October 20, 2012

October 20th: Yes, I was bullied. Here is my experience.

As a chubby little kid I used to get picked on for, well....for being a chubby little kid. I was blessed to be confident enough to fight back (aka call the boys and girls that called me fugly, dumb assholes in return), but my self-esteem suffered. When I started high school, my self-esteem was practically gone. I had the most horrific body image and I perceived myself as being at least 10 kgs heavier than I actually was. I hated school in general, because everywhere I went I felt like someone was targeting me, I found myself tip-toeing around. I also tried to hide from people when eating lunch and whenever I saw one of my bullies, I would walk the other way.

I hated summer the most because every single year my school forced us to go to the pool for PE and the idea of having to wear a swimsuit in front of my bullies made me feel sick to the stomach. A chubby girl in a swimsuit means open season for bullies. I never walked very far, just so my thighs wouldn't jiggle and whenever I saw one of them come around a corner, I felt the urge to cover my belly with the length of my lower arm. Comforting grip. I was a zero in the pool too, so besides not fitting in the acceptable weight-range, I also didn't fulfill the athleticism kids are supposed to have in high school in order to be considered Ok. Double humiliation right there. I didn't stand a chance.

My teachers were useless in a way that they just perceived bullying as part of high school life.I can't recall a single situation, were I was "saved" by the helping hand of a teacher. It seems they sometimes even enjoyed listening to some of the stuff, trying to suppress a grin. In fact, I can remember one of my female teachers provoking confrontations by revealing that my sister had suffered from anorexia to the whole class. I understand that she wanted her students to realise that weight issues were some sort of a sensitive issue in my family and to just take it easy on me, but what it really did was make my bullies perceive me as far weaker prey than I had already depicted.
For weeks after that happened, people kept telling me I should start an eating disorder so they wouldn't have to look at my fat ass anymore.

The opposite of good is well intended. Write that down NOW!

 So as the years went by I just decided to deal with the bullying in what I thought was the best possible way: Not responding at all. I can't say I kept to myself, since I have always been a pretty loud and social person, but instead of fighting back I just kept my mouth shut and let the bullies throw verbal shit at me until they got bored. Don't get me wrong, it was still painful to listen to and I still felt an everlasting jealousy towards the skinny girls, but I just didn't feel there was any use fighting back.

That's when I discovered music and its therapeutic effect. I was obsessed with Nirvana and then started listening to Alice in Chains and went from there. Pearl Jam. Queens of the Stone Age. Incubus. Strokes. 1000 "The" - bands. I basically listened to amazing music WAY before anyone else in my year (just to put it out there), because I needed something to escape into. The other girls were still holding onto their 'Spice Girls' sticker albums, when I was blasting "Songs for the Deaf". I had no choice but to find comfort in art. I started filling a diary with poetry and songs, I played the guitar, I bought music magazines (no internet back then. bliss!), I was "SAD for art's sake" for about a year straight (should do that again sometime, haha, oh youth), I sang, I danced. I was a kid I would have liked to hang out with back then.

I felt like I finally had a purpose in life. I didn't feel a need to chase after this dream of waking up skinny and flawless one day and being accepted into the 'cool' gang, so we could all go and get our belly buttons pierced together. I was a goddamn writer, a singer-songwriter, an illustrator, a poet. I educated other people on why they should buy this or that album. I had finally discovered my adolescent identity. I hung out with alternative people. I had much older friends. I went to my first big music festival at age 14. I was allowed to go out at 13 because my older brother looked after me (the legal age in Austria is 16, not 18 or 21, I didn't drink any alcohol until I was 15 and even then I only had one or two drinks a night. No judgement on my parents guys, they were awesome and responsible!) All of a sudden I was cool because unlike so many people my age, I had developed a personality.

When you are exposed to bullying all your life and all of a sudden these very people come up to you and tell you that they always liked you for being so 'different', you find yourself in a weird state between flattery and anger. It's funny because all you wanted from them all this time was to either like you or at the very least to leave you alone. Now they are doing both and it's the biggest mind fuck. As much as I wanted them to suffer the way I suffered, I much preferred living a pretty great life with even greater people. I felt that being vindictive is only going to make me take a step in the wrong direction and turn me into as horrible a person as they were, so I let it go.

I'm not going to make this sound "un-dicky", because there is simply no way to do say, but being the person whose attention and admiration my bullies were seeking, was a pretty fucking great triumph back then.
It was proof enough for me, that success, no matter how you define it, is the best revenge and I started living my life according to that philosophy.


When I was in Austria three weeks ago, I went for a drink with my awesome parents and amazing husband and one of the cruelest, no THE cruelest of all my past bullies walked into the pub. He was fat and looked bloated like an alcoholic, he was completely drunk on a Monday night and made a total dick out of himself, abusing the waitress and other costumers. You could see his self-hatred coming out of his ears.

Do you believe in Karma?