It’s Still Bullying When You Say It’s Not
Saying that it’s fine doesn’t make it okay. Having friends doesn’t negate loneliness. We all hide and we all hurt.
Do you ever just feel yourself falling into an endless pit of dark emptiness, drowning in your own despair? Do you ever make wish after wish after all these years of hell, the agony and misery would finally take you under for good so even the bright morning light and loud sounds of cheerful life couldn’t force you to pull yourself back up again? You lay in darkness, wrapped in the blanket, knowing you won’t be able to sleep tonight and wonder when it will all end. Sometimes you get a little crazy, maybe picturing someone you know grieving the loss of such a great person and regretting not taking the time to get to know you better or at all. They’d be sad that such a potentially bright future could never be fulfilled. They might even realize that all this time, you were speaking, but no one would listen so you finally gave up speaking voluntarily and turned to something else, something that couldn’t speak over you. Funny how when you’re dead, people start paying attention to you. Even if it does no good, because what good is anything in this life?
But then the worst happens. The dreaded reality weighs in on your final desperate attempt at hope, crushing you so you can’t breathe until it leaves just soon enough to spare you an ironic end. Would anyone notice the absence of someone whose presence never seemed to matter in the first place? If they did, would they even care? Then misery comes, pulling you in like quicksand until you have to wade through it to reach anything else. An impossible fight with no point to winning because you’ll just end up fighting it all over again next time you need to use willpower. The thought strikes you as you’re neck-deep in misery. Would they be happy the useless waste of space is gone?
Wishing you could cry but knowing that you can’t because your soul is far too dead to react to anything you feel.
And the loneliness…. it kills the heart, tortures the mind, and shuts down the soul like nothing else can.
Where does all this come from?
Inside my deepest, darkest depths… there lie in wait the strong emotions I buried long ago, knowing I’d forever have to keep them hidden. Then something seemingly irrelevant triggers them and with burning force they shoot forth, spreading debris and inflicting damage on any and every person or thing around. Like an erupting geyser or volcano, their force is something to marvel at. It seems like they came out of nowhere, but really they’ve been hiding right under us, building up their power since the beginning of time.
How can something so small cause something so big? How can something so insignificant and simple cause something so dramatic and complex? Even the smallest pull can set of the strongest push.
But wait. Let me explain.
The passage above was written 7/7/15 and is an effect. The cause? Bullying.
My school didn’t have a cliche group of “popular girls” like the Plastics under command of Regina George. We had a group of people who were all friends and acted in some of the ways you’d expect them to if you’re only going by the movies. Yes, they were all blonde and thin: they coordinated outfits and did everything together even when it broke rules. These were people who knew from the very beginning of our lovely public school experience that the rules did not apply to them. They threw big parties that it seemed three-quarters of the school was invited to (or wasn’t invited to but was welcome to tag along anyway). I was not one of them. I was one of the people who eventually started to operate on the assumption that I could never achieve the status of welcome. Because these girls, known for being sweet and friendly and fun, could be cruel. You were only allowed to breathe their air if you were cool enough and I spent years trying to build self-esteem around all the times they told me I wasn’t good enough to “sit with them”, so to speak. This is metaphorical, not literal because they had carved rules on the walls and we knew one of them was that it is unacceptable to approach group members or the group tables. The communal supply of boys for the girls to share around as they please is also off limits, naturally. There are two groups when it comes to males- one group maintains steady and supposedly monogamous relationships for years at a time while the other group is for single girls doing who they want when they want.
There are two subsections of the group on many matters. For example, the ones who spend their days bullying and the ones who will simply ignore people like me. The ones who will take group secrets to the grave and the ones who are more than willing to whisper unpleasant tales in anybody’s waiting ears when certain backs are turned. You also will find separation by type. The tall ones and the small ones. The smart ones and the dumb ones. They’re unified by appearance (they strive for the same face as time goes on) and by the exclusion of all others and that makes them do and say and like all the same things. (While keeping in the two sects described above). Sure, they have male counterparts, but those aren’t nearly as masterfully passive aggressive, nor do they have the refined acting chops do make so many people adore them. Teachers, any adult they come in contact with who has yet to witness their true nature, other kids who know and don’t necessarily care, most everyone except the social rejects and lonely girls really seem to like this group. Except for the lonely girls and social rejects, as always. Potential bullying victims, past and present victims, all either in one herd or all alone. It’s hunting grounds in that school but it’s not what you’d expect.
They’re so good at stalking these grounds that they don’t even bother with disguises anymore; everywhere you go, three to seven of them lie in wait to cultivate misery and send you running for a mirror because you’re ashamed of your own skin. And hair and face and clothes and… it goes on and on. There are girls that make other girls love themselves less and that’s the biggest reason why any successful adult will tell you high school shouldn’t be the “peak” or the “prime”. If anything, high school is a prelude. You don’t leave with a sense of humanity belonging intact if you’re like me, but you’re a stronger person than you were when you entered and now you’re starting something new. Hoping to God it’s a whole new world.
But I’m someone who conquered mental health in long, hard battles. I know what the realities of bullying can be- what the sights, sounds, and smells are. I think of that as valuable because now Ide function completely differently and when I get ready in the morning or walk around, I think of everyone differently. Having influence over people just so you can make sure you’re a princess and they’re peasants doesn’t make you strong; keeping yourself healthy and striving for happiness makes you strong.
Bullying is a real thing and it isn’t hard to do or to get away with. But it can never be reversed because depression and anxiety are also very real. And they are hard to cope with, hard to move on from, and make for a hard battle when you’re desperately trying to heal yourself from them.
Thank you for reading this; it means a great deal to me that my stories be heard. Bullying is something I experienced throughout my childhood and I consider its effects on mental health an absolutely crucial topic to discuss.