When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand paper; They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless.
- Chris Colfer
I'm not sure anyone gets through life without feeling intimidated, pushed around, threatened, or abused in varying degrees. Living in an imperfect world as we do and sharing it with imperfect people while being imperfect ourselves pretty much guarantees we'll all get our chance to try it out. Regrettably, some experience it with greater regularity and cruelty than others and will be affected more deeply as a result.
I have been subjected to bullying and I won't pretend it doesn't leave marks.
People who are hurt, hurt people and we live in a world where so many people are hurting.
This in no way excuses anyone from acting hatefully toward others. It can be extremely damaging if we don't find a way not to define ourselves by the cruel actions of others.
I wasn't born a duck so things don't naturally roll off my back. The ground I've gained hasn't come easily but it has come deliberately so what I share today comes after having paid my dues.
If you have been or are now being bullied, I hope you also find a way to free yourself from your oppressor - even if that means finally letting go of something that happened years ago. We're still captive as long as we're tied to them by unforgiveness or resentment. All negative energy we feel belongs only to us. Often the bully has long since forgotten their actions and can't image we haven't too.
In many cases, we're only hurt once or twice by a bully, but we continue to tear open the wounds when we replay the scenes over and over in our minds. Healing means walking away from our victimology and claiming our birthrights as people of inherent value.
I've chosen not to share details of my experiences. To do so gives them energy that I've long since reclaimed and publishing them here offers no benefit to you. What I would like to share with you are the rich blessings that were born of those "terrible at the time" experiences. My life has been changed forever by them and thank goodness!
Here's a list of what I've gained:
UNDERSTANDING: I'd never have understood the feelings of others who had endured cruelty without having shared the experience. All I would have had to offer is an empty "I can imagine it must be hard" instead of "I know just how you feel, and it will all work out to your advantage."
MY VOICE: As a result of being bullied I have found my strong voice and learned that I am more than the labels anyone assigns to me.
PERSPECTIVE: I used to believe that everyone thinks just like me! Naive huh? In reality we each filter our feelings through our experiences. How can I know the muck a bully has to filter through?
EXAMPLE: I learned how NOT to treat people! Though it's the same lesson my parents taught - "How would you like it if...?" - now I KNOW how I would like it. I no longer have to imagine. I may never have fully understood the pain that thoughtless and hurtful words can inflict.
COURAGE: I gained the courage to stand up for myself and look at myself through my own eyes, and the courage to be OK with what I see.
PATIENCE: I've learned that not all wounds are visible and it's taught me to give people the benefit of the doubt.
COMPASSION: Both for those who are bullied and also those who feel the need to act out their own pain.
RESILIENCE: Resilience only comes from what we overcome and can't be bought cheaply. Adversity's not a fun teacher but it sure is a good one!
PEACE: I've made peace (for the most part) with the past. There may always be echos but they're much fainter now and harder to hear and they have less power over me as time goes on.
I've developed a personal philosophy that's helped me overcome a lot of unfortunate experiences. I call it the "worse things" philosophy. It goes like this: There are worse things than being bullied - and one of them is needing to be a bully.
I find I can insert almost anything into the "worse things" mantra and come out feeling happier to be me than the other guy. Try it! You might find it helpful too!