Five years after leaving my wonderful secondary school (7,8,9th grade), I´ve talked to an old friend I was bullied with. I got on with him quite well, I critisized him for supporting the SVP (Swiss people´s party…right-wing fucking idiots…anyway) and he probably always thought I was a bit of a hippie. But other than that, we got along just fine. Especially when it came to doing project work together because we were both quite hard-working students. That then made us available (in other people´s views) for various insults and wet classroom sponges in our faces. We once went up to Locarno for the day, just the two of us as friends, but on the train back, some little boy asked him if I was his girlfriend (why don´t you ask both of us if we´re together, you sexist little jerk!) and while I said no, he said yes.
Turns out, he was gay. So he probably just said it because he wanted to hassle me or something. Or maybe he felt he needed to at the time to keep up he heterosexual identity, though we never saw this little boy on the train again … so that seems unlikely.
Anyway, today we were chatting online and he casually mentioned he has a boyfriend. I never saw it coming, to be honest. He never had a girlfriend in those three years we went to school together, but then again I never had a boyfriend and I´m not entirely gay. There was no chance we´d get together with anyone from school since we were part of the unpopular crowd. It was all part of their big sceme to make us feel unlovable, I guess. And again: Fuck you.
Thinking back, it was hard enough on him as it was. He came from a fairly poor background, he needed a sponsor to pay for the school (it was a private school. When my mum found out about the bullying, she immediately regretted having sent me there and paid all that money, but I had a few good teachers at least, besides I refused to change schools because that would have seemed like giving up). And he always wore shirts instead of those horrible huge T-shirts that you combine with the low-worn trousers that make you walk like a female Sim that´s about to give birth. He always tucked them in to his high-waist trousers (in comparison) and he wore glasses and he was intelligent. People already called him silly names, mocked him for the way he looked and spoke and acted. They suggested he was gay, too, as well as calling him a woman. If there is one thing I know about bullying, it´s that it´s worse when the names they call you are accurate. I didn´t ask him today, but I wonder what it felt like, being called gay, intending for it to be immasculating and offensive, and knowing it´s true. Did he feel ashamed for himself, his sexual orientation? Did he hate what he was? Or did he not listen to them, knowing that this would all be over in a few years and they were all just little idiots in large clothes.
I know I tried that, but the comments get to you none the less. They used to call me anorexic and so I ate a box of chocolates every friday, because I wanted them to stop calling me that. I am still very sensitive about it when people say stuff like: “You´re soooo skinny! Where does all that food go?” Meanwhile, of course, all that over-eating has shown traces, but I feel quite alright with myself.
I often wonder what marks the bullying, the comments may have left on the others. I wonder if the bullies regret or even think about what they said an did to us. One of them – not even one of the worst – contacted me once and suddenly started apologizing (well, kind of, he admitted it) for being so hard on me. I was shocked. And I wonder what effect it may have had on the others that were bullied. I talked to this guy who is in a happy relationship with his boyfriend a few … months (??) ago too, maybe more, and asked him if it had affected him. He said “Not really, no.” I also asked another friend and she responded that she didn´t really think about it anymore. There were one or two more, but I never asked them. While I hate being called “sensitive”, because that´s how my mother always has referred to me. “Oh, you´re just sensitive!” in the sense of: You´re blowing things out of proportion, instead of: You have a stronger sensitivity for what´s hurtful and maybe we should consider that for the future.
Anyway, while I hate to be called that, maybe there is some truth to it. Because honestly this thing messed me up for a while. I had frequent, yet unserious suicidal thoughts (I knew how much it would it hurt my family and how much they cared, so I never seriously considered it), I, as I mentioned, downed an entire box of chocolates every friday because, I suppose, I was depressed or something, I became very self-conscious about my weight, I never would have labelled myself as cool or pretty and didn´t believe others when they told me so for a few years (And then I was elected prom queen, bitches! xD), and I developped some kind of twisted relationship with intimacy and all that stuff which I am yet to overcome. Seriously, thank god (or, you know, whoever) for the school in Germany. This was after my secondary school. I remember in ninth grade at the new school ( I repeated ninth in Germany so I could get into the school system more easily), we talked about the definition of a cool person. And someone said they thought I was cool because I was quirky and just…myself. I was baffled and I really am grateful for having gone to that school.
So, going back to my gay friend – I suppose we´re not friends anymore, I´ve got more anti-SVP and he´s got more defensive about it…don´t see this coming to a good end. I´m not even offended he didn´t tell me at the time. Coming out then would have made things even worse than they were already. They would have invented an new way of torture for him.
What I´m saying is; people are happiest when they are themselves, don´t eat a box of chocolates every friday, it´s not healthy, bullies are idiots, if you´re sending your child to a private school, make sure – actually, let me elaborate on this:
Dear parents sending their kids to a private school (and other parents of bullied children):
You are paying a lot of money for your child´s education and your child appreciates this (hopefully). Though depending on their age they might not realize just how much money you are spending and what that means. So, depending on your child´s character it may choose to go with one of the following methods for dealing with bullies:
- Not mention anything and decide to stick it out themselves.
- Not mention anything and fight back like a Bruce Willis character.
- Mention it in passive sentences, that someone broke an object of theirs, for example, or that this person said this or that to them.
- Say something straight forward and hope for a helpful reaction.
With points 1 and 2, there is not much you can do, except enquire if your child is doing alright socially at school. Of course there are different steps between these four above mentioned methods. I chose a mixture of 3 and 4. But know that to some it may feel shameful to admit that they are in fact being bullied at school. My parents knew my calculators were broken at school and that things were being stolen. They just didn´t really see the reason behind it. Note here to my blog-reading mum: I am not blaming you, this is just advice for anyone he may want it! – Sometimes I also approached my dad about it, I said that this person said that or that person called me this name. Now, I know my dad isn´t the most…emotionally available person, I should have gone to my mother sooner. He said: “Ah well, never mind.”
That, my friends, is not the answer you should offer. Never. The thing is your kids probably aren´t going to come home and say: “Mum, dad, I am being bullied at school, I am a victim and it´s getting too much for me to handle. Please help me.”
When a child tells you what others have said or done to them, do NOT:
- try to explain the behaviour of their bullies – those bullies are bloody idiots and they deserve a good talking-to. Even if they do have a supposedly “good reason” for being such shit-holes, for example being insecure themselves or having a hard time at home, that does not give them an excuse to make other people feel bad about themselves.
- discard their experiences as normal and something that´s part of growing up. Yes, we need to learn to discuss and stuff, but we also deserve to have a healthy self-image.
- ask if you should talk to the bullies´parents and when they say “NO!” just leave them be forever.
The thing is, as I said, admitting you´re being bullied can be a shameful act, scary too. Often I would weigh out the odds. If I told the teachers, they would possibly just hold a general speech in front of the class adressing noone in particular, but the bullying would maybe even get worse after that. I was sure the teachers secretly knew what was going on, so I didn´t really trust them to solve the issue. To the teachers: When the whole class is involved in the act of bullying, in some way or another, a simple speech isn´t going to do it. Neither is calling some of the bullies into your office once or twice, repremanding them or something. Honestly I don´t have the answer. But, well, personally, I would have liked to hear from my bullies, in front of everybody, including the teachers, why they treated me and the others the way they did. What their problem was with me and why they chose to pick on me. And I would have wanted to question every single detail or their motives. I don´t know if this would have helped or not, but it´s better than being passive.
So, when your child does come to you, finally, and admits that he or she is having problems at school, listen. Really listen. And ask them what they would want you to do about it. And take them seriously. If your child is coming to you with this, it´s probably quite serious.
To all those who are being bullied: It´s not your fault, you deserve better than this and yes, it will be over at some point. It might get to you and that´s okay because nobody said you had to have an armour around you every time you set foot in a school building. You do not have to fight all your battles by yourself, speak to people about it, even if it is scary. Direct the attention to what is happening, because oftentimes people don´t want to see it. Continue to be yourself and fuck them, because they obviously have their own sick shit, yet they have no right to treat you like that. And try to not to bully them back. It may be hard, but stay strong and graceful and always know you that they do not determine you´re actions.
And to the bullies: I may have mentioned this in previous posts: Fuck you, you fucking fuck-shit-idiots, go and fuck yourselves OR get a grip on yourself, gain some compassion and apologize for the shit you´ve done so you can stop being such a world-class collection of idiotic ignorance with sociopathic tendencies. An apology and an end to this unnecessary misery would be much appreciated, I´m sure.