I still see them sometimes, the bullies from my past. They visit my thoughts when I least expect them. I see them in both old ways and new ways.
I see them on their social media pages wit amazement. They are parents now. They have children of their own. And yet, I wonder how they would respond if anyone treated their child the way they used to treat others.
I wonder about a father of three and the one son with Down’s Syndrome. I wonder if the jokes he used to tell are still funny. Or, does he make the noises he used to make while picking on someone with special needs? Did his jokes change now that the jokes hit too close to home.
I see them.
I see the old bullies and the new bullies. I see the kids from the playground and how they peaked in high school. Everything has been downhill since then. And now of course, they are who they are. They are balding, out of shape and far from someone in the beautiful crowd. They live mid-level lives with mid-level outcomes because their highlight reels never lasted long after graduation.
I see some of the people who used to run the flock. I see the people whose position in the social atmosphere have changed from royal to peasantry. No one is impressed anymore. No one cares about the old days or the old fights or how cool it was to play Varsity when you were a junior. This only went so far for them. And now what?
I have seen some of the old bullies, miserable as ever, and stuck in their sad, mediocre life. I’ve even known a few who were so popular once and then decidedly, they have become unpopular by demand. They have fallen from grace. I suppose their jokes lost their humor. I suppose that never getting out of their little town, or their parent’s house, and never going anywhere or doing much was enough to trip the wire. I say this because of a reunion I was informed about. There was a person at the levels of prom-king or queen, and yet, after graduation, they lived a very quiet life. They went nowhere and when revisited and reintroduced to old friends that saw the world, this person decided to end their own life.
Please be advised that I do not celebrate this. Instead, I illustrate this with a purpose to show the impact of bullying on all sides of the equation. And keep in mind, bullying is a reaction. This is a symptom. However, if unaddressed, this symptom can go on for decades without ever being settled.
I am a firm believer that bullying lasts much longer than people consider. Whether to the bully themselves or to the bullied; the remnants of this are something that can last far beyond the locker room beatings or the schoolyard brawls. Remember them? I’ll meet you after school 3:00?
How many times have you heard someone say this. How many times have I said this? Or wait, no. How many times did I hear this, only to find my heartbeat slip into immediate palpitations. How many times did I have to address my fear and anxiety because keep in mind; of all things to fear, people are always afraid of public humiliation the most. No one wants to be exposed as weak or vulnerable. No one wants to be hurt or singled out as a social pariah.
I suppose there were things I wish I could have done back then. There are things I wished I could have said. I suppose I wish I was never part of the social food chain. I wish that I was never part of the pecking order.
I see this is something that still goes on. Trust me. Bullying is alive and well. This is still a threat in the boardrooms as well as the playgrounds. So what does this mean?
Does this mean that some people never really grow up? Or, was I right? The effects of bullying extend far beyond the schoolyard concepts and is alive and well in supervisors and managers alike.
I see this still. The bullying, I mean, I see this differently now. However, and rather than take stock in the insults, I see the projections of where people come from. I see this and realize why. And sure. I’ve seen bullying in the workplace. This is the same as I saw bullying back in the neighborhood. Perhaps as we grow older, the bullying is less physical but rest assured, none of this is less hurtful.
The funny thing is the reasons haven’t changed much. Whether the insecurity is obvious or not; still, bullies are weak. They prey on the weak. They look for the easy targets to feel better about themselves because otherwise, they would have to face their own weaknesses.
Are they threatened?
I don’t know and to be honest, this is none of my business.
Are they jealous?
Is that it?
Are they like the crabs in the bucket and dammit to hell, if they can’t get up and out then to hell with it all; nobody else will escape either.
I am someone that has been bullied. And equally, I admit to the fact that I was a bully too. I say this with all humility and as someone that has made amends with his past. In fact, I still make amends for my past. I see this as part of my growth. In fact, I let me call this maturity but as I mentioned previously, some people just never grow up.
I know who I was. However, now I am more.
I am more than what anyone sees. I am more than what anyone predicts. As a matter of fact, I am more than more. I am me, each and every day; this is who I am from now on until my very last breath.
I am this. I am a series of scars and nightmares, which I have learned to lay to rest. I am a voice, which I refuse to silence. I am a heartbeat that pulses blood through my veins, which means that I am alive and well. This means with all my heart, I have defied all the odds against me thus far and therefore, so long as I am breathing, this means I have so much more to accomplish.
I often forget that I do not have to bring my report card home anymore. I often forget that I do not need the approval of others. I do not need to be at the top levels of popularity. Those days are far behind me; in fact, those days were miserable for me, which means that I am free from this now (that is if I choose to be).
I don’t like bullies. Then again, no one does. Not even bullies themselves, which only serves to make them bully more. Hence the cycle, which extends throughout their life.
I found myself feeling submissive the other day. I was in a position where someone looked to bully me and as a result, I instantly felt old feelings. I almost forgot about them. I thought they were gone. But no.
Understand something –
It’s not the initial bullying that is the crime as much as it is the aftermath; it is the memory, it is the reactions we have and the emotional response that lingers long after the violations have stopped. The great part about this is that I recognized my position. I said out loud, I am not here to bring my report card home anymore. I use this line about the report card to free me from the grips of people-pleasing. I say this to take away the fuel source from the corporate bullies which I’ve encountered recently.
I have come to realize that at the end of the day, the only reflection I see in the mirror is mine. And this is the person I need to please most. Otherwise, life is lived in regard for everyone else. And if you ask me, that’s not the life I want for myself. Know what I mean?