In May this website, which began my crusade and passion to help try to solve the damage that bullying can do, began on a normal day in 2007. As I look back and think about all that has occurred in that short time in my life, I realize one major thing. See, bullying started for me on a regular basis when I was seven years old.
Seven years. What does it all mean and why do I continue?
I found something interesting as I looked back at those early posts I put up. A lot of the links to others that posted about bullying no longer are valid. I guess those people gave up. But the other interesting thing is that a lot of people didn’t give up. In fact in the past seven years, the issue of bullying has grown to be national news and most people are now learning of the long-term damage it can do. A new term called C-PTSD is becoming a diagnosis that will validate this damage and the long-term effects that I started writing about 7 years ago. I think I’ve been very honest with you, the reader, here on this website, but when I look back over the years, I find that so much has changed in my life, just as those 7 years of bullying changed me as well. I thought it interesting to look back over this time and give some perspective to what I originally talked about…the long-term effects. I also think it interesting to look at it backwards, from where I am today to what I thought at the beginning. Something different that I hope you will get something out of when reading it this way.
YEAR 7 – 2013-2014:
I learned first-hand that I hadn’t truly recovered from what happened to me. It was a slow burn to this point, where I was crippled with fear, anxiety, and phobia. What caused this, to this day I don’t know. But I do know that I knew something was wrong, and instead of turning to alcohol or drugs that I think are wrong, I looked to professional help. I read tons of books about worry, anxiety, fear, and read many websites and blogs on the subject. I learned that there is no way to work around your problems. You must work through them. ~“Written in these walls are the stories that I can’t explain. I leave my heart open but it stays right here empty for days” (“Story of my life” – One Direction)
YEAR 6 – 2012-2013:
What happened to me? I lost myself somewhere along the way. Call it a mid-life crisis or a breakdown, but I had hit my point where I needed to take care of myself. Things I had been writing about for six years, the long-term effects, were now happening to me. I tried to pretend like it wasn’t happening, but it was. It’s the concept of “physician heal thyself”. I realized to help anyone and to work well, I had to help myself. I decided to turn my life 180 degrees around. Start eating well, start taking care of myself both physically and mentally. I wasn’t prepared for the time it would take to heal. Well over a year. I think I am lucky in that I recognized what happened to me due to my work on this site and so I knew to seek help and made an immediate decision to ask for help. So many don’t and the results of not asking for help can ruin many lives. I feel for my family as they witness a person that was not the one they knew, but was always the one hiding behind the wall I had built around myself…to protect myself. ~ (Ho!) So show me family (Hey!) All the blood that I would bleed (Ho!) I don’t know where I belong (Hey!) I don’t know where I went wrong.” (“Hey Ho” – The Lumineers)
YEAR 5 – 2011-2012:
What a big year. I had lots of speaking engagements on bullying and started a large movement within my community. I reconnected with a friend I had written about that found my site and stories. The most interesting part was that at the High School reunion in Lexington, MA, where I write about, they were talking about me, the guy who writes about all the bullies we dealt with in Lexington. There were many who were reading and relating to my writing. I had no idea. At the same time, I was so scared to find this person who read my story. I remember being up all night and deciding to look him up and call him. I was scared. Because the story was the one story about me being a bully instead of being bullied. I was in great pain, but talking to him made it all better. He is great and even visited me last year. I never expected people to read my site, but they were and I found they were relating to what I was saying. ~ “A penny for my thoughts, oh, no, I’ll sell ‘em for a dollar. They’re worth so much more after I’m a goner. And maybe then you’ll hear the words I been singin’. Funny when you’re dead how people start listenin.” (“If I Die Young” – The Band Perry)
YEAR 4 (2010-2011)
This is a big year of change in my life and in what I’m seeing about bullying. So much of the news has caught on about it now and there’s a new story on the news all the time. Researchers are now doing research on the bullied brain and looking at the long-term effects of bullying as I have been writing about already for three years. People share many stories with me about their parents who bullied them at home. There are sides to bullying even I don’t understand. But of this, I am more sure, there are long-term effects. I feel lucky that I have dealt with them by writing my stories on this site. But wait, what’s that slightly panicky feeling I have. Oh well, it will go away. I do get a little short-tempered some time, but got a new job and enjoy some of the change. I have more freedom now to work on this subject. I worked with my old high school and wrote a play with the drama group that they put on. Tears flowed from my eyes as I watched them perform my words. Have I found my calling? ~”It’s a quarter after one, I’m all alone and I need you now. Said I wouldn’t call but I’ve lost all control and I need you now. And I don’t know how I can do without. I just need you now.” (“Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum)
YEAR 3 (2009-2010)
My world crashed around me. Why can’t I handle these things better? My good friends that I spent the last 9 years building a company with and giving my full life to me just fired me. Yes, business was falling, but I truly thought my relationship with them was deeper than a drive to the middle of a parking lot to have someone who I thought of as a friend and brother tell me it’s over. I got a new job right away, but I had dreamed of staying with my old company forever. Best buddies working together and now I have to pick up the pieces and start again. Felt pings of depression and loss. Ah forget those feelings, I told myself. I’m stronger than that, aren’t I? I’ll keep writing and share stories. I’ll keep telling myself everything is fine. I’ll put my EGO to the front, put up a strong front. I won’t talk about the hurt I feel in my soul and I won’t do anything to not protect my family, myself, my life. Wasn’t crazy about the new job much, but it paid and I can do it. I am strong…I think I’m strong…I don’t feel so strong. Smile and don’t show it to anyone. It will get better, becomes the new mantra from the bullying movement. I hope so. ~ “Lost and insecure. You found me, you found me. Lyin’ on the floor. Surrounded, surrounded. Where were you? Where were you? Just a little late.You found me, you found me.” (“You Found Me” – The Fray)
YEAR 2 (2008-2009)
Can this year get any better? I have a great job, and I have good friends surrounding me. I’ve been awarded and promoted at work. There is truly nothing like working for friends and helping create a company that can be successful. Yes, it’s hard to be a manager, but I try to develop a thicker skin. But, I am still so affected when someone doesn’t like me or at least I think they don’t. I’ve done several radio interviews and even a newspaper interview for my website. It’s exciting to be doing something I am so passionate about. Many of the stories that I get bring tears to my eyes. I really had no idea how many people suffer with the effects of bullying and stay quiet. I get a letter from a grandma that shares a big story with me and even a boy who was raped regularly in a locker room. These stories get picked up and shared. Even WordPress featured me on their front site. I had no idea last year when I started this that it would be for anyone other than me. Videos on the subject of bullying are appearing on YouTube all the time. There is a groundswell movement around the Pink Shirt story from Canada. I love the idea of helping people through issues with bullying. It truly matters to me. And now that I’m over it, I can help others…at least I think I can. I think I’ll create a presentation and start speaking to groups about the bullying that happened to me and the need for more empathy. ~ “Just because I’m hurting. Doesn’t mean I’m hurt. Doesn’t mean I didn’t get what I deserved. No better and no worse. I just got lost. Every river that I tried to cross. Every door I ever tried was locked. Oh and I’m just waiting ’til the shine wears off.” (“Lost” – Coldplay)
YEAR 1 (2007-2008)
“You don’t understand mom/wife, what I went through when I was young. That bullying affected me and I think it still does to this day.” I said that for 20 something years to my mom, my wife, and try to excuse how I felt and my actions. Then it happened. A shooter walked in to a building at my Alma Matter College, Virginia Tech, and killed many students and professors, including a professor that was a Holocaust survivor. It touched me deeply emotionally. Why would this shooter do that? Why does anyone do that. I started my research. He was bullied in High School kept coming up. Then I started seeing all the articles on bullycide. On these youth who were dying all the time with notes speaking of how they couldn’t take the bullying at school anymore. Boy, could I relate. I often think that if we hadn’t moved away when I was 13 from where I was bullied, what would have become of me. But a fresh start for me stopped the 7 years of bullying I experienced. As a communication specialist, I felt that I could do something to stop my hurt and help others who were suffering from the long-term effects of bullying. I’m going to start a website and write all the stories I can remember about how I was bullied as a youth. Maybe if youth or even adults read from an adult who admits to being bullied and how it affected him, they will be brave enough to do the same. I can’t be alone in what happened to me. I know I’m not. I want to make a difference. It’s time to start. I feel brave…I feel strong…I have a good life now. It’s time to help others. After all I like helping others and maybe, just maybe, I can help myself get past this gnawing issue I feel is in my head. I’ll get it on the web and I’ll feel better. After all life is good for me and I can get over it…right? ~ “I was blown away, what could I say? It all seemed to make sense. You’re taking away everything. And I can’t do without. I try to see the good in life. But good things in life are hard to find. We’re blowing away, blowing away. Can we make this something good?” (“It’s Not Over” – Daughtry)
I guess I’m still discovering myself and what this “long-term effect of bullying” is really all about. Can I do more with it? Can I make a bigger impact? I don’t know yet, but I’ll keep trying if you keep reading. If I help one person, even myself, then I will keep writing. Oh, and just for fun, see if you know why I picked the song lyrics I did and how they correspond to the story section. I think that the lyrics of the music we listen to tell us so much when we read them and hear them. Music is my comfort and always has been. I am still on my journey of discovery on the subject of bullying and how we are affected. It’s been a very bumpy ride, but I’ll hang on tight if you will as well.