Bully Incident: – The Sewer (1974)

This is the second in my repeats of stories past as I have been writing my novel. I think many kids feared sewers, particularly after Stephen King released “IT”, certainly a book that tied to the fear of sewers. Since writing this story many years ago, I realize that things like feeling trapped or claustrophobic are common place feelings for people with C-PTSD damage from bullying or abuse. It is the idea of not being able to escape. To help confront this, I would force myself to sit in the middle at movie theaters, go to the barber and try not to panic in the barber chair and go to crowded places. Even though I wanted to run away at the height of my anxiety, I forced myself to stay through the panic attack and eventually, I stopped having them. There is only one way to go with anxiety, and that is confront it head on and go through it. Just as the kids who become adults do in Stephen King’s novel, IT. ~Alan Eisenberg

I have mentioned before how our brains have a tendency to put certain memories in the far backs of our heads. They are forgotten there, until sometimes a trigger can bring them forward.

Pretty much all of my stories I have told on this blog are from my days in Lexington, MA. But, something triggered me to remember the earliest incident I can recall the other day. I’ll call this the Sewer Incident. It’s more of a minor story, but still was an early bullying in my life. I don’t know why I had forgotten it, because when I recalled it, I realized how scary it was when I was only 6 years old in 1974.

We were living in Bowie, MD at the time. I was in 1st grade and took a long bus ride to school. I recall only fleeting memories of what happened, but my older sister was with me to help me recall more.

ITThe bus stop was at a sewer. I was a pretty small kid and, of course, there were kindergarten to 6th grade kids at the bus. One of the older kids had taken the sewer cap off the sewer. Of course these were very heavy metal things.

For some reason they chose me that day. They put me down in the sewer. I can’t recall if it was a bet or just a forced concept, but they made me climb down there. Then they put the lid back on it.

It was dark. I yelled for them to let me up. Instead they sat on it and taunted me from below. I recall just crying and being quite scared. Years later, the author Stephen King made me realize I was not alone in my fears of the dark sewer in his book “IT”.

My sister was yelling for them to stop and let me up. When they didn’t, she started running home and told them she was going to get my parents to come down. Once they heard that, they changed their minds and let me out.

OK, not the worst story and probably more of a joke to them than true bullying, but still something that scared a small 6 year old. I recall years later being offered the chance to go down the sewers at my college for what was billed as a fun night of sewer running by my college friends. I respectfully declined the invitation.

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How to Deal with Bullying

I am happy to have author and speaker Stephen Scoggins, who has his own blog website, and his book called “The Journey Principles”, share his thoughts and story here as he has on his site. Certainly, his tips on ways to deal with a bully help us realize there are things we are empowered to do to deal with this form of abuse. A big thank you goes out to Stephen for this post and his efforts to help deal with our bullies. ~Alan Eisenberg

Cowering girl with bullyWhen I think of the word bully, a mean kid from my elementary school pops into my head. In my childhood memory, he stood head and shoulders above the whole class and rumor had it he’d started shaving before 5th grade. We often associate the word bully with childhood, but bullies can exist in all walks of life. Adult bullies are usually more skilled at masking their behavior, but their actions can affect both our personal and professional lives. When someone treats us poorly, it can be difficult to see things from their perspective. However, we can change our approach to dealing with bullies by understanding their motives and sometimes we can have a positive effect on their lives.

The first thing to remember about bullying is that as much as it may be directed toward you, bullying is not actually about you. At its heart, bullying is a reaction to a force. What makes bullying so confusing is that it seems unprovoked, but the force that inspired it is still there. If this force comes from inner turmoil, the bully may seek to control or dominate to feel more secure. As mentioned in my book The Journey Principles, a bully/victim relationship is inherently a Giver/Taker relationship. If you are being targeted, it’s because you have something the bully wants. It may be an inner peace or giving spirit; whatever the reason, your bully’s aggression is an attempt to self-soothe.

5 Ways to Deal with a Bully:

Identification: Try to find the root of your bully’s insecurity. Does the insecurity stem from a difficult environment or something lacking in the person’s life?

Affirmation: Remind your bully that his or her words have a unique ability to change lives for better or for worse.

Discouragement: Do not reward your bully’s actions with the behavior her or she wants from you. This will only make the problem worse.

Physical and Mental Outlet: Encourage your bully to focus on a subject/activity he or she enjoys as a way to redirect energy in a positive way.

Outside Help: Seek the advice of someone outside of the situation. This person can add valuable perspective and keep you from suffering in silence.

When you seek to understand your bully, you might see an amazing transformation. Sadly, you might also see a repeat of damaging behavior. Remember that you can’t make people change, but you can deter them from treating you poorly. When you encounter bullies in your life, try to think of the motivation behind their actions. Everyone wants to feel valued, and when you sympathize with bullies, you’re giving them that gift. Your kindness may not fix your bully, but when you put yourself in another person’s shoes, you are ensuring you don’t become a bully yourself.

“God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.”
(Matthew 5:5, NLT)

In your service,
Stephen Scoggins

2015 – Hold On It’s Going to Be a Bumpy Ride

Hello dear reader. I am so glad that you are here. If you are a new reader, WELCOME.

If you have been following my journey of self discovery after the long-term effects of bullying for these last 8 years that my Blog/Website has existed, thank you for staying with me. I OWE YOU MUCH!

So, it is at this time of year that I always reflect back, as do many of us, on what 2014 looked like and what progress was made in the long battle with the bullying issue. I still believe we are seeing more press, more rules and laws, and less acceptance of bullying in the schools and communities.

Types of Bullying ReportedThat said, here are some sobering statistics. In 2014*:

  1. 20% of United States students in grades 9-12 have reported bullying experience.
  2. 28% of students in grade 6-12 report that they have been bullied.
  3. 70.6% of teens have seen bullying in their schools.
  4. 30% of young people admit to bullying others.
  5. 57% of bullying stops if a young person intervenes within 10 seconds.
  6. 160,000 teens skip school each day because they are bullied
  7. 1 in 10 teens drop out of school due to repeated bullying
  8. 75% of school shootings have been linked to harassment and bullying against the shooter
  9. 55.2% of students with special needs report being bullied.
  10. For youth between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death or about 4,600 lives lost each year.
  11. Kids who are bullied are more than twice as likely to consider suicide according to the American Journal of Medicine.

So, that’s a downer isn’t it. But it is the statistics of the last year and we cannot deny any longer that the effects of long-term bullying are real. I wish it wasn’t the downer it appears to be, but it is not the worst case scenario and we are doing good work to try to improve these things.

That said, 2014 was an interesting year for me. It was the year of my own journey of self discovery about my own long-term effects, anxiety, depression, and finally recovery from the bullying that happened to me. Little did I know two years ago, when my problems first appeared that this would happen to me. But I have truly let go and forgiven the past. If you read this year’s posts, I hope you would see what I mean.

It was WORK. It was a FIGHT against my own brain that wanted to tell me things that were not true. It was a journey of self discovery, from who I was, to who I am, to who I hope to be in the future. I took several friends and family members along for my ride and it wasn’t fun for them, I know.

But, I am glad that, now that I have been there, I know what it feels like and hope I can help others. On that note, this little site that could that I started 8 years ago will continue. But it will continue this year with some reposts of my stories and any stories you wish to submit. This is because I am taking a new journey this year that I hope will be something I can share. You are the first to know.

BooksI am writing a book about my experiences and sharing my journey to self-acceptance from the bullying that affected me. I am dedicating my little free time to that. In the meantime, I will repost the best posts here from the last eight years and also share any new stories you wish to send me.

I am looking forward to long-form writing and know it will be a very tough journey ahead. But I am finally in a place from both my heart and head to do this job that I have wanted to do for so long.

2014 was certainly a better year for me than 2013 and 2012 for that matter. I hope through our continued mutual efforts we can all make a difference to lower the statistical numbers for 2015, but only time will tell. Until then, I wish you happiness, health, and the ability to stay positive in the face of adversity and fight your demons head on. Be strong and I look forward to continuing to share with you in the future. I hope once my book is completed, you will continue to support me and my efforts by sharing the book with others. More to come as the year continues on. I hope this is a peaceful and good year for you.

~ Alan Eisenberg

* http://www.americanspcc.org/bullying/facts-teen-suicide/
* http://nobullying.com/bullying-statistics-2014/

How to Prevent Bullying Through the Martial Arts

Boy Martial ArtsFor children who may experience bullying, participating in martial arts is a positive way to build both coping methods and ways to deal with bullies on the spot. The effects of learning martial arts such as karate, kickboxing, or jiu-jitsu, are long-term, and changes can take effect immediately in some children.

The martial arts improve both physical and mental health. The obvious benefit of physical health improvement through exercise can give children and adults alike a feeling of well-being. But Martial arts also allow children to build confidence and self-esteem through goal setting, learning self-defense tactics, and making like-minded friends. For instance, if a child’s quest is to earn a black belt, he or she must take steps along the way and set individual, smaller goals to reach the final result. With each achievement, that child will feel more powerful and resilient.

Children who understand self-defense poses, stances, and maneuvers because of martial arts often have a sense of preparedness when faced with bullies. They are more likely to be able to defuse a bully without having to resort to violence. Role-playing responses on how to deal with a bully can often be helpful, and the martial arts teach just that. In addition, the confidence this preparedness and sense of worth provided by martial arts training may even ward off bullies altogether.

Why, though, do children bully? Commonly, bullying is a cycle: bullies may be bullied at home or have been bullied in the past. Oftentimes bullies haven’t learned the social or problem-solving skills they need to get along with children and in their day-to-day lives. Bullying becomes an aggressive, hateful response to being insecure, socially awkward, or even just bored – all of which are situations where these bullies may feel powerless. Bullying gives them a feeling of power. Regardless of the reason children bully, it is never okay.

Martial arts can provide skills for not only combating bullies, but for helping children not to be bullies. They can help stop the cycle of bullying by providing accountability and structure for children. If a child doesn’t experience discipline at home or at school, then he or she has the opportunity to do so through the martial arts. It takes a particular kind of rigor and focus to be successful, and martial arts instructors do not allow for goofing off during class.

The confidence that the martial arts instill in children can also benefit those who may be at risk for being bullies. The same way role-playing benefits those who have to deal with bullies, it will help children be prepared in case they feel like being angry or mean. The martial arts also teach being calm, as well as breathing in a calm manner to maintain composure.

Lastly, the martial arts teach children the importance of respect: respect for the teachers, for other students, and for themselves. Learning how to respect all kinds of people may help reduce bullying behavior.

For children on the East Coast, Tiger Schulmann’s MMA offers a bully prevention program every year. The program teaches children the definition of a bully, the different forms in which bullying may manifest, and how to stop a bullying situation without getting physical. All of these lessons teach the basic martial arts principles of discipline, respect, role-playing, and confidence to help children to better handle themselves in any situation.

~Tiger Schulmann’s MMA

The Ghosts of Bullies Past

“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”
― Charles DickensA Christmas Carol

Scrooge UnhappyI have seen and Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” in all its forms. I read the book, I saw most versions of the movie (including the musical, which is my personal favorite), and have even seen modern stage plays of it. But there was something in it, until this holiday season, I had never figured out. Maybe it is because I didn’t want to see through the obvious story to the heart of what Charles Dickens was saying, but I now realize that many of us are our own “Scrooges”.

As most of us familiar with the story “A Christmas Carol” know, at its heart is the story of a mean and crotchety old man who has no friends and no interest in family. The only thing he cares about is his accounting business and money. He has lost his soul for life’s love and feels resentment for what life handed him. He harbors old grudges and is a workaholic.

But wait…

I didn’t see it before, but Scrooge is depressed. He was mistreated in his early life. He lost the love of his life. He worked for people that bullied him and even though it is not shown, we can imagine what his parents were like and did to him. He let himself give up and hide away in his work and become a workaholic, which is a common side effect of depression. He was not treated well in his early life, so Dickens is really telling us what happens to anyone, Scrooge or another person, who is mistreated and develops a belief that life and the world is depressing.

Dickens must have known that psychologically, Scrooge is not right. That he sees everything bad and has lost the ability to see happiness and good. Again, this is a common problem in depression and bullied youth that are left untreated. Now Scrooge has grown up and he is not necessarily a bully as much as a lonely and unhappy person. It is almost as if he took his Oliver character and grew him up to be bitter like Scrooge.

It is interesting that many of the traits that Scrooge has as you read his story show this psychological issue to be there and that abuse in one form or another has molded him to be this aged man who really is just waiting to die. Dickens even shows us that as Scrooge sees both what his life is, what it was, what it can be, and finally what will happen if he doesn’t come out of his current state…a lonely death.

Then it struck me that I started this site to have my ghosts lead me down my path. I had harbored my past and let it control my future in both happiness, life satisfaction, and finally in anxiety and depression. My ghosts of my life past was my excuse for how I behaved as an adult. Because of what I went through as a child with my bullies, I was a negative adult with low self-esteem who always thought I had something to prove. Nothing was ever good enough and nothing I did, no matter if I was commended or not, met with my satisfaction. I wasn’t perfect and I wasn’t good enough. There was always an excuse to be negative.

Sound familiar?

“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

I was haunted by the ghosts of my bullies past and I let them be my reason for being the person I was. I didn’t let my past go and I didn’t think I could change. Now I watched “A Christmas Carol” probably more than 20 times, but I missed the real heart of the message that Dickens was telling me…telling us…it’s never too late and you are never too old to let go of the past and change. To let the windows open, the sunlight in, and be happy, as Scrooge is at the end of Dickens story.

Dickens lets us assume that the change is permanent and that he will no longer die a man alone with no family or friends. It’s never too late to let go of what you were, so that you can become what you should have been all along.

I love it! Dickens was a psychologist and I wonder if he even knew it. He shows us through ghosts of what we can and have to do to change. He allows, in this case, Christmas, to be the joy for Scrooge and the beginning of his new life. What a treat it is for me to have this realization that he is speaking to all who have been abused, neglected, and left bitter. It’s never too late to change who you are. To listen to the positive ghosts that show you what your life can be if you let go of the past and don’t allow it to haunt you any longer, just as Scrooge lets go of Jacob Marley and moves toward the positive side of what his life can be.

Scrooge HappyHow many of us hold grudges? How many of us don’t talk to our family anymore? How many of us don’t think that life has any happiness and that we just exist? Don’t just exist, but live your life, no matter your age. This may have been Scrooges last opportunity to change and when he does, so does everyone around him. Don’t you think you can do the same? I did make my change about six months ago, and I haven’t looked back since. The ghosts of my bullies past are gone. It was a long time ago and I have a right to have a happy life and not be haunted by my past. I think each of us can make that choice, the same choice that Scrooge makes.

So, at this time of year, as Dickens concludes, “God Bless us, everyone”! And for us other faiths, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Bodhi Day, or whatever you celebrate I wish you to be happy this year. Turn that corner and make that change. I believe we all have the power that Scrooge had, to do that and make the world a better place.

“No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

The Grandmother I Never Knew

Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place. ~ Daniel H. Pink

There is a story inside me that I never really thought I’d share on this site about bullying, because it’s more about my family than it is about me. But I realized the other day that the story is a part of me and a part of what makes me, well, me. The more I thought about sharing it, the more I realized that sharing it here would be yet another way to open a conversation and let the story go, so that it can be discussed in the open. So here goes…

GrandmotherI had two grandmothers growing up. My mother’s mother lost her husband, my grandfather, when my mother was seven from cancer. They  were alone and poor most of their lives. But that grandma was always with us. She never lived far from us and we would visit her often. I recall spending at least a full week with her every summer, where later I would write several plays and we would share so many laughs. I was so fond of her Eastern European cooking skills and relished my time with her. She would share her stories of her family of 10 kids and being the first generation American. We laugh as a family when we share her stories. I was lucky to have her in my life.

But that isn’t the grandma I wanted to talk about here. I wanted to share about the grandma I didn’t know. She was my dad’s mother. She also usually didn’t live far from us, but we barely saw her. When we did see her, she really didn’t want anything to do with me. She hardly talked. Her husband, my grandfather, had left her and she was alone for the most part. I don’t ever recall her cooking and couldn’t wait to leave her apartment usually. I don’t recall a time where she visited us and I don’t even recall much about hearing from her when I was a kid.

She was the grandma that we didn’t talk about much. As a child, I certainly didn’t understand why. As I matured, someone, I can’t recall who anymore, shared with me that grandmother was a Manic Depressive.

At the time, I had little to no knowledge of what that was. I do know she was heavily sedated now when I used to see her. I also know that she spent a good amount of time in a mental institution, which was common practice in those days. That is why I didn’t see her much. Once I found out this news, I admit to living in fear that this would be passed down to me or my family members and I know that I didn’t want to see her. I was judging her for her illness and not living with empathy. This, of course, is common for a young teen in many cases.

So whether my family kept me from seeing her or it was her choice, I never got to know that Grandma. During my years of growing up, she was mainly out of the institution. But later in her life, she had to return as she had fallen into a deep depression, smeared her feces on the walls, and didn’t know who she was. I don’t share this because I want to, I am sharing this because I know that many of us have that relative that we keep in the closet or have mental illness that we keep in the closet. Here’s what I didn’t know about this grandma until I asked and someone shared with me.

Sylvia Eisenberg

My Grandmother Sylvia Eisenberg

She grew up as the first generation American from parents from Czechoslovakia. She had a brother we never saw, because he was anti-social with the family. When he died, we became very close with his wife, my aunt. They did not have a great amount of money, but they sent my grandmother to college. My grandmother was a very bright young woman. In fact, she was so intelligent, that she was the first woman to go to a prestigious law school that was all men and her. She wanted to be a lawyer. But this is where her story veers off. When she got to law school, her professors were bullies to her and told her no matter what she did, they would fail her, because she was a woman and didn’t belong in law school. In those days, this kind of behavior could happen. They did and she was forced out of law school due to that bullying and the beginning of her decent into depression.

I don’t know if this is where her depression started, but she was forced out of law school and my family does not speak of another job that she had. Her dreams had been crushed and depression entered her life. She had some good years, I guess, getting married, having her first daughter and a son (my dad). By the time, though, she had her third daughter, it wasn’t but a few years later, she would be institutionalized and would live in and out of the mental institution, while doctors put her on early antidepressants and performed electric shock therapy on her that, I’m sure, made her more of a zombie, just living and thus my early years of not knowing her.

I didn’t discover all of these things until much later. I lived and still worry that her mental illness is hereditary and could be passed to me. How silly I feel to worry about this, but it is part of my reality. Would I have had empathy for her as a child, if I had known all of her illness. It’s doubtful, because I would not have had the capacity to understand as I do now. I truly don’t know what a difference it would have made, but I did resent that I didn’t know and that I didn’t know here better…the grandma I never really knew.

When she passed on several years ago, I didn’t feel the sadness I wish I had. I just never knew her. My dad speaks little of her and I wish I could have known and could have talked to her more about this. I wish I could have spent more time with her, hearing family stories and learning first hand about her life. It is true, though, that we rarely know what troubles someone is going through, unless they share it with you.

And that is why I am sharing this. We all have a relative, a friend maybe, with mental illness. It is usually kept deep in our family closets. But her illness is just that, an illness. In today’s world, I’d like to think she would have been treated differently and, due to more modern thinking and treatment, I could be writing about the grandmother I did know. Unfortunately that just wasn’t the case. The key is not to judge people, because you don’t know the pain they go through. I let go of my past as I have no way to change it. But I share here about the grandmother I never knew in the hopes that we can shine a brighter light on mental illness as part of a bigger problem. I’ll never know if my life would have been better talking more with the grandma I never knew…but I let go and find the love for her memory as best I can.

Todd Rosenthal’s Playground Playbook

Todd Rosenthal

Todd Rosenthal

I had an opportunity to interview Todd Rosenthal and review The Playground Playbook by former minor league ballplayer Todd Rosenthal. Mr. Rosenthal takes and interesting coaching approach in his book to help children who struggle with playground bullies and getting involved in the games. During his interview, Mr. Rosenthal brings up some interesting points about how to get your child involved in the playground to try to overcome bullying. ~ Alan Eisenberg

Q: Where did the inspiration for you to write The Playground Playbook come from for you. Was it your past or something you experienced or saw?

Todd Rosenthal: It was a combination of a few things. I spend a majority of my time in three ways. Playing music, working with children through sports, and for recreation by playing pick up basketball in New York City. I saw many of the same themes crossing over in all of those areas and wondered if there was a “basics” type of guide written for kids in terms of joining groups in the same impromptu playground settings.

Q: What do you think the long-term effects of children ostracize other children on the playground can cause?

Todd Rosenthal: I think for the ones ostracized, it can cause a lack of confidence that can be habit-forming which can lead to less than optimal performances in and away from sports. That self-doubt that says “they don’t like me” or “they don’t believe in me” can be harder to overcome if one is constantly being excluded at a young age.

The ones doing the excluding are not maximizing their own skills as people either because great players should strive to improve too and become leaders: those who play well yet can make others around them better and more comfortable too. Leaders are able to include and work alongside teammates with various levels of skill.

In the elementary school playgrounds, those same leaders shouldn’t always have to win by loading their team up. They can sense a newcomer or a shy kid and welcome the challenge to include him or her to the team.

Playground PlaybookQ:  In the book, you discuss the child wanting others to ask to play. How do you see this issue as part of the overall bullying problem. Such as they not only say no, but also tease the child? What do you think the child should do in those cases, such as your reference to the “you stink” issue?

Todd Rosenthal: It never a good feeling being rejected by a playing group and feels even worse if it comes with lines attached like “you stink.” The best way I have found for kids to overcome that stigma is to prove the playing group wrong. Be tough! keep asking to play each day until the group finally needs an extra body one day and go out there and make an impact in the game.

If not, you can always just showcase your skills in the neighboring field or court where the ostracize group can see you. One thing the excluded child cannot do however, is back down and quit. Never to play with anyone else at all.

Q: Do you think that “veteran” players are easily identified? If so, how do you see their role in helping a child be able to join and play as well?

Todd Rosenthal: Veterans probably seem more relaxed to the rookie than they themselves feel so, yes. Vets probably are more relaxed too, after all they have been through it before. That is the essence of a veteran. They’ve been in all sorts of games. Blowouts, close games, high scoring ones, low scoring ones. They’ve made plays and have made mistakes. They’ve been the hero and the goat. All of which combine to give them a sense of stature and calm in the games.

Veterans know not only the intricacies of a sport’s rules, they may also know how their particular playground works. How sides are chosen. Which of the groups players acts as the leaders picking the sides most often. A veteran can offer advice in many areas and can be helpful to a “rookie” in terms of knowing who to ask as far as joining the game. Rookies have to speak up and ask vets their questions though, because not all of them are thinking about how to be helpful to those less experienced.

Q: Why do you think bullying on the playground is so prevalent? Do you have any suggestions further than the ones in the book on dealing with the bully at the time they are bullying you?

Todd Rosenthal: Bullying is prevalent because it is a basic microcosm of power, it can corrupt some people who go unchallenged. In my experience as a player in street ball, the best way to deal with physical or verbal abuse is to not back down. Play well, and be ready to stand up for one’s self if it comes to that. Most of the players I’ve run into on the courts in streetball who go to excessive lengths to scare or talk smack are hiding something. Like their own inability to shoot, or dribble well. Keep that in mind the next time you are being bullied, and work hard to not let a little extra shoving or smack talk derail you from playing your game. It’s harder to bully a player who doesn’t seem affected than one who plays less aggressively as a result.

Q: What tips do you have to help children build a tougher skin when playing games on a playground? Certainly some complain, but how can children develop coping mechanisms to better deal with those situations?

Todd Rosenthal: First understand where blame from the team within comes from. Those who try to assign blame on a teammate for a previous mistake do so to build collateral against their own gaffes or seek to camouflage them by pointing the finger elsewhere, since nobody is perfect. Know that as a player. This way the “why did you do that?!!” nonsense you may get from a teammate won’t bother you as much.

As far as handling winning and losing, and the smack talk that comes from all directions, just play more. Experience it over and over. Then the whole nature of game playing becomes easier. Like riding a bike. You have to practice to take the fear of falling out.

Q: Would you like to share a bullying story here with my readers that you experienced? How did you handle your own issues with bullying in your youth?

Todd Rosenthal: I was verbally bullied pretty hard after a pickup game in a park as an adult years ago. This after the man I was guarding scored the game winning basket in a high intensity game that was tied, and the next basket was to be the winner. The loss, as it does in pickup hoops if others are waiting, forced my team off the court. It was jam-packed that day. Many other five man teams had called “next.”

I didn’t know anybody in the park at all and my reward for being the face of the defeat, was abuse for an hour from my now “ex teammates.” Things like “thanks a lot, you suck” or “how’d you let that happen? and of course “Don’t ever come back here.” Two players in particular who were furious with me, now that they had to wait until their “next” was called one plus hour from the time we lost or hope that another team would pick them up to play before.

The more I watched the rest of that day though, the more I realized that EVERYONE who lost on other teams that followed the game I was in, were blamed by their teammates that day. So it was not just me. It wasn’t necessarily personal either. My team didn’t dislike ME. They disliked losing and losing the court.

By continuing to show up at the park and not attach too much weight should any game result in a loss and or finger-pointing, I became part of that extended group of players at the park. Emotionally capable of “taking some heat” so to speak, so rewarded with the opportunity to play by being picked by others forming teams that year as the summer developed.

Q: Where can people get “The Playground Playbook“?

Todd Rosenthal: It’s available on Amazon both as a soft cover copy and as a digital download.