I just heard a discussion of the film “Bullying” on NPR, and the asshole who opined that we “need” bullying because it teaches us to “stand up for ourselves” so enraged me that I had to turn it off.
I haven’t seen the film, and I don’t intend to. I know all too well what it’s about. I lived it, and that I survived had more to do with my ability to withdraw into books and similar pursuits, shutting out that part of my world, than it did with the quality of my character. I completely understand the kids who chose to leave theirs.
There’s no point in going into details, because I’m not looking for sympathy here. What is important in this is that I was bullied continuously from first grade through what they now call Middle School, and that it shaped my life. Rather than going through whatever normal evolution I would have, and becoming whatever I might have, I ended up with a fixation on martial arts, a fascination with firearms and other means of committing mayhem, and in a profession (police officer) for which I was spectacularly unsuited.
Until my alcoholism and other addictions made it clear to me that I didn’t belong in that line of work, and until my recovery forced me to look at my real interests and calling, I spent nearly forty (that’s 40) years fumbling around trying to find out who I really was. That’s what bullying accomplished for me. It taught me to stand up for a self that I wasn’t, and kept me from becoming whoever it was I would have been.
I’m pretty much OK now. I didn’t die, and I’m comfortable in my own skin. But it could have gone a different way. I wish the sphincter on NPR could have experienced one week of what it was like from the other side of the fence. Maybe he’d keep his mouth the fuck shut about things he has no chance of understanding.
On the other hand, maybe he did. The bullied sometimes make the best bullies. On the job training, sort of.
Not all of the terrorists are “out there.”
Few mental health professionals would agree, but I suspect that wouldn’t matter to you.
Not only do we need to be bullied, we need to bully. Even if we only bully ourselves.
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