I've been wanting to write in this community for a long time, and only now getting up the nerve.
I've always been a gentle soul at heart. Lived in an area of town, my first few years, where there were literally no other children in the area. But I was a loner then anyway; those rare times I would run across other children, I had absolutely no interest in them. Parents worried, so they put me in daycare to get me to socialize. I didn't. Aside from being a loner with no interest in other kids, I was a weirdo. Did my own thing, always, regardless of what others thought. Even gender roles were unimportant to me. At the time, I never even noticed their reactions or cared.
Went to kindergarten, had my first experience with a bully. My favorite toy, Patch Cat the stuffed cat, which I had taken to show and tell, was the subject of "keep away." In the tearful effort to get Patch Cat back, his tail ripped off. I managed to get him back, tail and all, and Mom repaired him. But my estimation of other kids switched from "background noise" to "potential threats." I was too sensitive for my own good. I withdrew from reality. The rest of my childhood is a blur of disjointed images, out-of-order memories, and I've forgotten far more than I remember. I'm surprised my parents didn't know how bad it was, and have me institutionalized. I'm not sure how I snapped out of it.
I remember the bullies. But I also remember having a few friends, too. Mostly other weirdos like me. One friend, my best friend at the time, was homosexual and attracted to me. I won't go into more detail about that here. But I remember that friendship fondly.
It wasn't easy to start with, and our moving around a lot didn't help.
I started to come out of my self-imposed mental exile around the time my sister was born. When I was at school, I still kept to myself and spaced out most of it. I was highly intelligent even then, but anything remotely difficult I just tuned out. Math was my worst subject, made worse by my apathy. I still struggle with it.
One thing I remember with real clarity, since they did it even in high school. When others were doing homework during free time in classes, I would leave it to do it at home (if I bothered to do it at all). Instead, I would read. The bullies were fond of playing "keep away" with my books, and only giving it back when they'd taken the bookmark out first. I got into the habit, as a result, of having half a dozen or more bookmarks; only I knew which one was my real place in the book, and even if they took all of these out, I had the page number memorized.
When I would get bullied, it was almost never physical. But whoever said "words can't hurt" was frakking stupid. Elementary school was an emotional war zone, and I never fought back. As I started coming back to reality, the emotions I had set aside at school hit me with their delayed reactions and were all the more powerful for that. A rage like a poison bubble in my soul began to form, anger at the world and at all the people who had ever hurt me. A rage that only surfaced when I was safe at home. A rage that would get triggered by the stupidest things, causing me to lash out at the people I loved with the violence and rage I should have been aiming at the bullies, but could not. I eventually got that rage under control, but it still exists, and I must be constantly vigilant, especially online, to try to keep it in check.
To this day, I have fantasies of how things would have been different if that rage had boiled to the surface at more appropriate times. Fantasies of kicking the bullies in the teeth, or stabbing them with pens. When I'm feeling particularly vindictive, I imagine stabbing their hands with a fork so hard it has to be surgically removed. My imagination has gotten evil over the decades. It would never have happened, though. My imagination is violent, my words can be violent at times, but my actions are not. Even when my control over myself during my rages was at its least, I mostly just threw things at walls.
As bad as elementary school was, high school was worse. Partly because I lost the ability to withdraw from reality like I used to do, partly because I can actually remember it, and partly because it was actually worse. Vicious lies were spread about me; hurtful lies. I was frequently, every day, sexually harassed. The worst was when someone found my website; how they had, when my real name was nowhere on it, I don't know. But they found out about my being bisexual. They found out about my being transgendered. And they found out about my being pagan. Among other things. They had proof, at last, that I was indeed a weirdo. The bullying got worse.
But I remember how I was. I remember how I am even now, with the exception of that poison bubble of rage and hatred that burns in my soul. I have never forgiven any of the bullies for what they did. They all contributed to corrupting a gentle soul with a violent rage and hatred that belongs there about as much as a malignant cancer belongs in a healthy body. One of my high school bullies tried friending me on Facebook. I blocked him, but the gall of attempting to friend me made me so angry, I wished at the time that he was *there*, so I could kick his testicles into his throat.
I don't know how I might have turned out if not for the bullies. But I know that with them, I have something alien in my soul that doesn't belong there; something poisonous, something completely unlike the rest of me. When I was a little kid, I accidentally killed a baby bird (that had already fallen out of its nest, and so was doomed anyway, I just didn't know it), and I still feel bad about it when I remember it. That's what the majority of my soul is like. Completely at odds with the cancerous rage that will, I know, laugh gleefully if I ever hear of any of my bullies dying in some horrible, gruesome way.
I want to forgive them. I am not a Christian, but Jesus's teachings embody my own goals; love, forgiveness, and kindness. Yet I find I cannot forgive them. The poison bubble in my soul says forgiveness is weak, says they deserve to be hated. If the poison bubble were calling the shots, it would have me hunt them all down and torture them all in horrible, gory ways before letting them die. This is what they've done to me. And because of that, I cannot and will not forgive any of them. Ever.
Does it "get better"? For me, it has. But "better" is subjective. I'm happier than I was. I have true friends now. I am openly myself, openly the weirdo I have always been. But... as a result of my experiences with bullies, I am missing most of my childhood memories. As a result of the bullying, my education suffered. My social skills were crippled, making it difficult to get a job and even harder to keep one once I had one. I'm on disability now because I haven't figured out how to cope in this world, thanks to the damage they inflicted. I've been depressed all my life as a result, and struggle to get myself to do even simple tasks. Even writing, which I love to do, becomes difficult. I've been working on trying to heal, to recover and to thrive, since I finally escaped the educational institution, but it's a constant struggle. I feel like Sisyphus, forever pushing a boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll down the hill again. And I constantly struggle with that rage and hatred, flipping back and forth between love for my fellow human beings, wanting to help them be well, and the poison bubble's fervent desire to see the entire species go extinct; struggling between hopeful optimism and cynical pessimism.
Granted, this does give me something to write about. Most of my characters struggle with similar issues. My writing, regardless of plot, is always - at heart - about psychological issues, about pain, and about the healing process. About trying to become a better person. About learning to love yourself for all that you are, and love others for all that *they* are. And it's about unconditional love, which is the only kind of love that truly matters.
*Le sigh* If anyone ever tells you "words don't hurt," tell them they're full of shit. Because they are. Emotional abuse is 1000 times more damaging than physical abuse, for the soul is such a fragile thing compared to the body. They say "time heals all wounds," too, which is also a load of crap. Only hard work heals psychological wounds; without hard work, time only makes psychological wounds fester and gangrene.
EDITED TO ADD: I forgot to mention something that helped me a lot growing up: my mutant power. Well, I call it my mutant power. I can look into someone's eyes and see their soul. That is, I can read everything important about their character in their eyes, and thus know if they are a threat or not. I'll trust anyone my mutant power says I can trust, and the only two times I've ever been wrong was when I didn't want to accept my mutant power's information.
It helped me out so I never fell for attempts by bullies to befriend me just so they could cut me down later. It also revealed to me that one of my bullies was attracted to me and doing that old "boys picking on someone they like because they can't express their emotions yet" routine; because of my mutant power, I turned that one bully into a best friend, because I saw the real reason for his behavior.
Crossposted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org