The Importance of Sharing our Bullying Stories

A New Dawn

Picture © Herb Cohen (www.choiceofdirection.com)

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. ~George Santayana

When I first started out on this adventure to recover from the long-term damage that youth bullying caused me, I decided to do it with a blog website in 2007 and write down all the stories I could remember about what happened to me as a highly sensitive youth who was bullied daily. I created the website, “Bullying Stories” to do just that.

My purpose was altruistic in that I thought if I shared my stories, others would know they are not alone and I also thought it cathartic for me to let these stories go. I had buried the stories for so long in my mind, but at the time, after several incidents, to include the Columbine High School shootings, 9/11, and the Virginia Tech shootings, my stories came back to the surface of my mind.

Of course it was both altruistic and cathartic, but I didn’t yet understand that I had to let go of my past or be doomed to suffer with the C-PTSD I had been dealing with for near 30 years at the time.

I remember the early days of writing my stories down and weeping while writing them. I should have known then that it wasn’t going to be that easy to get past them, but it did feel good to get them off my chest. What I didn’t expect, was that I would be flooded by other people who wanted to also share their stories on my site. I recall reading them and thinking that, what happened to me was, in some ways, less painful than these stories:

  • There was the Pain and Suffering stories of someone whose life was irrevocably changed.
  • The Old Woman who cannot let go of her childhood bullying trauma.
  • There was the story of the grandma with her secret of what she did to her bullies as a youth.
  • Texas councilman, Joel Burns, sharing his own personal story to try to stop suicides, due to bullying.
  •  And then there is the one that was the most difficult for me to read called The Locker Room.

These are only a few of the stories I received. I am always happy to share more stories about bullying, as we are doomed to forget it if it isn’t kept in the spotlight. That said, the media does a pretty good job of talking about it now. Not so much, when I started in 2007.

So why share the stories?

They are living legacies of what can happen when people bully others. It inspires us (or at least me) to continue to share and talk about the harmful effects of bullying. It also still allows people to cathartically release this pain they are hiding.

What I didn’t understand when I started in 2007, was that releasing the story is only one part of recovery. The other is to let it go and move on in life. This, for me, took a long road of mental health therapy and working hard to return the authentic me that I had been hiding for over 30 years. I am happy now that I went through it and have come out better on the other side.

Crossing The LineI think it is healthy to share our stories, but only if you truly plan to let it go or seek help to overcome the pain it caused. I didn’t understand that at the time, but certainly do now. And I will continue to share anyone’s story that wishes to share it here. Just send me the story at alaneisenberg@bullyingrecovery.org and I will see to it that you are sharing your message.

As usual, thanks for reading. As I undertake my next novel “Crossing the Line” about the violence that bullying causes, please support me by voting for it to be published at soopllc.com/blog/book-ideas/crossing-line-alan-eisenberg/. I ultimately need 5,000 votes, so please help me out and share with others. I am, as always eternally grateful for your support.

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About bullyingrecovery

Alan Eisenberg is a Certified Life Coach with a niche in bullying and abuse recovery, Bullying Recovery activist, and author of "A Ladder In The Dark: My journey from bullying to self-acceptance". and "Crossing the Line". He has been writing and speaking to various audiences about the issue of C-PTSD and Bullying Recovery. Mr. Eisenberg has been featured on several print, radio shows and podcasts on this issue, including NPR and in the Boston Globe
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6 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Importance of Sharing our Bullying Stories | Bullying Stories

  2. Writing about being bullied is indeed a constructive way to work toward recovery. In my case, I was bullied as an adult in the workplace. To keep my sanity, I started keeping notes about the various ways I was bullied by my boss.
    I retired two to three years early just to get away from the bully. Now retired, I spent the past couple of years drafting a novel about bullies in the workplace. My hope is that other bully victims and their loved ones will be inspired to move forward with their lives without being dragged down by bullying memories.
    Of course, I relied heavily on my notes while victimized. I expect to publish it by this coming fall (2016).
    Aeisenbe, I appreciate your tireless efforts in sharing your own experience as well as others who have been bullied.

    • Thank you for your reply and for continuing the work to stop bullying. We all have stories to tell and I am glad you are writing yours. I wrote mine (“A Ladder In the Dark”) for the exact same reasons you bring up. I look forward to reading your book when it comes out.

  3. Pingback: Document Workplace Bullying –Protect your yourself and your rights! - Bullying Recovery, LLC

  4. My son turned 13 a couple of weeks ago. When he was in the 4th grade the Christian school he had attended since kindergarden combined his class of 6 kids, with the 5th grade class of 8 kids, to make things more economical. About the second quarter, he began to not want to go to school, fighting it every way he could come up with, but we failed to see or understand the warning signs. He also began pleading with me to take him and his little friend Chucky to do some cool “guy stuff”, which I sort of half heartedly committed to do, but I work out of town two weeks a month and every time I was home we seemed to have a full family schedule with vacations and trips around the country to visit his sister in college, and other relatives and family stuff, so I put it on the back burner.

    At his classes Christmas production I noticed he was in the very back of all the other kids rather than in front or doing any solos or duets with his “friends” and I thought it was kind of strange because he always had done so in the past, but then I noticed him fighting back tears… which eventually turned into uncontrollable sobbing. I finally went up to the side stage and insisted the principle help him off the stage with as much dignity as he had left, which caused the principle to appear surprised at the occurrence, after which he offered apologies for having failed to notice my sons “stage fright”. But something still didn’t seem right to me, considering my son had never shown any evidence of “stage fright” in the past. Following the holiday break, one of the other parents pulled me aside (thank Heavens!) and finally removed the blinders from my eyes. “We are so glad you’ve finally figured out what’s been going on in that classroom” she said… only I hadn’t;(

    Turns out, the 3 or 4 boys in the older half of the class (and some of the girls too) had taken to calling him “stupid” every time he raised his hand or asked any questions, which in turn caused the younger boys to join in with them.

    We went to see the teacher, who acted like it was the first he’d heard of it. He was in his late 60’s and retiring that year so I believe he just didn’t want to have to deal with it. Certainly when we asked him to do the “Christian thing” and watch for opportunities to encourage the older boys to be more kindly, he didn’t jump up and offer to help, instead he seemed pretty convinced that he would still not see or hear anything wrong. We spoke with John (our son) and he seemed ok with giving it a bit to see if the teacher would help, which it didn’t. We then went to the Principle, who also acted like it was the first he’d heard of it, but he promised to talk with the teacher and encourage him to do the right thing, so we gave it a while longer… still no change. We sought out a child counselor and began to see him monthly. By then the year was almost gone so we tried to help Jon come up with some “snappy” responses to put the kids back in their places, but the poor kid just didn’t have the heart for it, nor the self confidence at this point. But we made it to the end of the school year and went into summer with the plan of switching schools to another well reputed Christian school come fall.

    And my wife felt sorry for him and bought him an X-box, and a slew of pretty “adult” shooting type games for it, and then to top it off, helped him set it up in his room downstairs. I never saw him much that summer, and he refused to befriend the couple kids we tried to help him make friends with in our neighborhood, so we set our hopes upon the new school.

    The first two days we got calls from both of his new 5th grade teachers (they worked together splitting the kids between themselves morning and afternoons. Neither one could get him to engage in classwork or participation. Every time they called on him he burst into tears, every time he couldn’t figure out any of the work he burst into tears, they both recommended we put him in the 4th grade again in hopes his maturity level would better match up with kids a bit younger than him rather than his own age or older. He still went through about a week of the crying stuff, then he began to change and become sort of a “class clown”, it was ok and entertaining for a while, but it continued to grow to the point of where we were getting called for him being sent to the principles office almost daily. It became clear that we couldn’t stop the behavior, and the young man teaching his fourth grade class weren’t going to tolerate it anymore. We were now seeing the independent counselor we’d been working with since the bullying started every two weeks and even his communications with the teacher and principle seemed to only keep us barely hanging on, so we switched to a local public school where he got assigned to a middle aged male teacher, who seemed to bring out the best in John once again, we thought we’d made it!

    However, even though the next summer he began to make a few more friends from the public school, when fall came he got assigned a very young female teacher and almost instantly things went to a far worse place, the class clown thing was twice as bad as before, and she seemed less than half equipped to deal with it. We made it through the 5th grade, barely, and come summer John became increasingly belligerent to even me (he’d already been doing so with his mother all through the school year and maybe even prior to that.) On another family vacation, he ran away from me in a strange town, and I began to fear for his safety, on top of which his mother (my wife) was at her wits end. Upon our return home we checked him into a residential mental health treatment facility for kids ages 12-18 where he stayed for about 6 months, after which we took him home and completed a 2 month course called “Parenting with Love and Limits”…. Things were much better, but John still seemed to have low self esteem, and none of the councilor’s we’d spoken with seemed to know how to help us improve that. John have become a “tough guy” at the residential facility, and now swears like a sailor, and walks around with a swagger, but still gives up as soon as anything becomes tough, and is still very overly self critical in all respects. And now its all coming to a head again. His mother is once again fed up, (she’s a recovering alcoholic who beat him several times when he was very young while I was out of town and she felt overloaded caring for him and his older sister) and she’s now told her parents that he scares her and she fears for her safety, so they seem intent upon forcing my hand to commit him again, somewhere… and they fiercely claim its the video games fault, and nobody still, will help me to figure out how to help this kid get his self confidence back in a healthy way. And everyone is for some reason completely foreign to me, unwilling to even acknowledge our responsibilities to help him overcome the problems arising from the bullying that we KNOW occurred, and the issues with his mother that we KNOW occurred, and the fact that she and I very nearly got divorced in that same timeframe, which SURELY MUST have had an adverse impact on his development and coping skills.

    I wish I knew a place to turn, I wish you’d respond and tell me if I’m on the right path or wrong… I ordered both your books and will read them this week, but time is running out for my son and for what options I can offer him, its like the world has turned against him, and now against me for wanting to help him with some compassion.

    Am I wrong? Is there a place I should send him? If I simply send him away and take away the video games, will it heal what’s inside him? How can it be that I go through a dozen or more “professionals” yet none seem to be able to help me get to the bottom of this bullying thing and none seem to have made any impact on his self esteem? I read this and man it looks like a train wreck doesn’t it?

    Sorry for rambling on so, it feels like there’s nowhere else to turn…

    • There is no rambling, just a release. Thank you for sharing it here. Nothing about bullying and its results are easy. In truth, please make sure to consult and possibly see a mental health professional. Even if it’s for your family. It sounds like there is a lot going on and that is a great place to start. I am also here and you can find my information if you want to do a 30-minute consult with me as well. I am happy to talk to you as a Bullying Recovery Coach. It sounds like you care very deeply and that is a great thing. Make sure your son knows it too. Feel free to reach out to me to talk further and really do look into Therapy as the teen years can be so difficult. ~Alan

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