You Can Recover from Bullying

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YOU CAN RECOVER FROM BULLYING

By Guest Blogger, Katherine Mayfield (author of BULLIED)

P.S. Be sure to check out Katherine’s interview! In this guest post, Katherine relates the experience of being BULLIED and how she recovered from it.

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bully

// Picture from Akorra.com

When I was in fourth grade, a girl from another class bullied me.  I was in the bathroom during class when I heard the door creak open and whoosh shut.  There was silence for a moment, then the girl’s hands appeared on the top of the stall door, followed by her face.

“Whaddaya doin’ in there?” she asked.

I quickly covered myself, and replied as nicely as I could, “I’m using the bathroom.”

“Well, hurry up,” she said.  “Because I want to go.” There were three other stalls, so I knew I was in trouble.

I had no idea who this girl was. I’d seen her on the playground, but I didn’t know her name, and to this day I still have no idea why she wanted to antagonize me.

I finished my business, and thought about just waiting to go out until someone else came in, but she was banging things around, and I didn’t want to be trapped in the stall if she decided to crawl under the door. So I walked out.

The first thing she did was to grab my glasses off my face and throw them against the wall.  I ran over to them, afraid they were broken.  I knew I’d get in trouble at home if they were.

I picked them up, and as I turned around, she slapped me hard.  I fell back against the wall, not even knowing how to defend myself in a fight, but I was lucky.  She turned, and with her nose in the air, flounced out of the bathroom.

I carried the fear from that experience, and other experiences of being bullied, for many years. After growing up in a very dysfunctional family, I had no idea how to express my fear and all the other feelings that tumbled around inside and threatened to engulf me.  Over time, as I tried to ignore and repress my fear, it grew and grew until it turned into a fear of life itself, and I stopped exploring, learning, and growing.

bullied

// Book Cover for BULLIED, by Katherine Mayfield

Being bullied made me feel like I was helpless, incompetent, and insignificant, because I couldn’t figure out a way to stop others from bullying me. I felt that way for many years, and eventually I started believing that that’s who I really was. Believing that I was helpless and incompetent made me feel miserable, as if I wasn’t as good as anyone else. I felt inferior to almost everyone.

But things began to change when I was in my thirties. I began reading books like The Drama of the Gifted Child and For Your Own Good, and I finally began letting go of my unexpressed emotions.  I learned that it’s possible to recover from bullying and abuse.

Then I could see that those things I had believed about myself were not true. It was the experience of being bullied that caused me to feel incompetent and insignificant. That’s not who I really am inside.

If you’ve been bullied and you feel that way, too, it’s not who you really are, either. Being bullied just makes you feel like you are. And even bullies can have these same kinds of feelings.

When we shut down and repress our feelings, they tend to keep showing up when we least expect and want them to, running our lives without our consent. But when we allow ourselves to focus on and let go of our feelings, we can recover from traumatic experiences and discover the treasure that lies inside of us.  Every person has an important gift to offer the world, and it’s up to each of us dig down underneath the pain and anger, and find out what that gift is.  The more we let go of painful feelings, nourish that gift, and nourish ourselves, the more able we are to live a life largely free from the pain of old trauma.  These days, I enjoy my own company very much, and I’m usually pretty happy.

If I had known in fourth grade that bullying doesn’t go on forever — that I would grow up and go to college, meet new people, and move away from home — the experience would probably not have affected me so deeply.  It can be hard to look at the big picture, the possibilities that life offers, when we’re in the midst of pain, but by focusing on hope and knowing that life always changes, we can make it through.  All it takes is a willingness to look at those old feelings and express them, whether it means crying at a sad movie, trembling in fear until the fear is gone, or throwing stones into a pond.  Once we can let the bad feelings go, we can move on into creating better lives and reaching our potential.

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Guest Blogger Bio:

Katherine Mayfield

Katherine Mayfield is the award-winning author of Bullied:  Why You Feel Bad Inside and What to Do About It, The Box of Daughter;  Healing the Authentic Self, and Dysfunctional Families:  The Truth Behind the Happy Family Façade.  She blogs on dysfunctional families on her website, www.TheBoxofDaughter.com.

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Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the subject, Katherine :)!

P.S. Here’s Katherine’s Q&A with JCS (2012) and her Q&A on BULLIED (2013).

You can also preorder a copy of BULLIED on Katherine’s website.

– Jess C Scott / jessINK

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