As a kid, I sat through countless assemblies that involved a guest speaker, videos and sometimes even puppets to explain bullying. Everything was explained to the simplest degree; bullying is bad. If you could identify the bully, the bullied, and the bystander you were good to go. They told you that being nice to others and standing up for the bullied person would solve everything, but they never put you in the bullied person’s shoes. They never told you about the emotions it brings out or the lifelong effects it can have on someone’s life. They keep things as simple as possible to make everyone feel more comfortable about learning about bullying, but in today’s world, where television shows and movies depict bullying to the most extreme degree, it’s time for people to learn the basic truths of life after being bullied. There’s more to the aftermath of being bullied than just getting hurt feelings and there’s often less to being bullied than wanting to end one’s life. There is a territory in the middle that is overlooked and no matter how simple or big of a deal it may seem to be, the pain of being bullied, no matter how drastic, is a pain that can never be forgotten.
1. It can happen to and be done by anyone.
I never thought that I would be the girl who got bullied by anyone, but when the bullies were my own “best friends”, I was even more shocked. Looking back, I should’ve seen it coming because my friend group survived off of drama and pettiness, but I never expected it to actually happen. When it did happen, it hit me like multiple punches to the gut. I guess the moral to this point is to be extremely careful of who you associate yourself with because spending too much time with the wrong people will only hurt you in the long run and make you feel like you have no one when things go wrong.
2. You start to question your relationships with others.
When people, or even your friends start to treat you like dirt, you feel as though everyone sees you as exactly that. People are already nasty to you so you wouldn’t be too surprised if others do as well. But just because one or a few friendships have gone south doesn’t mean that they all will and one situation is never indicative of another while dealing with other people. There are people in this world who are nice, and sometimes that’s super hard to believe after being treated so poorly for so long. I believe that there are people out there who will never hurt me and value me as a person, but getting close to other people freaks me out. It’s not worth the risk to get hurt again.
3. You’re afraid to lean on others to help.
Nobody wants to be a burden to others or make their problems the center of attention for others to see or deal with. Plus, I really don’t want others to constantly feel bad for me- relationships formed out of pity always end up one-sided after some time. I usually end up bottling things up inside and then once I can’t keep it all in, I become your own ticking time bomb. It becomes a vicious cycle. Once others heard about what I had been going through, they encourage me to talk about things with them, but that’s so much easier said than done.
4. You’re hesitant to opening up to people in new friendships/relationships.
Opening up to people I already know a little bit can be hard enough, but getting to know and being around people I have never met before is almost debilitating. Trust and kindness seem almost nonexistent. I become almost afraid to get close to other people because I don’t know what their true intentions are with me, and it literally becomes a fear. It’s frustrating when I want to get to know people but my mind puts up a wall and it feels nearly impossible to try to knock it down even in the slightest bit. Over time, this wall gets shorter and weaker but my past will always make me hesitant in some ways.
5. People are afraid to ask you about your situation.
The trauma that bullying leaves behind can be very damaging, but just because I’ve been bullied doesn’t mean I am fragile or made of glass. Once I open up to some people about my experience, I’ve found that some people are not exactly afraid, but super cautious about how they act or what they say around me. I respect the mindfulness that this shows of others, but in no way am I a weaker person due to past events. If anything, my experiences have made me stronger and if I open up to you about it, that means that I trust you and I’m willing to share more of myself with you. Just because it’s a more sensitive topic doesn’t mean it has to be completely disregarded.
6. You finally find your worth.
This long-term side effect is actually a positive one, but after going through a storm, the sun always seems to shine once again. I finally realized who is worth my time and effort and who is not. I was able to see the true colors of people who I thought were completely different, but as much as the truth hurts, I finally got to be free of those lies. I surrounded myself with people who actually love and care about me and who make me feel like I'm worth it. I finally gained more self respect than I thought was possible because it took a lot of strength and perseverance to finally feel okay again. I know that what I just went through made me tougher than I was before and I began to appreciate all the highs and the lows because they have shaped me into who I am today, and I love myself. It takes time and healing but the pain and the struggle is worth fighting for to reach that self love.