Somewhere

Tom from The Broken Toy Project and Closer Look Films shared this video he created about the issue of childhood bullying called “Somewhere”. He has shared this video with all on YouTube and you can view it below.

Embarrassing Is The Wrong Word for Traumatic

There are so many people who dream of a better life than the one left after years of trauma from bullying. The shame is that life didn’t have to go this way. But for many, it has. It is an unconscious pain and fear that most of us don’t know where it comes from years later, as Maria share’s in her story below. No one is ever alone in any of this and that is the most important aspect to remember. Try to take the daydream about how you want your life to be and make it the reality you want. Let your past go and live in the now, with great plans for the future. Sounds easy, doesn’t it. Well as most know it isn’t and you have to face your fears head on to conquer them. Don’t let them conquer you and make your life what you don’t want it to be. ~Alan Eisenberg


pressure worry anxietyI’m 28 years old and recently started seeing a counselor while at grad school. I felt I could no longer deal with my paranoia, anxieties and low self-esteem alone. My last therapy session was the most intense since I started. We’d been making connections between my feelings of anger to feeling ignored and frustrated as a teenager.

However, I hadn’t experienced a session that felt quite as terrifying and overwhelming as the last one. I can’t quite remember how this came up but we began to talk about my school bully, Eleni. I couldn’t say her name at the time and I didn’t want to. Dredging up all those memories, as painful as it was suddenly put my life into perspective. My experience with her was the root cause for many of my worries, reactions and anxieties. It may sound like I’m blaming her but allow me to explain the connection.

She was present in my public school life and my private family life. She would bully and intimidate me in front of both groups for almost five years, from year 4 to year 9/10 (she stopped attending school in the latter years). Yes she did bully me and embarrass me until I felt I had no dignity but, and this is the embarrassing part, I still wanted her approval and I wanted to be her friend. Or at least I was too scared not to be her friend. She was nasty to my few friends and I was too scared to defend them. I became isolated from everyone else. She said nasty things about my family, everything about her life was better than mine. She would pick on everything I said, everything I wrote, the way that I looked. My presence just seemed to annoy her. My presence began to annoy myself in fact.

It felt that she picked me out to treat me the worst, like I deserved it on some innate and untouchable level of my being. I can say with definitive certainty that this led me to remove myself from many situations by daydreaming. In the car, at school, at home, and later at university and in social situations. I had a secret imaginary world where I was funny, social, people were attracted to my presence and I had the attention I lacked in the real world. Attention that I protected myself from and attention that I also desperately craved. In the real world, once I had the attention I was frozen, I didn’t know what to do with it and became anxious. In high school I worked in chaotic, frontline jobs that concreted my fear into assuming that people would always react to me in a hostile and unfriendly way.

This to me explains so much about myself that I find it frightening, that something that happened so long ago had remained with me on a purely unconscious level. The danger was gone but the feelings remained. My paranoid feelings that no one likes me, my body is horrific, that I’m so hairy and unable to keep friends. Desperately wanting more human contact but feeling irritated when I had it, afraid that I might say something to ruin it, to make them see just how boring I am.

Since primary school I was living with the fear of talking, of having opinions that might piss someone off or led myself to feel ashamed. I wanted people to treat me well on their own so I wouldn’t have to point it out and embarrass myself. Sometime I felt I was living in a world of unfriendly eyes, looking at me and seeing only the negative and I wanted its approval. I think that is the most frustrating thing about it.

In the counselling session I felt weak and felt I lacked control. How could such a big thing escape me? My negative thoughts begin with seeing the negative in everyone else and then they shift onto myself. Of course it comes from my time with Eleni, I see that now. But what happens now? I feel relieved that there really isn’t an innate and untouchable reason in my being that I really can’t understand. Although its painful to face the root of my fears, I also feel calmer by understanding this. Rather than dismissing it as something embarrassing, I have to admit to myself that it really was traumatic.

~Maria

What Is Cyberbullying Infographic

Sarah Bends shared a wonderful infographic about Cyberbullying with me to share with you. For those that have been following the infographic movement, it is such a great and creative way for communication artists to share information in a graphical setting. I hope you enjoy Sarah’s great infographic as much as I do. While it is a tough subject, her infographic makes the information easy to understand. To see Sarah’s site and the graphic on it directly, go to: http://www.calera.biz/what-is-cyberbullying-infographic. Thanks, Sarah for sharing.

Cyber-bullying Infographic

Music Lyrics #18 – Midnight (Coldplay)

I haven’t put up a music lyrics post in a while, so please either forgive or indulge me. By now, you know I have an affinity for Coldplay music and lyrics, particularly their early music. Coldplay has recently released an album far different from the last few. Pretty much the whole album are songs of pain from Chris Martin’s dissolved marriage to Gweneth Paltrow.

This is nothing new, as the Fleetwood Mac album “Rumors” is almost exclusively songs about the breakup of the relationship between band members Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. In fact even the title, Rumors, was named so to stop the spread of rumors about the breakup as they had not announced it.

According to Chris Martin, Coldplay’s lead singer, he said about the entire Ghost Stories album and songs:

“The idea of Ghost Stories, for me, was “how do you let the things that happen to you in the past – your ghosts – how do you let them affect your present and your future?” Because there was a time when I was feeling like they were going to drag me down and ruin my life, and the lives of those around me. I was very lucky to meet a very good sufi teacher who started to introduce the idea of “if you sit with your experiences and the things you’ve been through, they alchemize.” At the time he said that, I didn’t really know what that meant, but I trusted that it would work, and the more that I was learning about that, the more music just started flowing through.”

To me, this is very much akin to the long-term effects, or in this case, “ghosts” of bullies past and how they do affect your present and future. You can either let them drag you down and ruin your and other’s life or work through it, as Mr. Martin says above.

Recently, I had a friend commit suicide from the depression brought on by his divorce and crumbling business. He needed an outlet, like music or a teacher/mentor/therapist, but didn’t have one. We all have hard times, some of us more than others. But, as has been said many times, it does get better. It is only when you are at the bottom of a hole that you can start to climb back up, because there is nowhere else to go but up. But the light is dim at the bottom of the hole and only gets brighter as you climb back up.

This song, Midnight, on the new Coldplay album, Ghost Stories, is about exactly that. When the pain is deep and you are at the bottom, Coldplay asks that you leave a light on so that it can guide you home, where you belong. Simple lyrics that can mean many things to many people…and I personally like the music as well.

 

MIDNIGHT

In the darkness before the dawn
In the swirling of this storm
Rolling round, and with apologies
And hope is gone
Leave a light, a light on

Millions of miles from home
In the swirling, swimming on
When I’m rolling with the thunder
But bleed from thorns
Leave a light, a light on
Leave a light, a light on

Leave a light, a light on
Leave a light, a light on

In the darkness before the dawn
In the darkness before the dawn
Leave a light, a light on
Leave a light, a light on

Summer Camp

A “Guest Post” by Robyn Brilliant, sister of Alan Eisenberg.

My first experience at Summer camp was not a good one.  The first two years I went to “overnight camp” I was bullied and teased by the other campers for various reasons.  I was shy, small and skinny at 9 years old.  The following year I had started “developing” in a somewhat lopsided way and got teased for that.  I was uncoordinated and hated (I mean HATED) all team sports.  I was not a good swimmer.  At the camp I went to you had no choice you had to participate in everything – athletics, swim instruction, everything.  The only activity I really enjoyed at camp was arts and crafts.   As I got older we moved and I went to other camps where I was not bullied as much and I learned that summer camp could be OK.  There were ways to avoid the things I didn’t like and there was more choice.  Sometimes the ways I avoided sports and swimming instruction were against camp “rules” but I effectively got away with it and did not get into any trouble.  When I was 17 and graduating High School, I decided to take my chances applying for a job working as a counselor at summer camp I had never been to as a camper.  I was hired for the summer, without an interview.  I arrived at camp eager to work with young girls and requested to work with 9 year olds.  They assigned me to a bunk full of 11 year olds.  11 year old girls can be very cruel and there was a girl in our cabin who was overweight, teased relentlessly and did not want to stay at camp.  Her parents had signed her up for the whole summer.  She did everything she could to get sent home, including swearing and hitting adults.  Her parents finally agreed to let her come home from camp after 4 weeks, but the damage had been done.  Seeing what happened to her stirred up those horrible days of teasing, but that was nothing compared to what was done to me by the adults in charge.

As a counselor, I also had to provide some leadership/support for camp activities.  I asked to have my hour off during Athletics, but was not granted that wish.  I explained that I was really not fond of or good at sports, but nobody listened.  I accepted that I would have to do some kind of athletics with the girls, and at least I had a choice, so I chose “New Games”.  That meant leading about 30 girls in games like Red Light, Green Light or silly races.  I could handle that.  Plus I had 2 other counselors to help – or so I thought.  Turns out the other two counselors had their day off on the same day and I was left alone with 30 girls one day a week.  The girls were coming from various activities including horseback riding, some of which were halfway across camp.  So two weeks into my first experience as a camp counselor, on my first day alone with New Games, I was patiently waiting for all the girls to arrive before I started a game.  The athletic director of girls camp saw me with a bunch of girls standing around.  She did not ask me for any explanation of why we hadn’t started, instead she screamed at me in front of the girls, called me “Incompetent” in front of them and said they all could go to the gym for aerobics.   Everything from my time at camp, my lack of coordination at sports, being teased and picked last welled up inside me.  In front of the girls I yelled back at her “You BITCH”, at the top of my lungs.   And it seemed time had stopped.  I believe that was the first time in my young life that I stood up for myself.  It felt good.

What happened next was, of course, I got in trouble.  The unit leader of 9-11 year old girls added to the accusations that I told all the girls in the unit to call her “Jabba the Hut” (yes it was the summer that Return of the Jedi came out at the movies).   I told her that the girls came up with that themselves, which was true.  She was mean and yes, overweight, but I would never have told 9-11 year olds to tease or bully an adult.  I was brought to the director’s office with the intent to fire me.  I stood up for myself, threatened to have my mom withdraw her money for my brother to attend second session as a camper, and in the end they decided well,  maybe they were wrong.  They found me another job at camp where I didn’t have to be a counselor.  In fact, I ended up having a great summer working at the camp store.  All the kids loved me because I was the one who handed out candy and popsicles.  I was not invited back to work there again.

You would think after that I would not send my kids to overnight camp.  But I do.  Both of them have had much better experiences than I did.  Maybe it’s the particular camps I sent them too or maybe its a different time.  What made me want to share this story, though, is that yesterday at my daughter’s camp they did something amazing.  Every girl painted their pinky fingernails blue and took a pledge against bullying, “I blue pinky promise to stand up against bullying, No matter where I am, No matter what I do, I will always be there for you!”  I finally have some hope for Summer Camp.

One Solution to the Bullying Issue

To those that doubt that bullying can be overcome, this football team, the Olivete Eagles, proves differently.

Watch this amazing video and find out how a group of boys learn a valuable lesson on Empathy while doing a completely unselfish act.

If you have the power, maybe learn from this story and do the same for someone in your school or community.

I Can’t Just Get Over It (A Personal Story)

Nick’s story so parallels my own battle with the long-term effects of bullying. The “get over it” syndrome has got to end. It is not so easy and for some, as I have written recently, “getting over it” is suicide or bullycide if you prefer. It has to stop…we have to find ways to make it stop. As adults, that pain does haunt our thoughts and we have to work so hard to recover. Some aren’t willing and I certainly hope Nick’s words help him lead to further recovery. ~Alan Eisenberg


man in chair stressedMy name is Nick. I recently read this story on the National Public Radio (NPR) website, “Mental And Physical Toll Of Bullying Persists For Decades”. I can verify that everything in the story is very true since I was a victim of bullying. I am now 55 years old and the effects of it are still with me. Like Angela I suffer from a constant state of fear, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

My bullying experience is different from the usual scenario of being bullied at school only. My bully was my next store neighbor, supposedly my best friend. He was about the same age as me around six months older. He started abusing me at around six years old and it continued until I joined the military at 18. The abuse was physical and mental, no sexual abuse occurred. I was very afraid of him and he knew it. He knew he had power over me and that gave him satisfaction. I had to endure abuse during school and after school. I remember summer breaks as being a time of terror, since he always came by and I was too sacred to do anything. My mother who was a homemaker was oblivious to what was going on. She knew he was hurting me but kept calling me when he knocked on the door. I don’t know how she couldn’t sense the fear I was in. If she seen me getting beat up by him she would call me to the house and beat me again, yelling at me, calling me a fool, weak and others things. She never talked to me about anything, so I was never able to tell her or anyone else what was going on. My father was always at work, he would leave the house at 6:00 am and not return until around 7:00 pm or later. Then while at home he rarely spoke to me or my brother or even my mother. My brother two years younger than me stayed to himself and we hardly spoke or did anything together. He knew I was being abused and I believe he sided with my mother that I was weak and a fool. To this day we are not close and do not speak much.

The abuse consisted of him finding a reason to get mad at me and then having to “punish” me. Sometimes he would grab me by my hair and drag me in his backyard to a shed where he would punch and slap me. I would be crying asking what I did wrong and to leave me alone. Other times he would blow up in front of other kids and punch me and humiliate me in front of them. If I tried to make friends with other kids he would harass them until they didn’t come around anymore. One time when I was around 10 years old I made a friend in school. After school we were going to go to his house. While walking from school the bully comes flying up in a rage and starts punching me in the face. He punched the books out of my hand that I was using to shield myself. All this with other kids and my new friend looking on and of course doing nothing. Then he just walks away. We continued to walk to my friend’s house. On the way he asks me why I didn’t fight back, and all I could say was I didn’t know. I was so humiliated and embarrassed. This new friend didn’t last long. He came to my house one day and the bully comes flying out of nowhere and starts attacking him. He left and never returned. The bully succeeded in isolating me from others. I felt like I was trapped. He was always after me so I would be stuck in my house most of the time, anxious and alone. I couldn’t walk to school like the other kids. I had to cut through backyards, jumping fences hoping he wouldn’t catch me. After school I would stay around the back school yard waiting for the kids and him to clear out while I made a run for it to my house, again cutting through yards and jumping fences. During school I would be so worried I would go to the nurses office complaining of chest pains hoping they would send me home, which they always did. My mother would come and pick me up, and no one questioned why I was having these pains. I was so nervous and worried that I developed severe tics, shaking my head and blinking my eyes. I would get severe migraine headaches that sometimes caused me to vomit. I also had skin problems on my hands and feet where the skin would break out with an ooze and become very itchy and I would scratch it raw. My mother took me to a couple of doctors who gave me creams and ointments which did no good. Years later I would realize these conditions were from the stress I was dealing with. The tics have stayed with me but not as bad.

The abuse continued into my teenage years. The bully would humiliate and assault me in front of others and I was too frightened to do anything. I had no friends and was always trying to get away from him but he was always there looking for me. He got me to start smoking, drinking and doing drugs which made matters worse. People in the neighborhood would not speak to me looking at me like they knew I was being abused but didn’t want to get involved. My parents continued seeing the abuse and did nothing. So I had no help whatsoever, I suffered alone.

Why my Mother could never figure out how much pain I was in baffles me. I have been angry with her ever since, up until she passed away last year. There was never any closure to this. She knew what was going on but refused to act, instead she blamed me. In a phone call around six or seven years ago she said that “he ruined you”. I didn’t respond since she was up in age and I would have gotten very emotional. The rage I have built up in me would have exploded and I would have said among other things, “no you ruined me by not doing anything”. I should have told her and my father that years ago but I decided to let it be then.

Now at 55 years of age I have suffered with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, over eating with excessive weight gain, social isolation and PTSD. I’m married and have no children and I have begun to worry who will help me as I age. I have never told my wife or anyone else about this because I feel they would not understand. This letter is the first time I’m getting this out. I’m a subscriber to the Bullying Stories web site, and I have seen stories like mine, especially from people my age. They make me feel like I’m not so alone and I feel justified in how I’m feeling so many years later. I won’t have to hear I should have gotten over it.

~ Nick