An Open Letter to the Bullied

I want to digress for a moment or two and speak directly to those youth, and in some cases young adults who are bullied.

I am not going to try to pass myself off as an expert, or a psychotherapist in any way shape or form. This is just an old man who has been where you are, and happens to still be around to talk about it.

There have been too many reports on the news about people who have killed themselves as a result of the antics of a bully.

Suicide is not, and never should even be considered an answer to your problem.

I faced it myself. I had everything happen to me, from people talking about me, all the way up to several violent physical assaults. I was hospitalized twice by bullies. I hospitalized one myself, though that was later on in the story.

The worst thing to ever do when someone is having a problem is to try to minimize it. So what follows, let me be perfectly clear on this, should in no way be considered an attempt to minimize anything. I am only going to speak from experience.

While you are living it, it can seem like the end of the world. I know. It can seem like it will never end, and it really does feel as if no one out there cares.

People do care. Even when you are at the end of your rope, and you really feel in your heart that no one cares, someone does. You may not see it through all of the chaos, but someone does care.

When I was a teen, I was never the kid who fit in. I was ugly (still am), overweight (still am), and at my best, I was socially awkward (still am). The thing that I didn’t understand then was that everyone is awkward in their teens. It means a lot less coming from an old man, but it is still true. If you pay attention, you will see that the bully has those same moments; the awkward and indecisive moments. Those few truly gifted people who do not ever end up being awkward typically have enough self-confidence to live their own life and not bother with what is going on with other people.

The rumors that I was gay and the verbal tirades were literally nothing compared to what lay in store for later.

The physical assaults, the robbery, and the daily intimidation were the real bullying. I do not use the term “victim” about myself. But if I did ever decide to use, or allow another person to use the term victim about me in regards to bullying, it would be from this period of my life. I would have gladly traded the beatings and the threats of beatings for the rumors that I was gay. The rumors were like a pleasant dream when compared to the tragedy that was my life during these years.

But I had a Father who refused to allow me to give up. He pushed me harder than anyone else ever has in my entire life. I fought on because he was my hero, and he never gave up. That and he would have kicked my gigantic booty if I gave up.

I survived because the rumors were nothing but words, and the assaults ended. I went into training in the martial arts. This may or may not be the remedy for you, but I do recommend you find something, because there is nothing that will heal you and build your confidence more than being around like-minded people, and doing something that you are good at. From my perspective, anyone can be good at martial arts, if they are willing to work. I was willing to work because I was being intimidated and beaten. I needed what I was learning. It may seem a far out solution to those who are being talked about or undergoing cyber-bullying, but it is still what I would suggest.

Do keep in mind one important fact; the world I grew up in was different. When I became confident enough to fight back during an assault, I ripped the bully’s shoulder out of socket. He never even spoke to me again. If that same thing happened today, his parents would sue my parents for medical bills and the ever ambiguous “pain and suffering”. You no longer can fight and defeat the bully and walk away like they do in the movies. But if you find your confidence, the bully will probably move on. Predators do not attack the strong, they attack the weak, and those separated from the herd. Find like-minded people, find friends, and stick with them.

Above all else, remember it will not last. While I was being bullied, I thought the world would end before the torture would end. I was wrong. It ended, and I walked out the other end of it stronger, and more self-confident than ever before. Report what is happening, because schools are taking it more seriously than when I was in school, do not keep it a secret. But never ever feel that it is the end of your life. Had I let that feeling take root, I would never have seen the end of it, never gotten my black belt, never gotten married, never become a Father to three prefect kids, never lived life to its fullest; from stepping into a pro wrestling ring to jumping out of airplanes, to seeing my baby born, I survived to see and do all of this and more. You can survive too. Survive, and keep moving forward until you remember who you are.

In the entire history of the universe, there will be only one you. Make the most of it!