or parents that I was an outcast as I was always trying to impress them. I'd go home after a long rough day and be lectured by my parents about my grades then insulted by my siblings about how I dressed or wore my hair and anything else they could find to criticize me for.

 One tiny good thing I learned throughout that time was self-control or at least the ability to try to utilize it. By eighth grade I had somehow managed to learn how to "play the game" so to speak and managed to befriend the popular kids in my school. I really couldn't stand a lot of things about them, but was so happy to be accepted for once and to not constantly be the one everyone turns to to make fun of. That's not to say I wasn't made fun of, it was just more bearable than before and I had matured enough to be able to deal with it and sometimes counter it in a non-conflicting way. This was the first time in my life I had ever felt normal. I had friends that didn't treat me like complete garbage, girls were actually interested in me, my siblings were in in college, and my teachers actually seemed to like me. 

 This unfortunately did not last. Once high school came everything changed. The majority of my friends went to a very elite and expensive high school that I had absolutely no possible way of getting into and the other school the rest went to my parents didn't want me to go. My family all wanted me to go to the same school my siblings, father, and uncle went to. It was a college prep private school that was strictly regulated and only gave advantages whilst participating to rich kids and athletes (primarily the football team) and stored nearly 2000 students. It even had a horrible caste system that was advocated and nearly created by the faculty where freshmen and sophomores are pretty much allowed to be bullied (as long as it's not too physical) by seniors with little to no repercussions which made the first year or two a miserable experience. Having never been good at making decisions for myself I let my parents technically choose for me. I applied, was accepted, and thus a new chapter started. By this point I had actually started therapy and in the years to come realized I have an anxiety disorder, mostly social anxiety.

 At this time I was still somewhat connected to my old friends, but was starting to hear from them less and less. I desperately tried to make friends, but my social skills were not up to par with what was accepted by my peers. I made a very small group of friends (Some of which I still talk to and/or are very close with), but we were essentially the "outcasts of the outcast" as I call it. Barely anyone knew we existed. I was once asked four times in one day  if I was a new student (I was a sophomore at the time and it was the middle of the school year). In such a large school, to have little to no one recognize you or acknowledge your existence is horrifyingly isolating. Top that with my anxiety and I was absolutely stressed and tired almost 24/7. 

 Now, the bullying I faced in high school was a form that I've found to be more degrading and more difficult to combat than what I had previously experienced, but when it is explained it sounds so inferior. Before I get to the more common forms of bullying I just would like to recall one incident I had freshmen year that has caused me great difficulty that I still face today. The bathrooms at are school were extremely dangerous to go into alone, especially if you're a freshman. Our urinals had no dividers and were very close together, so when a person was using one people would go up next to them pretending to pee and start harassing them whether it be touching or saying dirty things to them. It's beyond degrading. Freshmen year I had to go to the bathroom before one of my classes which was right by the freshmen bathroom, so I thought I'd be safe. Well there were a bunch of people in there who I assume didn't have any classes. Most of them were wearing the freshmen and sophomore blazers with only a couple wearing the junior and senior ones. They were all just goofing around talking to themselves so I didn't think much of it. I went to the urinal and two of the bigger guys there got on both sides of the urinal and started talking to me (saying stupid stuff that teens find funny), while this was happening another student or students, I really don't know, came up behind me and started rubbing and grabbing my butt making me feel uncomfortable which was their intent. I was also too scared to do anything as I was outnumbered significantly, so I just stood there trying to pee and ignore it and I couldn't. My heart was racing and I was practically shaking filled with anger. I eventually flushed pretending I was done and went to walk at as everyone sort of stood around me laughing as I walked passed them to leave. I got to class and was filled with adrenaline and anger. Luckily nothing else happened that day or I would have snapped and maybe even hit someone. Because of this event I have a great deal of anxiety when going to the bathroom in general. The only time I am completely comfortable is when I am home alone and know no one will be home by time I am done.

 This is the type of bullying that occurred there. It was degrading and belittling, but not severe or noticeable enough for them to get in trouble. Plus most people would be too embarrassed to report such things, myself included. Most other times were just me being targeted for a prank or to satisfy someone's boredom in class. I was never directly or consistently bullied by the same person which made it hard to defend myself. You know the routine, someone flicks a piece of paper at you and you go to confront them and they act like you're overreacting. All throughout high school I was depressed, angry, stressed, and tired. I would wake up in the morning actually hoping that I got hit by a car or something just so I wouldn't have to go to school. It got so bad that I started having panic attacks in school and had to be taken out for around 2 months. I eventually graduated (didn't want to go to the ceremony, which made me get lectured by my siblings at how selfish I was) and tried to move on from my past. 

 All these events have caused me a great deal of emotional pain and I have been working on fixing it for that last couple years. I am currently at a point in my life where I feel I am almost ready to truly move on I just need to push myself a little bit farther and I can make it.

 The point of my story is that life is an ambiguous mess and we can never truly understand the variables that play into a single life. Bullying paints its picture using various colors and sometimes becomes overshadowed by the easier to comprehend situations that seem to have a black and white conflict with a one answer resolution, and life is just not like that. If someone is sad, angry, depressed, etc... it shouldn't matter what YOUR perception of them is. We are all victims in our own tales and we could all use some real help. When things are ignored there is severe damage that can become long lasting and may be incapable of being fixed. 


 That is pretty much my tale, there are definitely more elements to it, but this covers the basics of my life. I hope people can find something to take from this and maybe even helps them. Thank you for reading and I wish you all the best.

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