Bullying and Finding Forgiveness
by, 24-Aug-2016 at 15:08 (297 Views)
It's always interesting to me to see see what brings people to this site: for some of us it is simply a place for people to meet online and chat about a harmless fetish For others, however, it can be a place to open up and talk about our past (or present) and share our pain. I think ABDLism has been a strong coping mechanism for many of us who suffered from bullying, familial abuse, or feeling different and isolated. There are so many of us who have been damaged or hurt long before we arrived here. I've always believed that Adisc members are some of the toughest and most resiliant people in the world, simply by virtue of having survived.
My life in my younger days was markedly different than what it is today. In school I was frequently beat up, called a fag, laughed at in class, and robbed of my lunch money. Teachers just looked the other way preferring not to get involved. My school days were a nightmare consisting of fear, stress, depression and feelings of inferiority.
Coming home wasn't any better. I had a father who was abusive and hated me from the time I was born because I wasn't a 'planned' baby. I was often put down, intimidated and humiliated by him, and when I was at the age of six, he forced me into diapers for a bedwetting accident. My attraction to diapers started shortly afterwards, probably before I reached the age of seven. There was no point trying to get help for the bullying in school, because my father didn't care and my parents told me I had to fight back, in spite of all the previous blood, bruises and tears. I was most definitely not a scrapper.
I've learned that it's impossible to live this kind of life without being permanently affected in some way. As time passed, the threat of violence dissapated, the laughing and taunting stopped, and my father, who was my primary tormentor, passed away a decade ago.
There are still times, however, when I feel the anxiety in social situations, the stress of meeting people for the first time, worried what they will think of me, that I'm something less than a normal person. These feelings aren't as overwhelming as they were in the past, and I try to remember what causes them. Old demons never go away completely, occasionally coming back to haunt us, but the important thing is that we don't cave into them, that we don't let them overpower us, and that we understand the reasons their existence and have strategies in place to minimize their impact on us.
I have a particular memory that helps me through the tough days when I still feel alone and different, and I'd like to share the story.
When I was in high school, I became friends with Brent. His family had just moved to town and he was transferred to my school. We would hang out together, visiting each other, playing games, studying or listening to music. Slowly he withdrew away from me when he realized I was being bullied and harassed by the other students. I guess he didn't want to be seen hanging around a loser or else he feared becoming their next target. I was sad to lose my only friend, but things got worse when he became friends with some of the students who bullied me. Brent joined in with them, laughing when they insulted and intimidated me. The bullying was hard enough, but it was crushing to have my former best friend being a part of it.
Nearly fifteen years later, I saw Brent at a conference that brought some non-profit groups together for a consultation. I wasn't sure if he recognized me and I kept my distance from him throughout the day, remembering how much he had hurt me in my younger days. At one point during a break, he approached me. I was hesitant to talk to him, and I think he sensed and understood that. He asked if we could go somewhere for a coffee after the conference because there were things he really wanted to tell me. I eventually agreed, partly because of his insistence and partly out of my own curiosity.
We found a coffee shop and after some platitudes and catching up, he began telling me about how terrible he felt about his treatment of me in high school. He always wanted to find a way to tell me this. He said that he was young at the time and felt isolated and different himself, that he joined in with my tormentors as a way to find acceptance.. He told me about the guilt he experienced for years afterwards and that he never forgave himself for it. He realized he threw away a good friend and treated me horribly just to fit in with the popular crowd who didn't think twice about humiliating or hurting someone for their own amusement. He spent years living with the guilt and wondering what kind of person he was that he couldn't have been stronger. As he told me all this, I could see the tears welling up in his eyes and there was no doubt his remorse was genuine.
In spite of my previous feelings, all I could do that day was console him. I told him that we can all be capable of cruelty at different times in our life, just as much as we can be capable of kindness. Sometimes the choice to do either is determined by the people around us, how much they influence us, and how we act out of our own need for self-preservation and survival. I told him that he had grown and matured and that he was not the same person that he was back in high school. I gave him what he needed to receive that day: I gave him forgiveness.
For any of us who have been bullied, abused, or beaten down, we cannot choose what happened to us, we can only choose the road ahead and how we will live our lives and how we will treat others.. I have known people who were bullied and became angry and bitter. I have known others on the brink of suicide and depression after a lifetime of being bullied. At the same time, I have met survivors of horrendous abuse who are amongst the most sensitive and compassionate people on the earth. I have met people who have experienced abominable despair who have risen up and reclaimed their lives through advocacy and altruism towards those who are vulnerable and exploited.
First and foremost, we must recognize collectively that bullying can never be condoned or overlooked as a 'part of growing up.' It causes depression, isolation, as the prospect of a normal life is ripped away from you, sometimes resulting in suicide. None of us should ever have had to endure what we lived through, but, at the end of the day we are survivors, and it is a testament to our courage that we are here and that we can share our experience and our stories. Perhaps that is where healing begins: through acceptance of ourselves, through forgiveness of others,learning to move forward,and pulling each other through the difficult times
Adapted from a previous post: https://www.adisc.org/forum/showthre...me-to-this-day