Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bully Syndrome

*This post isn’t about writing per say. It is however about a writer, her take on life, and the bully syndrome.

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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A friend (Christina Lee) asked me, “If I had the chance to go back and change one thing in my life, would I and what would it be?”

My first instinct was to say nothing; I would change nothing as we are the sum of our experiences. It’s the same answer I’ve always given. You need to understand, I like who I am right now, at this time in my life. However, when I sat down and contemplated the question over and removed my immediate response, the answer changed.

I grew up with a hearing disability and a mother who insisted by any means possible I would be treated normal and participate in a public school environment – versus a deaf school. Some of you may be cheering in the background and saying, ‘yes – way to go and good for her’. What you don’t see is the hours I’m taken out of class for speech therapy during school hours (alienating me). What you don’t see is the ruthless bullies that flick my hearing aide making it squeal painfully in my ear. No one sees the bullies…ever. The kids who sneer and say, “What?” as if it’s a joke; I learned early on not to give that response when I couldn’t hear ‘what’ someone said.

Excluded, invisible, a joke, freak, afraid of something I couldn’t change (me), ritualistic days of torture…

Following my mother’s example all I ever wanted to be was normal, just like everyone else. So naturally I strived not to stand out in the crowd and become any more noticeable than necessary. The thing is: I wasn’t ‘normal’. I had a disability. There isn’t anything wrong with being different, unique, or having an atypical viewpoint in which you look at life. Today, I realize those kids were insecure, confused human beings afraid of diversity or anything which didn’t fit their boxed perception of life. Cowards whose reaction to fear is brutality.

Diverse means you don’t fit a certain idea of normalcy. The bully mentality doesn’t know how to react to you, because ‘you’ are outside of the box – a four squared boring space, they grew up in – you’re different. In short they’re stumped in a very narrow minded space, a space you’re existence challenges.

My bullies and all the naysayers that claimed I would never be anything, made me who I am today…and I wish I could have shared this lesson with those kids who committed suicide. Eventually, you get a thicker skin and new eyes to witness how pathetic these people truly are. Space is existential, consisting of time and place. Every one of us shares their space with strangers at any given moment. No one should be required to beg, plead, or change to fit in someone’s space, click, or group dynamics. No one has the power to demand that of you, nor should they.

These days I still come across the bullies all grown up - One of those narrow minded individuals who can’t comprehend how a deaf woman can speak eloquently, or carry on a conversation with them because she reads lips. I worked away my childhood to fit into their world. Today, I’m so damn comfortable in my skin and thrilled I don’t ‘have’ to share my space with these diminutive individuals.

So what would I change about myself? I’d learn to become comfortable in my skin sooner and learn to let the bullies co-exist, lumped in a separate world (narrow like their mindset). A world I would grow out of and learn to expand my wings. I wish I knew then, to be proud of me, in all my unique differences.

What advice would I give the bullied me: Don’t let anyone clip your wings; the heights you will soar are beyond anything you ever imagined.



Picture from here

51 comments:

  1. I think that so much of what is going on in our country today fits right in with this entry. There are many that have a pre-conceived notion of what our country represents, based on their experiences and twisted sense of history. For those of us that refuse to be put in that box, that dare challenge their illusion, that speak out, they bully using words and attacks. I fear things will get worse before the healing (hopefully) begins.

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  2. This was beautiful:

    What advice would I give the bullied me: Don’t let anyone clip your wings; the heights you will soar are beyond anything you ever imagined.

    Indigo this was beautiful! I am still sitting here in awe of how beautifully written and though out that was... the emotion, the depth... You are strong.

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  3. Why be Normal? I was given this thought over 20yrs ago and I still love it. the word 'normal' has no meaning in my life today due to my experiences in life..and I don't like boxes that people still want to put us in which suffocates our true individuality and self expression and diversity. I don't ever want to be 'normal' again...great entry my friend. HUGZ!!!

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  4. I agree with Jen Daiker ~ beautifully written with thought and understanding ~ thankyou for letting us share your thoughts ~ Ally x

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  5. Wonderful post. I was terribly bullied as a child, and I think living well and loving well is the best thing you can do to overcome it.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  6. Good post. I like what Angela... living well is the best thing any of us can do.

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  7. As always a great thoughtfully written blog...I agree with most of what Ken has said as well as both our countries at this moment seem to giving way to the "bullies"
    My Mum always advised me to ignore them so I do !!
    Love Sybil xx

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  8. For me, the bullies followed me into adulthood. I was always the over- sensitive sort- probably due to the anxiety that seems to run in my family. I ended up in abusive relationships, thinking everything was my fault because I was weird for some unknown reason and just couldn't be normal enough to have a good life. A lot has changed, but my skin still isn't as thick as I'd like. I have to avoid certain places, things, and people or it just gets to me too much. ((Hugs))

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  9. This is a wonderful post, Indigo. Being bullied is a horrible thing for a child. It sticks with you and changes you. Hopefully for the better, which it seems it has for you. Doesn't make the memories go away, but time does give you a new perspective.

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  10. What a fantastic post. Never let the bullies win. I'm glad you didn't. :)

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  11. This is a stunning, moving post. Thank you for sharing.

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  12. Indigo, thanks for this post. As a grand daughter of 4 who was diagnoized as deaf at birth,you certainly gave me a new insite into her - now I am not sure as what to call it so I will use- handicap.
    I will save this entry and share it with her parents and hope they pass it on to her as she grows able to understand it.

    You do know I read all your blogs but seldom comment. Your blog is at the top of my list for content and form. To say the least I think you write great.
    Please keep it and keep the faith, Bill

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  13. I have chills. This is beautiful. I love this line:

    Cowards whose reaction to fear is brutality.

    I wish more people could see that. Then we could find better ways to help. I agree with every thing you've said. As a teacher I try so hard to catch all the incidents of bullying - but I know i never will. I hope I can give all kids the confidence to believe in themselves and their unique gifts. Thanks for this post!

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  14. Excellent, Indigo. Sanguine lessons there for everyone. I have thought about what I would change of my life if I could live it over. My answewr is almost everything, which all comes down to the way I was treated as a child. Being different, being bullied for it and having to overcome the effects are not gifts from deity as some people think. But to learn to take a firm, fearless and authoritative place in one's own life no matter what the limitations are, something even the bullies will have to do eventually, is worth a struggle.

    D

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  15. What an amazing, inspiring post. Because YOU are amazing and inspiring! So glad I stopped by.

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  16. This is soooooo amazing! As are you! Thank you for sharing your story!

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  17. You are a better person than me because I still wish great harm on the kids who bullied me. I still obsess over those ancient cruelties and what horrible things I would do to them if I had the power.

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  18. This is a beautiful essay, Indigo. These words need to get into the hands of kids today. I'm not teaching now, but this is something I would've read to my class, posted in the classroom. What you said, I think, would definitely help the kids being bullied, but might also help the bullies to take a step back!

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  19. If anyone has Albatross wings...it's you my dear. With every stone...a stonger flight.

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  20. Wonderfully and eloquently written, Indigo. You're right - we should never let anyone tell us we can't do something or let us feel that way. You're an example that all those people were so wrong!

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  21. Beautiful post.


    I always tell Tommy, who has Aspergers, that he can do whatever he wants in life.

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  22. It's so sad that as a teen when people tell you "Don't worry, it gets better," it seems impossible - like it's just something adults say but you can't comprehend it. It's so frustrating when you read about teen suicide, wishing that you could have known that kid, wishing you could have jumped up and down and screamed about how much better it gets, wishing you could fast forward their life to prove it to them.

    I just saw a PSA that Google released where a bunch of their openly gay employees told their stories and reassured teenagers that it does, indeed, get so much better. I think it's a must see!

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  23. Beautiful.

    I love your strength and your compassion, your confidence and your beauty. These qualities are so much a part of you.

    I am learning American Sign Language right now and I'm seeing everything through new eyes... the bullying Deaf kids face, the community they've built for themselves, the pride they have in learning their own language and their refusal to say that them being Deaf is a disability...

    It's so inspiring. It's changing my life. :)

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  24. Normal.
    It's such a benign word, or so it seems.
    You are an amazing woman, though I doubt you need to hear it from me. There's a bit of steel that runs in your veins.
    I'm glad to know you.

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  25. I was bullied most of my life growing up and then even later as an adult when I moved up to the mountain I ended up living on for twenty years.
    I lived in a small logging and mining town and I was only 110 pounds with wet clothes on. The loggers I knew were a few years older than me when I first moved there, weighed 2 or 3 times as much as me and used to pick on me because I was a runt. This went on for a few years. Eventually I picked up my own chainsaw and started running up and down mountain sides all day long and the bullying stopped. Some of them never out grew that bully they had become and some of them became good friends. But the years of trying to fit into a mountain community was hard.
    I am always amazed at how people can act, especially adults who you would think should know better.

    Great post. One I am sure most of us can identify with in one way or another.

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  26. As much as there's nobility in the human soul, there is also much of the crass. I can't believe some of the things that have been done to you. Despite that, you've become an articulate, intelligent and expressive human being. G_d bless you.

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  27. WOW! That is one powerful post! Your words are going to stay with me all day. You're right, I initially thought it was cool you went to a normal school, and I would never have thought of those bullies. Thank you for this amazing chance to open my mind.

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  28. Your words are so timely and true. What a fantastic response.

    Love to you,

    SB

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  29. Lovely post!

    People can certainly be hurtful. I've found it most helpful to remain focused on my goals. Having supports helps immensely, too.

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  30. Yes, we are the sum of our experiences, and when we look at the loads others have to carry, we usually don't want to trade, do we?

    One thing we learn from being bullied: kind insight into the feelings of others.

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  31. Thank you so much for this. I am so sorry that you were treated so unfairly. I shared this in my reader because EVERYONE should see this!

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  32. I wish there were a way to send this to all of those kids who may feel less than right now, so they could get it, sooner than any of us did.

    I wouldnt change a thing about you, I like you just the way you are.

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  33. Found your blog by accident. As my hearing has faded, I too have become a reader of lips to understand. As a teacher, I tried to open the world to those that were bullied and made fun. By the way, I am looking to expand my world wide business. If you are interested in earning significant income along with what you are doing, email me for info at greenmonstertruck@yahoo.com

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  34. Wonderful post! This brought back memories of my teen-age, awkward years and the suffering from my own bullies during Junior High. Thank goodness it was over when I started Secondary school (for grades 11 and 12). I left those ignorant of empathy far behind and never looked back. Many didn't even pass their courses and remained behind for another year, and by the time they entered my school, they vanished into thin air.

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  35. I am so sorry. For you and all bullied children. Children are emotionally vulnerable, as they ought to be. They should be protected, allowed to develop normally.

    Okay. Not getting started. Peace to you.

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  36. Your stories are so powerful, truthful and unique, Indigo. Keep sharing them with us because there's hope even for the bullies.

    Big hug,
    Belinda

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  37. Wow! I think this is an amazing reflection, Indigo! There is so much emotion and this can apply to people everywhere, it's a very moving story. =D

    I am so proud of you for overcoming all of it and continuing to do so!

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  38. I've had naysayers who, for no reason, wanted to drag me down. Sad to say, adults can be as ridiculous as children. They're an ugly lot, but I always believed in myself and rising above them.

    I'm sorry you went through this, but you're a light that will always burn no matter what. You saw these people for what they are, but others get caught up in the intimidation.

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  39. Indigo
    I actually think the greatest damage bullies lace upon their victims is the thicker skin. When brute force and harsh meanness can steal sensitivity and fashion a tender smile into a shield of iron, we all lose.
    Much love~rick

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  40. As the saying goes normal is just a setting on a washing machine.Enjoyed this post so much. I think all of us have been or know someone who has been bullied and we wish it would stop. Hope everyone can rise above it as you have. Thanks for sharing.

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  41. You sure did soar beyond what was dished out in your youth, Indigo. This is such a touching post.

    I hope you read my comment in time. That television program Extreme Makeover Home Edition was in Salem, Oregon, a few months ago doing a remodel at the Oregon School for the Deaf. The program is going to be broadcast Halloween Night (tonight) on ABC. Check your listings. Here is a bit of info. CLICK. I hope you are able to catch it, but it will be out in DVD too...xoxo

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  42. Amen to this post. I remember the kids in school who were bullied. Looking back on those days I don't know how they found the strength to come to school and go through it day after day after day. It makes me sad to think about it and ashamed that I never stood up and said it was wrong. I'm sorry you were bullied but believe me, those bullies can't hold a candle to you now.
    xxx
    Lisa

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  43. Great post. Very thoughtful and nuanced. I liked how you acknowledged some of the complexities of disability, especially in regards to your mother's decision. This really held my attention throughout--really glad you felt inspired to write about it.

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  44. Wonderful Indigo. It is true. Fly free and fly strong.

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  45. Hello, Indigo, dear woman, I've spent over an hour here this morning, sharing your thoughts. I was supposed to be doing something else, but your life was more compelling. Your blog is a great place to spend time and now you're on my blog roll so I can lose more time here. (Laughter)

    Among people who become writers of blogs or who wind up in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (where I spend time on purpose) have similar histories of feeling less than others, of being different, abnormal, isolated. Perhaps like you, they've experienced cruelty from their peers, or like me, they've been tormented by bullies who took the form of parents or other demons. So many of us have this commonality, and I wonder what has become of the bullies. I guess they didn't turn into writers and addicts, and so they don't populate my world.

    I was very short and wore braces as a child, was teased by some for those imperfections, but by and large was accepted by most of my peers. It was the child abusers and the sexual abuser in my home who most tormented me, and it all had to be endured so silently. You remind here of my greatest wish as I grew up: I don't want to be "normal"! I was "normal" and it was terribly painful keeping up appearances, becoming harder the older I became, until finally I was acting out, attempting suicide, using drugs and booze and getting into trouble and going to mental institutions and never able to do as you did: embrace the experiences that hurt and turn them into my strengths. I've been able to do that in these past years in recovery from alcoholism, thank God. I would not change a thing, though, because who I am today is a miracle, a person of beauty and honor, someone who can love and be loved by others.

    "Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls," said Kahlil Gibran. Amen, sister.

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  46. How wonderful it would be to go back and speak to the child we were, with that advice. My dad died when I was 12 and the teachers gave a special assembly when I wasn't there, asking everyone to 'be nice to me'. The result was no one spoke to me for a year, and of course that opened the way for bullies as well... With an adult hindsight I can say that those children just didn't know what to say or how to deal with it, but at the time it made a very sad situation a thousand times worse. But we are through it, and we soar far higher than they ever could. (hugs)

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  47. Our step grandson who has Asperger's was thrown down the stairs at this school this week and fractured a vertebrae all because he is different. It breaks my heart. I pray for parents to teach kindness and tolerance. My step grandson is now afraid to go to school and he is such a sweet kid it is so sad.

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  48. i am fighting a losing battle right now at work re: bullying. i needed to read this today, it lifted me up. thank you friend, thank you.

    xxalainaxx

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  49. yes, to have a conversation with a younger us. i love this fantasy, but i also wonder deep inside whether the younger me would even listen! i wonder if when i was younger i was hearing the good advice of my higher self every step of the way and, darn it, i ended up doing the best i could, although i have wishes similar to you. great post. got me thinking.

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  50. I love you and this post, Indigo. You rock so much.

    <3

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  51. This should be required reading among high school students. If I was still teaching, we would discuss this post in class. Powerful life lessons.

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Thank you for giving my silence a voice, my muse your words, and taking the time to discover my prose.