Names have been changed to maintain anonymity
I am confident that you have heard stories about children, teens, and adults who were victims of bullying. You hear their emotional stories of how someone insulted their clothes, how someone made them cry all night, or how someone tore down their self esteem to the point of depression.
The world is so focused on helping the lives of the abused and forgets all about the lives of the abusers. Bullying does not happen because it is a natural phase in life that everybody goes through. Like every problem, there is a cause and an effect. I think society has become so tangled up in the effect that they do not realize they should be fixing the root of the issue. I speak from personal experience as I was once the cause to someone’s problems. I was a bully and I did not even know it.
A girl who I used to be friends with suffered from depression for a long time. Her name was Sara and ever since we first met, we were inseperable. Most people know that I have always had a very sarcastic humor. My preexistent friends were used to the occasional insult that came out of my mouth and they knew I did not mean anything by it. However, Sara never understood that; She took everything I said to heart and ran with it.
I started to notice changes in Sara’s behavior over a period of six months. She would come up to me during school and tell me how she cried her eyes out the night before or how she has started writing letters to family and friends in preparation for her dying day. Most people would tell their parents or a trusted adult about these happenings, but I did not. Why? She made me swear I wouldn’t tell anyone. You may think that is a stupid reason for ignoring these signs of depression, but as a kid, fitting in is your main goal. I wanted to be liked by my peers and at the moment, telling on your friend was not considered “cool”.
Over the span of two years, I kept every single one of Sara’s secrets. Until one day, Sara disappeared; at least that’s what I thought. I did not hear from my friend for over two weeks no matter how many times I texted her or showed up at her house. The amount of possibilities running through my head was enough to give me a migraine. Day after day went by and the guilt was eating me alive. I could not stop wondering if this was all my fault.
Upon the third week of Sara’s disappearance, she reappeared at school. Thirty seconds before I started class, I saw Sara walking up to me in the hall. Her facial expression was unreadable and she walked with confidence. Her eyes had an unexplainable gleam to them. Something was off and I could tell before a word came out of her mouth.
Sara proceeded to tell me she attempted suicide from overdose. In that moment, standing at my locker, I was not surprised. What did shock me was that she did not give me a chance to respond, but rather walked away and never came back. I did not speak to her for the next four months. After that, I never tried to contact her. I don’t think I had the energy to fight for the friendship we had. Even worse, I do not think I knew how to fight.
Upon, the fifth month of silence, I got a text from Sara. I wish I could say the text was an apology or an explanation behind her actions, but it was not. She told me that I was the reason for her suicide attempt. She told me how I was a terrible friend, how my words hurt her, and how much she hates me. I was her worst enemy for two years and I never knew it.
I was broken, I could not think straight, my mind and body were numb. In order to deal with my feelings, I did what I had been doing for the past couple years; I hid my emotions and I ignored my problems. I finally recognized that I had become a person I never wanted to be. I was a bully.
That summer, I was in my room with two of my other friends, Jordyn and Danielle. We were talking about the past year and reminiscing on the memories we made while we were friends with Sara. In the midst of my friend’s story, I noticed what she was saying and what I remembered was not adding up. Sara told me her family was out of town on vacation, but in reality, Jordyn and Danielle were getting together with Sara almost every day. After asking even more questions about the past two years, I realized everything I remembered was far from the truth.
That minute, in my room, is when I snapped. After realizing I was being lied to for two whole years, all my feelings came to the surface. I was so angry, betrayed, and upset that I cried. I cried and screamed until my eyes were red and my throat was dry. All the walls I built up were being destroyed. I did not know how to handle pain. I had become so immune to it that I forgot what it is like to be felt.
After that summer, I built up walls; permanent walls that are still with me today. It is hard for me to trust people and it is hard for me to open up. The walls I have built up are strong and I make sure nobody knocks them down. I push people away so much that I can say I have nobody who I am close to. Every day, I try to forget all the drama and all the lies, but I can’t help but lay awake at night and think. Moving on is easier said then done.
To this day, I still find myself using my words to protect myself. I find myself saying something hurtful about someone else just to fulfill the sense of hope that it will raise my self esteem. Much to my disappointment, it does not. No matter how many harsh things I say, I do not feel any better. I can not even count how many fights I have been in even if I have tried. I have even come close to suspension just because of my words.
I have always liked being the center of attention, but when I held that power, I was mean. It was almost like I put on a “mask” just to walk outside; I would act nice and polite to strangers, but mean to the people who were close to me. In a way, I was hoping my “mask” would save me from getting hurt again. I was bullying people and I did not even know it.
I wish I could say I have changed and have become a stronger person considering all the drama I endured. However, I am still weak, but not in the way you would think. I have stopped using my words to my advantage. I started choosing my words wisely so I do not hurt others’ feelings. Since I recognized I was bullying, I stopped trying to tear other people down.
On the other hand, I still have not found a way to open up. My walls are still sturdy and standing tall, and that is what makes me weak. I do not know the proper way to deal with pain or to cope with sadness. I guess you could say no one cared to help me and no one taught me how to get better. So, I am learning how to live my life by myself.
If you Google the world, bullying, what will come up is a bunch of pictures and websites about anti-bullying and how people do not deserve to get bullied. You will also see the pictures of the bigger kids picking on the smaller ones or a clique of popular girls glaring at a nerdy looking girl. The spotlight is on the victims and how to improve life for them. The bullies are just shut out because they do not deserve help or they have “done enough”.
Contrary to popular belief, kids who initiate bullying are in need of the same amount of help as the kids they pick on. I mean I would know. I’m not saying that you need to feel sympathy for me, but all I ask is that you take my experience and learn from it. Deep down, we are all insecure and we all need help, but most of us are afraid to ask for it or wait until it is offered to us.
What I am trying to explain is, the victims of bullying are not the only ones who need help. Even though someone participates in bullying, doesn’t mean they deserve any less help. Each side of a bullying story will be different and each person will need different care. Everyone on this earth has an importance whether you see that or not. Bullying can only diminish if we help both the victims and the bullies, so don’t be afraid to offer your help or ask for it.
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