The Bully and Me – A Reunion


Sleep Sleep tonight
And may your dreams Be realized
If the thunder cloud Passes rain
So let it rain
Rain down on him
Mmm, mmm, mmm
So let it be
Mmm, mmm, mmm
So let it be

“MLK” – lyrics and song by U2

My life has moved in many ways I never predicted since I decided seven years ago to start writing and dedicate my free time to try to help solve the problem of bullying in our country and now (as I find who reads this and where they are from) around the world. If you have been along for the ride with me for these years, know that I am much appreciative. If you are new, welcome and I hope you find help in the stories and writings on this site.

I have shared quite freely on the site what it has taken for me to get past the long-term effects that youth bullying had on me. In fact I was never more surprised than I have been over the last year to discover the anxiety, phobias, and of course depression that comes as part of the PTSD process or now as I have discovered C-PTSD (Complex post-traumatic stress disorder) that is the new term for those that deal with the psychological injury from social and/or interpersonal trauma.

I like that the word injury is part of the definition, because as we come to realize that these are injuries of the mind, much like injuries that are more obvious, like a broken bone, then we can focus on how to mend and fix these so life can return to normal. In the seven years since I started this site, the bullying issue has exploded to front page news every single day. It is now an issue that we all want to solve and that is great. The recovery from the injury of bullying and other mental illness needs to be the next item to fix. That is my new dedication that I am calling “Bully Recovery”. More on that later. But studies have already started and psychologists and social workers are both working toward solutions.

Having recently decided last year that, even with my awareness, I needed the mending help of professionals, I can honestly say that, from my vantage point, you can’t go it alone. Just like a broken bone needs to be set by a professional doctor, so does a broken mind. We can’t ignore this issue.

Boys FightingBut that is not what I am writing about today. Today is yet another day to share a new story of my bullying life with you. Although, I must say that it is not an unhappy story, but one of continued recovery and that is why I shared that in the first part. A few months ago, as part of my own recovery, I decided to look up and contact Bob, the first bully I had so many years ago that haunted my mind. If you read my stories on my site here, he plays a prominent role in three of them. He was easy to find on Facebook, the magic tool to find everyone now. I sent him a message, but did not reveal why I wanted to call him, and he wrote back. I asked for his phone number and he gave it to me. Now the hard part. Pick up the phone and tell him why I wanted to talk to him. He was still the scary monster from my youth who was so cruel in my mind, so I thought maybe he would be that scary monster. But I want to get better, face my demons and defeat them, so now would be the time. And that monster is now from 36 years ago. Talk about C-PTSD!

I called the number.

“Hello This Is Bob”, my old bully replied. I recognized the voice with the heavy Massachusetts accent right away.

“Hi Bob, this is Alan. Do you remember me from our days at Franklin Elementary?” I said, shaking and trying to figure out how to say what needed to be said.

Bob replied, “You know I don’t have much memory of my youth, but your name is familiar. I just don’t remember that much from when I was young. But it’s good to reconnect.”

“This is why I wanted to call you.” I said. Now was the time to reveal why I wanted to call him. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. “I am calling you and wanted to talk to you, because you were my bully.”

A moment of silence and then Bob just said the words as I find many I confront later do.

“Oh, I am so sorry. Oh G-d, I am sorry about that. I don’t remember it, but I am sorry.”

It is amazing when those words release after so many years. Why can’t we say them when we are young. Because we don’t understand yet, that’s why. He was just flowing with remorse. I stopped him somewhere along the way and explained that I just wanted to contact him for me to release the memory of him I had when I was a youth. Then, the other thing that often happens in these re-connections, Bob started sharing with me the why from his end.

The Bob I was talking to now was remorseful, honest, and dealing with his own set of demons that he had in his life. We shared about ourselves openly and honestly. He came from an abusive home. His young life was not easy either and he dealt with his own self-esteem issues. It was a textbook case of what makes someone a youth bully. I listened, learning more than I expected as he shared more with me.

He shared that he has been dealing with his own demons in life and that he is working to overcome the ones he had. Drinking, drugs, tough teen and adult years, and finally that he also looks to find the positives in life now to overcome what he has been through. We were kindred spirits from different sides of the bully spectrum. The studies are right, the bully and victim are more similar than different.

Bob and I talked for probably an hour that day. I told him about my work on trying to solve the bullying issue. He was so supportive and also said that he councils prisoners at a jail to help them and help himself. He has not had the “easy” life as much as I have and has had to deal with many things that I could tell he tries to still suppress in his mind to this day. I could tell as the conversation continued that he was getting his ability to release his demons to me as well. It was truly amazing to me to have this closure with the person I had demonized all these years. Bob is an adult, with adult struggles and now an understanding of where he comes from and why that is. We are both working toward recovery of the same things.

After about an hour of pouring our hearts out to each other (remember that we hadn’t even seen each other in 33 years or so), we had to end the conversation. Bob closed out his end by shocking me again. He said, “I can’t wait to share this conversation with the men at the prison that I meet with. This has been something I needed and am so glad we talked. Can I call you again tomorrow?”

WHAT!!!

Bob needed me more than I needed him. I am now not the victim, not the bully, but the helper and listener. I can’t begin to explain how that made me feel.

“Of course,” I replied. “You can call me anytime and let’s friend each other on Facebook if you want”.

He did and now I had a bigger view of his life and he mine. He posts lots of positive thoughts on FB as I do. We always put a like on those for each other. We’ve talked many times on the phone as well and he has offered to do anything to help with my cause. I have asked him to write his own article here from his perspective. I hope and believe he will, because he gets it. He gets that we all feel alone, but no one is alone. He gets that the demons we have to live with within our mind can be undone through help and sharing like this. He has suffered as I have, and we are both looking to help ourselves by taking action, like my calling him.

Bob had no recollectiofriendship therapyn of the bullying that he did to me in the end. But he was going home and dealing with the demons he had in his home life. Bob is slowly sharing more and more with me, but I get the feeling that there is a darkness in his past that he still hasn’t told me about. He may never share that. Or one day, he may decide to pick up the phone and release his demons to me as I did to him.

For now, the damage of the Bob demon is repaired for me and I now move on. It can get better. It’s never too late to decide to stop fighting and put your demons in your mind behind you. I never thought that so many years later, I would be. But I am feeling 100%, no make that 1000% better these days. Something must be working and I think it’s my decision to stop running or hiding from my demons, but confronting them and letting them go. I have been blessed with the ability and strength to continue to fight these long-term effects. I now sleep better at night with dreams of the future instead of nightmares about the past (had to tie to the song lyrics somehow, right)? We can all do the same.

In many cases, help is but a phone call away and you will find that sometimes…just sometimes, the demon is an angel in disguise.

~Alan Eisenberg

6 thoughts on “The Bully and Me – A Reunion

  1. it never ceases to amaze me the epidemic we are faced with called bullying. When I was a child it was minimized and you were often told to “get over it, everyone gets picked on”. I wish there was a society pulling together to fight against bullying back in my day. Thankfully it is taken much more seriously today. But unfortunately it took incidents like the Columbine shooting and subsequent violence and teenage suicides to trigger nations to take a stand against what I will refer to as abuse. Yes it is bullying, but it really is a form of verbal, emotional, and even physical abuse. I will not get into the details of my story as it is similar to so many others and no one persons situation is worse than the next. It is about how it affects everyone differently and how we all choose to cope. For thirty years like many, I suffered from a constant state of fear, severe depression and anxiety, and what I truly believe is PTSD. I also had and still struggle with an insurmountable amount of rage. The best healing you can give yourself is to talk about it and tell our stories. Shame can not survive in us if we talk about it. I was up against an entire school when I was thirteen and dealt with it all alone. I had no safety net at home either. For years I bottled everything up. The abuse and the dysfunctional upbringing I had was something I fought in silence. I paid a dear price for my choice to hold it all inside. The rage and severe shame I had dictated and influenced every decision in my life. From the friends I chose, to the jobs I picked, the man I married, and how I interacted with everyone in my life. Yes they were ultimately my choices, but they are not always conscious choices. Because we often can not make the connection between those choices and what we endured as children. All we know is that we are scared, anxious, sad, and desperately want to belong. So as we get older and our brains are fully developed, they are equipped to start dealing with trauma that we could not deal with as children or even young adults. People ask what is wrong with the world today that children can be so cruel to one another? My opinion, and it is just an opinion, is it starts in the home. Later in life I came to find out that the group of girls who tormented me for years and managed to turn an entire school against me, all came from homes of neglect, alcoholism, or some form of abuse. So I say in closing that this vicious cycle can only be broken if as a country or even a planet, we stand together and say “we will not tolerate this from our children any longer”. If that means putting laws in place, then so be it. Our governments need to recognize the severe after effects of this form of abuse. We can not be in every household ensuring that children are being raised right so our only option is to let society know that this will not be acceptable and that there will be consequences for actions. Bullying and abuse destroys lives. As part of my healing I will be spending the rest of my years helping others. Whether it is writing a book, speaking at schools, counseling those that need help, and sharing both my story and the journey to recovering my self worth.

    • Angela, I agree with your story since I too am still suffering from the abuse I endured and from people telling me “to get over it” and calling me weak and a fool and doing nothing to help me.

      My bullying experience is different from the usual scenario of being bullied at school only. My bully was my next store neighbor, supposably 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 was around 17. 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 scared to do anything else. My mother who was a homemaker was oblivious to what was going on. If she seen me getting beat up by him she would call me to the house and beat me again and be 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 seemed to be always at work, he would leave the house at 6:00 am and not return until around 7:00 pm. Then while home he rarely spoke to me or my brother. My brother two years younger then 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 to 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 with. All this with other kids and my new friend looking on. Then he just walks away. I continued to walk to my friends 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 was so nervous and worried that I developed severe tics, shaking my head and blinking my eyes. I would get severe migraine headaches that 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. 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 on 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. So I had no help whatsoever, suffering 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 five 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 and said things I shouldn’t, like, “no you ruined me”.

      Now at 54 years of age I have been suffering from anxiety, depression, substance abuse, social isolation and PTSD.

      • Thank you both for sharing. The days of “get over it” have hopefully passed since awareness has grown around c-PTSD. Please continue to share and know you are never alone.

      • Thanks for replying. This site is great it makes me not feel so alone. This is the first time I have said anything about this. I am going to touch up my story and post it soon. I never heard of C-PTSD until now, I’m going to research it further.

  2. I would be honored to share your story here Whip7. I so think it is important that we share our stories and continue to let others know they are not alone. Most of us live with and are in constant recovery from the abuse of bullying.

  3. Pingback: The Bully and Me – A Reunion | Bullying Help

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