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Friday, 2 December 2016

From A Bully's Side Of The Fence

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This is the last post I am going to write about this whole subject for now.

This is the last of what I have to say before I put it to rest and we wait to see if resolution comes for us.

I think emotions are running extremely high in so many areas of this topic and on so many fronts and that is completely understandable.

The words 'Bully' and 'Bullying' will naturally evoke extreme reactions from those who stand on both sides of the fence.

But that is the point isn't it?!

There is always the other side of the fence that we should be considering and standing on both sides are real people with real feelings and the capacity to hurt and be hurt, and as much as I have given attention to the side of the fence that we are standing on right at this moment, I think the other side deserves equal attention too.

I believe this, because I have also stood on that other side too.

I once was the bully.

I did tell you I am far from perfect!

I will live with that regret of once bullying someone, for the rest of my life. I don't hide it, I've spoken about it before, and whilst this is in no way an attempt to defend a bully  - ever - I will tell this story because i hope that it might just help us to understand what it can be like on both sides and maybe even help to stop the cycle somewhat.

If I am completely honest, writing and reliving this is also helping me to try to understand why this is happening now and to continue to find some compassion for the ones behind our own situation we are in.

There is a very good reason I am so passionate about bullying, because I have felt for myself the heartache from both sides and I want with all my heart for it to STOP!!

Many of you already know my story, and how as a child I grew up wearing bars on my leg and crutches and how I was in an out of hospital until I was 15 yada yada.

I was a prime target for kids who were looking for someone to pick on, someone they could be mean to and to tease so they could make themselves look tough in front of their friends or feel better about themselves.

I was bullied all through my primary school years and part of my high school years too, and there were points in my life where suicide seemed like the easiest solution. Eventually, I did tuck into a bottle of sleeping pills in an attempt to make it all go away... fortunately my attempts failed and I am here to tell the story.

But what happened after that is I changed.

I developed this awful tough exterior and in order to try and hide my vulnerability, I became the mean girl and for a while I lashed at out one girl in particular.

She hadn't done anything wrong. In actual fact, she was a REALLY NICE girl who did not in a million years deserve to be the target for my hatred against the world and my revenge for everyone who had ever made me hurt.

But she was.

And I was so mean to her for a while and whilst it was never physical I did say awful things to her in the hope that maybe others would see my actions and become scared of me and therefore stop being mean to me.

I feel sick talking about this, it brings back so much shame and pain.

It is such an awful thing that I did and fortunately I had the chance to say sorry to her a few years later. I am so incredibly grateful to this day for that chance to say sorry, because even though I know it will never erase the pain I caused or ease the remorse I feel for my behaviour, I am grateful that she was there for me to say sorry to because... all too often kids just aren't there anymore.

They end their lives to escape the torment and the sorrys are never heard.

Every bullying situation is different, I know that much. I also know that Bullying the Bully back is NOT the answer either, nor is telling our kids to toughen up 'cause it's just a part of childhood.

PLEASE!

REALLY?

It is not a normal part of childhood nor is it a normal part of life.

It is not normal to bully or be bullied and there is ALWAYS a reason why it is happening and that reason needs to be understood.

You can't toughen up someone who has been damaged. It just doesn't work that way. Sure, you can put a band aid on it, but we all know band aids aren't made to last.

When you tell a child to toughen up and put up with the bullying, you are at risk of them toughening up too much, like I did, and then they may actually become a bully at some stage themselves... also like I did.

Telling a child to toughen up is about as useless as ignoring the problem in the first place. It's only going to perpetuate a problem and feed the cycle.

The bully themselves and the one being bullied, both need to be supported and THAT is what I am talking about when I speak of finding compassion.

Believe me I know it is hard.

It is SO HARD to not be angry at the other kid and even at their family too I guess... but I think anger is probably a bit of a waste of energy.

If you are angry at a situation, by all means shout about it... but don't shout for revenge... SHOUT FOR CHANGE.

You will often hear people say "Oh it must be the parent's fault, it must be the way they are parenting and that's why the child is behaving the way that he or she is.

I beg to differ though, because even though sometimes that absolutely may be the case, it is not ALWAYS that way.

My parents were the most supportive and compassionate two people and yet at one stage their daughter was either being bullied or doing the bullying.

They did not have any control in me being bullied, nor did they play a part in me being mean to that other girl.

My own experiences did.

When I was bullied as a kid, very few people apart from my brother and a few close friends were brave enough to stick up for me because they were scared they would become the targets and so I toughened up like everyone told me to... except I toughened up too far.

I get why people are scared of standing up to it too.

I really do.

I mean, why make your own life difficult or risk friendships by getting yourself involved in something if you don't have to right?

Well... because... we can make a difference, that's why.

By speaking up about what is happening to you, or to your kids or to your friends, or calling out bad behaviour when you see it, you ARE helping to stop the cycle.

Don't be scared into staying quiet. Fight for a resolution for EVERYONE involved and keep fighting until you get it.

I am angry at myself that I have allowed nearly a whole year to go by before I really flipped my lid and upped the shouting.

I do think parents can play a very big part in how a situation is handled.

I know all the bullying policies and procedures say do not approach the other parents, and often it's for good reason too I guess, especially when emotions are running high.I suppose it is also hard to approach other parents if you don't even know them let alone contact them out of the blue to tell them what their child is doing.

But on a few occasions over the years when I have heard either from my kids or someone else that one of my kid's have stupidly done something to someone else, it has been awful and uncomfortable and confronting and embarrassing but regardless... I have made myself pick up the phone to talk to the other parents, to hear the other side of the story and to say "I am so sorry, how can we fix this?"

I don't know... maybe I am optimisitic, but I kinda reckon there could possibly be some merit in going direct to a parent rather than counting on school procedures and policies and a whole load of other people to get involved.

Whilst I understand the need for procedures, procedures can take time... often a loooong time and sometimes time is not a luxury.

I can't help but wonder if our situation would have gone on for as long as it has if we hadn't followed the procedures and dealt with it parent to parent instead?

I don't know. I guess I'm really not qualified to answer that.

But I am someone who has stood on both sides of the fence and knows the shame and the pain of both sides and maybe something good could come of that?

I also know that because of my experience on boths sides of the fence,  I will NEVER stop shouting and saying NO to bullying.

Have you ever sorted out a situation with your kids for yourself or have you had to involve the school? How did it go for you?
Have you ever stood on both sides of the fence?