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My Bullying Secret

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.

bullying

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.

bullying

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?

Nicole xxx

 

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29 Comments

  1. I’m so sorry you had to deal with such a nasty horrid woman!! From the outside, you are a strong and confident woman who is reaping the rewards of her success. All the best Nic – you totally deserve it and success is the best revenge x x

    1. Thank you Fleur, that means so much. I wouldn’t be who I am without her even though it was tough. xx

  2. It makes me sad and angry that you were subjected to such treatment, but I’ve loved watching you flourish and go from strength to strength over the last year or two. I know how difficult it has been for you, but you know, we’re all imperfect, success isn’t about being perfect, it’s just embracing our imperfections. Totes in awe of you and can’t wait to see what the future holds for you – it’s bright so put on your shades!

    1. Oh thank you Sammie, your friendship means so much to me and has helped me more than I can explain xxx

  3. Oh wow Nic, that is just horrible. Thank you for sharing your story – it’s so important that we talk about this kind of thing, bring it out of the shadows. It’s HER issue, not yours, she’s the one with the problem. You’re awesome :).
    Congratulations on making such huge progress over the last couple of years xx

    1. Thank you Rachel, it took a lot of work with the physc, but I do see that now. xxx

  4. To watch you speak on Saturday we would have no idea that something so horrible had happened to you. You are an amazing, strong woman. Thank you for sharing what must of been a particularly hard blogpost.

    1. Thank you Karen, I really appreciate your kind words. It was a particularly difficult post to write, especially as I am always concerned with her sparking up again. I am very pleased to get my story out there though. xxx

  5. What an ordeal, you really are such an amazing and inspirational woman to rise above it. You should be proud of all you’ve achieved.

    1. Thank you Raychael for your kind and supportive words. xx

  6. Holy shit Nicole! WTF IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?! How hard is it to live and let live, seriously. Thanks for being brave enough to share this and congratulations on all the positive opportunities that that life is bringing your way x

    1. I do wonder what was really going on for her, I have heard she has repeated the same behaviour on someone else now, pleased to have move on. Thank you for your kind words. xx

  7. I attended the Coffee with Kirsten event too, and you did so well to get up and speak in front of everyone after such an experience. People like that take away your courage and confidence for a little while and it can be very hard to get back up again. I can tell you though, that it does get easier and you do get much stronger.

    I had a similar experience almost 8 years ago. I received a very nasty and hurtful ‘hate letter’ in the mail. It was addressed to me personally, but it wasn’t signed. It had come from within my group of friends at the time. The letter imploded that group of friends. It left me feeling hopeless, scared and unwanted. I became housebound for a while. When I did go out into my small country town, I was paranoid that people were staring at me, knowing I was the one that had accused that “lovely” lady of sending that letter to me. Yes, I knew where it had come from, but she denied it all the way, and played innocent. People backed her, and it led me to question myself, and question my gut instincts. It wasn’t until her husband turned up on my doorstep one night, believing my husband wasn’t home (thank goodness he was!), and he threatened me. He told my husband that he had come around to punch heads in over this letter business and he was sick of his family’s name being dragged through the mud. This was in response to his wife coming home upset from a picnic event after having talked about the letter incident with the same group of friends. I wasn’t even at that event. So all of the turmoil was coming from within her own head.

    My husband and I both realised it was her husband who sent the letter. He had quoted the last threatening line of it word for word, in the very same uneducated manor in which the letter was written. He had written it. He had sent it. He was the coward who could not sign his name to such a heinous letter. He had created the entire mess. I put a lot of energy into trying to repair friendships, and questioned my own intuition, because I thought that somehow I had brought this upon myself.

    I finally realised (with counselling) that I had done nothing wrong to warrant this sort of hatred, and that the problem didn’t actually lie with me. The problems, issues, and insecurities came from the person(s) who sent me the letter in the first place. They were the cowards who could not own up to their actions. I do not like confrontation, but made myself confront these people to try and get some answers. In the end, they never owned up to it. I believe that shone a light on the people they really are. I am pleased I have nothing to do with them anymore.

    The way it affected me left me scarred. I had to learn to trust people again, and rebuild my own self confidence. I still see them around town sometimes, but I can now stand near them in a crowd and feel confident that I am the best person I can be. I choose not to acknowledge them as I do not have any respect for these people, but I also know that they too have their own issues to work through themselves.

    The best thing that came out of my experience is that I sought help for my own issues. I was diagnosed with depression and sought help for that. By going through “the letter” experience and dealing with my issues and emotions afterwards, it actually made me more self-aware and a more confident, stronger person within.

    The best thing you can do Nicole, is carry forward with your own life, and realise that the issues this person has with you, are not actually anything to do with you at all. It says more about the person they are. Perhaps that person is suffering their own inner demons and they choose to vent it towards someone else instead of looking inwards at themselves. They have a long road ahead of them to recovery yet. Whereas you have already come out the other side and are much healthier for it.

    Horrible as they are to live through, these experiences actually help to make us the people we are today.

    1. Thank you for sharing Alli, your journey has so many similarities to my own. I also lived in a small town, which I think in the end contributed a lot to what happened and the way it ‘grew’. Learning to trust again has been my biggest challenge, especially trusting myself. Thank goodness for the physc who has shown me it wasn’t my fault and gently guided me through trusting again. I am so happy to hear how you found your strength again, though I do not know you, you have made me feel very proud of how you came out the other side. I really appreciate you sharing, it helps me more than I can say xxx

  8. I’m so sad to read this but so glad and proud of you for working your way through it. I have a friend who had (sometimes still does) to deal with a very similar thing. Congrats on the leaps and bounds you are making forward Nic. x

    1. Thank you Karin, I do hope your friend is ok. Big hugs xx

  9. Oh wow – I would NEVER have guess that it happened to you. Good on your for not letting it limit you and kicking ALL the goals.

    1. Thank you Robyna, that is very kind of you xxx

  10. What a horrible experience for you to go through. Even though intellectually we know that a bully’s behaviour is all about them and nothing to do with the victim, it is so hard not to feel belittled and helpless. I am still just getting over my former boss, who while she didn’t bully me in such a direct and nasty way, really sapped my self-esteem. So glad the speaking gigs are helping you regain confidence – sounds like you are in demand!

  11. I am horrified that there are ‘normal’ looking adults out there who think it is OK to behave in that manner. WOW. Your response should be commended. In the end, you have proved just how strong and capable you are to push through and come out kicking goals.

  12. Oh my goodness, Nicole!! I am shocked to read this. How absolutely horrifying. There are some very nasty people in this world. I’m so pleased you were able to break away and rebuild your life. Just look at you now!! There’s no stopping you xx

  13. Wow Nicole, what an awful thing for you and your family to go through. So glad I met you at Problogger and congratulations for finding the strength to come out stronger and more confident. x

  14. Bullying is awful. Thank you for sharing so openly a clearly very traumatic experience for you. I say thank you because we tend to think that bullying is confined to school, maybe workplaces. We forget that bullying can happen at any time to anyone for any reason. At 45 I am just starting to process my “issues” around the fact that I was bullied mercilessly in my first year of high school when I was 11 turning 12. It is awful how the actions of others can have such a huge impact on us.
    Sending you lots of hugs and huge admiration for kicking all your goals!

  15. Wow Nicole, what a horrible experience. I’m so glad to hear that you’re coming out the otherwise and learning to put yourself back out there as I’m sure it can’t be easy x

  16. I am so devastated reading this, to think she has corroded your self worth so much. BUT I can see that you are grabbing it back and thank goodness, we need more Nic in our world. Thanks for sharing your story, I’m sure it can’t have been easy. Big love Em xx

  17. What a powerful post. Bullying is often discussed and help sought for child victims of this horrible behaviour but not so much for adults who are victims of this horrible behaviour. Thanks for sharing and reminding us that it happens to adults too. I am so glad you came out the other side. Annette @afrenchcollection

  18. That is really, really horrible. I just do not understand the mindset of people like that, I really don’t. How can you be so cruel to another person. I am so glad that you have been able to come out the other side of all that. You are most definitely more than what horrible people say about you xx
    #teamIBOT

  19. I am so angry on your behalf. How dare that woman make you feel that way. I think we often forget that some awful people bully their whole lives, not just in the school playground. I am glad you rediscovered what a confident, strong, kind and thoughtful woman you are. You are more than enough, Nicole. Don’t ever believe anyone telling you different. x

    1. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. That means so very much. It’s taken me a while I believe in myself again, but I am slowly learning. Thank you for your support. xx

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