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Friday, October 25, 2013

Fighting Back Against Bullies

Hello there Lovely Internet People!  I hope everyone out there on the interwebz is having a beautiful day!  I shared an article this morning on my Facebook pages that contained a poem written by a beautiful young woman who had taken her own life in response to the bullying she was subjected to.  You can find that story here, in case you missed it earlier.  

Now bullying is a topic that I have written about a lot, both here and on Facebook, so it shouldn't come as a shock to anyone when I tell you that I cannot stand bullies.  What might be surprising if you haven't been paying attention, is that I acknowledge quite readily that I can be as much of a bully as anyone else.  We are all bullies to one degree or another, it is just a part of human nature.  And while I fully support all the efforts currently being made to bring awareness to the devastation that can result from the societal acceptance of such destructive behavior, I really don't think we are ever going to be able to stop bullying from happening.  We should certainly keep trying, but I think there is a very important piece of the puzzle that we are missing here.                           

I really like the idea of the "Stand Up, Speak Out" campaign, but we need to take it much further.  We need to be teaching kids how to defend themselves!  No matter how hard we worked to eliminate bullying, it isn't going to happen, we can reduce it, but we won't ever be rid of it, because our society demands it.  Everything in our lives today is a constant reminder of how demented our priorities have become, we are constantly told how damaged, or broken, or just plain fucked up we are by advertisers trying to sell us their latest miracle cure for how messed up they want us to believe our lives are.  

Where are all the billions of dollars being spent on telling people that it is okay to accept themselves just as they are?  Oh yeah, there is no profit in that.  How can we convince people to sell their souls for our products if they like themselves?  They might figure out they don't really need 90% of the crap that keeps us living the high life while they toil there lives away for that little carrot of lies we dangle just out of their reach.  We can't have that now can we?

Yes, yes we fucking can have that!  That is exactly what we need, and we need it desperately!  We need to throw off the yoke and take back our lives.  But, until that happens, we really need to give the kids who are being tormented and tortured every day the tools and the skills to defend themselves.  I survived my adolescence solely because I had just enough of those skills to make it through the daily grind, if I had more of them, I might have been able to not just survive but to thrive, and that is what I want for every kid. They all deserve to thrive, to have the best possible life in the best possible world, and it is up to all of us to try to give them that opportunity.

So, now that I have finished my habitual long and circuitous route to get to the freakin point, what can someone who is being bullied do to protect themselves?  You use whatever the heck you have to work with I guess.  Humor and intelligence have always been my best defenses, but a quick foot to the groin has come in handy at times as well.  I learned to use their words against them, to twist what they said against me into something that made them look as stupid as they were acting.

I remember in 8th grade, one of my usual tormentors started accusing me of being a "witch".  No, not the kind with the "b" in front, an actual, magical type, hocus pocus witch.  So I stood up in front of the entire class, and I put a "curse" on her.   I waved my hands in the air and mumbled a few nonsensical words and then told her she had been cursed for all eternity.  She freaked out!  She spent weeks begging me to remove the curse!  I never did. 

Whatever rumor they tried to start, whatever assumptions they tried to make about me, I usually found a way to counter, by taking it and running with it. When they tried to get physically aggressive, I found the largest person in the school, and made her my best friend.  She was 5' 11" tall and weighed in at over 350 pounds, in the eighth grade, and she was a bad ass!  People tend to not want to fight you as much when they know they are going to pay for it, all I had to do was mention her name and they would scatter away like frightened little mice. 

Because I had always been a target I chose to befriend the other targets.  The outcasts, the "losers", the "rejects", those were my people, and they still are.  I like real people.  I have no interest in shallow, status quo loving people, never have.  Different, weird, strange, these are some of the words they used to describe me, and I embraced those words, with every fiber in my being, I own them, and I take PRIDE in them!

The victims of bullies will remain victims as long as they do not know there is another way.  We need to show them the way.  The answer is not to just educate the bullies, and the bystanders, we need to educate their victims too.  We need to empower kids to take control of their own lives and their destinies.  They can do it, they are perfectly capable of defending themselves if we allow them to know that they can.  Maybe, just maybe, if we let them stand up for themselves before they are completely broken, then maybe we can start saving some lives.

Do not live your life in fear of the bullies.  Never allow others to define who you are, and never believe that any one else can determine your value.  And for goodness sakes remember, no matter how loud or insistent the negativity may be, there is 99 times more quiet positivity stand right there beside you.  Just because you can't hear it at the moment doesn't now mean it is not there for you to gain strength from.  We are out here, and we will love you, just the way you are, but you have to make it through the shit first so that we can have that chance.

Until Next Time ...

         

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