|raisedbymoogles (raisedbymoogles) wrote,|
@ 2012-09-26 22:31:00
|Current music:||What's This? - Nightmare Before Christmas|
Advice I wish I had received at twelve.
Hey. Sitting by yourself under the tree again, huh?
Oh, Farenheit 451. Good book. Classic. One of those books that always makes it onto those "50 Books To Read Before You Croak" list. I remember it as... okay, actually, I don't remember much about it at all. There goes my literary wonk cred, but I was only reading it as an escape. ...Heh. I escaped from junior high into a novel about a horrible dystopia. Isn't that funny?
...No, I guess not. Stupid junior high bullies, am I right? Right. Hate 'em. And they swarm around you like flies on a carcass. And, let me guess. Someone told you to just ignore them and they'd get bored and leave you alone, huh? Doesn't work, does it?
Let me tell you a secret. That's something adults say when they don't want to deal with the problem. See, the bullies aren't going to turn themselves in, right? Hell no, you notice how they ignore you when the teacher is paying attention. So as long as you don't make any trouble, then there's no problem, right?
Well, first of all, fuck that. No, don't look shocked. Get comfortable with the F-bomb. It's going to be your best friend. See, the whole ignoring-them thing? Doesn't work. Never worked. Pretending a problem isn't real has never made it just go away on its own. Just ask anyone who's ever fought for social justice. And doing the silent treatment thing on bullies just teaches them that they can pick on you without consequences, and trains you to stay quiet and passive when people mistreat you. Trust me, that's not a good life skill. It's going to screw you over later in life, and you're going to spend decades learning how to assert yourself when most people learn it right here: on the playgrounds of elementary and junior high schools.
So, you ask reasonably, if you can't ignore them into submission, what can you do? Well... it's complicated, and risky, and if you ask anyone else you're going to get a lot of platitudes and not much in the way of practical advice. That's because some grownups don't remember what it was like being a kid, and some were bullied themselves and never learned any coping strategies, and some were bullies and told themselves it was no big deal, just harmless childhood stuff. Which is, of course, bullshit. (Don't look shocked.)
Here's the thing: if you're asking me how to make them stop? Short of becoming a hermit, you can't. (And trust me, you don't want to be a hermit. My Side of the Mountain aside, it's not a comfortable existence, and you'd miss out on the Internet in a couple of years. Although having your own falcon would be cool.) You can't make people behave how you want them to, and you wouldn't want to try. Abusers think that way. Bullies think that way. You don't want to go down that road. What you can do is choose how to react to it. In my more charitable moments I think that's what grownups are getting at when they say to ignore the bullies - don't react by sinking to their level, that kind of thing. But since that's not working for us, let's try something else, huh?
Step one: Repeat after me. You are a beautiful, special, worthy person and deserve to be treated with respect. Say it again. Say it again. Louder. Louder! Say it to yourself every day. Write it down every day, multiple times. Add your own embellishments if you want, but they have to be positive ones about who you are right now, not what you hope you will grow up into one day. You know those few minutes you set aside every evening to read your Bible? Extend that time to say and write down your affirmations. Pray, if you want, for those words to become a part of you.
I know it sounds silly. But just as the ignore-fu strategy is training you to accept abuse as the natural order of things, this will re-train you to reject abuse as unnatural and unworthy of you. If you are a special and worthy being of light, then nobody has the right to say those things to you! What we're aiming for is the moment when what the bullies are doing crashes against the unbreakable wall of your own sense of self-worth, resulting in a magical animating energy called anger. Not the resentment you're working on right now - trust me, that shit is more addictive and damaging than any drug you will ever hear horror stories about - but real, hot, righteous rage. You'll know the difference.
This leads right up to step 2: standing up for yourself. Now here's where you'll have to make some decisions. Because, yes, if you push back too hard, use a bad word, or horrify someone's delicate sensibilities, you will get in trouble. You're going to a very small Lutheran school, and you are burdened with the expectations of your class, appearance, and gender, especially since you've built up a bit of a reputation as a Good Girl so far. That's just how it is. I know you hate getting in trouble, so I'm not going to push you to do anything you're not ready for. But I need you to at least let that consideration not be in the forefront of your mind when you're deciding how to respond to bullies. You can be damn sure it's not in theirs.
That anger I talked about earlier will help with that. When you're angry, you will focus on what's really important: you don't deserve to be treated like this. You don't! You haven't done anything to these people, or to anyone in this school. And even if you had you wouldn't deserve this treatment. When that happens, you will not want to withdraw or stay silent one moment longer. You will stand up. Look them in the eye. And you will fucking talk back.
What you say doesn't really matter, so don't stress out about that. You don't have to have a witty comeback for every possible situation - it'd be wasted on them anyway. It's better to come out with something lame and embarrassing than to keep your mouth shut. Talk back. Try out different strategies and see what works for you. Repeat everything they say back to them in a stupid voice, sprinkle 'your mom' in every other sentence, spill out every insult you can think of in a constant, foul stream. One thing I've seen recently is responding to every statement with "You're right. Alan Rickman is hot." (Who's Alan Rickman, you ask? Doesn't matter. He's hot.) If you get mad enough, you will want to curse - go for it. You know almost all the bad words you're ever going to know. It'll be great for shock value - all those bad words coming out of a girl they thought was too weak and shy and good to say anything stronger than 'darn.' Oh, man, their faces will be priceless! Just whatever you do, don't shut up. That's the worst thing you can do.
You'll be taking a risk, I won't lie to you. Somewhere down the line, someone with authority is going to overhear. Or, someone's going to get the bright idea to run and tattle on you, turn the teachers against you. That's not going to feel good. You think of your teacher as your ally, I know that, and you don't want to see disappointment on her face. But honestly? She hasn't been a very good ally to you. She threw you to the wolves because she didn't want to deal with the bullies in her class. You don't owe her a damn thing.
You know what? Add that to your affirmations.
So - that's my advice. Train yourself to see yourself as having value. Get angry. Talk back. Curse if you need to. It's not going to get rid of the bullies, but it'll help you survive with your soul intact until high school. You'll have friends in high school. That'll help a lot.
Me? Nah. It's too late for me. The damage is done. But you can still save yourself.
Okay. Go back to your book.