My Catchphrases

Friday, 19 November 2010

Guest Post: Bullying a Personal Perspective by Tammy from A Book Fairys Haven

Voiceless and Silent
It's a hot, humid and uncomfortably sticky night here in Cape Town. Rather appropriate weather considering the subject I'm writing about is in essence a sticky and uncomfortable subject all on its own.

When I first heard that the lovely Emma from Asamum was going to be hosting the Anti-bullying week campaign on her blog, my first thought was that I needed to write a post.

I hesitated about doing a review because I realised that while I've read a few books which cast the stereotypical mean girl in good number of novels, I haven't actively read books that have specifically dealt with this rather painful topic.

When Emma made a suggestion about doing a post from a personal perspective, I was suddenly transported back to my middle grade years where I served as the resident magnet for bullies. I'm not quite sure what it was about me, but somehow, what was supposed to be wonderful years during my junior years, became years that, to this day, I simply prefer blocking out of my system.

I also realised that the reason I don't tackle too many books on this subject is because out of those books that I have read, every harsh word, every cruel sneer and every taunt I've had to endure, hits far too close to home for comfort. It's hard reading about the subject when the voices of the past still echo through one's very soul.

I see and experience it in the voices of these kids in each of the books that I have attempted to read in the past and have found myself drowning in those feelings of desperate helplessness all over again.

My story isn't a unique one and I'm pretty sure that there are many who have stories that are far worse than mine, but I thought I'd put my voice out there and tell everyone who has gone through this or is currently going through bullying in any form whatsoever, that you don't have to continue living in silence.

I'm also telling you this so that you don't make the same mistakes like I did when I decided it would be better to keep quiet and allow the voices of the bullies to snuff out whatever light I had within me.

When I was young, I was the fat, awkward kid who no one wanted to be friends with. Right from the start, I was constantly teased and tormented by others around me. I never knew what it was that I had done to make them choose me to be their target, but all I remember is how desperately I wanted them to like me and be my friend.

Naturally, because I was this young and didn't understand that a bully won't stop being a bully even if you're nice to them, I set out to do everything I could to get them to like me. Much to my shame, I only ended up compromising my integrity and throwing away my dignity in the process.

I started making up lies about fabulous things that I didn't own and made promises to those who bullied me just so that I could make them like me.

I gave away my lunch goodies and for the sake of fitting in, pretended to like everything that they did all because I so desperately wanted to make it stop and to make them become friends with me. I brought wonderful things from home and gave it to the bullies because all I wanted to fit in.

I was tired of being the awkward, ugly kid. I was even more tired of feeling even uglier than I already did when I was not being surrounded by them.

I know.

Pathetic right?

I suspect most victims of bullies try to get the bullies to like them in one form or another - we have this sense that we need their approval to exist in the world. In the process, we give away so much of ourselves that inadvertently, we don't just let them break us down, but we allow them to kill that inner light.

And essentially, that's what I did.

I let them snuff out my light without a thought.

What made things worse is that for a 11 year old kid, I had enormous breasts. I was an early developer - and of course, being already overweight, the kids around me didn't need a second invitation to add that to the list of their already mocking and jeering taunts.

I still cringe when I think about it.

Trust me when I say that no 11-year old girl wants to be labelled anything along the lines of watermelons and milk jugs.

Every. Single. Day.

And of course, being the bullies they were, once they latched onto the one thing I hated most about myself, they carried down that path and went on to find other things about me that they could torment me about.

My hair was pulled, I was called ugly, was pushed around at times and was relegated to being the person who people only went to because they wanted something.

Yet, I kept quiet about it. Which I can honestly tell you was the worst mistake I could have possibly made. At that point, I was so systematically torn down, that I believed that I deserved to be treated that way. My spirit was broken, and I couldn't do anything about it until I eventually escaped and moved onto high school.

I realised, when I gained more understanding, that by remaining voiceless, I let those bullies win. I may have learnt all this by hindsight, but you don't have to. If you're being bullied, it's time you opened your mouth to SPEAK LOUDLY.

Courage is having the ability to do something even in the midst of your fear - and by taking that one step and just talking, you've just taken your first step to winning that battle.

My experience with being bullied has taught me that it's not about what people do to you physically, but what they do to your spirit.

I had to endure years of systematic taunts that changed me for the worse. It took a good number of years, a breast reduction and a newly formed friendship with a friend who would only borrowed to me for a short time in order for me to grow into a new skin.

Don't let what I allowed to happen to me, to happen to you too. Speak up and speak loudly against it and if ever you see someone being bullied, don't just stand by and watch, help that person to find his/her voice again.

On a last note, I've decided that I'm going to tackle Some Girls Are. I've put off reading that one for a long time, but I think that it's time to overcome those voices of the past, don't you?

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Tammy for sharing something so personal with us. I am sure a lot of people will be able to relate to it.
I sincerely hope that this campaign will help combat the increasing levels of bullying.


  1. Heya Em. A huge, huge thank you to you for having me feature on your blog today. It was definitely one of the most emotional and cathartic pieces I've written. I really do hope that someone out there (no matter who you are), will gather the courage that I never had and Speak up about it. This post is for all those people (young or old) that are being bullied, have been bullied or in the future may be bullied - I hope you all find the strength within to overcome. xoxo

  2. Thank you so much for this wonderful and moving post.

  3. This is such an emotive post. I actively shy away from any books about bullying as, like Tammy, they often cut too close to the bone. I was badly bullied throughout primary school and then again towards the end of secondary school (which was probably the most upsetting). I hate thinking about it and so avoid anything that might bring back bad memories. It's even worse now that I have a daughter myself - she's only little but the thought that I will have to send her into a classroom situation in the next few years makes me feel sick with worry. However, posts like Tammy's and features like Emma's make me realise that there are so many people out there who not only understand but who are actively speaking loudly against the trauma that so many children and teenagers go through. Thanks, both of you, for helping me examine this issue again.

  4. What a wonderful and brave post to have shared with us. Thanks Tammy :)


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