Okay, I know assertiveness is an issue for a lot of people but for me it’s been a life long struggle. I’ve fallen prey to ‘the
disease to please’ at times and been unhappy for denying my true nature. This started in childhood, as most troubling issues tend to, where I was taught my thoughts, wishes and feelings meant nothing. A child can only hear so much criticism before they decide it’s not worth the pain of continual rejection and being ignored. For me, this came from my own mother. At school I was often picked on and bullied because I was not conventional in my interactions and looked like an easy target, I suppose.
The thing is I never made friends easily either. I had a few ‘frienimies'(friend+enemy) who would pretend they were friends with me but just used me for homework/class work. I wasn’t even very good as a student back then but I had this one girl who copied my journal entries in grade one during class then told the teacher I’d copied off of her! Then in second grade (I was 7) the same frienemy got my favourite pencil sharpener taken away because she was playing with it and talking so the teacher took it. I didn’t have the courage to ask for it back explaining that it was mine. In fact I lost a lot of personal items sharing them with the frienemy never returning them. Yes, I could have asked for the items back but I had learned from my mother I wasn’t worth listening to. So I never did anything. On my way home and to school I’d get bullied too being called names and made to feel unwelcome. It was very uncomfortable.
I think when I developed my eating disorder in junior high I was trying to take up less space and go unnoticed. Of course
there were many reasons I had my eating disorder but trying to be small enough so people would not notice me and leave me alone was in there too. The bullying didn’t stop in my teen years but it was more covert through social exclusion than overt mean comments, although there were still some of those as well. I guess I was trying to be as little bother as I could possibly be so people couldn’t find reasons to pick on me. The two friends I had in junior high were a combination of a friend and a frienemy. Each I tried to avoid but had so little backbone you couldn’t tell I was trying to avoid them(the friend was nice but not very bright and annoyed me).
By high school I’d managed to acquire a few friends from the older grades whom I got along with. But we weren’t close really and I had trouble feeling like I had the self worth to ask them to keep in touch with me after they’d graduated. It was lonely. I had my frienemy from junior high still and a few friends I chatted with and hung out with, yet I had such low self worth I couldn’t envisage any of them wanting me to hang out with them after school hours. The frienemy I’d have gladly left behind but she was like a parasite and I couldn’t tell her to bug off.
Well I won’t bore you with more details from my elementary-high school years in terms of bullying. The general pattern was I would be stuck either having no friends if I spoke my mind, and no
friends (except frienemies) if I didn’t because I didn’t want to be around the people who were drawn to me. It was a difficult time for me. Any kids I hung out with were usually ones who’d decided to be buddies with me. Seeing as how I had no social standing what right did I have to act better than them and tell them to go away? The kids I tried to be friends with were ‘out of my league’ so to speak, proper geeks, whereas I was a loner and outcast. Social groups never mix in schools, do they?
Thank goodness I made it through those years because university was much better. My friends were mainly from the hospital though, as I’d been in for mental health treatment when they were. We became friends and it seemed that, as unhealthy as we all were, at least it felt like they were easier to be with than those I’d been with in pre-university years. My self-esteem was still in the basement and I tolerated Narcissistic behaviour from people, essentially repeating the relationship I had with my NPD mother. But I had intelligent friends to talk to and hang out with finally.
After years in therapy I’d acquired a bit of self-esteem and awareness of what was and wasn’t healthy from my childhood
home. Progress had been made! Yet other problems remained. I don’t want to go into it all today because it would take quite awhile. So instead I’ll wrap up by telling you I’ve begun to feel I have the right to my thoughts, feelings and wishes like anyone else. All those years ago when my mother first started silencing me from the inside out got thrown out allowing new space for my healthy new thinking patterns. It’s taken some time to adjust. I’m not 100% yet but I am getting there and feel I have the right to be heard and listened to finally.
Bullying gets a lot of coverage in the media here in North America so I’m aware some of you may be tired of hearing about the issue. Well that’s fine as you needn’t read if you don’t want to! My concern has been with getting those memories out of my head so I could be free from their influence on me. I’ve never actually talked about being bullied before. In fact I’d largely repressed a lot of it. But it wanted to come out so I gave it it’s due here in a post. Hopefully you won’t mind another piece on bullying if you’ve grown tired hearing about it in the news as of late. Anyhow, I feel like I got ‘something off my chest’ by writing this. So I feel a bit better. Like there it all is, suddenly I’m stark naked mentally. What’s left cowering in the crevices of my mind now? I wonder, I wonder….
- Family: Utah boy who killed himself was bullied (sfgate.com)
- The Bullying Stops Here – Educate yourself and your kids on school harassment (theinsider.retailmenot.com)
- Anti-bullying week: Start Telling Other People (blogs.independent.co.uk)