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Adult Survivors of Bullying

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ohsosad and Anguish,

I just replied to the discussion about this on the other page, it probably hasn't shown up yet since it has to be vetted first--but it's the one signed "Patti". I would go over it again here but I am just so exhausted I can barely type...I'll just say I'm almost 56 years old, and I have NEVER gotten over the years of bullying I went thru during my childhood and adolescence. My self-esteem, which once had been high, became non-existent. I hated myself and believed everything bad I was told about myself--if you hear it enough, you start to believe it.

All my parents did was tell me to ignore it (didn't work), and of course "Sticks and stones..." HA! What a lie THAT is!!!

The final straw was during my teens when my "best friend" decided that if she just dumped me, she could have a shot at being popular. (The clique had already tried that on me, but I didn't fall for it.) Without her support, (and given that heartless betrayal) I totally collapsed. Within weeks I was admitted to a mental hospital--the first of many stays.

No meds, no counseling, nothing has ever helped me. I still loathe myself--and I still loathe the people who ruined my life. My "best friend" hasn't spoken to me since high school--and when asked about it apparently she tells ppl it's because I refuse to be "reasonable". When was the last time she even TRIED talking to me--around 1973?!

Of course my tormentors have gone merrily on their own ways. Gotten good jobs, married, had kids (some now have grandkids), looking forward to retirement...what's my reward? My self-esteem is so crushed I got fired from every job I tried (due to massive anxiety), I never married, have no children and no income except for Medicaid due to my emotional problems....

I sincerely wish I was dead.

ohsosad and Anguish, your stories are so familiar to me. In many ways, i feel like you could be me (or i could be you. Whichever).

I agree with your objections to therapists, ohsosad. I've been to 12 different therapists, and so many of them wanted to "keep me in the present moment" without considering that The Present is full of reminders of the The Past. Every other day somebody does something rude that reminds me of being bullied in high school: a comment about my appearance or awkwardness, a mean joke, a privilege waived in my face, a favoritism invoked. I often think of that quote from William Faulkner: "The past isn't dead. It's not even past."

I thank the Senior Members who have offered you an alternative way to interact with a therapist, to explain that "don't dwell on the past" doesn't validate your hurt and experiences. I'm glad they are giving you permission to ask therapists to listen to your hurt and validate it before they move on.

Anguish, i don't want you to be dead. I want you to live and keep posting, because your post comforted me. It told me i'm not alone. It told me other people have been treated as bad as me, and they can relate to the pain that i still feel in my mid-50s. I'll tell my story someday soon, i suppose, but this post will be all for now.

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Here's my update to my last post:

I remember the first two therapists i went to (both male) when i was still in middle school.

In other words, i went to them when i was STILL GOING THROUGH THE WORST BULLYING.

I kept trying to tell them how much i was suffering from bullying at school,

but all they wanted to talk about was,

was i willing to admit that i masturbated.

They were real keen on making me admit that i masturbated.

Which, obviously, gave me ONE MORE thing to be ashamed of, along with being unmasculine and bullied.

Now i'm sure you all can see the causal connection between not admitting that you masturbate, and school bullying.

Perfectly clear, right?

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Why aren't there any new posts on this thread?

Bullying is such a hot topic, both for us who went through it and in the culture as a whole.

One thought i'm bringing up, to get the discussion started:

in the new Star Trek movies, the ones with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto,

i think the Captain Kirk in those movies is a bully.

He's arrogant, self-centered, devious, lazy, predatory, and manipulative.

I know, the original Kirk in the TV show was cocky;

but there's a difference between being cocky because you're seasoned by experience,

and being cocky simply because you're an entitled arrogant American male bully.

I really wish a Klingon would come along and kill off this Captain Kirk.

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Haven't seen any recent Star Trek so can't comment on that.

As for the topic/comments I just think the whole thing is so sad that people avoid it.

I have said this before I sincerely think that bullying is where my life went wrong. It turned me both against myself & society and I wasted my best years self medicating in state of both anger and despair.

Thankfully the story does not end there and my life did get a bit better around 2002 when I was able to make a break w the past, or at least w a couple parts of it. Part of the break involved getting fired from a job where a vicious group of women hounded me like dogs after a bear.

Tell me more of your story TooOld. I do have to run out in a bit so don't take it the wrong way if I am slow to respond.

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Haven't seen any recent Star Trek so can't comment on that.

it wasn't bad, but i liked william shatner and leonard nimoy, more.

Part of the break involved getting fired from a job where a vicious group of women hounded me like dogs after a bear.

this reminds me of a movie i'd seen long ago (probably didn't catch the whole thing), where a group of vicious dogs attacks a bear (for which i was rooting), and fortunately, the bear eventually wins. i like happy endings.

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Here's my update to my last post:

I remember the first two therapists i went to (both male) when i was still in middle school.

In other words, i went to them when i was STILL GOING THROUGH THE WORST BULLYING.

I kept trying to tell them how much i was suffering from bullying at school,

but all they wanted to talk about was,

was i willing to admit that i masturbated.

They were real keen on making me admit that i masturbated.

Which, obviously, gave me ONE MORE thing to be ashamed of, along with being unmasculine and bullied.

Now i'm sure you all can see the causal connection between not admitting that you masturbate, and school bullying.

Perfectly clear, right?

This seems completely inappropriate to me. What did this have to do with your therapy? :( I'm so sorry you had to go through that.

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It really pisses me off when people (and some therapists) respond to bullying

by dumping all the responsibility for change onto the victim of bullying.

This is how they do it: they say, in so many words (and sometimes verbatim),

"you're being bullied because you're NOT SHOWING ENOUGH CONFIDENCE! Be CONFIDENT and you won't be bullied!"

As a matter of fact, they do this in all kind of situations:

"the boss didn't hire you because you're NOT SHOWING ENOUGH CONFIDENCE! Be CONFIDENT!"

"the boy didn't ask you out on a date because you're NOT SHOWING ENOUGH CONFIDENCE! Be CONFIDENT!"

"the girl wouldn't dance with you because you're NOT SHOWING ENOUGH CONFIDENCE! Be CONFIDENT!"

I'm so sick of this cop-out.

Hey people, why the hell do you think i LOST my confidence??!!?

Because i was being BULLIED! (or not hired, or rejected socially, or fat-shamed, etc. etc.)

Do people say to a battered woman,

"he hit you because you're NOT SHOWING ENOUGH CONFIDENCE! Be CONFIDENT"?

Well, now that i think of it, some people do. Specifically, assholes say it. Or think it.

No. Abused women and bullied people need support and help.

Help a woman get a job, so she can leave that abusive scum, then when she's in her own apartment the confidence will come.

Help a nerd to dress cooler, comb his/her hair better, dance better, play a sport, etc.,

then the confidence will come; because the nerd now has a legitimate REASON to be confident.

But did any therapist do that for me? No.

They told me to manufacture all that confidence out of nothing. And come back next week, with another 50 dollars.

And society, too, told me to manufacture all that confidence out of nothing,

and to bleed another pint of blood for them, because they're thirsty again.

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Well, i do think feminists created the double-standard,

by protesting loudly on behalf of women abused by men while ignoring boys (and GIRLS) abused by peers of both genders.

I do think they did this accidentally; they went for the situation that has a very clear gender faultline.

I'm not blaming feminism itself for that.

This, unfortunately, is what happens when political activism is based on group identity

("who is the most like me? I'll fight for her."), instead of principle and compassion

("who is hurting the most? Who is the most vulnerable? Maybe schoolchildren?").

Feminism, like religion, is fundamentally good and courageous and constructive.

But, like religion, bad people with personal vendettas have appropriated it

so that they can campaign against an entire group.

Shame on them. They've given feminism a bad reputation.

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OK, so, i’ve been at my new job for four days, and

this really happened this week at my new job:

I’m a computer technician, and i was at the front counter working on a laptop computer for a lady

I got done with the repair, and i was closing it up, which involves screwing a panel back into place.

One of the senior techs is next to me, closing up the computer that had been the source of repair parts

(we do use parts from other computers, but only for old models. Don’t sweat it.)

So he’s reattaching the panel on his, with his screwdriver, and i’m reattaching the panel on mine,

and he says, “IT’S A SCREWDRIVER RACE”

then he spins his screwdriver real fast, screws the screws in real fast,

and when he gets done he gloats, “I WIN.”

This is what people do to me in the workplace.

There’s always that one or two who want to drill me (literally, in this case).

They see me as somebody who’s fun to humiliate.

So many people say, “c’mon, high school’s in the past! You’re not getting bullied now!

And it’s your fault that he did that! You let him do that!”

It gets me so angry.

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Fair explanation, VoBN1C; but i'd still say that "macho credentials" can be demonstrated by something other than putting someone else down.

BTW, i remember saying a macho thing once to a co-worker in a job i had about 15 years ago:

It offended him very much, and i regretted it once i found out that it offended him.

In fact, i still think about what i said, and still regret it, all these years later.

What an asshole i was. No excuses for my behavior there.

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Fair explanation, VoBN1C; but i'd still say that "macho credentials" can be demonstrated by something other than putting someone else down.

Oh I agree but the point I am making is macho is a culture where a lot of guys feel compelled to display their toughness and "bad ass" characteristics in front of a new male in their environment in order to not be perceived as weak or vulnerable. How you respond determines in their mind who you are: potential friend, for, or fool.

I wish people just be nice and drop that shit but growing up in an Irish Catholic working class area this was what I dealt with, and still do to some extent.

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I think I have a somewhat unique perspective on bullying. When I was in a kid, I was bullied a lot. It was all "friends" who would punch, kick, hit, throw me down on a regular basis. I lived in an abusive household so my head was already fucked up and I avoided conflict at all costs. So instead of standing up for myself, I would just laugh along with them, thinking we were all friends.  I think about how mentally weak I was. I would have rather been picked on and beaten as part of the group than outcasted and not having friends. This went on until high school. 

Here's the unique perspective I have. I found refuge in sports, and even though I was a skinny, awkward kid, I was ok athletically and could put myself through hell to be good at a sport. I guess all those beating at home and school paid off. Freshman year in high school, still skinny as hell, I was a state level wrestler. So even though I was still not "cool" I got picked on less. Basically, no more physical beating, just verbal. Stuff like, "How could you be any good at wrestling, you're so skinny. Can't they just break your arms?"  I think the only reason they stopped hitting me is because they were worried I might snap and they might get beat up by the "skinny" kid. I filled out later in high school and the bullying almost went away.  As an adult, I've been a boxer and an MMA fighter. Maybe overcompensating. Even though I have never fought a bully, I guess I like knowing I could throw down if I ever had the guts to.   

Fact is, I get so irritated when people degrade others to make themselves feel better.  To Klingsor's point, there are always guys around, full grown adults, willing to make you look bad so they can feel good or be the alpha. And woman who eat that shit up because they are too fucking stupid to see through the bullshit. Even though I am physically strong, I am still mentally weak. Case in point, just this year I was with my wife and father in law at a local bar (I'm not from the area). We were sitting at a table of about 8 people, drinking of course. One of the people asked if I was from the area, I said no and where I was from. Another guy, a "cool" high school classmate of my wife said, "I thought you smelled like a pussy."  Everyone laughed their fucking heads off and for the next 30 minutes, he referred to me over and over as "the pussy" to everyone's delight. I'm still the little kid who laughs it off. Even though I could have invited him outside and beat the crap out of him, I laughed and sat on the stool, humiliated. What kills me about people is half of those people had no idea that what he was saying was hurtful or wrong. If anyone did, they didn't want to say shit out of fear that the verbal humiliation would be directed at them.  

As an adult, I try to change the script on how I think of the bully. I like to think that adults who bully, do it because they are threatened. In the example I used, there is no doubt in my mind the guy calling me a pussy was threatened by me, an outsider. Maybe he liked my wife at one time, maybe he noticed that people seemed to like me, or maybe he thinks I am more successful than he is? Who knows! But I look at it as he needed to knock me down because I threatened him. If that is the case, he is the mentally weak one, who needs some pathetic support from his drunk friends to feel good. It bothered me for a couple days and I told my wife, I will never hang out with that guy again! And we won't. As much as possible, I control who I surround myself with.

A benefit from being bullied is I am aware of the pain. I won't stand up for myself but I have stood up for others.  Also, In casual competitions or activities I can often times tell that losing is a source of pain for the other person. I can see the look of humiliation that I have felt so many times. I'm not talking a poor sport look. You can see when someone is feeling embarrassed and hurt versus pouting. I do whatever I can to take that away, even if that means being humiliated myself. 

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I believe the bullying and harassment I endured as a child shaped who I became later on in so many ways.  It destroyed any sense of self worth I had and was ashamed of who I was and at 41 these feelings still persist to this day.  Even as an Adult It still feels I’m often singled out for exclusion, being laughed at, jokes being made at my expense, and rejection.  Since 10 years old I’ve had suicidal thoughts and a few attempts.

Because of the way I was treated as a child not only by my peers but also many authority figures in my life I eventually became agoraphobic in my 20’s and used pot and alcohol to try and numb the pain and horrible loneliness.  I never really grew up and have had very little success in my life.

Being older now I’m embarrassed about my life and the way it turned out so I avoid getting to close to people or letting people get to know me because it almost always results in my getting rejected and hurt, also because I’m a man it’s difficult for me to relate with other men, I’ve never been married or had a successful relationship with a women, don’t have any kids, and I don’t work because of the hyper vigilance I experience being in social situations.

There may be other issues I’m dealing with but I do believe that I have complex PTSD.  I’ve tried the mental health system and it hasn’t really been helpful in fact it made things worse, none of the therapists I’ve seen don’t seem to have a clue what I’m going through or care, the deep shame I feel about who I am as a person.  It doesn’t feel there’s any where to go for help that’s safe or I won’t be laughed at or criticized.  I have a lot of trust issues especially with people in positions of authority because my trust has been violated over and over again.

About 4 months ago I had to leave an apartment complex that was ran through the mental health clinic I was going to.  It’s like a regular apartment complex being the only difference is there is a peer counselor on site Monday to Friday and you have a roommate. The goal is to get on section 8 and find an apartment after a year.  After so many years of being alone it was supposed to have been a new start for me and I wanted to have some community and to feel I could fit in.  To make a long story short after 6 months of being there my roommate who is bipolar had a manic episode, became abusive, threatening towards me, was acting like a bully, and wouldn’t allow me to get any sleep.  I began to have a major panic attack from this and tried to get support from the staff but I felt I wasn’t being taken seriously and I don’t think they really cared, the peer counselor even insulted me by saying “maybe your pm’sn” implying I’m weak in front of another tenant, I felt jokes were made at my expense over my reaction over this situation with my roommate.  After I left the police were called because he threatened to kill another tenant. He was taken to a mental hospital to be stabilized.  I did come back for awhile hoping he would be evicted at that point but found out he would be returning and still the staff didn’t seem to care so I packed up my things and left.  My part in this is I was smoking pot and so was he so this may have contributed to his mania.  Anyway after his behavior I didn’t feel comfortable living with him anymore.  I was devastated over this, it was all those old feelings, being excluded, being made fun of, and being made to feel I didn’t matter or that I’m not worth it.  They just gave up on me.  I had a suicide attempt a week after leaving.  I tried to make a complaint with the management but they never even bothered to call me, they didn’t care.

At this time I’m trying to find something to give me some hope and I’m trying to quit smoking pot but like I said It doesn’t really feel there’s anywhere safe to get help.  Hopelessness and despair is what I feel everyday and I’m beginning to resign myself to the fact my life will probably never get better.  The best I can hope for is getting on Social security and living alone in some crap apartment.

Of course suicide is another solution, who knows maybe there is a heaven where I would finally feel accepted and loved for who I am.

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Thank you for sharing your story with us, Scott. I'm so sorry you went through all of this. :( Bullying is a serious problem in our schools. I'm sorry you were hurt and that the mental health system has not been helpful to you. Your peer counselor at the apartment complex should have supported you and not insulted you. :( I'm sorry you were let down. Is your family supportive? Are you able to talk with them and share your feelings?

Would it help to write out some goals for yourself? Maybe doing this could give you something to work toward.

I'm glad you reached out, Scott. Your feelings matter. Your life matters.

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I can relate to some parts of your post, Scott.

I too experience hyper vigilance...I've never seen anyone use that term before. I have it because of isolation.

I didn't work either, for a long time. I'm embarrassed about my life in this sense.

I'm working as a volunteer at the moment, I only just started recently. Before that I spoke to samaritans about my scopophopia, new one each day, in person, every day for about two month. They were really supportive, and understanding. Seeing someone new every time felt more progressive. Maybe that could help you?

Someone I know had hard formative years, I don't recall whether he had PTSD, but he talked about group therapy being really helpful.

I hope you're able to get on better with getting some support.

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I literally relive it regularly. I have moments where I'm immobilized by the memories I have from the bullying I got from my peers. It was so bad that I was having psychotic episodes at 12 years old. As a teenager, I had so much anxiety from it that I thought I was going crazy. When I got to college, I was a complete mess. I have a pretty serious case of Bipolar Disorder, and the onset of that at around...17 or so really messed me up to where I had to drop out of college at 19. It made the bullying worse because I have a serious mood disorder and people would get on my case for not acting normal. Now I call myself crazy and invalidate myself because I'm "crazy". 

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Well hello all: it's me, TO4T checking in again.  

I just turned 60 last week.  (So maybe i should change my avatar to "MUCH Too Old 4 This"?)

Honestly i can't say that i've experienced much improvement in my self-image.  Over the 5 or so years that i've been posting in this chat, i've been doing a number of activities to try and make myself feel better:  i've traveled to a number of foreign countries with my wife, i bought my wife some expensive gifts, i've marched in several protest demonstrations against -- well, i'm American, so you can guess whom we were protesting against, i worked for a political campaign, i have been drawing political cartoons against [same person, and his supporters], and i'm helping to organize an alternative church (one where, hopefully, Franklin Graham and Pat Robertson would feel very uncomfortable).

But looking over the 50 years since the bullying started, i can't really say that the hurt went away.  Maybe it does for most people; it didn't for me.  What happened, mostly, was i looked for distractions (like drawing or travel) and focused on the distractions as much as possible.   I don't know, i've stopped trying to look at the world the same way happy people do.  I've noticed that most of them had advantages or privileges that i never had, so it's relatively easy for them to see the sunshine.   But me -- i can't live their life; i have to live my own.  I smile at people whenever i can, speak compliments and encouragement to my co-workers, kiss my wife for no reason at all, tell my friends how grateful i am to have them in my life, and try to remember as many good experiences as i've been lucky to have had.  I'm not a dreamer, i'm a liver.  I look down at the concrete under my feet and try to find something interesting there; because that's reality.

Hope you all are finding some way of moving up.  But even if you aren't, keep posting; and we'll all be sad together when we need it.

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I just want to say that I'm a survivor of bullying. I've sort of kept track of people I knew back then. Although not one of them has ever come forward to apologize, I can honestly say I am happy that many them never had children. I don't know if it was by choice or not, but I have a huge sense of satisfaction from that. For example, there was a girl in school who put a "Kick me, I'm dumb" sign on my back. She never became a mother. I am glad she will never know that kind of joy in her life time. There was also a guy that attacked me every day in algebra class in eighth grade. His parents were wealthy and the school wouldn't do anything. He also, never became a dad. I'm rejoice in that, he won't be passing on his values to the next generation. I also think some of these old bullies still hate me. I okay with that. In fact, I'm comfortable with it now. What's that Zen saying? It is what it is.

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On 5/28/2018 at 12:53 AM, Tangysalt said:

I just want to say that I'm a survivor of bullying. I've sort of kept track of people I knew back then. Although not one of them has ever come forward to apologize, I can honestly say I am happy that many them never had children. I don't know if it was by choice or not, but I have a huge sense of satisfaction from that. For example, there was a girl in school who put a "Kick me, I'm dumb" sign on my back. She never became a mother. I am glad she will never know that kind of joy in her life time. There was also a guy that attacked me every day in algebra class in eighth grade. His parents were wealthy and the school wouldn't do anything. He also, never became a dad. I'm rejoice in that, he won't be passing on his values to the next generation. I also think some of these old bullies still hate me. I okay with that. In fact, I'm comfortable with it now. What's that Zen saying? It is what it is.

Hope you can get some healing soon, Tangysalt

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