Danny on Bullying
Growing up in a desolate, rural area of the stuck-in-the-past middle Tennessee hills, did not exclude myself nor many others from being the victims of relentless bullies, not even while at home. There, what little time my father and I happened to be in the same place or even in sight of one another, I was subjected to verbal abuse. Instead of teaching me how to do something, he would belittle and criticize how I was doing whatever it was then berate me with how I would never amount to anything and would always be useless, then walk away. I was lucky to have only received the verbal abuse. I’m still haunted by the memories of hearing and seeing my father beat my older brother practically daily. My mother and father physically fought often. With this becoming routine early in my life, I developed quite the talent for being invisible. My only escape was with my Grandmother, Mother and my oldest sister. I grew to believe this was how all men were. I was determined to be different. My seclusion led to a vast imagination, which over the years, continued to grow more and more vast. In elementary school, I was the poster child for “Tears of a Clown.” None of my classmates ever knew what I lived through outside of that school. With the women of my life showing me how to care, I grew very big hearted toward girls. I listened to them, consoled them, was a shoulder for them to cry on. I had many more female friends than males. As puberty kicked in, this apparently was a problem for all the other guys. They had their urges toward the girls and were, in most cases, rejected by them. With my being constantly surrounded by girls, I became the target of the rejected guys’ aggressions. I was called every name you could imagine and at times, became their punching bags. But growing up in the home in which I did, this simply felt normal… routine… expected. I never let this dampen my desire to “be there” for my friends. None of my friends ever cried alone and even in their most trying times, I could always seem to make them laugh. Now that I’m much older, I look back and see things for what they really were. Back then I took the blame, now I realize I was just an outlet. The guys all needed someone to blame for their inadequacies; their inability to remember a girl’s birthday, a girl’s favorite color, a girl’s favorite flower… etc. I was the one the girl would come to when having relationship problems. I wasn’t big or strong enough to go the guy and try to solve the problem, but I always seemed to convince the girl SHE was not the problem… it wasn’t HER fault. I was someone the girls could talk to about anything and the guys viewed me as a threat. They say “bullies always pick on the weak” but I know the bullies are the weak. The victims of bullies are the strong ones. Some of us get stronger as time goes on, while some get to a point they can’t take it anymore. Most victims keep so much inside – never telling anyone how much they hurt. Never mentioning how many days they go home to their rooms and cry. Always feeling like they are alone in a crowd, feeling so insignificant most never even knew they were there. I wish I could start a support group for victims of daily bullying, but most victims are too embarrassed or afraid to come forward out of fear they would be announcing to the world their vulnerability. They feel it would make them an open target… inviting all bullies to “bring it on.” If I could get a message to these victims, I would tell them to hold on for one more day. Take each day one at a time. The first 18 years of your life is just a trial or test. Once you get past that, the world is yours. At that point, you get to sit back and watch karma in action. It is a very bittersweet experience, but at least you are still with us to experience it. You are never alone. Never.