Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bullying and Healing Old Wounds


For most of my posts I like to have a news item or event on which to base my writing from...heaven knows there are plenty of things in the news to be grist for the mill. The developments within the Catholic Church alone could keep us talking for days. But...for some reason my mind keeps coming back around to bullying. No...it's not some special anti-bullying holiday, nor has some terrible example of peer abuse popped up in the news today. It's just on my mind lately because, like many of us, I went through it. Bullying dominated my life and made me hate and fear school from elementary into high school. School was the hell were I was tortured and telling adults did nothing to fix it....then. Since there was no help for what was happening to me there was little to do about it but find ways to survive and that's what I did....

There is the assumption that time heals all wounds and that after awhile past trauma's should not hurt us anymore. I guess it's true given enough time passes. But as I am sitting here sipping my coffee as a 40 year old adult far removed from the days I was bullied, I am wondering what the long term effect of those years was on who I am today. Bullying...especially intense and sustained bullying...leaves it's mark on a person. It's like scar tissue, it may not be as crippling as when it was new, but it never really goes away completely. If I want to, I can remember the faces and events of what happened with more clarity than I can remember some birthdays or Christmas's. because of those days of constant fear, I have an instictive need to avoid conflict...even watching it on t.v. can trigger anxiety feelings in me. And worst of all is the damage that is done to our self-esteem. It has taken me years to begin to believe that I have a right to consider myself as good as the person next to me...or to speak up for myself at all. I literally lost all sense of a healthy ego. Now, even 30 years later I still struggle with this.

I know that some of what I write here may be embarrassing for me to admit in such a public forum....but it happened. It may be uncomfortable for some to read but this post is my place to work it out and hopefully find wisdom....either in just telling the tale, or in hearing from others. So my question today is....how does being bullied affect us as grown ups? If we can get through those days, does that which does not kill us really make us stronger...or just stranger?

The Bad Times...
Bullying for me began when my parents divorced. I was eight years old and in fourth grade. About halfway through the school year my parents announced that they were going to split up and that my brother and I would be going with my mom to live with her parents in a town four hours north of my home town of Santa Rosa. I am not naming the town because I don't have great memories of it, suffice it to say that it had a Shell gas station at the edge of town that someone had shot the "S" out of so that it only read "hell"...which  was appropriate. The people there were not very welcoming to anyone they considered an outsider...and that's just what I became.

I don't know why I got singled out. Perhaps because I was the quintessential nerd. All I needed was a pocket protector and a snorty laugh. I was skinny, did well in school, and kind of obsessive about following rules. Maybe it was because I was a new kid in a school system that almost never saw new kids, or perhaps it was because it was just the age when kids start changing and begin to form social hierarchies and I just had the dumb luck of having to start over from zero at the worst possible time. However it happened, being the new kid in a new town where everyone knew each other put me on the out and it was the first time I had ever felt rejected by almost everyone. There were kids who were bigger, stronger, more athletic, dressed better, more socially connected, already beginning to be interested in dating... and each and every one of them let me know how inferior I was.

These were the years when the kid sitting behind me would call me a name only him and his friends could here and the whole table would laugh just loud enough so a teacher couldn't hear. Telling a teacher never helped and only ensured that the rest of the class became in on the joke and the joke was me. This is when you learn words like faggot and fudge packer. Even if you have no clue what they really mean you know that they are bad...really really bad and you don't want to be one of them. But with your face burning with shame you know you only have so many choices...call them a name back and get called out to a fight at the bike racks after school...ignore it and get called out to a fight at the bike racks after school...or tell a teacher and get called a snitch and called out to a fight at the bike racks after school.


Now a few kids would have eventually reached their limit with being intimidated and either snapped and popped that kid in the face...or shown up at the bike racks as a show that they couldn't be made afraid anymore. I was never that kid. Being bullied by some kid that made me the laughing stock of the class was never half as bad as how ashamed oh myself I was for never finding the courage to fight back. I dreamed about so many ways of getting revenge..or changing myself in nearly every way possible to make myself into a cool kid. But the cycle of intimidation and self hate became my life. Teachers never stepped in to stop any of it and telling them what was going on didn't yield any more response than, "just ignore them"....which is just what my teachers did...ignore it.

The bullies were in my class and at home they lived down the street from me. One boy, "Robbie", was a class mate that I tried every way I knew how to be friends with but he had a mean streak in him. This was the kid who chained me up to a tree and had his sic'd his doberman on me while he laughed his head off. Him and his friends used to have a great time promising to kick my ass and laughing while they chased me off. This was the way my life was...not every day...but most. I knew that the world was not a safe place...school was never a safe place...and just going out to play came with having to be aware of who else was on the street that was out to get me. It makes me sound like I was living like a hunted rabbit...and it some ways it felt that way. I always had to be on the look out.

These were times when I learned how to hate. I hated the people who threatened and harrased me with a fiery passion but most of all I learned to hate myself. I hated my skinny body, the color of my eyes and hair...I hated that I was too much of a goodie-two-shoes to be as bad as all the other kids said they were. I had crushes on girls that would curl up their lips at me as if they had just smelled something horrible. Throw in being monumentally bad at sports, which made the rest of the class angry at me if they had to have me on their team...and they let me know what a f*ck up they thought I was. There really was no place to go to escape it except in a book or in my head, which only made things worse.

I got a little older and I learned to deal with my pariah status by being as invisible as possible. I knew where the bullies hung out and I made sure to be were they weren't. The library became a refuge not really because I wanted to be there during recesses...but more because there was always an adult there and none of the bullies had courage enough to follow me in. I became really good at being unseen and out of the eyes of people who would do me harm to increase their own social standing with their crony friends.

it is my regret that even though I knew what it felt like be the gum on the shoes of the bottom of the bottom of the social ladder...that when it came time for others to be picked on....I laughed to. I was so glad that for once it wasn't me. Some where girls who were really nice but also really poor and people called them all sorts of names and you didn't want to be paired with them. I remember those moments with shame that I knew what it felt like to be treated that way and I still was a part of making their life hell too. I know somewhere they are out there still dealing with the aftermath of their own mistreatment and I wish I could just tell them that I was sorry and that they didn't deserve any of it. None of us did.

Telling my parents what was going on didn't change anything much. They were from that generation where men had to be men and little boys were in training to be men so all of this was just training from the school of hard knocks. Neither my mom or dad understood why I was so scared to fight back or why it frightened me so much to potentially get beaten up. In there mind, being beaten up was a small price to pay for your dignity...to me it was all the same shame.  I think my mom had the hardest time with it because she was a single mom and dealing with two boys on her own. In the beginning she would go to the principle over some incident, but over time she got less and less patient with me to where she eventually just stopped doing anything about it at all. It all came to a head in seventh grade when I was riding the bus home and some kids behind me had taken all my stuff out of my pack and thrown it around the bus laughing. I couldn't get any of it back and I felt helpless and humiliated...nor did the bus driver do anything to stop it. I got off the bus at the next stop with white hot anger and shame making my ears and face burn. I walked the remainder of the way home ashamed of myself and wishing I would not exist anymore. I got home to find my mom sunbathing in the back yard and I told her everything that happened through tears. This time though, she did not even raise her head to look at me. she just continued to lay in the sun until it became clear that I wasn't going away. At which point she said, "what do you want me to do about it?" meaning....this is your problem and you have to deal with it. She made it clear that I was on my own from their on out. I had no idea what to do. I just felt abandoned. The kids at school didn't like me and now I had just lost the respect of my own mother....and deep down, I blamed myself. All the things those kids said about me must be true.

Living with my father didn't improve my situation any. I thought moving far away from "hell" would let me get a fresh start. But, I was still me, and in short order I had all the same problems in a whole new school. One day I did get jumped by some kids from my class while walking home. It was the first time I had ever been in a real fight and I had not one clue how to handle myself. It was over so fast I had no recollection of what happened...nor of picking myself up off the side of the road covered in dirt and blood to walk to rest of the way home. No one on the busy road stopped to help me. But, when I made it home  I had to tell my dad what happened. My dad made it clear to me that if I ever got into a fight and did not defend myself, he would kick my ass himself. The "I hate myself" meter went off the scale then and if I had the courage to take my leather belt and hang myself in my closet I would have done it then. I promise you that I thought about it. I'm not really sure whether I was too afraid to not live anymore...or if I was my fear of going to hell that kept me from doing it, but I didn't.


How It Turned Around...
Time went on and I got kicked out of high school because I cut more school than I attended. The last chance for me was continuation school. I tease that it was the school for bad kids but in actuality it was the best thing  that could have happened to me. Even though the kids I was going to school with were there for fighting, drugs, cutting all of us were now in the position that we had to decide our own fate. We were all kids who had bottomed out...or almost bottomed out, and so there were no judgments between each other. We all had to work our asses off if we wanted to graduate or give up and drop out for good. I worked my butt off to earn enough credit to graduate...we all did....and all of the sudden it was o.k. to be smart again. A strength I had buried to not stand out finally became a positive in my life instead of making me a target and I needed it to succeed. It was a first time I allowed myself to be me in years.

Once out of school I started to see what happens to us when we are no longer in the fish bowl of public education. A-list girls got pregnent and became everyday no-makeup, sweat pant wearing house-moms and the jocks that tripped you in the halls and called you a fag, got fat and got menial jobs...all of us were on the same playing field all of the sudden. It was illuminating to me to see them as so less than perfect. Changing how I saw the people who had been at the top of the social heap changed how I saw myself a little bit. I began to get the glimmer that maybe I was just...normal.

Later I finally managed to come out to myself and began dealing with myself as a gay man and so many things about my past began to make more sense. Especially why I was such a late bloomer with girls. Slowly and steadily as my body finally filled out...I also grew into myself. I dated...found love and lost it...learned that who I was as a gay person was another strength I didn't have to disown. As a result now I am here as a 40 year old, happily married adult with two kids looking over the past and asking himself what it all meant in the end. All the times I thought it would never end or that things would never be different...and yet they are.

The legacy of those days still lives on in many ways and I struggle sometimes to understand why they had to be. Was their a lesson to be learned?....to be strong,to stand up for myself, to have compassion for others. And if there was a lesson, did I learn it? I can't say for sure. I know that I did learn to survive and keep moving when someone intentionally wants to grind your spirit into dust. I learned to have compassion for others who go through the same things...and oddly...I learned to have compassion for those who think they sit on the top of the world only to be humbled by life in the real world. And...I learned never ever to treat anyone else the way I was treated.

But with the lessons learned are still some things that are a work in progress. The parts of me that believed I was worthless have taken a long time to change. For too many years I had believed I was nothing and unlearning that is difficult. Speaking up for myself can be a challenge for me and when I do I often worry about if I offended them or if I was right to be that assertive. My husband helps me with this. Sometimes I let people attack me all they want because I have learned to bear so much more than any internet troll could ever dish out. Often I accept treatment to myself that I would go ape sh*t about if it was directed to my family. These are the scars of being bullied and they stay with us for a very long time. Growing up and growing older soften their sharp edges a bit but you still know they are in there, like broken bones never healed.

So when we tell kids that "It gets better" I know that it does, but I also understand why they can't quite believe it. Our lives don't stay the same forever but you can't see that when your mind and heart are full of so much pain. But another thing that we don't see when in pain is that even if our circumstances never change...we do. We eventually gain the power to change those circumstances only to find that those same circumstances had changed us in ways we couldn't see...some bad...some good. Yes we learn to be strong, but we also have a lot of baggage to unlearn.

when my son gets called a name at school(which is rare) it is hard for me not to revert back to feeling like I did then and then going crazy at school because I never want him to have to go through what I did. No one ever should have to feel unsafe at school because of their physical differences, their sexuality, their race, you name it. It boils my blood and hits me in a very personal place. But Daniel does eventually find his limit and fights back. It is part of the reason that I admire him...he has an inner strength I only wish I could have had at his age.

But here I am putting some of my most embarrassing details on the internet. Things that to this day still make me angry at myself that I allowed other people to do that to me. Why could I not find the courage to just pop somebody in the nose then? It makes me ashamed to remember it.....but because I do, I am driven that much harder to not let it happen to me or anyone else ever again. For me and for anyone else who made it into adulthood after intense bullying, our pasts may shape who we have become...but it does not place limits on our future. I am already different than I was 1980. I wanted my parents and teachers to make all my problems go away and I know now that you can't depend on people to fix everything. Sometimes they cant and sometimes they just won't...even when they should. More lessons I guess.

In closing, I know that just as there are thousands of kids who are going through bullying for a range of reasons....and there are countless more grown ups who got through it and carry memories they wish they didn't have that can echo into who they are today. All of us may handle bullying differently, some people learn faster than others to fight for themselves...others never do.  There is the perception that we are asking for attention for something that happened so long ago. Many think that once you are out of the bullying situation that you should "just get over it." To be clear, we don't need a giant group hug and a good cry...our scars are our scars and we have learned to bear them. But if we are going to have any kind of conversation about bullying and how to stop it, we need to acknowledge that it is real and that it does have lasting effects.

This is my history with bullying. It is not comprehensive but I don't think either of us has the time for that. Needless to say I have written things here I don't like to remember and like to talk about even less. But in doing so maybe someone else will realize that they are not alone in their own experiences. The process of writing it all out also has shown me how much I have changed from the kid who ran away from everything and everyone. I meant what I said in my "love letter to anyone coming out" of so long ago, for all the crap I went through then, I would not trade my family and the love I know to not have gone through that. The significance of why I had to go through it all is still playing itself out and I don't yet know where it's all taking me. All I can be is grateful for my family and for right now.

but now I stand here with my secrets out for all to read, feeling just as exposed as I did in fourth grade. For those who have found a measure of healing of their own wounds....don't leave me standing here alone. Tell your own story if you can....but be kind to yourself if you find you can't. I have been there many times.

Until next time dear readers




23 comments:

  1. Bryan, I just want to give you a big hug! It make me sad to know that a man as big hearted and caring (and extremely handsome) as you was intensely bullied as a kid. I'm glad that you and Jay found each other and that you have a family that loves and cares for you as you do them.
    Much love to you and everyone who goes through something like this... It breaks my heart!

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  2. I remeber my high school years and how deal with bullying. I was fat , wearing glasses. People called me some names and some other embrassing stuff. But i told myself i can't let this happen to be, i ca't escape and hide. So i learn to deal with them. I learn to became badass person because i had to. As an adult now when i looked at these years i thought how silly i was .

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  3. Strange coincidence,before reading your post, I told my partner,today at lunch,after 17 years we are togheter, how I was bullyied during high school.There weren't such bad facts like the ones that happened to you, but left the same feelings of fear, low self esteem and desire to be invisible, but I was lucky to have the same friends for years, even if they didn't seemed to know what I was going through.I'm 44 now but still have those scars inside me.Involving my loved one today maybe could be a way to deal with those years, we'll see. I think you're a very generous and brave person. Wish the best for you and your beloved family. Hugs from Max, Italy

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  4. Brilliant post! I do love reading these kind of "warts an all" posts by people because there's so many different lessons to be learned with each part of it.

    I think the main effect of bullying for many of us, is that yes, it does shape who we are today and what we do in our lives. It kind of teaches us to look out for it happening to our loved ones and i think hind sight is a perfect thing, because now, most of us know we would deal with the bullys differently.

    I went through the school bullying over my sexuality and because i left myself as the easy target, i don't regret any of it happening because these days i find it much easyer to sit back and laugh when karma strikes each and every one of them kids who called me names, spat at me, pinned me up against a wall, tripped me over etc.

    While some of it maybe un-easy for you to talk about Bryan, your storys like you say may well get read by a teenage boy who's at the snapping point and thinking of taking their own lives, if posts like this can help them to see that others have been through it and that it really does get better, then job well done to everyone who shared their story with the world.

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  5. Another great post, I really like posts like this where you get to have a peak into what makes up the person writing them.

    I remember school very well, and the bullying though not as physical as yours (in part because the couple of times that it did get physical is when I would stand up for myself and put those trying to get physical to shame.) but from school was never a very nice place for me, I was over weight and just did not fit in that well, things started to get bad in middle school which is when the bullies started to pick on my sexuality, even though I was not even out to myself. I hated high school because it only got worse, It got so bad on the bus that I had to stop ridding and would wait up to a half hour after school got out until mom could get off work and pick me up, it is also why I got my driver license and started driving myself to school as soon as I could.

    I was bullied very much on my sexuality and just took it and that fostered a lot of hate in myself, I learned just to take it and not really stand up for my self. I got to the point that I thought that I deserved it and that I was not worth being treated well. I did every thing that I could to not stand out and to just blend into the back ground which meant that I did not socialise very much at all but instead would spend a lot of time off on my own just berried in books where I could escape for a while into a world where I did not have to deal with any of that. (being a book worm is something that I think is a positive as to this day I love to read, and am able to read multiple books at the same time and keep track of what is going on in all of them.)

    At 25 those scares still shape who I am, I still have issues with self esteem and feeling that I am worth anything, and that I deserve to be happy and to be treated like I matter. I still tend to blend into the back ground and be very unassertive even when people are treating me unfairly, and instead feel like they are right about me. I also have quite a shell that makes it hard for me to let people into my life, and to open up to them, or to even socialise. I do feel how ever that it has made me a stronger person,(along with other things in my life) I do feel that I am a much better person because of the bullying that I went threw. On of the biggest things that I think going threw that has done is it to make me a much more compassionate person which is something that I think is very good.

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  6. Completely unrelated, perhaps. For the sake of not mongering drama but still fulfilling my need to speak. I will be obtuse Visitors can be wonderful guests but it can be sad to see them leave. This has happened once before and I had to say goodbye then.
    Know friends that even if I cannot do much physically meaningful for you I do still care and wish you peace comfort and love.

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  7. Thanks to everyone for their responses. It can be difficult to be this revealing...even when you initiate it yourself. Your responses have been touching and I am grateful for each one :)
    Bryan

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  8. I was bullied in school and it hurt. I felt powerless. The teachers didn’t give a shit and I couldn’t go to my parents. It was a rough, tough, lonely time.

    It got better. Way better. I came out, dated, dated some more, shacked-up with a great guy and had kids. Crazy.

    The twins will soon start kindergarten here in San Francisco. Having two dads, I’m apprehensive about bullying. I’d hate for them to be targeted because of us.

    My partner and I have talked a lot about bullying. We come from two different places. He wasn’t bullied and liked school. So alien.

    One night he reminded me the kids are not me. They won’t have the same experience I had. The kids have two dads (and a huge extended family) who will love and support them completely. When (and if) something arrises, they will have teachers, friends and two dads who will kick ass.

    Thanks for putting in so much time on your site.

    Whacked Daddy

    PS My daughter wants to “sing on the computer” like your daughter.

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  9. Brian,

    I too was bullyed in High School. In fact I tried to kill my self 4 times durning high school. 2 of those times was because someone was bullying me every day when I was at school. As I had graduated and went a different direction I started reading a book called "The Sedona Method", which I was then able to let go of all that shit that happen.

    Thanks, Jason

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  10. I was a thin bony child all awkward angles and in some ways quite literally in another world. I lacked the meanness I saw in others I was quicker about understanding the social rule over any efforts I put into the work thrown at me and I was poor, hell with $4k to my name now I still am. I am a 'white' child of the ghetto. I am also a Choctaw that grew up as an outsider to both my native heritage and the white, and Christian, culture that does not (here at the time) contain language for my experiences. O and then the whole gay thing with a trans parent. So different in ways no one I knew understod. Yet all the same at the same time.
    I was bullied briefly, at least directly. Having rage issues that forced me to see the counselor the other kids got the message pretty clearly, if your gonna do something to me do it where I don't know its you and don't be direct-im not the one to leave it half done. It did not stop all bullying, of course, and I do still have extreme response to certain topics( words are a good thing because I can't do nice for a select group of about 20? People, they deserve rather vile things and not merely because I was a victim of theirs). The vast majority of my bullying was small, gum in hair, comments but only so far, the biggest bully for me was that I always felt like an outsider and I never wanted to be defined by these others who did not want to know me so mutch as put me in some ill conceived hole.

    My thoughts are this, it is a failure on the part of the adults in a child's life to not, at minimum, attempt to give the child appropriate tools survive. And too many times we accept situations that cause a failure to thrive because the act of changing it requires a change in ourselves.

    I can say that I have attempted to apologize to nearly every person I knew I had wrongq

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  11. Bryan, you don't have to feel embarrassed because of the bullying. You are everything that is right in this world and you didn't deserve all the bullying in school.

    A recent study has shown that the effects of bullying don't simply vanish once you quit school: 1420 people have been asked, if they had been bullied between the ages of 9 and 16 years. As young adults (19-26 years) they were checked for psychiatric disorders.
    The results: Anxiety disorders were least diagnosed within the group of youths who have not been bullied (6%). 24% of those who were bullied suffer from anxiety disorders and those who were both bullies and victims had an even higher rate (32%). The last group was also most diagnosed with depression and suicidal thoughts.
    Source: http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1654916

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  12. Wow.

    Thank you, Bryan.

    I see a lot of similarities in your story with my life as a gay man.

    The bully I faced was the one who I loved the most and in my own family. It was my own mother.

    I listened to her ridicule gay people during my developmental years as a teenager while I suffered in silence. The result of this was a failed suicide attempt my first year in college. I have no contact with her today.

    Here is a question I asked myself as I am an advocate for faith and spirituality which can be an unobstructed path to hope provided it is not used agaisnt us by the so-called anti-gay, religious leaders.

    If I could somehow go back in time and have God give me a different mother to have prevented the bullying would I take it???

    No. Because today I talk LGBT kids out of suicide. I understand how they feel because I have been there. I would never be doing suicide prevention work for LGBT youth if something bad had not happened to me. I am just lucky I failed.

    When somebody commits suicide from bullying of anykind the entire world loses.

    So here is my question to you , Bryan.

    Would you trade all this beautiful work you are doing on this website and reaching people all over the world with Hope to have not experienced all that pain and adversity when you were younger???

    You turned your pain into power dear boy. Perhaps, that is a real super hero. I know you would disagree with the super hero analogy as I read your response in an earlier blog. But that makes the analogy more valid because it shows you have humility which is a trait of a real leader.

    Keep up your good work as there is so much healing in all this.

    Truth, Wisdom, Love and Sincerity, to ALL mankind.

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  13. I used to bully certain kids at school. This Australasian girl, I bullied her through out 6th grade, spreading nasty rumors about her . This Mexican kid, I used to do and say the most racist things to him, and joke about his citizen status. And this perverted boy I used to physically abuse him in P.E, I'd kick him and chase him around with my friends and we were dumb back then so I had everyone isolate him, I told everyone not to talk to him, and when he came near to cross your fingers and run away. I used to bully this girl about her parents not loving her. And this middle eastern girl, I'd joke about her teeth, her religion, I used to take money from her. And this emo-scene type girl, her laziness made me angry so I'd call her out, everyday. and there was this little new kid,everyone thought he was gay,he would walk with his binder in his chest and drive through people in the hall and he did it to me, and I did what I did best I put him in his place. I bullied this fat kid..he'd eat up a storm, and talk about wanting to lose weight, so I told him what was on my mind...everyday. And then some finally had the courage to snitch on me...so I called it quits. I only did it cause I had serious anger issue, and knew I wasn't gonna get caught, I was young and dumb. I'm in 9th grade now, and I have become friends with the kids I bullied. I never really said sorry, cause I don't like to bring it up.

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  14. @ the anonymous poster who asked me if I would change anything now....

    In short....NO. I have too much to be truly thankfull for. I remember many days when the answer would have been yes in a heartbeat. But all this changed when I acknowledged that all I had gone through had made me stronger and changing the past would mean giving up those lessons. Having a husband and a family that I love more than all those years of pain is another reason why...if I had to...I would go through it again.

    @ at the OTHER anonymous poster who bullied....

    As great as it would be for those people to hear an apology for the pain you caused them...being a friend to them now helps. And one way you can help make it better is to never let bullying happen to anyone else when you see it.

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  15. Thank you, Bryan, for responding to the question regarding changing anything.

    If your prayer tonight was "thank you", it would be enough.

    I already know you have a grateful heart from the creation this website.

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  16. Hey Bryan..we are all here in the same boat. I can still remember my older sister calling me "Jimet" instead of Jim... She has apologized over and over and over.. HEY!!! I wanted an "Easy Bake Oven" for Christmas.. Those were different times but YES those scars will be with us until we die..unfortunately there is no erasing... That little kid Bryan has morphed into a beautiful man that is a stellar Dad who loves his kids and his husband more than himself... So..I guess we all need to go to Wallgreen's (they support gay rights) and buy some of that"goop" that heals wounds and go on... :)

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  17. Thank you Bryan for such an honest, poignant blog about bullying. I'm 41, and have avoided revisiting my own similar memories of being bullied as a child. You expressed yourself with such raw eloquence that it's making me think that perhaps I should. A really inspiring, thought-provoking read.

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  18. Hi Bryan,

    Thank you so much for posting this. It pains me to see someone like you still struggling with this on certain levels.

    "he has an inner strength I only wish I could have had at his age" I hope you do realise, in depth, that this is because of YOU and Jay!

    I'm currently studying to become a trainer to help kids who are being bullied. In this program it's all about standing your ground. I do get it when you say "I know now that you can't depend on people to fix everything.". That's is a good life lesson, but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't have guided you to being able to help yourself.

    Parenting AND teaching is about being guides. In what I can see, you both are guides when needed. They are both lucky to have you both!

    At first when reading your story (after feeling sad) I felt like reaching out to you as a kid. But then I thought, wouldn't it be great if YOU could. Not to show who you became, or where you're at, just because I know you are the strong, open-minded loving men a child like you were, was in need for.

    But maybe we should turn it around. Let the younger you come to you. Not knowing that he's looking at his older version. What would he see, looking at you being a stranger? How would he feel of you? I can imagine (really) that being honest, really honest about yourself from this perspective is really hard. The moment you dare to articulate how your inner child thinks of a person like you being more then allright (understatement) is hard. I figure he would be thinking: he's awesome. He understands, with him I would be safe. Am I wrong?

    From a personal perspective, I think (at this point in my life) that low self esteem issues I also have, are those of the younger version(for the most part). The little voice in my head saying the things you've mentioned (Did I hurt someone, can I, dare I, watch out don't get hurt, I failed again.), is in fact the young me talking. As an adult I know I'm ok. But I (in my core) don't feel it. In my core I am the little boy who didn't feel the love, strenght, attention he needed.

    I feel like a parent who knows that his kid is not doing/thinking the right things, but doesn't know what to do, to say or to show him, just because I haven't figured that part out myself. But as soon as I do, I guide him. Telling him the things he should have been told years ago. ("No, it's not ok thinking that, and this is why not...")

    You've told your story on the right time for me as a person and as the trainer I want to become.

    And I really have to add, your families stories have been exactly what I needed personaly. When I discovered them beginning 2013, my life took a different turn. I am still figuring it out what turn though. So thank you (all) for that! Thank you both for your honesty about yourself and about your relationship. It is helping me a lot!

    A big hug for you and Jay

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  19. Thank you Bryan for being willing to share ur heart with us readers. I too was bullied unmercifully as a child. I was overweight and wore glasses and I was teased so bad. I remember one time one fellow tried to run me off the side of the road into a ditch I was walking and he was on his bike. I was picked at and called more names at school than I can care to remember. I never had a boyfriend because all the boys ever did was tease me, hit me, and call me names. I remember at my prom I wanted to invite my friend Rose and no we werent a couple just best friends but the school refused to allow it because it would look like we were a couple. Oh my!! How closed minded can people be!! Anyways I just wanted to say thank u for sharing ur story. It gives hope to the rest of us that we are not alone in our own stories of bullying. God bless!!

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  20. I work as an attachment therapist to folks who've gone through past trauma - doing couple and family work. Reading this I went through so many emotions - sadness, empathy, anger, frustration...

    I so care about what you went through. It was not fair. This was no way for you to be treated. Leaving you angry, helpless, not believing in yourself, and so alone...

    I feel so dismayed by the BULLIES, the standbyers, the teachers AND your parents.

    Your parents JOB was to protect and nurture you. THey were meant to be there for you. What they taught you through them being neglectful is:

    * you don't matter
    * you're not important
    * we don't care
    * you're powerless
    * you're worthless

    It brings me to tears that you blame YOURSELF - and think of yourself for being weak. It's just not right.

    Your parents were being emotionally abuse. The UK Child Protection states that Emotional Abuse is:

    * continuously failing to show love and affection,

    *persistent rejection

    *criticism

    *belittling

    *bullying

    *frightening

    *harassment

    *taunting

    *threatening

    *ridiculing

    *scapegoating

    *ignoring


    MANY of these your parents did: threatening to hit you if you didn't act out, rejecting your needs, ignoring your cry, not meeting you deeply with love, belitteling you....

    I feel sad that you turned the anger onto YOU, when what you needed was THEM fighting FOR YOU, and them being ON your side, and THEM standing up to show that that you MATTER, you are SO worthwhile, you deserve SUCH GOODNESS, that you should be treasured and enjoyed, that what you feel is IMPORTANT, and you are to be cherished by that that care. And so importantly that the BULLIES must STOP.

    Bryan - you're a glorious man... I wish you'd rewrite the part where you say that you feel angry with yourself that you didn't get angry... and you put the anger where it belonged: with the folk who did not stand up FOR and WITH you.


    Ultimately your parents and teachers didn't do their job. It was NOT your fault. And it's NOT okay.


    If you'd had a father/mother who said: "what they're doing is ABSOLUTELY not okay, and I will STOP THIS NOW. NO child of mine will be treated like this, and I'm going to be here for you EVERY step of the way. I CARE ABOUT YOU, and You matter to me, and it DEVASTES me that ANYONE would treat you like this. I LOVE YOU, and I will do EVERYTHING to stop it!" What would you feel about yourself? Would you still be angry with yourself? Would the bullying have stopped? If they had stood BY you and UP for you, how would THAT have impacted who you are and how you see yourself?

    Did you know other folk who's parents were there - present, loving, engaged, and involved? How does the child feel about themselves?

    It wasn't your fault. You're a sweet, beautiful, kind soul - that should have been nurtured, encouraged, and delighted in.

    I'm giving you a HUGE HUG. You're a Honey! I wish you knew how amazing you are! Beaming you love!

    Love
    Natalie

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  21. Bryan, thank you for sharing your story. You are such a kind, loving, genuine person. It shows in your and Jay's videos and in your writing here. I know you only through YouTube and this blog, but I don't wish you to be anyone other than you.

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  22. Bryan,

    Your story resonates with me, as I too was a victim of bullying. I'm happy to see that you have flourished into a handsome, happy man - a gentleman - who has been blessed with a family of his own. You and Jay have done good, and God has smiled upon you both and blessed you both with each other to love, cherish, support, and yes challenge. You both received the ultimate gift; two beautiful children - who are truly gifts - for which to instill in them the traits to unconditionally love, accept and understand other peoples differences; that what makes another person unique (different) is something to be embraced and cherished as they are that person's "gifts", and are not to be ridiculed.

    Thank you Bryan and Jay for sharing moments of your life and family with us - especially to Bryan, as I understand how uncomfortable being in the "spot-light" can be.

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