The Lifetime Shadow of Bullying
I hadn’t thought back in a long time to being bullied. My life has been going pretty well of late; I have a wonderful daughter, a cute horse, good friends and family, career going great-guns…stuff is good! But the other week I had a most unusual day, one which stirred up past emotions; one’s I thought were dead and gone.
It started with an unpleasant meeting, in which one of the people in the room, so pumped up on delusions of grandeur, set an unpleasant taste for the day. I work in an environment where ego-maniacal behavior is not uncommon, however some of the remarks made were personal and pointed directly at me. The meeting was laboring each agenda item well into the weeds, and as the bad attitude continued, I (very conscious of the mound of tasks all clamouring for my attention) shut my laptop, picked up my phone, and left.
The rest of the day was hectic and fast paced and became more irritating as the individual from the meeting (in true passive aggressive style) realizing they had overstepped the mark, began an obsequious charm offensive which made my skin crawl. Maintaining focus on the jobs of the day and my efforts to retain my professionalism left me feeling exhausted by the time I got on the bus to head home. It was 32 degrees outside, and the bus was rammed to the kind of capacity only a sardine can fully understands. Many of the other sardines aboard had clearly also had testing days, and the atmosphere was spiky, so I kept to myself, while the driver insisted on stamping on the brakes at every stop until I felt green around the gills. It felt like another test when an oversize troglodyte barged his way in the doors, knocking me with his backpack, which was apparently full of lead, and ignoring any protest or call for manners. By this time I was beginning to wonder what it was I was putting out there which had the temper and interactions of the day at such a low ebb. I couldn’t wait to get home for some peace and quiet, and some much-needed meditation.
Later, as I drove from the park and ride, my phone rang and the voice of the caller (who shall remain nameless) bounced around the car with an edge of unreasonable aggression and confrontation. As the conversation went on, and I could find no way to diffuse the issue, I began to despair. Wondering why I had answered the call in the first place, I explained I had not had a good day and it wasn’t a good time to talk. However as fresh tirade began, my brain seized and I, uncharacteristically, hung up the phone.
That was twice in one day that I had been triggered and effectively hit the quit button; first, leaving the meeting, and second, hanging up the phone on someone. What had happened to my normal harmonious relationships and ability to talk through a problem?
I got home feeling rather subdued, and sat for a moment, staring into space, and struggling to understand why my day had gone the way it had. I wondered if I should just go to bed, and perhaps the morning would look better. I tried to divert my dour thoughts with a surely misguided decision to check Facebook, and immediately saw a video a friend had posted about bullying. I’m not even sure why I watched it, but it brought tears to my eyes, as all the memories resurfaced; of being all but mute at school, for fear of being noticed again and subjected to another round of contempt and jeering. All those days that I lived trying to make myself scarce, and feeling utterly singled out, believing there was something wrong with me. After all, there must have been a reason it was me who was the constant target… No-one else was so ridiculed; everything was wrong with me – my red hair, my bad skin, my braces, my uncool shoes, my boyish clothes, my general ‘ugliness’, and to top it all off, what an objectionable boffin I was, and absolutely no fun…
Great - so I had gone from my combative day straight into depression and self-pity. I remembered…. no, I re-lived that very feeling of being so small, alone and victimized. And there I stood, nearly 30 years later, in my own kitchen with tears in my eyes – feeling that same aloneness and misery.
Thankfully, in the midst of this acute melancholy, I remembered the book I have been reading, The Sedona Method, by Hale Dwoskin. The Sedona Method is a method to help release negativity and limiting feelings. It has you embrace, and fully feel an emotion you may be having, and then to release it through a short series of very simple questions. The theory being that this allows flow, and prevents clinging to unhelpful feelings which hold you back and make you ill – mentally and physically. I have been seeing great early results with this technique, and so I immediately took a breath and applied the method, and (much to my surprise – as these things often don’t work when you really need them to, eh?) felt the old memories and emotions slide away from me.
Even as I realized how my day connected to my ancient memories of hurt, it began to drift away. The huge boulder of emotion I had been carrying for hours had shifted.
Quite amazed at how old memories could resurface with such intensity, and the complete transformation I had managed to effect, I ambled off to take a shower, and get on with my evening. Later, as I stood on my balcony, watching the fireflies, and breathing the warm evening air, I felt a deep sense of contentment. I realized that the events of the day had triggered a memory remnant and shaken up a deep held feelings, and somehow the well timed Facebook video helped me to spot them and release them – it was like popping a blister, and allowing all the crap inside to escape. I have no idea whether my memories of bullying will resurface again at some point, but I do know that what I did to release them in that moment left me feeling great – and I don’t mean simply ‘better than my earlier dour mood’; I really do mean ‘great’. I was happy and lighter; like I had shed a hundred pounds of weight from my shoulders.
There’s a lot to be said for releasing emotions, feelings and memories, and allowing things to flow. It’s one of the key things a person can do to help themselves feel better. And only you can do it for you.
I am all about helping yourself to feel better, and have gone through enormous self-transformation as a result of the self-study I have done, the books I have read, practicing yoga and meditation, and also my writing. There are numerous ways to release stuck energy, and it’s worth finding what works for you. I have been on a mission of self-discovery for years; not through the pure urge to be a better person, but to help me shed the depression, anger and unhappiness I carried around with me. I did it for me – I wanted to stop being miserable and angry!
Some of the issues I carried with me were to do with the bullying I endured at school, which affected my behaviours for many, many years to follow. It can be difficult to appreciate, years on from what might have been ‘a stage’ in life, the effects one carries into the present. For example, aloofness can be a trait which is a defense mechanism, adopted during childhood due to bullying or family control dramas. It is a way of being, which withdraws a person so they will not share thoughts, feelings or emotions due to a deep seated fear that those thoughts will be used against them.
Bullying can shed a life-long shadow, and can be difficult to shift.
I know now that my negative memories of childhood – bullying and other trials which made up its challenges, have all contributed to where I am – I know my deep thinking and introspection, my people watching and empathy has fed the very energy of my life, my ideas, my imagination and my creativity. I don’t believe I’d be the writer I am today if I had been Miss Popular at school. Never-the-less, kindness and understanding is what I advocate to my daughter, and other children I have the privilege to know, and will extend to become the cornerstone of my teachings when I have completed my yoga teacher training – kindness to others, but above-all, to oneself.
After-all bullies don’t love themselves – they are suffering the chronic lack of love and attention. Self-love is the basis of all healing and growing, and love will grow and nourish anything and anyone.
Feel it in a dog who has been rescued from abuse, and brought into a loving home. Ask a person who’s left an abusive relationship and been welcomed by friends or a shelter. See it in a person who has just come out of depression, and has begun feeling sensation once more, or an elderly person whose grandchildren just took the trouble to visit. Ask the person who was feeling flat, and just encountered a stranger at the store who made them laugh.
Recognize your behaviours, feelings and emotions. Love yourself, and feel better every day.
Free Yourself From Narcicssists Forever – Feeling better, and recovering from a narcissistic relationship
Strong Is The New Weak – Emotional numbness and releasing it