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TW: Life After Bullying

Hi everyone!

 

Lately I have been thinking about the destructive impact that bullying can have on a person's identity, and how difficult it can be to work through when you are still at school. My own experience of high school was a little rough and isolating, and I know that plenty of people can empathise with this terrible feeling. 

 

However, I wanted to send a message of hope to the people out there that are still in high school, or individuals out of high school that are still the subject of bullying. This post is designed to explore life after bullying - how things change, how you can recover, and how you can flourish into a stronger person not in spite of bullying, but because of it. (With that being said, I do not condone the idea that bullying is 'character building' or 'a part of growing up' - bullying is a traumatic experience that can be incredibly harmful. I am just looking to shed light on the ways that overcoming bullying can be a platform for an improved sense of self). 

 

So, if you feel comfortable, I'd love to see some people sharing:

  • What does your life after bullying look like?
  • What has overcoming bullying allowed you to learn about yourself/others?
  • What is one tip you would give someone that is experiencing bullying?

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I'm going to kick things off!

 

What does your life after bullying look like?

My life after bullying has completely changed. I am no longer in contact with the individuals that made me feel bad about myself, I have moved from a country town to a major city, and I have a whole new group of friends that know me better than anyone did in high school. I am out and proud as a lesbian, which is a part of my identity that I was always afraid to own when I was at school for fear of being singled out. Likewise, I have a girlfriend, who I love dearly. 

 

However, the most significant change to my life after bullying is the way I feel about myself. I was incredibly angry and aggressive with everyone during high school, because I found it easier to be gruff and isolate myself than to run the risk of people seeing the real me or hurting me any more than they already had. Now, I am less afraid to let people see the real me, and I am honest with a lot of the people I meet about my sexuality and my mental health, which I also hid during high school. I am more willing to take emotional risks, and am quickly learning that not everyone I bare my soul to is going to use it against me. 

 

What has overcoming bullying allowed you to learn about yourself/others?

Due to my experience with bullying, I have learned what I deserve in a friendship. It is only from experiencing rejection, isolation, and being teased by 'friends' that I know just how worthy I am of love and belonging. I have realised that it is not okay to be disrespected by other people, even if it is as a 'joke'. 

 

Likewise, I have also learned how to build my own self-esteem. While I was always self-confident in high school, this was a mask for the low self-esteem that had resulted from being bullied. Now that I have come out the other side, I know what I deserve from myself, too. I don't hold on so tightly to what other people think of me, and I also take time to cultivate strong friendships with a few people, rather than lots and lots of fake friendships. I value self-care, and have learned what energises me as an individual - fun with friends, massages, getting my nails done, Netflix on the lounge, a walk on the beach. I have learned that my differences are unique parts of my identity that I should celebrate, rather than something that I should hide away for fear that other people will take advantage of me. I am more resilient, and this allows me to be more vulnerable without self-protecting all the time. 

 

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What is one tip you would give someone that is experiencing bullying?

Find a space or a solitary activity where you can relax and be yourself, without fear of other people judging or bullying you. For me, this was my bedroom in the afternoon or evening. I would jump into bed with my laptop and watch Youtube videos that I liked, but felt I would be judged for enjoying because they involved LGBTQIA+ characters. This activity saved me - it was my version of self-care. No matter how hard my day had been, I would always have a few hours each day to unwind and just be myself. I think that allowed me to maintain my identity until I had the skills, courage and opportunity to let my freak flag fly and be who I really am. 

 

I am incredibly privileged to have my own room in a safe house, but I recognise that not everyone has that luxury. I would recommend looking for a space at school, or maybe a library nearby for after school. The music rooms were my safe place at school, and was a place where I could let my guard down, even just a little bit. 

 

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Sending all my love to those bullying survivors out there - past, present and future. We are in this together xx 

 

Re: Life After Bullying

What a great thread @queenP! I'm sorry to hear that you experienced bullying but I think it's really brave of you to use your experience to help others. I also experienced a lot of bullying in school.

What does your life after bullying look like?
My life after bullying is better than when I was experiencing bullying, that's for sure. Although things are somewhat hard for me right now, I was able to meet some supportive people who have been a big help whilst weeding out the toxic people from my life. I felt like I wasn't going to do anything with my life, but I have managed to achieve a lot despite my circumstances. I have also become more empathetic.

What has overcoming bullying allowed you to learn about yourself/others?
I think that overcoming bullying has helped me learn how capable I am to bounce back after having difficult experiences. I have become more self-confident and I have learned that it's okay to stand up for myself and not let other people walk all over me. I have learned that there are always going to be people who take advantage of others and how to recognise the signs of this. I have also learned not to be so hard on myself. I was also able to think about what makes a good friend, so that I can surround myself with supportive people.

What is one tip you would give someone that is experiencing bullying?
Do what is best for yourself. You know yourself better than anyone does. People told me to ignore the bullies, but that didn't stop the bullying. People might also tell you to just let the bullying go and forgive the bullies. I forgave some of my bullies but this might not always be beneficial, especially if their behaviour is ongoing. They might also tell you to 'just be more resilient' and 'stop being overly sensitive'. You are already strong and resilient. You are already capable of getting through bullying. The bullies are the weak ones.

Re: Life After Bullying

Thank you so much for contributing @WheresMySquishy. I'm sorry that you've experienced bullying too. Your tip on doing what is right for you is so true. I always used to think that other people were a better judge of things than me, but as you said, who knows me better than me? 

Re: Life After Bullying

I'm going to tag some other people who might like to share their experience or may find these stories useful:

 

@Bee @MisoBear @scared01 @May_ @Tiny_leaf @Bananatime04 @ecla34 @lennycat2017 

@lokifish 

Re: Life After Bullying

@WheresMySquishy a really good point! The knee-jerk reaction of "just ignore them" is a lot less helpful than people often think it is. If you could you would, yeah? I've never been a fan of bullying advice that puts the onus on the person affected to change their behaviour rather than the bullies (the kind of advice that kind of ends up blaming the victim)

 

@queenP this is a really good idea to build a discussion around and thank you for making such an important thread. I know a lot of forum members have dealt with or are still dealing with bullying, isolation, and toxic friendships, and I think they could really benefit from this thread Heart

What has overcoming bullying allowed you to learn about yourself/others?

That being bullied says 100 million more bad things about the bully than who they're bullying. It's got nothing to do with you.

You don't ever do anything that brings on that kind of treatment, people choose to treat you poorly. 

Re: Life After Bullying

 

Re: Life After Bullying

Hi @Bananatime04, thanks for sharing your experience Heart Just so you know, I have edited out the description of the abuse as it is against our guidelines. It is really horrible to hear about what has happened to you.. did anyone support you through all of this?

 

Just so everyone is aware, I moved this thread into Tough Times and added a TW to the title. Due to the nature of bullying, it is possible that this thread may affect members of the community. Please continue to share your valuable insights and experiences Heart

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Re: Life After Bullying

 

Re: Life After Bullying

 I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has shared or read this thread. I think some really powerful stories have been shared here, and if that makes life easier for even one person, then I think that's amazing. Sending all my love and support to everyone xx