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Razzle Dazzle

Razzle Dazzle
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Where ever I go, there I am, District of Columbia,
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January 12
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Lucille Ball meets Bridget Jones, add some political salt and pepper, and that's me. I am progressive, love the arts, and got moxie! Please, don't be tacky and plagiarize.

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Salon.com
MAY 20, 2012 1:35PM

Bullying did not make me stronger.

Rate: 31 Flag

I entered my 9th grade year in high school at the age of 14, and never anticipated that my time spent in that world would permanently scar me.  Almost immediately in the start of the school year, a senior asked me out and his best friend, also a senior, asked out my best friend since fifth grade, who was also a freshman.  Both of these guys were runners on the school's cross country and indoor and field track teams, and I in my naievity had no idea how to judge character and see that they weren't very nice people.  This was my first dating experience, and one that was very short lived - possibly lasting a month?  I don't recall exactly, but my best friend continued to see that guy for quite awhile.  And, it lead to the end of our friendship. 

It also lead to her boyfriend's bullying of me, which began while she was seeing him and it was something that she thought was cute.  It wasn't cute.  It began with him making fun of me and evolved into his group of male friends (all runners on the same teams) making fun of me, lead by him, for any little thing.  It didn't matter what I did or did not do, looked like or didn't look like.  I was there to be ridiculed and heckled, called names and intimidated, made to feel ugly and worthless.  For what?  So they could laugh.  That seemed to be their ultimate goal - laughter.  They even went so far as to come onto my parents' property one night around Christmas to "carol."  But, I wasn't home.  I was playing volleyball on the JV team and was at an away game.  I was also being bullied by two large and ugly girls on the Varsity Team during this same time.  Why?  Because I didn't understand the hierarchy of spiking volleyballs during practice and held onto a ball when I was "supposed" to pass it back to the varsity side of the net.

These girls were also leaders of their packs and lead their crews through the halls, noting which classes I was in and when and would lean into the classrooms through the doors and verbally threaten to kick my ass in front of teachers.  All because of a volleyball.  Only one teacher told them to quit, but they didn't.

So, the day after the group of guys caroled on my parents' lawn and ran away when my sister turned on the porch light to see who was there, the boyfriend of my former best friend sent his sister (who was now my former best friend's new best friend) to ask if I enjoyed the carolers? 

"What carolers?" was my response.

"My brother and his friends went to your house to carol last night," she said.

"I wasn't there." And I became angry.  "You tell your brother that he was trespassing and that he is going to cross the line one day.  You tell him when he does, he'll be very sorry."

She shrugged her shoulders and walked away.

Soon after that I had another away game with the team and had to go to the locker room to get my stuff.  Outside of the girls' locker room, in the hallway, the boys' indoor track team was goofing off, waiting for their practice to begin.  My friend on the team told me to wait on her, that she would go with me, but I said, no, I'd go ahead and get my stuff.  I came down the stairs to the hallway and saw the group of guys tossing around a small ball and felt my stomach tighten.  My instinct said to go back upstairs and wait on my friend, but I thought, "No, I'll be fine."

I walked through the group of boys, went into the locker room, got my stuff, and headed back out, incredibly nervous.  I decided to just walk fast and get out of there as soon as I could.  As I started to walk out of the door, the boys were playing football with small ball and had lined up in formation just outside of the door.  My former best friend's boyfriend was the quarterback and was facing me.  I got as close to the wall away from him as I could and right when I passed him, he called for the play to begin, grabbed the ball, and in order to pass it in the proper stance, looked down, put out his left leg, caught my right ankle, tripped me, and sent me flying onto the hard linoleum floor.  I felt piercing pain in my right knee and left side of my pelvis as these two points took the impact.  My skirt flew up and I was also on my period - not that they saw anything I would imagine, but still...

"OH!" they all yelled out as I hit the floor and they began to laugh.  "I won't let him see me cry," I said to myself.  I got up, went back into the locker room and  sobbed out of pain, humiliation, and fear.  My friend made it downstairs, saw me, ran and got the varsity coach of whom I was not a favorite.  They walked me out into the hallway and by this time, the boys were lined up along the wall, bending over, doing stretches.  The boy who tripped me looked up and smiled at me as I passed by.

After the Emergency Room and continued follow up with a specialist, it was determined that I had a dislocated knee cap (the varsity coach didn't believe it and made me practice anyway - I was such a powerless person then).  The extent of the injury was such that the orthopedist said reminded him of someone who had been in a car accident at 65 miles per hour and had their knee jammed against the dashboard.  My pelvis hurt for months.  To this day, I have an indentation below my right knee cap that was not there before.  I didn't wear shorts or short skirts for about ten years.

Any repercussions for him?  No.  Why?  He was the nephew of the Superintendent of Schools and of a well-to-do family.  

Any repercussions for me?  Absolutely.  The girls on the volleyball team became more vicious and his friends all labeled me a liar and taunted me in the halls, saying I was making the whole thing up - that he didn't trip me but that I fell over his leg and was just embarrassed.   He was the victim of a lying little bitch's hate.  My own father said that I had no credibility.  My mother believed me, but what did that matter when the whole world had turned against me and I had no friends save for a few who really knew me?  As for the bully, he just focused on other girls and finally left me alone.  Did I mention he never bullied other guys?

I wanted to kill him.  I contemplated it for months.  My parents had a pistol in the house and I could have found it.  I didn't think it would take much to shoot him.  I would have had to figure out to load it and aiming wouldn't have been too difficult.  I gave it great thought and planned it out - where I would do it, what time of day, how I would get him there, what I would say to him before I shot him in the head.  But, first I would shoot him in the knee.  Then, the pelvis.  Maybe that's all I would do and just leave him to writhe there in pain?

So why didn't I?  Because deep down, I didn't want to be like him.  I didn't want to be like what I hated and wished dead.

What would I say to those who are bullied?  Find some little piece of quiet for yourself and know that you are loved.  Even if you don't feel love from your family and you feel like you have no friends, you are loved by someone out there who is waiting to meet you and be your friend.  This is not permanent and "this, too, shall pass."   I promise.

To those who say that bullying only made them stronger?  You are validating the torturous act of bullying with that statement.  You are saying that it is acceptable to bully others because it builds character and makes a weak person stronger when in actuality it does nothing of the sort.  It does the complete opposite.  Bullying did not make me stronger.  It did make me more compassionate and aware of the innate rights of others to treated with dignity, honor, and respect.

I wish I had never endured that emotional, psychological, and physical torture that was bullying.  But, I did.  It was what it was and the consequences are what they are, and that's the reality of it.

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I'm never among those who claim that bullies made them stronger... my rage, outrage and need for vengeance screwed me over for most of my adult life. I was over forty before I got out on the other side of that shit and even twenty years later, my visceral reaction to bullies is homicidal. Thank heaven that my diminished testosterone and life experience have taken the edge off that impulse.
Yes, I'm glad you're on the other side of it, jmac. I think that means you've healed. I understand the lasting effects and the need to defend others is something that I don't think ever goes away.
I think it made you stronger if it gave you empathy and a voice. I had to have a counselor point out to me that my experiences are why I get so defending of people mistreating someone or something else. I just knew it made me, like jmac, homicidal. I even walked into the middle of a bunch of guys of one race beating up on a guy of another race once and extricated the kid being beaten. The beaters scattered when I just boldly walked in. Kinda cool, that.
Nope. Bullying makes you bullied. Nothing else. There IS no up side to it regardless of what anyone says.
Razzle,bullying made me forget myself and even be afraid on everything...No...unfortunately..bullying made me sick...weak...So rated,with many thank you for sharing..It is as you say it,my friend "I wish I had never endured that emotional, psychological, and physical torture that was bullying. But, I did. It was what it was and the consequences are what they are, and that's the reality of it. "Great work,Razzle...
Bullying makes you weaker. Surviving helps you cope. Transcending to think beyond "stuck" and be more than you were before makes you stronger.
Being bullied does NOT make you stronger. I know this and though my bully (an ex boyfriend in junior high school) apologized like a very contrite gentleman twenty years later, I am scarred forever by the whole experience. No words of apology can change what he did. He ruined my reputation and set me on a course of destructive relationships that plagued me all my life. I am glad that you thought better than to shoot that low down scum who bullied you as a girl even though I don't blame you.
A powerfully painful story. And though the bullying may not have made you stronger at the time, your strength is now in view. It came. Somehow.
There is never a day that goes by that I dont think of things I went through and that had a husband that was worse.
You deal with it and just hope you make it through.
HUGGGGGGGG
Bullying did not make me stronger. It did make me more compassionate and aware of the innate rights of others to be treated with dignity, honor, and respect.

That made you stronger.

I guess I'd track the quarterback down, now, & emasculate him.
Yeah well but wait..look at the caliber of the folks coming on here
admitting to abject humiliation & its repercussions...
you must admit these are damn fine people.
From this, what do we deduce?
Ok, it doesnt make you stronger in the sense of confident
and fancy-free, having perfect lives cuz of perfect choices
cuz of a good adolescence.


But we are powerful in our empathy, as you allude.
That's what humans are here for, to help each other thru
the condition of suffering that is concomitant with our
overdeveloped consciousness...and some are more
developed than others...and they are
targeted by the PACK, another
interesting thing i picked up on.
bullies always got their packs , like animals.

I was humiliated daily in jr high school.
For being pudgy & bespectacled & always getting a's
and having a somewhat naive attitude
about important shit
like sex or drugs or sports.

one of my bullies became my best friend, and everytime
i would jokingly remind him of his misdeeds, he would nearly
break down in repetance.

The fate of bullies/ ? they never reform, and became nasty
specimens , or they feel regret, and are hopefully humbled.
In either case, they are not terribly interesting people.
Bullies ruined my life, my self esteem. So much verbal and emotional abuse from 4th grade until I graduated highschool. No wonder I suffer from social anxiety. Gee, I wonder why? Oh that's right. Being bullied in school!
Compelling account Razzle. It just infuriates me to hear about bullying and the way that the little establishment closes ranks and blames the victim. It's not much of a stretch to imagine these folks in lynch mob. Good on you that you didn't try to seek revenge but I can easily imagine the violent fantasies about it.
It took me a couple of decades before I could easily verbalize my bullying story.

Whoever said bullying makes you stronger hasn't been where you have been. It does truly make you more empathic.
well said, and so, so true...
Spoken truthfully. There are other and far better ways of character building.

R♥
I am sorry this happened to you with all my heart. It is amazing that you know yourself then and now well enough to say " I did not want to be like them." This is why you were bullied in the first place. Bullies need co-horts and do not deal well when faced with their own weaknesses. Something about you made them feel bad. You can be proud. I hope you are. I hope you are proud of who you were and what you have become and that you were strong enough to know you did not need to compromise your principals to fit in. You are stronger then you know.
Strength does come, like you say, from learning compassion for others, which is the opposite of what those damned bullies are trying to teach you. Alice Walker wrote, "resistance is the secret of joy," and when it comes to bullying, it's true. Sometimes, resisting in our minds is the only thing we can do under the circumstances. You have a true heart!
Sorry you had to go through that. I think bullies are just jealous of their targets, though I know that is no comfort to those enduring the abuse. I just don't get this kind of behavior.
Is it show and tell day on OS? Just for you Raz I’m going to play along. I was thrown out of Catholic School or at least asked not to attend for the tenth grade (it’s a long story). So I would attend public high school till graduation (which I ended up doing early). Copiague High School at the time was legendary for being one of if not the toughest high school in NY. One of my classmates was Timmy Donohue who would later be the plaintiff in a landmark law suit against the public school system. They graduated him and he couldn't read nor write his own name. Seventeen percent of my graduating class ended up joining the military. It was a national record at the time (1977). The school was half black and half white they had riots for the past three years and had to cancel final exams the year before. One of the staircases was named after a kid who got killed when he was thrown head first from the third floor. There was armed security and police stationed at all open doorways (most were chained shut). You had to pass through a metal detector to gain entrance. My history class was really interesting there was a militant black girl with a hideous scar across her whole face and right next to her sat the white girl that gave it to her by slamming her head through a plate glass window. I think those two had to be separated at least a dozen times during class. Anyway at the time I shared all you peoples noble liberal aspirations. I would constantly be arguing with my father who was a racist and proud of it. They gave me a locker down by the cafeteria which is where the black people congregated. No problem I figured I can get along with anybody some of my closest friends in Catholic school were black. First day I go to get some books and about 20 blacks were congregated around my locker including two really evil fucks; Guy and Perry Best. They not only couldn’t read and write their own names they couldn’t even speak them. They just made ebonic grunting type sounds that I don’t think even the other black kids understood. They would later be expelled for luring a security guard out onto the open football fields and beating him half to death while the other cops raced to assist him across the couple of hundred yards that separated them. They took off when the cops were almost there but Hank who was the black security guard beloved by everybody was a bloody pulp and had to be taken out by ambulance. I think they were charged with attempted murder for that one. Anyway into the middle strolls little old white liberal me hurrying to get my books for class. Guy and Perry decided I needed a snack and should eat some cookies that were laying on the floor. Assisted by the other black kids they slapped the shit out of me but I just wouldn’t eat those cookies. The only reason I got out of there alive was because some white toughs had heard what was happening by the cafeteria and ran out of their class’s. One of them was Joe Demiglio a human tank and about the only thing the Best brothers feared. They got me out of there and explained to the Best brothers that I was now with them and if anything like this happened again it would be on. I never had another problem again going to my locker. Was I afraid? Can’t really say I was. I wasn’t eating those cookies even if they killed me. Did it make me tougher? Sure as hell did. I became one of the leaders in that school after that and Joe ended up following me around for the next three years like a faithful dog.
Thank you all for commenting, sharing your stories, encouragement, and thoughts. I think this is one of the most difficult posts I've written and definitely one that is hard to re-read, but this whole experience was on my mind this past week and then I saw the Open Call. I felt it was fortuitous in some way, so wrote about it. There we are. There is something to be said for the need to belong, either in a pack or other group. I guess it's part of our nature, but human tendency does not excuse such horrible actions.
Nothing to add that hasn't been said. Brave post and the more we reveal our experiences in this area, the more we realize banding together against this behavior is necessary.
I, too, was bullied as a teen. In fact, I was Sunday punched and knocked unconscious by a bully in PE class and the "coach" just told me to "shake it off" when I came to. Nothing more.

The bully is now a year older than I and, I heard, lives in Seattle. If I had the courage, I'd go up there and return the favor, even at his age. It's the one event in my life which I cannot shake loose from having absolute hatred for a person.

Good write, Razz. I certainly identify with your post.
Wow this is brilliant. Sending this to people who need to read this.