I have a secret, one I have been keeping for about 8 years now, one I have shared only a little about, but one I know know I need to share in order to move on. This secret changed my life. It was something I was deeply ashamed of for years. It changed the way I lived, the way I feel about myself, it was nearly my end.
For 6 of the last 8 years I was a victim of bullying. There was one particular lady who took it upon herself to be my judge, jury and executioner after the failure of my first marriage. She assaulted me twice, would stalk me, spread horrible lies, made my life a living hell. Her actions have impacted my children, have caused both physical and emotional pain for them and myself. The police were involved on several occasions, but this woman was a coward, and her bullying was rarely performed in front of others, with the exception of the things she said about me.
I tried very hard to live through what she and her friends were doing to me. I tried ignoring her, but the names and the yelling were hard to block out. I tried not going where she might be present, but with 5 kids the same schools to hers, there were many times you couldn’t avoid it. It got that bad I stopped leaving the house just about all together, and would never attend the kids school without The Builder there to protect me.
I tried smiling at her, or going out of my way to pretend what she was doing wasn’t impacting me, but it only antagonized her further. After about 5 years I had had enough and did my best to return to a “normal” life. I tried going out in the town we lived, only to find her everywhere I went, I tried walking around the block, only to have her turn up on my walks and glare at my from the car as she drove past. It was horrible.
In the end the only decision we had left to make, was to move. Our children had just about finished at primary school, we were also sick of the 3 hours driving time each day for school and kids sport. The timing was perfect, my excitement grew knowing I would never have to see her again, finally.
The problem was, the scares ran so deep. When we moved into town, I realised just how deep they ran. I still found it difficult to leave the house, I found it difficult to trust, I felt anxiety like never before. I doubted myself in every step of my day, it impacted my relationship with family and friends, but most importantly with myself. By the end of 2014, I knew I needed to change myself or allow her to make me miserable forever.
I made a commitment to myself, to learn to trust I was enough again. To push my self-imposed boundaries and try and work out how to live again. It was hard, still is hard. I felt I was a failure, like I didn’t matter and had even contemplated suicide on more than one occasion. My children and The Builder had faith though, they light the way for me. Showed me life was worth living and stood beside me as I worked to push through those walls.
Problogger 2015 was one of the toughest pushes for me. At home in front of the computer, I felt a little of my old self, but stepping outside of my comfort zone and meeting real people, without my kids or husband holding my arm was huge. Huge……….. and rewarding.
Next was a commitment to myself to try public speaking again. Really put myself out there and expose myself, while trying to keep a positive internal dialog. That’s the thing with bullies, they mess with the way you think about yourself, perhaps this is their biggest power.
On the 5th of November 2015, I ticked my first public speaking gig of the list with my Masters shopping night. I was proud, though absolutely exhausted by the mental battle I had been facing. Keen to keep pushing, plans were made to do more of these types of evenings, that later fell through.
Last week that opportunity came again, when I stood in front of 102 year 8 girls and spoke about blogging. Again the self doubt nearly ate me up, but I did it, and am so very glad I did. Wanting not to run from a challenge, I doubled up with another event on the Saturday after where I presented a mini segment at Coffee With Kirsten. Again I had a great time, and left feeling a real sense of completion.
So why this long winded post about bullying and the impact it had on me? Because I am trying to learn to accept my imperfections, to trust in myself to be enough and to share just how much I learned from this horrible experience.
With the help of my Physiologist I have become grateful for my experience and for what it has taught me. I am grateful for that woman and the things she did, without them I would not have found my strength. It is an issue I felt needed a voice, I needed to share what I had been through in order to accept my journey. That does not mean the journey was easy, it nearly broke me on many occasions, but I am still battling through it.
I gave up long ago trying to convince the bullies that what they were doing was wrong, they truly believe in what they are participating in, but what I can do, is share my experience in the hope that next time you hear something unkind about another person, you ignore it. I can encourage you to be kind, loving and considerate. And I can ask you to help me, by accepting my imperfections as I challenge myself to do the same.
Have you ever fallen victim of a bully? Were you bullied at school? What challenges make you grateful?