It’s like I’m paranoid lookin’ over my backIt’s like a whirlwind inside of my head It’s like I can’t stop what I’m hearing within It’s like the face inside is right beneath the skin
‘Papercut’ by Linkin Park
When you’re being bullied, you get used to “lookin’ over” your back. Always on edge. Always the whisper of a whirlwind brewing in the pit of your stomach as you go to school, nip to the newsagent, or even walk through the revolving doors into work. So, how can you thrive in life when you’re always in survival mode?
Yesterday, I wondered, ‘Why Me?’
Today, I’m asking, ‘Why Them?’
You might be thinking… Jane, why waste your energy? And the truth is, I’m only inclined to in order to understand the problem because that’s how we eradicate it.
Do I believe we can eradicate it? Honestly, maybe. I hope we can. And hope is one of the most powerful forces humanity can command.
As a child aged eight, I was shy. Was that why I was bullied? Because I was shy and quiet?
With the small circle of friends I had, I wasn’t particularly shy at all. I felt safe. Playing Bulldogs Charge, racing bikes, evening climbing on garage roofs (which I don’t recommend now!) as the best place to hide during Hide n’ Seek! I was a tomboy in many ways. And yet, I also loved being by myself. Drawing, reading and writing. The quiet time was just as much my happy time as racing around our estate on my bright pink ‘Miss Peugeot’ beating my neighbour – a boy who had a racer. One with gears and yellow stripes!
So, what made the bullies target me? Why did they feel the need to bully?
People bully for a variety of reasons. Often, it is a reaction to a deeply rooted pain, anger or anguish they themselves are experiencing. And, this creates devastatingly low self-esteem.
However, low self-esteem is viral. And not in a good way.
Like coughing over someone and spreading germs, a bully transfers their low self-esteem to others.
It doesn’t cure their cough or cold. It merely infests someone else. And therein lies the long term damage, not unlike Long Covid. Unfortunately, low self-esteem can be terminal. Once triggered, it can plague a person for life.
I admit, I have struggled my entire life with low self-esteem, but I’m happy to say the tide is turning with me. And if it can for me, it can for you. We made need to force that tide to turn, but we can and we should.
Bullying is never, ever, ever okay. Ever. When people bully it can be a cry for help. And we should be prepared to, at least, listen.
Another truth that is rarely spoken of when it comes to bullying, is the fact that some people are just plain mean. It’s a fact of life, sadly. We all have characteristics that are born of nature or born of nurture. We could say that people are naturally mean or kind, but I suspect that nurture has more to do with that fact.
Why the bullies that targeted me did so, I can only ponder (but I won’t spend any more of my precious life pondering, let me tell you). I have my suspicions as to why they did.
We often talk about bullying being a classroom problem. I can attest to the fact that it is not!
As an ex-teacher, I’ve seen bullies in action. It was something I dealt with swiftly. It’s the duty of parents as well as teachers to listen to those who believe they are being bullied. But equally, to ensure that it is bullying and not just playground squabbles and friendship issues.
Bullying is on an entirely different level and needs to be treated as such which many schools do very effectively.
Bullying exists in many forms when an adult.
Bosses bullying their staff. Headteachers bullying their staff. Fellow colleagues bullying team members or new starters. Employees bullying bosses. It’s not always top-down bullying! So-called ‘friends’ bullying through manipulation or jealousy.
It comes back to the question ‘Why?’
No matter what the answer is, it is never okay.
Tomorrow, I’ll explain how I used stories to not only survive the bullying episodes I’ve experienced throughout my life, but how I’ve used them to help me set off on a pathway to thrive.
If you have experienced bullying or still are, please tell someone. It is an act of bravery to do so and I know you have the courage. I promise, it will make a difference.
If telling someone feels too daunting, then write it down and give it to a parent or teacher or colleague – someone you trust completely. Alternatively, you can visit:
National Bullying Helpline
Or chat to someone: 0300 323 0169
Massive hug to you.