Follow Up to Compartmentalizing Bullying

boy looking out hole

“I think repressing what happened is what saved me in my childhood. I was able to use my imagination to create happy events, but a little girl can carry only so much on her own.” 
~ Erin Merryn

After nearly 11 years of writing a weekly blog, I decided to revisit some of my past posts and update them as well as possibly share them with new eyes. I wrote this post in 2007 about how I believed we compartmentalize bad experience and bury them in our mind, but they never really leave. It’s interesting to me to look back now that I am 11 years older and realize how much of this was going on in me at that time and how I would eventually come up with the theme for my book “A Ladder in the Dark”. I rarely look back on past posts myself, but now I see how what I was saying here was so important to my healing and probably all our healing from past youth trauma. Let me know what you think in terms of looking back and re-reading and my analyzing past posts again. I think that it is helpful now to see what thesis I was thinking about and what now the studies show. Anyway, below is what I shared and I think it does hold up as something true 11 years later.

This is what I wrote in 2007

I was talking to a co-worker the other day about this Blog and why it is so important a subject to me. The question was asked, “why focus on the adult’s point of view of bullying?” It’s a good question. To me, a lot of it has to do with the fact that, as adults, we seem to be good at compartmentalizing bad experiences so they hide in our mind. A child will tell you of their experiences, but as adults, we seem to not want to discuss our own incidences and bury them in our memories.

But, I don’t think they ever are buried. We just don’t talk about them. But they are there. I test this theory with those I talk to by asking them to tell me the first and last name of their best friends in elementary school. Most people can do that. Now, if they admit to being bullied, I ask them for the first and last name of the bullies. They can do this also, because, I theorize, that that person is as ingrained in their memories as their best friends. That, to me, is somewhat frightening how big a role these bullies play in our lives.

So, again, why the adult perspective. Because one of the things I think is that adults, by compartmentalizing these moments, don’t allow themselves to accept and move on. To learn from them and, by sharing them, learn that they are not alone and have never been alone. But also, if we as adults now have the understanding of rationalizing what happened, we can help the children learn to cope better and know they are not alone and remind ourselves of the perspective of children going through bullying.

That is why, almost selfishly, I am writing this blog as part of a cathartic experience to exorcise these bullies from my past who have faces and names I still know and think about every so often. I actually hope to see them again, when I make this documentary to get their perspectives on what happened and how they felt. Wouldn’t that be interesting?

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About Alan Eisenberg

Alan Eisenberg is a Certified Life Coach, 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. He is currently working toward his Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling.
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  1. I do remember the names of all my bullies, first and last. That is why when I wrote my book, I was so easily able to badly disguise their names in the story

  2. Wow! You make such a great point in the above posts and I can relate. I remember the names of every classmate who ever bullied me during school, even those who stood back and watched. Although it’s been 30+ years and I don’t talk about it in regular conversation (only write about it), the memories are seared in my mind as if the torment happened yesterday. However, instead of being angry about things in the past I cannot change, I use it in my writing and to help those who endure it today. It was only when I wrote my book, “From Victim to Victor (A Survivor’s True Story of Her Experiences with School Bullying…)”, that I was able to heal FULLY. Thank you so much for this post, Alan. You continue to inspire not only me, but no doubt, countless others! Have a wonderful day!

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