I listened to a great talk on equality last Friday and want to thank Lyanna and all those who have already read this blog for giving me the courage and support to post it. Without action, nothing will change and I hope that my words resonate and make a difference, even if it’s tiny.
I sat there motionless, I knew exactly what was going on but felt utterly powerless to stop it. My brain was processing each word but my mouth barely opened and I was frozen to the spot.
Every fibre in me knew it was wrong and that no one should have to experience this but I could feel myself shut down. Any words that I wanted to respond with got stuck in my throat, I began feeling smaller and smaller and wishing there was an eject button.
Have I painted an uncomfortable picture? It was, truly, and not one I want to experience again.
What hurt me as much as the complete verbal undressing was the fact another woman was sat opposite me delivering this character annihilation. Hello? Aren’t women supposed to empower and support each other? This person missed the memo, or read it and shoved it in the bin.
Yes, I had a made a mistake, for which I apologised and was upset about but apparently that was never going to be good enough. Talk about kicking someone when they’re down.
It got personal and ugly, words and experiences I had said in confidence got taken and repurposed as weapons and threats.
What this person saw was someone vulnerable, upset and an apparent ‘easy target’ so they used that to their advantage and went on the attack. I felt the low self esteem and paranoia roll off her in waves but it didn’t make me feel better, it made me feel worse.
When I walked out of the room I felt disconnected from my body, a shell of a person and the realisation that I had been bullied came only later when I had completely broken down. Through the negative thoughts conjured by the vitriolic words used I suddenly realised it. A part of me felt ashamed.
I remember being teased when I was younger, it’s a tough gig being 5ft, having a ‘weird’ name and feeling different to others. Some people would rhyme my name with Ribena, others would call me short and weird and someone even told me ‘go back to wherever you come from’. The latter really hurt me and my friend laughed at that comment and that hurt more.
I was lucky, I don’t think I ever truly experienced bullying that was prolonged or that cruel, words have always hurt me but underneath tears I was a resilient kid and pretty proud of who I was. I saw others around me experience that, daily, and the look on their face – beaten, dejected and self aware – I wish I had done more to help them.
What I’ve learnt is bullying transcends age and will never be ok, it speaks more about the person doing it than it does about you. You aren’t the weak one and speak up about it if you can. I didn’t pursue or formally report it for a variety of reasons but a big part of me wishes I had.
To the person that bullied me, I thank you. You made feel like shit but in being that low I realised how proud I am of myself, how much support I have around me, people that love and care about me.
When I look in the mirror I am happy, truly, I treat people well, I live, laugh and love.
What do you see when you look in yours? Look closer, it might help you.