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  • Writer's pictureLaura McBride


I'm going to reframe something. And I'm going to tell you why. And I'm going to hope it sends anyone going through personal suffering—a dark night of the soul, a sudden loss of belief in anything, despair and suicidal thoughts—a glimmer of possibility.


I just read an article by Dr. Phil about bullying, about how three girls he counseled continued to wallow in the horrid things bullies said and did to them.

Along with the article was a slide show about how parents can help kids being bullied. The second item was, “Don't tell your child to just ignore it.” Apparently, ignoring the taunts can lead bullies to greater expressions of animus.

So what to do?

I'll tell you what I did. I took it and took it and took it for about six years, from ages 8 to 14. The bullying was by my neighbor, a girl of my age, but very overweight and coarse and not into the same things I was. She didn't care for books, art, theatre. I don't actually know what she did care for; by the time we got to our teens, she was into smoking in the lavatory at school, hanging out with the hoods, and generally being an unsavory girl.

Nonetheless, both her parents and mine thought she was my best friend. She was not. I tolerated her, and was never mean to her about her weight as so many other kids were. My parents raised us better than that.

On the other hand, I had to endure her endless taunts about my being too skinny, my neck being too long, my nose being too big, my eyes being too round, being too bookish....and on and on and on and on and on and on.

Finally, when we were 14, she knew I had a crush on a particular boy. On the bus ride home one day, she decided to mention, pointedly and in front of him, that I was a bit flat-chested. I thought I was, too, so it really hurt, irrespective of the involvement of the boy I had a crush on. As it turned out, I was not flat-chested, but had the appropriate appendages for my size and weight,which, as noted, did not at that time include excess fat.

Growing a pair

Anyway, I told her off. Right then and there, as we got off the bus, I told her off. I had never done such a thing before. Then I went home.

The next morning, I would ordinarily have stopped by her house to walk to the bus stop with her. I didn't. “Aren't you going to stop for Carol?” my mother asked when I was still at home five minutes after I should have left to stop for her and get to the bus stop on time.

“No,” I said. And that's all I said, then or for many, many years afterward. I never willingly spoke to the girl again. But Dr. Phil was right; ignoring her all those years by not responding, and then finally responding in nuclear fashion, had turned on her bully's need to get me even more than it had been turned on before. I simply avoided her, but of course, sooner or later, our paths were bound to cross; our high school wasn't all that large, only about 1,200 students. And indeed, about two years later, she said something completely foul to me in the hallway as I waited to buy my lunch. That tore it! For the second time, I had had enough. I whirled and said to her, “If you were half as smart as you are fat, you'd be Einstein.” Just like that.

Oy vay. Unleash the hounds. Later that day, I got a note from her saying she and her criminal cronies were going to beat me up as I walked down a specific street the next day. (Why not that day, I always wondered.)

Anyway, that was beyond my capacity to deal with, so I took it to my father, who went all quiet. Then he took the note, walked out the door, went next door to see the girl's father, returned a short while later, and said he didn't expect I'd have any more trouble out of her.

Parental intervention

I suspect her father gave her a good few whacks with his belt. Those kids—she and her brother—were generally subjected to corporal punishment. It didn't do much good, apparently, except that time. She did leave me alone, at least directly.

Of course, I knew she was talking about me behind my back, probably setting her crowd of moronic criminal wannabes against me as well. I didn't care; the physical danger was over and I figured I could handle the dirty looks and sly remarks. But it was uncomfortable. I could take it because I knew it would be of short duration, and I had much more important things to think about for my future.

Every once in a while, for decades, my mother would ask me if I was ever going to make up with Carol. I always said no. And I never did. She showed up at my father's funeral, and I did speak to her, not having been raised by wolves. While we were talking, my true best friend walked in, and Carol's face fell before my eyes. And I knew that she was mired in childhood, thinly glossed over by the demands of adulthood.

I wonder if her kids were bullies? I had no kids to be bullied, but I knew a young woman at the barn where I kept my horse, decades later, who was bullied in the same way I had been. I tried to help her...but I did it wrong. Like my parents—and like her parents—I told her to just ignore them.

But what can one do? The slide show said not to tell your child to stand up to the bullies. My parents didn't do that. It also said parents should not see the bully's parents about it; that, too, can apparently increase the bullying. My parents did do that, and while it stopped the daily bullying, of course it initiated a continuing whispering campaign.

Is bullying an insoluble problem?

So what should one do? Is there actually no answer? Are the bullies going to inherit the earth? If one reads widely and assumes fiction is based on fact, you'd think so; Lord of the Flies comes right to mind. And politicians; just look at the bullying of the weak and destitute being done by the abusive Tory government of the United Kingdom. But I digress.

Is the only solution to schoolroom bulling to move the child being bullied to a different school? Or home-schooling instead if one can? Then the child will miss sports teams, band, drama group and other things that enrich lives.

I wonder if anyone has actually found out how to stop bullies, except the way the world had eventually to stop Adolph Hitler, but I doubt it. I think bullies are a fact of life that must be borne with as much grace as one can, stood up to when the torture reaches fever pitch, avoided thereafter. But there will be consequences, not for the bullies but for the bullied. As Dr. Phil noted, if a bully says something hurtful 30 times, the person bullied will repeat it to herself 1000 times, until it forms a substrate for that person's life. Despite that what a bully says is not going to be either true or kind, it becomes a mind worm.

I know this is true: I have felt ugly and unlovable since I was approximately eight years old. Any success I've had in life was despite the bullying and the mantra of brokenness I have repeated to myself for almost 50 years, and was thanks to good genes and a strong, steadfast grandmother who was my role model.

Is it sensible for a kid to take on board the idiocies said by kids who are jealous, or ill-raised or just plain mean? Of course not. But a kid has no way to separate what is true from what might be true or even what is totally untrue. All of it goes in and wanders around in the psyche, making bumps and lumps and holes and erosions until, at length, the adult seeks relief from things he or she didn't even consciously know were hurting. Sometimes, they fail at life—some of it, or even all of it. Sometimes they spend decades on the psychiatrist's couch. Sometimes they kill themselves. I suspect the first and the last are my coping mechanisms; never felt much like spending the time and money on a shrink, as I'd never seen “shrinkage” do much good. Not normal shrinkage, anyway. So, yes, I've failed at a good many things. I've thought about suicide...but my grandmother's good sense has always kicked in, playing more loudly than the left-over mind worms born of derision by others, fed by my own doubts about myself.

What's at stake, what to do

If you were bullied, or your kids are being bullied, realize first that it is their spirit, not their mind, that has sustained the damage. Their IQ will have remained intact; their EQ, emotional quotient, and SQ, spiritual quotient, will have been compromised. For those last two, there's really no way around it: energy work is the only thing that can come to the rescue, can drain those images implanted early on from the cellular memory level and render them harmless.

I admit I didn't understand this until yesterday. I did all the coping things, some cognitive-behavioral stuff, some New Thought affirmations and so on. But what I had failed to grasp was the true quantum nature of it all, the absolute necessity of neutralizing those hurtful, cellular-level images with equally powerful energies for truth. Some may call it prayer; I call it using the quantum field as the Creator of All intended. That is, to create love and peace one soul at a time. It begins now. Namaste, my soul. And namaste to yours, as well.

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