A Guest Post by Susan Harris
Bullying isn’t just something that happens when you’re young or a teenager. It can happen to you when you’re supposed to be a grown-up as well. My experience of bullying—just like everyone else’s—is not a happy story, but I think it has a sort of happy ending.
Writing this story is hard. I’m a writer so it should be easier, but I’m so much better at emphasising character’s emotions rather than my own. Anyway, I’ll try as much as possible to get the words out.
When I was twenty-one, I finished up college and was delighted to get a job working with children straight out of it. For six months, I was deliriously elated with life. But on a night out with workmates, someone asked me to do something I wasn’t comfortable with and when I refused, she began to make my life miserable.
It started small, pretending I wasn’t in the room, critiquing every little thing I did, and convincing me I was a complete failure. It was a gradual decent that happened slowly, as did my depression and anxiety. When she manipulated other people into stopping talking to me, I realized the happy-go-lucky person I was no longer existed. For almost two years, I was criticized and belittled.
I retreated into myself. Stopped eating and sleeping. Mornings saw me vomiting with nerves about having to go to work, and evenings saw me hiding myself away because I was ashamed that I let this happen to me. That, I didn’t see coming.
In the end, something happened that forced me out of the job, and I filed a wrongful dismissal and bullying and harassment case against the school. They made up some really malicious stuff about me, and it cut to the bone because every single one of them knew that I loved the kids I worked with.
I spiralled into an abyss of dark thoughts and resentfulness. For the first time here, I’m admitting that although I was angry at the way I was treated, harassed, and bullied, I hated myself for being weak and a failure. I couldn’t stop my mind from thinking my family and few friends I had left would be better off without me and the failure of a person I was.
You can guess where this is going, and you’re right. I picked a day, I wrote notes, and resigned myself to the fact that everyone would be better off without me. As the day neared to our court date, I felt like I had nobody who could understand what was going on in my head. But I had a friend who saved my life. We met up the night before, and she told me she would come to court and back me up as she had been a witness to my constant bullying.
So I decided to fight back against my bullies. To finally be strong when I should have been before. We went to court and won, but winning felt bittersweet.
I don’t want to upset anyone with my story, and it’s just that, my story, of how I was bullied and the effects it has on me still today. I trust very little and the feeling that I might fail at something does still overwhelm me. It took me years to find myself again and be content with the person I am today. I live with an anxiety disorder, but it does not define me.
I tell you my story so that it might help someone else. When I struggled to verbalize how broken and alone I felt after my bullying, my mother made a suggestion that I write it all down because I loved to write and it could help me. So I listened to music and wrote poems about how I felt. That, too, saved my life.
And now I am a published author. A lot of my experiences of isolation and depression helped me create Alana, my character from Shattered Memories. There is so much of me in that girl that it’s scary.
I think what I want people to take from this is life can change at any time. You can start over. Your dreams are possible if you just have faith in yourself. The wounds might heal and even if the scars remain, you will look at those scars and remind yourself that you are strong, you are brave, and even if it’s only one person, there is someone out there who loves you.
I’m crying typing this up because even though I went through Hell, I came out the other side. Bullying is never okay for any reason, whether you are young or old. If you are being bullied, talk to someone—a friend, a parent, or a teacher. Never let yourself think you are less because of how someone treats you. I’ve been there, and I survived.
And so can you.
I’m going to share with you something I wrote back when I was bullied, and I decided that I wanted to live. I have never, ever shared my poetry with anyone before as it’s deeply personal but here we go!
Death, do not reach for me as I have reached for you,
for when the times comes, I’ll be waiting for you.
I will not struggle, nor shall I exclaim,
nor shall I search for someone else to blame.
I will walk my final steps, and not feel compelled to long,
yearning for acceptance in a world I don’t belong.
When the time comes, then I know you’ll be right,
and I promise to go quietly; I will not fight.
Just give me some time, that is all that I ask,
to right my mistakes, to complete my task.
So when I see you, I should be able to tell.
Where my soul shall belong, be it in heaven or hell.
And when the time comes for me to stare death in the face,
I promise to steady my breathing, force my heart not to race.
I will accept the fate you have laid out for me,
As I have accepted everything else that has come to be.
And when I have righted my wrongs, towards the end,
then I shall see you again, my dear, old friend.
ABOUT SUSAN HARRIS:
Susan Harris is a writer from Cork in Ireland. An avid reader, she quickly grew to love books in the supernatural/fantasy genre. When she is not writing or reading, she loves music, oriental cultures, tattoos, anything Disney and psychology. If she wasn’t a writer she would love to be a FBI profiler or a PA for Dave Grohl or Jared Leto.