A Lifetime of Bullying (A Personal Story)

I have been bullied my entire life and it didn’t stop with adulthood. When one is bullied, the common denominator begins with you. You must look to yourself to understand why you are a target. I was a target because I was overweight, unattractive, was poor, had terrible clothing, very bad acne, and I must have acted in a way that made me an easy target for bullies. Unfortunately, patterns developed over the years that carried into adulthood. These patterns began at home regarding treatment by my parents, especially my mother. My mother was a bully. I may have been lacking an attentive, loving mother and tried to overcompensate at home with childish actions and by overeating. I may have carried childish actions into the schoolroom. I may not have been taught manners and how to behave socially at home so that I was socially awkward at school even if I didn’t realize it or feel anxious about social situations.
Everyone’s story is more complicated than they may realize. The problem begins with them but they alone are not the reason for the problem.

The problems didn’t begin in school but at home. I was bullied at home by a domineering mother. She was overweight and unhappy and made sure I was just as miserable. She wasn’t the nicest woman. I was overfed then made fun of for overeating. I was ridiculed about what I wanted whether it was nice clothes, a certain toy, or what I wanted to be when I grew up. I grew up used to someone always yelling at me and not being allowed to defend myself. So, I developed a habit that became a part of me which I was unaware of and that was being quiet and seemingly backing down from those yelling at me or making fun of me. I couldn’t defend myself at home or at school. To speak up meant to be hit or yelled at which my mother could do with the loudest, booming voice one has ever heard.

We lacked funds for after school classes so I couldn’t join anything unless it was free such as band or choir in school. So, while everyone else was being active, I was sitting at home watching t.v. being bored and eating. I ate out of boredom but also for emotional reasons due to stress and the need for comfort. Home life was stressful and school was as well. So, I gained weight which made me even more unattractive. Good fitting clothes were hard to find. We lacked money which made finding good clothes for my size even more difficult. I was only 50lbs overweight in school but that’s a lot for a child, even for one in high school when the other girls are 100 lbs and you are 150.

All my life I thought I had friends only to have those friends disappear when the more attractive or interesting girls came along in Jr. High and High School. Somehow, to compensate, I began to try to get other’s attention. I found if I were silly, I was noticed. But unlike comedians who make a living out of being funny and honed their skills in school as the class clown, I apparently came across as the dumb blond and was treated as such. So, not only was I fat and unattractive, but now the dumb blond.

Lacking in friends meant lacking in social situations which meant I didn’t have the opportunities to develop the social graces. Because I was ignored and no one bothered to talk to me, I never learned how to talk to others. When I thought I had something to share, it would come out like a bolt and I would talk very fast which of course, added to the perception that I was an idiot who lacked the ability to socialize which made me even more alienated. There were times when I had someone to talk to, a friend in a class, but classes changed each semester so most of them would move on to other classes and I would never get much of a chance to see them again.

When you feel ignored and then suddenly someone pays attention to you, you get all giddy about it. Suddenly, you are very outgoing because someone has noticed you. So, you walk around with a smile on your face, are very effusive but this only contributes to everyone’s idea that you are a social, nervous wreck not to mention still the dumb blond who doesn’t fit in anywhere socially nor physically because you are overweight. You are still extremely awkward. When a boy was nice to me, I thought it was because he was interested in me. I would develop such strong crushes only to find he wasn’t interested, just being nice. I never realized the pattern until I was in my 30s. I would find myself as an adult, sleeping with guys just because they were nice to me but of course, for them it was only sex. I would wait around for them to call, dreaming about what a life we would have together, what we would do on dates, expecting that they would ask me out.

In high school, there were three girls who were my tormentors. Despite being the dumb blond, my grades were good enough that I was in some of the higher level honor classes with them in addition to school activities. They made fun of my ugly clothes, my bad skin, the way I walked, everything about my appearance. They made me so uneasy that I doubted my abilities. But it’s not that I doubted my abilities, it’s that I was self conscious about putting myself out there because they would nick pick and make fun of everything. I was always so anxious and therefore, more socially awkward. I learned to clam up and not let others see me do anything and I tried to keep quiet and to go unnoticed, all of which would backfire and provide them with more reasons to make fun of me. But sometimes I wouldn’t understand that they weren’t being nice. On occasion, someone would smile and come up to me to talk and I would smile and be overly friendly because I was relieved that we had a friendly interaction. I would think that this was a good thing. Only, it wasn’t because they were always up to something and I, in addition to making a fool of myself by being effusive, would allow myself to be set up for whatever mockery they had devised. Two of the girls weren’t all that attractive but were very thin and outgoing and smart. One girl was very attractive and I could have used her help but instead of helping, she preferred to hinder me even more by pointing out my flaws in comparison to hers. I realized years later that the girls in school, who survived being picked on, had a smart ass retort to the girls who would make fun of them. I wish I had done the same instead of clamming up. Keeping quiet makes the bullies think they have won and that they can get away with anything they do.

As an adult, I would put up with bad behavior from men and women friends because I thought that was how it was, that it was all I was going to get. I’ve had friends who would dump me for more interesting friends only to come back if those friends weren’t around, only to leave again when the next interesting person came around. People would walk all over me and I’d let them and even if I got angry with them I would take them back into my life. I’ve lived with roommates who were bullies, who would either yell at me or would be passive-aggressive about how they wanted things. They always treated me as if I was dumb, ugly, and worthless. People have made fun of my appearance and what I do and do not know. During college and post-college years, I lived with people who came from “normal” families which had money. So, the students had had experiences, travel, and had met people I could only read about in books. I still didn’t fit in for lack of money and rearing. I kept saying “I’ve read about that.” Being well read never helped me in social situations.

So, years later, I’m even more overweight. Why? Because there isn’t any difference between being teased at 150 lbs or at 200 lbs. If you are socially awkward as a child, you still are as an adult. If you lack social graces because you lacked social opportunities, you are still lacking those as an adult. If you shut down when yelled at as a child, you still do as an adult. If you are ignored and suddenly talked to as an adult, you still are overly friendly in return. If you are bullied based on your looks as a child, you will be as an adult. My “friends” hang out with other friends and talk to them and share with them but I’m on the fringe of the group and no one really shares with me. My family treats me as if I’m dumb even though I have a college degree. My father still jokes about past mistakes I made as a child and likes to question everything I do as if I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m still not trusted or believed-no one wants to really give me a change to do things, or lead things, or be in charge of things. No one trusts my judgment or knowledge. I’m still disregarded for my looks-weight, clothes, and skin. I’ve learned if I am quiet, I am well-regarded. If I speak up to contribute with actual information based on research and facts (not just my opinion) I’m barely heard. If I want to voice my opinion, I have few opportunities. No one asks how I am or what I’ve been doing but they will others.

Some things have changed. I’ve had therapy and realized the part that my mother played and how I was reared have contributed to how I reacted in school and as an adult. I’ve discovered some patterns such as being too effusive, talking too fast, being too easy with men, and about how I never set limits on others or on myself.

But the most important thing I’ve learned is that bullies only understand being bullied. You have to bully a bully to get their attention and meet strength with strength. I’ve learned to stand my ground and to talk back when being yelled at; I’ve learned to threaten when threatened; I’ve learned that talking nicely to a bully doesn’t make them stop. You must stand up for yourself to stop bullies. A smart ass, well placed comment does the trick.

-Trying to Survive Adulthood

6 thoughts on “A Lifetime of Bullying (A Personal Story)

  1. Powerful stuff. I hope you feel better after writing all of this. It sure seems like you’ve come a long way since those days, and it’s fantastic that you’ve recognized the patterns of behavior that we fall into (especially the ones from childhood).

    I think most people are trapped within those patterns, and never break free of them. I’m rooting for your continued success!

  2. I just finished your blog and realized that I am too still dealing with the effects of bullying from my childhood. I’m 28, yet despite my struggle to live a semblance of normal life, I realize more so now than ever that I either keep a brick wall around me, or I expect friends to eventually find something about me that provokes them into rejecting me, or I find a way to end a friendship in one form or another. I feel your pain and share similar stories. I haven’t ever been in an intimate relationship, because I’m afraid of rejection. I don’t think I could survive it. Basically, I get what your going through, and I want to say what should have been said to you, “I’m sorry for what those bullies have done to you. You didn’t deserve how they treated you. I’m sorry that no one ever paid enough attention to intervene on your behalf.” I wish someone said that to me. I find that I still don’t have closure, but I hope you have found some. Be well, and take care.

  3. Being an unattractive woman in American culture is like being an unaggressive male. You are widely looked upon as being slightly below a Jew at a Klan rally.

    When I was much younger a friend gave me a couple of good points:

    One method of recovering from this sort of treatment is to change your address and your social circle every couple of years. As your social skills improve you find yourself being treated better by each new group you surround yourself with. They have no collective memory of you as a legitimate target for abuse.

    A good exercise for improving your social skills is to sit with a group in conversation, add little to it, and then try to memorize as much as you can about the other members of the group. This suppresses the lonely person’s natural tendency to draw attention to the fact that you are socially dysfunctional.

    Just a thought.

  4. I understand exactly where you’re coming from. I have that same issue as well. If you’re family is treating you this way then you should cut them out of your life as mean and hard as that sounds. They will never change and there’s no use in you going to talk to them to try to fix things. If you have to, legally change your last name. Therapy is also good too. I had to learn the hard way on eliminating bad people from my life. It sucks that bullies prey on people’s weakness and they try to see how much they can get away with. My family would bully me and put me down too and finally I had enough so I decided to distance myself and get away from them. Even if people do talk about you or say mean things, the best thing to do is to not care about what they think, ignore them, and not let their words get to you.

  5. I read your story and the replies. It’s a shame that people are the way they are. Those people who are not bullies could really make the big difference. If people would defend quieter people who are being bullied it would be support that is so badly needed. It would empower the person being bullied to know people were on their side and that they did nothing to deserve such treatment. I have been quite through my life and always found it difficult to make friends. I have had people in my life but never really truly close friends. Some people call everyone friend when they hardly know them. I read once a person tell why they didn’t aid the bullied person in school and they said because simply ‘they didn’t want to get bullied”. Pathetic but true. To come to the aid of a poor kid, or fat kid or skinny kid, or just a quite kid meant becoming a target yourself. All the kids go along with the bullies because they want to be liked. They want to feel like that are better than the person being targeted. They fear to side with or defend the victim is to become another victim. The problem is this is just not middle school goes on into the colleges, the work places even the communities. Its sadly the way our society is. I always wanted to be a school teacher to help these kids. I can easily pick them out in a group. They are the quiet kids. The kids alone on the playground. They probably don’t have as much as far as the latest clothes or notebooks whatever. They don’t get included or asked to parties and the seldom times they are they are quickly put in their places and resort to their quietness. It breaks my heart. I often thought if teachers would make that reach to those children in their earliest classes. Teachers pack a ton of weight with kids. Can you imagine if we were all picking on Billy because of whatever reasons and the teacher bragged on Billy. The Teacher gave Billy some confidence. The Teacher made Billy feel good about himself. Can you imagine the difference in how Billy suddenly perceives himself. Would not the children have to start coming around. The shame of the matter is too that the Teachers know who these children are being bullied. They, by doing nothing, are quietly going along with the treatment these kids get and the bullied child in his heart will turn against the teacher. Because Billy knows the Teacher knows. Good God, Teachers could do so much for children and most of them chose to do nothing.

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