There is a chasm between who I was & who I am now. But the girl I was protected & rebuilt the woman I am. I can’t hate her.
Sometimes survival means being scarier than the things you’re already facing. For me that meant in high school I was a complete & utter bitch. I anhillated anyone who slighted me. I was being a bigger monster than the monsters people thought I was facing. I wasn’t classified as a bully but in the 90s we simply didn’t have female bullies. Bullies were boys. Girls were just bitches. As much as we shrug off the (mostly physical) male aggression, we shrug off the (mostly verbal) viciousness of girls.
We approach bullying in such a weird way. We know (studies have shown! Science!) kids who bully are almost always being bullied at home… except we call that child abuse (verbal, emotional, or physical), but when we cite kids for bullying we don’t address what hell they’re going through. We just deem them “problem kids” & hit them with some bullshit zero tolerance policy.
Now I’m not saying bullying is acceptable or that we shouldn’t step in when we see it & help. What I’m saying is that if you see one kid bullying another kid what you’re really seeing are TWO victims, not one.
Nobody talks about that.
My daughter is perpetuating this cycle. She was bullied by her biological mother, stepfather, & sister. When someone is mean to her she is vicious in return. When she thinks someone might be mean to her, she is defensive from the start & turns mean quickly. I don’t think of her as a bully because I know her back story & I know my own experience in high school was that I felt I had to be a bitch to survive. But I’m guessing everyone (in high school) feels like that (unless they’re in complete denial or have had a very different life than is statistically probable).
Why is there no help, not even a conversation, about that? It’s as if we’ve left it on the shoulders of our children to step up & be better people without treating them as such or even imparting the tools to do so. There are minimal efforts being made to have guidance counselors talk to kids about being bullied at school, and no effort to talk to them about why people bully, being bullied at home, or how to behave instead.
And on top of that our society is completely accepting of a Celebrity Culture where we find it not only okay but entertaining to rip apart the personal choices, bodies, & fashion of anyone even slightly famous. You can’t teach people that’s okay & then tell them not to behave the same way with the people they know in real life.