Parenting Blog

I Know Something About Being Bullied

Opening yourself up in confessionals and other kinds of personal, revelatory writing for the world to see and read.  I don’t do it much around here, but this is what blogging started as, right?

This is stuff from my past that even the Mrs. doesn’t know about.  I don’t talk about my school days much, not because of deep pain but for lack of interesting details.  I had a somewhat uneventful youth, save for this:

Starting around the 6th grade and continuing straight through high school, I was bullied.  My crime?  I was thought to be gay.

I went to an all-boys prep school too, that certainly didn’t aid my cause.  I wasn’t a jock, although I loved and knew more about sports than most of my peers.  I wasn’t obsessed with talking about girls or name-checking parts of their anatomy.  You could say I was a bit on an introvert, and I had very few friends.  All of which meant I was kinda easy prey.  It sucked, high school especially.

While I had not yet transformed into the man who is writing this post, I was lucky enough to have some semblance of a clue about who I was at the core and what mattered most to me – which was not the cruel opinions of classmates.  To deal with my lack of social standing, I retreated to my bedroom with bad poetry, sports talk radio, and good music (Crowded House, They Might Be Giants and eventually, the one that changed my life, The Afghan Whigs).  Fortunately, I always felt safe and loved in my parent’s home.  While I have no recollection of discussions regarding these issues ever having taken place with my mom or dad, I think that always knowing I could, if the bullying ever got out of hand or scary, left me with the security that I’m guessing many of the youngsters who are opting to end their life are dearly missing.

Even though many kids thought I preferred boys, I wasn’t gay.  It was the perception of me, which at that tender age can be more brutal than reality.  Obviously, this all occurred pre-texting and internet, so that perception was trapped in a bubble with a manageable radius.  Therefore, I can only imagine walking in someone else’s painful shoes to a certain point and I’m not going to pretend to have been bullied nearly as bad or violently as what some are experiencing today.

To this day, my tastes in and appreciation for music, film, live theater, a nice set of drapes, the South of France, and the color & scent of lavender have me subjected to name calling at the hands of my two older brothers.  At 34-years old, I am more than secure with who I am and what I’m passionate about, so the taunts are as harmless as I know they are intended.  Coming away from my youthful experiences with being bullied has left me numb to embarrassment and other’s perceptions of me.  Since my late-teens/early 20’s, I’ve been emboldened with a strong ‘I don’t give two shits about what you think of me, my interests, or peculiar habits’ attitude.  I’ve been told this radiates off of me at times.  Cool.

I’m lucky to have escaped my childhood with more positives than negatives.  I only wish the young people who are choosing a permanent escape to their troubles could imagine a better day down the road.   I, like other sane individuals, also wish that bullying of any kind would be a thing a civilized people would leave behind as part of our collective (and regrettable) past.  Short of raising children to be tolerant, kind to others, and confident enough in themselves that there is no need to demean others to fill some kind of evil void,  I’m just not sure how much change can occur, and how swiftly.  If tragic, unnecessary deaths aren’t the impetus for a sea change in the behavior of bullies, what then?

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