Bullying: a theme I’ve had thrown at me a lot recently. It’s not a subject that sits comfortably with me. It yanks at my heart and I’ll explain why a little further down. But it’s important that we talk about bullying, whether in real life or through fiction. Mainly because there are many people who have never experienced bullying, who don’t understand the gravity of it, and because, more now than ever through the internet, people (not just kids) will be at the mercy of bullies.
First things first, you NEED to watch this (it gets more amazing, past 1.20). Bullied or not. This powerful piece of poetry reminds us that bullying isn’t all fisty-cuffs, bullying is about how people use their WORDS and ACTIONS to make somebody feel worthless, and you may not even realise you’re doing it.
I don’t find bullying easy to talk about, because often the bully is a victim too. I didn’t fit in brilliantly at school, but I had a handful of friends to eat lunch with. I had the odd-piece of abuse thrown at me. Bullies have brilliant timing in seeing when you’re at your weakest.
But the reason I was at my weakest, and the reason I didn’t fit in at school, was because I was terrified of what they might to do me, because my self-esteem was about as small as it could be, and that was all down to one person really: my brother. The brother who has epilepsy. (Now you can see why I feel a mix of guilt bringing it up.)
People don’t often consider sibling abuse as bullying. But when those closest to you call you bugs bunny (I had sticky-out teeth), fat, ugly and stupid on a regular basis for years, you can’t help but begin to listen. It seeps in somehow. It messes you up for quite some time.
And my ‘problem’ was being SENSITIVE.
Let’s call it ‘being human’ now. But in a way, I am more sensitive, and for all of those people out there who’ve been told to ‘stop being so sensitive’- don’t. I tried that game and you lose your heart for it. Your sensitivity is gold dust.
My brother was a victim. His moods, anger and hatred were all influenced by drugs and his inability to cope with his condition. And, unlike a school bully, I couldn’t EVEN hate him very well at all, because it tore me apart. To hate somebody + see them helpless in a seizure + be your brother = one MESSED up and confused teenager.
My brother and I never spoke to each other (apart from the abuse), just lived side by side. Until one day, when I was in my early twenties… One strange, crazy day, long after I stopped hating him for it, when we saw a glimpse of someone we once knew, I told my brother how horrible he was.
It was out of the blue. I think we’d been watching something on the telly. I didn’t say much, probably no more than a sentence, a non-emotive fact, and walked out of the room, knowing I couldn’t talk about it without ripping open a wound. He followed me out, questioning it.
And then hugged me. He said he had no idea he had being doing that to me.
We talk now. 🙂 In a way, I’m glad it happened. In knowing how words (even small ones, tiny ones that don’t seem like much) can shape someone, I try my very best to make sure that mine are not misshaping anyone.
So remember, whether you’re a writer or not, words matter. Make yours count.
Lift people up. The fact that you are here at all, is a miracle in its self.