It has been nine years since I have started my journey to help survivors of bullying, whether it be school, family, or workplace bullying. I started and still feel it is important to share our stories of bullying, so that we all know we are not alone in what we experienced.
So below is a story that I thought was one of the most powerful stories I shared originally about the days I was bullied. It is a story I originally called “The Long and Winding Road“, because I realized that I had lost eight days of my life doing a routine after school to avoid bullying. I remember it was so painful to write. But, over time, I have talked to so many people about these stories and have learned that, while it is a shame that these things happened, that there is a lesson in all we do. Was my routine creative and a way to solve my bullying issue at the time. Sure, that is true as well. So, while it is and was painful to write these down, I also have learned so many lessons about bullying recovery from the day I wrote this. That said, part of my healing was sharing these stories. So, I am continuing to ask that you consider guest blogging your stories here as well. I will publish them and even try to help offer lessons I have learned over the years about how to recover from the damage bullying does to us.
For me, I learned that this story tells a lot of why I was afraid of crowds or confrontation. I have worked on this and learned to be a much better person in this area. We all have the ability to overcome. It is only our own fear that holds us back. I hope that my sharing some of these legacy stories helps you to realize you are not alone. You never were!
The Long and Winding Road
Some of my past bully stories are right on the top of my head. Many others are buried deep down and pop out at interesting times, mainly when some smell or sight triggers them. I was walking down a dirt path in my neighborhood when this one came back to the surface of my mind. This story is less about a bully, but more about the sacrifices I made in my life to cope with the bullies.
Fear is a terrible thing. It grips you and makes you do things that are out of your character or beliefs. We see it all the time in the modern world. I recall how fear made me lose one of the most valuable things in my childhood and in life in general, TIME! We all have to live knowing that each minute of our lives is one minute closer to our deaths. As adults we hear that we should always live for today and make the most of your time, particularly as it gets shorter.
But, as children, we see all the time in the world. As I look back, I realize how much time I lost due to fear of bullies. A prime example of this was a daily routine I started when the bullying got really bad around my 5th grade year of elementary school. When the 3 o’clock bell rang, the last thing I wanted to do was leave school, like the other kids, because of the fear I had that the bullies were out there waiting.
I was a walker to school. I lived about a mile away from the school, but as a kid, it felt more like two miles. The school was surrounded by trees, plenty of places I could be pulled into and beat up. Often, a bully would be waiting for me at the end of the day. I came up with a plan every day. I waited about 10 minutes until all the kids had left and the buses left. My bullies were so patient, I knew they were still waiting for me, so I came up with an idea.
I realized I could run out the side door of the school and into the tree line. I would cut through the forest, which was three-quarters of the way around the school and come to a dirt road that was a good 200+ yards away from the school. If I walked up that, I would come out far enough down the street I needed to be on, that the bullies wouldn’t see me.
I did this every day for two years. Based on the 10 minutes I would wait and the extra 15-20 minutes it would take me to get to the road from the treeline and path, I lost 30 minutes a day for two years, just to avoid bullies. Doing some math here, let’s assume I went to school for 200 days a year and I did that for two years. That means I lost 8.3 days of my life out of fear and doing this long routine.
I mentioned that I did this for two years. I would have done it longer, but one of the bullies finally found out about my routine. I got away with it for two years, but once it was found out, then it got really bad.