offbalance: (shield maiden by antheia)
I don't always buy the argument of something being "triggery," until something hits one of my tripwires hard core and leaves me with all sorts of feelings to deal with.

After reading extensively about the suicides of these poor, bullied kids and cheering on the "It Gets Better" Project, I read an essay that [livejournal.com profile] redstapler linked to: Memoirs of a Bullied Kid. And boy, did I ever explode. Between the essay and the comments, I was blown away by how many people had been harmed by their peers. The few ex-bullies that popped out of the woodwork on the comment thread plead the usual excuses, in the vein of "just following orders," and they were afraid that not going along with the crowd would make them a target. Sadly, my tiny violin was in the shop. I saw red and heard the Kill Bill music, so strong was my rage. Both because this cycle has been allowed to continue for so long, as well as the excuses the so-called former bullies were making for themselves.

Then I got to read this fantastic essay by Kate Harding, which finally got to the heart of what I wanted to say. Bullies are not caused by bad environments and mean parents or what have you. They are caused because sometimes, kids are just plain evil. They decide that you're who they're going to pick on that day. Just because. It's because you raised your hand in class, or wore a skirt instead of jeans, or read a book after finishing your test before they did. You were just there. A punching bag for their own issues. That's how it was for me, anyway. The content of the bullying is varied, but it's the action that's the same, and it's the action that needs to be stopped. And, unlike the first essay, I don't believe these evil little bastards will change their way after a hug and a cookie. Most of mine were expert manipulators, who could fake remorse to an adult better than any professional actor I've ever seen. In fact, emotional manipulation was a favorite weapon of theirs, trying to make me feel bad about them pretending to feel bad. The adults that could see through it really couldn't do anything. And as for their own parents? They were disinterested from the get go. Or, in the case of one bully of mine, afraid of their kid. (This girl was obsessed with me - she attempted to go through my stuff on a regular basis, tried to grab my hair and clothes, and would usually dissolve into bizarre hysterical ranting. I'm not handy with a diagnosis guide, but I'd put my money on her being some kind of undiagnosed psychotic. I'm not even exaggerating.)

If there's one thing I've taken away from reading the comments on these two essays, it's that I am proud of myself for fighting back. Because, did I ever fight back. See, I had the rare privlege (word used with utter and complete sarcasm) to be a second generation bullied kid. I knew this because I talked to my parents openly about what was going on, and they talked to me about what they went through. I learned about a pig-faced waste of life that used to make my mom's life a hell, and the ways my dad got picked on before his late growth spurt. And more than that, they didn't tell me to "just ignore them." They (especially my dad) told me to fight back. We talked strategy. Physical violence would tarnish my record and keep me from the magnet high schools I desperately wanted to get into. So, I learned to fight with words. If someone started with me? They wouldn't find a shrinking violet. Although I did start out that way. I didn't understand why people who had been friends in elementary school turned on me starting at the end of fifth grade with such viciousness, and my first reaction, during the end of 5th grade and the end of 6th, was to cry. I learned quickly not to ever do that, and it took me forever to be able to cry when I need or want to, in so called "safe spaces." I still have trouble.

What I did instead was build up an arsenal of insults and barbs that would slice at the jugular of my attackers. (The verbal version of Sean Connery's "they show up with a bat, you bring a knife" argument from The Untouchables.) Granted, I grew up in a house rich with sarcasm, so I'd been learning Smartass 101 since I could talk. My parents pointed out that if I was being hassled for being smart and wanting to do well in school, the best thing to do was turn it around on the hassler. And by fighting, I learned a lot about how insecure bullies are, and how quick their friends are to turn on them. Whichever one got in my face got a loud and brutal reply. If I could make their friends laugh, I could usually buy myself a few days of quiet from that individual or his/her faction (there were several - I'm not sure why I was such a lightning rod, but being an outspoken, assertive, intelligent, and visible 11-14 year old girl seemed to be enough for both sides to hate me.) But not everyone did, I discovered. I made a few friends that seemed to appreciate the fact that I wasn't backing down. But I had them all. Girl bullies, boy bullies, group bullies, bullies I knew and bullies I didn't. They did all have one thing in common, though - they hated me for fighting back. Most of my problems stemmed from my lack of desire to cowtow to the status quo - I dressed how I wanted, read what I wanted, admitted to liking learning and getting good grades, and didn't want to fall in with "the quo." .

Granted, certain tihngs kept me from fighting as hard as I wanted to (damn you, sense of decency, for not letting me mock my tormentors as brutally as I would have liked. That and fear that I wouldn't get into Murrow.) Thanks to my mom, I knew all sorts of delicious gossip about nearly every one of my bullies. But I never used it on them, it was all too damn sad. But as Harding says, it doesn't excuse any of their bad behavior. Or the fact that they were evil little bastards. Nothing excuses it - I've known people that have been through some absolutely shattering life events who still stayed good people.

How do we stop this? I wonder if it's even possible. I mean, first you treat the symptoms, and not in this BS, perfunctory, "zero-tolerance" way. If you want to be zero tolerance? Then, actually be that way. Have adults around almost always - keep an eye close on those kids, and when mocking and hitting and shouting stuff happens, PUNISH WHOMEVER IS DOING IT. Take away privledges, assign detentions, whatever. But keep a close eye. Whenever someone is brave enough to come forward? Listen. Don't let parents do any bullying about their kids, either. That's a start. I'd love to say that empathy and tolerance can be taught, and it can, but it has to be reinforced at home. And some people will never take responsibility for their actions. MY bullies sure as hell never did. And these Rutgers kids are trying to avoid it, too. Because when someone realizes just how evil and hurtful and horrible they've been to another human being, unless they're a total waste of humanity, it breaks them down inside. If we could force empathy, we'd be all set. But we can't.


This is one of those cases I don't know what works, but I'm sure all of this raising of awareness is a good start.
offbalance: (shield maiden by antheia)
I don't always buy the argument of something being "triggery," until something hits one of my tripwires hard core and leaves me with all sorts of feelings to deal with.

After reading extensively about the suicides of these poor, bullied kids and cheering on the "It Gets Better" Project, I read an essay that [livejournal.com profile] redstapler linked to: Memoirs of a Bullied Kid. And boy, did I ever explode. Between the essay and the comments, I was blown away by how many people had been harmed by their peers. The few ex-bullies that popped out of the woodwork on the comment thread plead the usual excuses, in the vein of "just following orders," and they were afraid that not going along with the crowd would make them a target. Sadly, my tiny violin was in the shop. I saw red and heard the Kill Bill music, so strong was my rage. Both because this cycle has been allowed to continue for so long, as well as the excuses the so-called former bullies were making for themselves.

Then I got to read this fantastic essay by Kate Harding, which finally got to the heart of what I wanted to say. Bullies are not caused by bad environments and mean parents or what have you. They are caused because sometimes, kids are just plain evil. They decide that you're who they're going to pick on that day. Just because. It's because you raised your hand in class, or wore a skirt instead of jeans, or read a book after finishing your test before they did. You were just there. A punching bag for their own issues. That's how it was for me, anyway. The content of the bullying is varied, but it's the action that's the same, and it's the action that needs to be stopped. And, unlike the first essay, I don't believe these evil little bastards will change their way after a hug and a cookie. Most of mine were expert manipulators, who could fake remorse to an adult better than any professional actor I've ever seen. In fact, emotional manipulation was a favorite weapon of theirs, trying to make me feel bad about them pretending to feel bad. The adults that could see through it really couldn't do anything. And as for their own parents? They were disinterested from the get go. Or, in the case of one bully of mine, afraid of their kid. (This girl was obsessed with me - she attempted to go through my stuff on a regular basis, tried to grab my hair and clothes, and would usually dissolve into bizarre hysterical ranting. I'm not handy with a diagnosis guide, but I'd put my money on her being some kind of undiagnosed psychotic. I'm not even exaggerating.)

If there's one thing I've taken away from reading the comments on these two essays, it's that I am proud of myself for fighting back. Because, did I ever fight back. See, I had the rare privlege (word used with utter and complete sarcasm) to be a second generation bullied kid. I knew this because I talked to my parents openly about what was going on, and they talked to me about what they went through. I learned about a pig-faced waste of life that used to make my mom's life a hell, and the ways my dad got picked on before his late growth spurt. And more than that, they didn't tell me to "just ignore them." They (especially my dad) told me to fight back. We talked strategy. Physical violence would tarnish my record and keep me from the magnet high schools I desperately wanted to get into. So, I learned to fight with words. If someone started with me? They wouldn't find a shrinking violet. Although I did start out that way. I didn't understand why people who had been friends in elementary school turned on me starting at the end of fifth grade with such viciousness, and my first reaction, during the end of 5th grade and the end of 6th, was to cry. I learned quickly not to ever do that, and it took me forever to be able to cry when I need or want to, in so called "safe spaces." I still have trouble.

What I did instead was build up an arsenal of insults and barbs that would slice at the jugular of my attackers. (The verbal version of Sean Connery's "they show up with a bat, you bring a knife" argument from The Untouchables.) Granted, I grew up in a house rich with sarcasm, so I'd been learning Smartass 101 since I could talk. My parents pointed out that if I was being hassled for being smart and wanting to do well in school, the best thing to do was turn it around on the hassler. And by fighting, I learned a lot about how insecure bullies are, and how quick their friends are to turn on them. Whichever one got in my face got a loud and brutal reply. If I could make their friends laugh, I could usually buy myself a few days of quiet from that individual or his/her faction (there were several - I'm not sure why I was such a lightning rod, but being an outspoken, assertive, intelligent, and visible 11-14 year old girl seemed to be enough for both sides to hate me.) But not everyone did, I discovered. I made a few friends that seemed to appreciate the fact that I wasn't backing down. But I had them all. Girl bullies, boy bullies, group bullies, bullies I knew and bullies I didn't. They did all have one thing in common, though - they hated me for fighting back. Most of my problems stemmed from my lack of desire to cowtow to the status quo - I dressed how I wanted, read what I wanted, admitted to liking learning and getting good grades, and didn't want to fall in with "the quo." .

Granted, certain tihngs kept me from fighting as hard as I wanted to (damn you, sense of decency, for not letting me mock my tormentors as brutally as I would have liked. That and fear that I wouldn't get into Murrow.) Thanks to my mom, I knew all sorts of delicious gossip about nearly every one of my bullies. But I never used it on them, it was all too damn sad. But as Harding says, it doesn't excuse any of their bad behavior. Or the fact that they were evil little bastards. Nothing excuses it - I've known people that have been through some absolutely shattering life events who still stayed good people.

How do we stop this? I wonder if it's even possible. I mean, first you treat the symptoms, and not in this BS, perfunctory, "zero-tolerance" way. If you want to be zero tolerance? Then, actually be that way. Have adults around almost always - keep an eye close on those kids, and when mocking and hitting and shouting stuff happens, PUNISH WHOMEVER IS DOING IT. Take away privledges, assign detentions, whatever. But keep a close eye. Whenever someone is brave enough to come forward? Listen. Don't let parents do any bullying about their kids, either. That's a start. I'd love to say that empathy and tolerance can be taught, and it can, but it has to be reinforced at home. And some people will never take responsibility for their actions. MY bullies sure as hell never did. And these Rutgers kids are trying to avoid it, too. Because when someone realizes just how evil and hurtful and horrible they've been to another human being, unless they're a total waste of humanity, it breaks them down inside. If we could force empathy, we'd be all set. But we can't.


This is one of those cases I don't know what works, but I'm sure all of this raising of awareness is a good start.

Anniverary

Apr. 18th, 2009 12:26 pm
offbalance: (Charlotte and Harry smiles)
One year ago today, it was a Friday.

My boss was out, and I had some huge photocopy project to do, but I had a decent day.

I was excited about seeing [livejournal.com profile] missgyder in her latest play, and even more excited about Comic Con that weekend. Hell, I was even looking forward to hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] blergeatkitty and help her clean out her apartment all day on Saturday. I was in high spirits.

I remember running late for the play - don't remember if I had bad train-fu or what. But I ran like hell to make it on time --- only to find that the play was running late. So I headed over to the bar they were using as a pre-show lounge to catch my breath. I hang around for a minute or two before someone comes to collect the audience. On my way out, I think I see someone I know, but I was mistaken. It was someone else.

Once in the theater, I found a seat and settled in for the show. Not long after I sat down, a guy came up to me and asked if the seat next to me was taken. I said it wasn't, and he sat down.

"I've had the longest, craziest day," he said. "If I start snoring or drooling, just jab me in the ribs really hard with your elbow." I giggled, and the show started.

After the show, he introduced himself, and offered to "buy" me a beer at the open bar.

We started talking. You could say we really hit it off.

You could say that, because one year later, we're still together. Today is our first anniversary.

It's been an eventful year, to say the least. But every event seemed to bring us a little bit closer. I can talk to him about pretty much everything. We now live together. He joined me here in the wild world of LJ. And I can say in all honesty that I love him a little bit more every day. Being with him makes me so very happy, and I can only hope I do the same for him.

Happy anniverary, darling. *mwah*

Anniverary

Apr. 18th, 2009 12:26 pm
offbalance: (Charlotte and Harry smiles)
One year ago today, it was a Friday.

My boss was out, and I had some huge photocopy project to do, but I had a decent day.

I was excited about seeing [livejournal.com profile] missgyder in her latest play, and even more excited about Comic Con that weekend. Hell, I was even looking forward to hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] blergeatkitty and help her clean out her apartment all day on Saturday. I was in high spirits.

I remember running late for the play - don't remember if I had bad train-fu or what. But I ran like hell to make it on time --- only to find that the play was running late. So I headed over to the bar they were using as a pre-show lounge to catch my breath. I hang around for a minute or two before someone comes to collect the audience. On my way out, I think I see someone I know, but I was mistaken. It was someone else.

Once in the theater, I found a seat and settled in for the show. Not long after I sat down, a guy came up to me and asked if the seat next to me was taken. I said it wasn't, and he sat down.

"I've had the longest, craziest day," he said. "If I start snoring or drooling, just jab me in the ribs really hard with your elbow." I giggled, and the show started.

After the show, he introduced himself, and offered to "buy" me a beer at the open bar.

We started talking. You could say we really hit it off.

You could say that, because one year later, we're still together. Today is our first anniversary.

It's been an eventful year, to say the least. But every event seemed to bring us a little bit closer. I can talk to him about pretty much everything. We now live together. He joined me here in the wild world of LJ. And I can say in all honesty that I love him a little bit more every day. Being with him makes me so very happy, and I can only hope I do the same for him.

Happy anniverary, darling. *mwah*

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