Before you read further, please take a look at the content warning. This blog post discusses potentially triggering issues.
I have been going to therapy in one form or another since I was a young child – probably 10 or 11 years old. Today I am 47 years old and I was this many years old when I finally realized how much a part of my life being bullied has played. I mean, I’ve always known that I was horribly bullied in school – but adult me thought we were beyond that. Kids are mean, and all that jazz.
Not so fast, Katgirl.
I’ve had a series of events happen over the last few years that have had a significant impact on my life and on my mental health. And as sucky as each of those situations were, I kept feeling like my reaction to the events was too big for the situation. Even though everyone around me kept saying otherwise.
So I had been struggling to understand why these 3 or 4 things that happened had such a profound impact on my mental health. I wanted to be “done with it.” Over people who hurt me, done with situations that were toxic, done mourning and ready to move on.
So why the hell is it taking me so long?
And then in therapy yesterday, something shifted and so many things came into better focus. I have been spent pretty much my entire life feeling like I didn’t belong, and getting into cycles where my need to belong allowed me to do things or accept treatment I never should have. Then eventually being surprised and hurt when my friends were not really friends at all.
Again and again.
The reason that it’s been so profound is because it IS profound. The events of the last few years have made me feel the way I felt when I was 8, 10, 12, 16 years old.
Bullied. Hurt. Bewildered.
In many cases powerless. Defenseless. Vulnerable.
Taken advantage of. Used. Cast Aside. Abandoned.
I spent most of my adult life carving out safe places – for myself AND for others. Without even noticing, I allowed myself to be bullied, hurt, taken advantage of, used, and discarded.
I gave and gave and gave – and made a hella lotta mistakes but I worked hard to create spaces where I – and others – could be authentic. Could be ourselves.
And then suddenly – a job I loved turned into a nightmare practically overnight. The bullying and abuse that went on was traumatic to a multitude of people. And things just got worse. A group that I adored and volunteered for for over a decade pushed me out – suddenly in the middle of a pandemic.
My safe spaces were gone.
Ultimately the job situation only got worse – and isn’t over yet. We complained, and lost our jobs, and are still to this day being bullied by an organization who’s already admitted wrong doing.
Bullies come in many shapes and sizes. From friends to employees to loved ones to businesses to strangers. And bullying takes on so many forms.
Bullies aren’t just bad kids on playgrounds. They are bosses who terrorize. They are ex-lovers bent on ruining lives. They are businesses trying to scam you.
I’ve been pushed out of multiple safe spaces by bullies. Bullies who wanted to see me hurt and isolated. Bullies who treat me and others like petulant children they want to swat.
Bullied by groups of people who know how bullying feels. Bullying is being lied about, gossiped about, harassed, ridiculed, shunned, teased, abandoned, black listed.
It’s overwhelming how much bullying goes on – not just in childhood but in adult life. And we accept it. We minimize it.
We rationalize it. We say “kids are kids” and try to move on. We normalize that sometimes we just get bullied.
We even begin to bully ourselves. Hurting ourselves with our thoughts. Holding us far more accountable for things than we would of anyone else.
Expecting more from ourselves than we ever would from our loved one.
And then, in my case, suddenly I’m 47 years old, crying in my bed JUST the same way I did when I was a child. Feeling every ounce of those feelings that I thought were long gone. I now understand why my mental health has been suffering this much for this long.
I hadn’t connected the what I feel now with the what I felt then, I only knew that I felt awful. To the point where I’d begun having suicidal ideations. (I have a therapist and a safety plan). But I didn’t know WHY I felt so awful.
I hate bullies. My heart has always hated bullies. Or anything unjust or unfair.
I’ve spent so much of my life advocating for others, creating safe places, teaching, and fighting unfairness over and over. The sudden absence of a safe place is a lot of the reason I started All Belong.
People need to know that they belong. People need to know that they are not alone.
We have to do better. For our friends, for our kids, for our loved ones, for strangers.
Be kind, my friends.