In which a reply becomes a beginning…

•October 19, 2012 • 2 Comments

Apparently today is  Stop Bullying Awareness Day.  If not for Facebook I wouldn’t have known.  Crazy how much we learn and experience through this simple little website that made a Harvard student a bajillionaire.  As a thirty-something on the downward slope towards 40, I can’t even fathom how this and other social media sites – or even the Internet itself would have played into my childhood had they existed then.

Would I have discovered other kindred, socially awkward, appearance-challenged souls in an IRC chatroom or a fan forum for Star Wars, Def Leppard or Highlander?  Would I have dared venture onto Facebook, sharing my thoughts and deeds with every damn kid in the school, and their friends, and their friend’s friends – and watched it become a popularity contest, defined by who “unfriended” or “liked” you today?

Would I have watched, as my tormentors secretly took video of me on their iPhones as I roamed the halls of sixth grade, singing my favorite songs to myself — and then discovered myself broadcast on YouTube for the world to mock?  Would I have seen Facebook polls spring up about whether or not I was the biggest crybaby in the school?  Would I have been unable to escape the persistent taunts and heartache even in my own home – and have them drilled over and over into my mind?

Would I have ended up a statistic?  Would I have ended up like Amanda Todd?  Eden Wormer?  Amanda Cummings?

It’s hard to say.  When this post began life as a response to this blog post at http://capitalcriminals.wordpress.com/ I was talking about choices, and how we are a product of them.  We all have choices to make in this life.

However, I am disheartened by some of the people who insist that all bullies are “victims”, and probably bullied themselves.  It may be true that some suffer, and then turn their pain on others — but again, this is the choice they made.  The victim didn’t make the choice to suffer the taunts, humiliation, degradation and other acts that a bully commits.  But a victim CAN make the choice to end the cycle.

As I wrote my response, I began to think this was something I wanted to share on my own blog – because I haven’t necessarily shared it in this way before, with strangers and friends alike.  Some of you reading may know who “T” is, and some of you may have different recollections of who she was, or how things happened.  Some of you may have been her friends, and think I’m being too hard on her, or that I should move on or get over it.  That’s okay.

The wonderful thing about being human is that we do all live our own versions of reality, colored by our experiences and deeds.  Ten thousand people could all experience or even just witness the same event, and come away with ten thousand different stories to tell.

This is my story of my thoughts.

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I was bullied.  For many years, by many different people.  There was one main perpetrator however.  Her name was “T”.  She made my life made my life a living hell for about 6 years of my school career.

Recently, a school acquaintance told me that this classmate, “T”, had a really awful home life, father was a druggie/alcoholic (which I never knew) and that “she came from a bad place”, and was therefore implying that “T” was a victim herself, and deserved pity.  And while I will allow that yes, perhaps there is some pity that can be allowed there for a child to have to grow up in those circumstances, ultimately, “T” was still responsible for her own actions.

She didn’t have to choose to bully other kids, especially a quiet, awkward, sensitive girl who was an easy target.  She didn’t have to choose to be so vicious, cruel and calculating, and turn an entire classroom of grade schoolers into bullies and/or accomplices in the terror – all done by the sheer threat of their non-compliance causing them to be the next target.  She seemed to enjoy the power she had over me, and the rush she got from making me cry or making the other kids gang up on me.  Never once did I see any hint of caring or compassion in her eyes.

But no matter where she came from, she had personal responsibility, and a choice.

She could have risen from her situation, like others I’ve known, and recognized that compassion and love were the way to succeed.  She could have sympathized with others, seeing in them a bit of her personal hell.  But she threw this all aside, for the power trip and boost it gave her ego to tear another person down.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that while I, having made plenty of mistakes and not being a perfect person, have managed to be a fairly successful adult, raising a family, having a job, and being a productive member of society; while “T” threw away an athletic scholarship at a great college, fell into drugs and dealing them, and ended up in prison for about 10 years, before getting out last year.  I hear she had a baby right out of prison too.  Again, we are the result of our choices.

While I do still bear a lot of anger and resentment towards her, and the scars she made will never fully heal, I do hope that her heart has healed enough for her to have compassion and be a responsible loving mother to her child.  For her to perhaps someday realize that she didn’t make the best choices when she was young, and maybe even feel a tiny bit of remorse for the cruel person she was.  For her child, and for her — I hope.

Ultimately, YOU are the product of YOUR choices — not your environment, your parents, your home, whatever.  Yes, certain circumstances can present you with different choices, and the right choices may be easier to make when your surroundings are positive.  But many great people, as well as everyday peers, have made the right choices in the midst of unspeakable horrors.

We all have choices – use yours well.

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The descent begins…

•October 19, 2012 • Leave a Comment

As part of my journey to try and find myself again, and explore how I became who I am, I’ve started this blog.

I was also inspired as I found myself typing a fairly long reply to a post on a LJ (LiveJournal) friend’s new blog – and realized that perhaps it merited a post of its own.  Thanks to http://capitalcriminals.wordpress.com/ for inspiring me.

Using the metaphor of “Alice in Wonderland”, I expect the journey to get “curiouser and curiouser” as I continue.  I can’t promise it will always be easy, joyful, or even interesting to anyone but myself – but feel free to join me on the way.

 
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