To All The Bullies

There are some people out there who enjoy hurting others. I’m not talking about the sadistic psychopaths detained in high-security hospitals and prisons, although there are similarities. I’m talking about bullies. Those contemptible people who inflict mental and sometimes physical abuse on those they perceive as weaker.

I’ve suffered the teasing, taunting, name-calling and threatening behaviour. I’ve felt too afraid to even bear to be within sight of any of those responsible. I’ve ended up with depression, withdrawing – literally locking myself into the safe haven of my bedroom.

I would wonder why I had been singled out, what I had done to deserve such hateful treatment. Typical victim mindset, blaming myself – assuming the fault lay with me. Because I never fitted in: the quiet, shy one on the edge of things. Always nervous and awkward in social situations and with a set of unusual behaviours such as hand-flapping and repeating my words to myself that made me stand out.

I’d love to be able to say that I rose above such things and didn’t let the bullies bother me. But it wouldn’t be true. It bothered me to the point of breaking down in tears of pain and frustration. I ran away with my tail between my legs. I never confronted any of those responsible – that’s something I can’t handle. I shut down when faced with that kind of situation – confrontation and aggression.

I think it would be understandable if I hated those who had bullied me. But I don’t. I fact I don’t think of them individually at all, but rather as a class of people who are poisonous and to be avoided. They are narrow-minded, insensitive, morally-deficient and totally unnecessary and unwanted in my life. I have absolutely nothing to do with them. I carry on with my life, stick with the people who are my friends, and exclude any who would harm me.

The bullies may or may not care that I have excised them from my life – either way it doesn’t matter to me. Because I now accept how I am – I’m content to be myself. Different is good in my opinion. I have supportive friends and a loving wife. I got told I’m “special” by one of my friends last night – little things like that make me feel good about myself. I have people who care about me. Why would I allow negative, destructive influences into my life? So I’m not even going to say goodbye to the bullies from my past – they are long gone and aren’t missed.

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5 thoughts on “To All The Bullies

  1. Hi Ben, I give you a lot of credit. I have a great deal of difficulty letting it go. I don't hate the people who hurt me, but I've developed a distrust and I dislike having that in my personality. I think it's so difficult to move away from the fear of it happening again. I dislike being used or bullied or pushed around in any way since I don't do that to others I cannot understand it when it is happening to me. It seems so foreign and I try to understand why the person is doing such a thing to me. I really try to analyze it and see where I may have gone wrong or if I gave the wrong impression some how… but you're right. It comes down to the fact that it's their behavior and their abusive tactics and that they like to feel the power over someone else. It seems so lonely, actually. It seems like it's a way to keep themselves safe from perceived dangers that don't really exist. Puff themselves up and make others seem small so they feel safe.Still, none of that matters in the end. What matters is how people treat one another and what you leave yourself and someone else with at the end of a interaction. I personally want to be a good person to other people because it's what feels right and good to me. I just do not want to be on the receiving end of that kind of abuse anymore. I do not do confrontations well at all and I never know how to react or what to say and end up crumbling under the weight of them a lot of times.I like your convictions and I think you are actually very strong for having your philosophy. I get so much from reading your blog because it gives me such a wonderful way of looking at things.Thank you,Bird

  2. Thank you Bird. Such kind praise. What gives me the most pleasure is the appreciation I receive when I can help somebody. A simple "thank you" doesn't seem like much but means a lot.When I come across somebody who is rude or abusive to me I do feel uncomfortable or even afraid. But I remain polite, at least at first – in part because I can't handle confrontations. And if they continue then I ignore them. I have realised that I can just walk away. It's a form of empowerment. It doesn't bother me if they find me rude – I treat people in the way I judge that they deserve based on how they treat me. I won't harm anybody but I refuse to give anything – including my time – to those who mistreat me.I do try to keep a positive outlook and I think I manage to express that, at least by the conclusion of many of my posts. Part of it is that I find writing so therapeutic – it allows me to express, and then understand and handle my feelings. Sometimes I start writing amid a storm of strong emotion. By the end of it I usually feel calmer and happier.

  3. My son, who is 9 and has Asperger's doesn't have a mean bone in his body and can't understand why someone would bully. So far, no bullies at his school, but as his parent, I dread the day that a bully appears. I am teaching him that bullies often have issues with anger and often feel bad about themselves, and we are to feel sorry for them, that they can only get enjoyment from life by hurting others. What kind of existence is that? I would much rather be on our side, where we know we have people who love and care for us, and that is who we need to surround ourselves with. I do hope your wife is OK.

  4. This post reminds me of both the argument “high functioning autism and aspergers are just fancy ways of saying you’re shy” and the argument “people accused of being insensitive are using autism as an excuse” – it’s a tangent from the topic you wrote about here, but it has to do with bullying experiences generally too, since habitual bullies do tend to pick on anyone with a disability label either way. Plus a bully who knows you consider yourself autistic or have an autism diagnosis will likely find ways to make fun of you for it, that may include arguing they think the rising rates of reported autism are probably a hoax and you’re just looking for excuses when you bring that up about yourself. Because if they do that when you do see the need to bring it up, they probably realized you’re only bringing it up as needed, i.e. when you were already in a vulnerable position, and bullies prefer to kick you when you’re down.

    It can leave you feeling like you ended up with a clinical label for a state of affairs in which you decided the only nice thing you could say to yourself about the way your life has been going is that all the bullying and teasing about how isolated and easy to dislike, resent, or “be bored with and prefer to ignore” you are as an individual, according to the people who have spent the most time with you altogether, was actually a reflection on your own avoidant habits (I was avoiding them first, and they just say things like that because they don’t like feeling ignored, but they’re difficult to get along with and it was merely self-preservation to try and keep my distance from those individuals), and then you read too much between the lines – maybe I’m too avoidant of other people generally, maybe I need to learn how to reach out more, maybe the only thing wrong with my life is that I have a history of not establishing a strong sense of confidence socializing, feeling more comfortable alone than in a group trying to make new friends, etc.

    As if labelling ostracism an organic disease of your own that explains away the way people you happen to know have gotten into the habit of treating you badly is a way to avoid getting hung up on their choices, and focus on the long shot possibility that even for someone as far from self-assured socially as yourself, there’s probably still a way to learn how to make a friend now and then, and not feel resigned to the level of isolation that being intentionally socially rejected by too many people in your life can impose on you, and all the unhappiness that would entail if you could never do anything about it. When I’m feeling especially annoyed with how much fraud goes on in the medical professions and generally skeptical of the official line on the etiology of autism, this seems plausible to me – the label may help people like me as a way of grouping symptoms together that produce similar patterns of disability and personal frustration across different people who report somewhat similar experiences, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the medical model is the best explanation for what those people have in common, it’s just increasingly conventional to feel safe using a label like autism and positing that if you are autistic and feel bullied, people are being insensitive about the limitations associated with autism, and being autistic isn’t just an arbitrary way of reframing “feeling bullied” that would make you sound like a hypochondriac.

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