It’s time to talk day and I want to share my own private story relating to bullying and how it has affected me.
For as long as I can remember I have always been subject to some form of bullying. First it started in the playground with the typical name calling. I was called spotty a lot because at the age of 8 I had developed horrendous acne that would remain with me until my mid-twenties.
Then in high school I was bullied for a number of other reasons including; having blonde hair and been good at maths and science. I succumbed to peer pressure and asked my mum to dye my gorgeous blonde locks brown in an irrational attempt to fit in. Did it work? No I just got bullied even more. I should point out my mum had no idea as to the reasons for dyeing my hair other than I told her I fancied a change. Name calling had advanced from spotty to E=MC2, point dexter and ironing board (for my lack of chest growth).
Between the ages of 11-16 I endured this name calling and even physical assaults from my personal items been taken and having acid poured on them to having a bottle of cola poured over my head whilst sat in a French class. Nothing was ever said to my parents by the school and teachers showed little to no interest and tried to shrug such behaviours off as ‘normal’.
So as you can imagine high school was a lonely and miserable place except for a couple of close friends. I longed for college where I thought some of the pre-adultescent behaviour would disappear. No, it just followed me. When I turned 17 I signed up for the military to escape my home city and at the age of 18 after completing my A-levels (my back up plan) I officially enlisted.
The bullying settled for a while but then during the middle of basic training it started and this time by a group of younger girls all because I had started to see my boyfriend (now loving husband). I was bullied in the most awful way – these girls made up stories about me to my boyfriend. Things like I was cheating etc but that came to a head one weekend when one of the culprits telephoned my boyfriend (whilst I was in the shower in the next room) to say they had seen me in town with another bloke. Finally, the ring-leader of these stories was caught out! I am still thankful to this day that my boyfriend stood by me and believed every word I said and not that of the others.
The final event of my military bullying came when I joined the main service (completed all training). My so called colleagues just didn’t like me because I got on with the job and found it easy. I didn’t go out drinking every night with them or gamble my money away at the casino. I was on a path to fast track promotion when I let the bullying get to me. I was locked in small cupboards in the dark. Tied to chairs with duct tape. Had my hair cut. Had people pour unknown fluids onto my bed, deface my photographs and steal parts of my uniform. I was an utter reck. I took to drinking and not in a positive way! I was probably one step from been sent to rehab when I realised I had a problem and quit cold turkey. Nowadays I hardly drink and when I do, a couple is more than enough to keep me happy. I know my limits and to me that’s a big thing. A bottle of Barcardi at 08:00 was my pre-work pick me up. I took drastic action and left the military to pursue an alternative career. Which I’m proud to say I have stuck with for over a decade and I’m good at it and recognised for my achievements.
That doesn’t mean my story of bullying stopped. No I was once again bullied but this time in a new work environment. A colleague would delete my work off the server and say I hadn’t done anything (thankfully I’d always have a back up on my desktop as proof). I was also refrained from going on site visits because I lacked experience yet the receptionist with absolutely zero experience and joined the team went out on day one (probably because they were friends with the boss). Some days I’d walk into work and from the reception I’d hear them talking about me in a very negative way. I really started to doubt myself and my abilities. Clearly as a human being there was something wrong with me. I was 21 and had endured bullying for 13 years. I quit that job and started with the company who I’ve been with for nearly a decade. I enjoy what I do and I know it is stressful and your not always there to be liked but the bullying seems to have stopped. I feel much more at peace with life and enjoy going to work.
If I could speak to my younger self and give myself one piece of advice it would be to tell someone about the bullying and insist something be done.
My experiences led me to believe that the more successful you are the more likely you are to be bullied. It’s obviously a ridiculous idea however, it’s the only thought process that brings me peace about my past. I am also not saying my current success is a result of the years of bullying but at least I can hold my head high and know that everything I’ve done has led to where I am now. So don’t pity me, give me sympathy if anything feel sorry for the fools that didn’t win. I’m still standing, yes they wore me down in some places and won some battles but I’m winning the war.
If like me you’ve suffered years of bullying speak out. However, don’t do it to belittle your bullies otherwise you just become one. Raise awareness and prevent bullying in the first place.