Writing Away the Bullies

David's Family 8There’s been a lot of buzz in recent years over bullying. I was bullied in my younger years. A lot. Like…A LOT. Most of the bullying occurred in 8th and 9th grade, and most of it occurred for various reasons. I was always…different. Quite. Weird. In my own little world.

I was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) when I was 2, and I was put on Ritalin for fifteen years of my life. That Ritalin increased my anxiety levels to the point where I was afraid walls were going to crash in on me. Because of the Ritalin, I wouldn’t stand up for myself. Kids would flick my ears, and I wouldn’t do a single thing about it. I was nervous to make eye contact with anyone, or even move my head a certain way because I was afraid everyone was staring at me all the time. The paranoia was very real, and it caused me a lot of issues through my school years and into my adult life.

Another reason I was bullied was because of my club foot. If you don’t know what a club foot is, go educate yourself here. I walked ‘pigeon-toed’ up until 8th grade when my speech teacher asked me why I walked the way I did. After that, I made a conscious effort to straighten out the way I walked just so I wouldn’t have another teacher point out my handicap.

The bullying got pretty extreme at times. One day, a kid in my English class tied a newspaper rope around my neck and tried to choke me with it in front of the whole class while my teacher was out. We got into a fist fight, and I ended up reporting him to the front office. The kid was put in ISS (in-school-suspension) for three days, and he sent his lackeys to inform me that ‘snitches get stitches’. When he got out, he approached me after class. It was one of the first times I confronted one of my bullies courageously. I told him to leave me alone or I would continue to report him. He never bothered me again.

The bullying was a very real part of my life. There were days I dreaded going to school, especially when I knew that snitches got stitches and people were waiting around corners for me to show up. I felt like an outcast at times, and I ended up befriending the others who were different like me. They were some of the best friends I ever had. And yes, I was one of those kids who befriended the bus driver and the school janitor. They didn’t judge me. They didn’t throw stuff at me. They defended me. They kept their eyes open for trouble and protected me from it when it came my way.

It was during the peak of the bullying, in 8th grade, that I really found my passion. It’s true that I started writing when I was 11, but the bulk of my first stories were written during 8th and 9th grade. My dad had given me one of those computers that only display amber-colored text, and a printer that was fed on black spools. As typing was a required class in my school at the time, I used the computer, my typing skills, and my storytelling abilities and crafted many, many adventures.

You would think that I used writing as an escape from bullying, but writing was much more than just an escape. It was my control over bullying. I mean, that’s one reason writers write, right? To control the world around them.

I wrote myself into my stories as a hero, as someone who had purpose, who drew the affection of others, who had the ability to save the day and stop the villain. Writing was therapeutic. It was a passion, and when I participated in that passion, I was able to overlook the bullying and write a better ending to the day.

I want to make sure that I raise my own kids to both not be bullies and to speak up against bullying when they are able to. Seeing as my son has two club feet, I am watchful and careful to make sure that his self-confidence is built up and that he knows he is unique and that being unique is good.

But as wrong as bullying is, I know it was used by God to help shape my lifelong passion. Bullying was a challenge in my life, and I was given the ability to shape that challenge into something of great worth.

DAlderman 310BWC2Now I write for a living. It’s not to say that I’m fully recovered from the effects of the bullying that went on in my youth. I’m still a bit shy about publicly revealing who I really am, what I really like and don’t like, and what I really believe.

But through the struggle, I have learned one very valuable lesson: Dive into your passion. It is the one thing the bullies can’t take from you.


4 thoughts on “Writing Away the Bullies

  1. David, I can relate to this! Like you, I was bullied too, and to escape the bullies, I would hide in the classroom, where all the nerds were, and I befriended some students who would spend their recess reading, and this led me to start reading and this continues to this day! Totally agree with you about bringing up our kids to not be bullies and to stand up to them!

    Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. I remember hiding in classrooms, Peter. Or staying late after school to avoid walking the path of the bullies. Glad to hear though that it pushed you into the direction of reading. Just goes to show that all things work out for the good.

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  2. Wow, what a story, I liked how you turned that experience into something positive.
    I was bullied too. I moved from town to town growing up. My mom never stayed on one place for very long, my two brothers faired well in each new school, I for one, did not. I was kind of awkward, I gravitated towards other kids who were outcasts, or had some problem that they got teased about. I felt safe around them, and found myself to be their protector. I did find solace in the fact that, the bullying had a good point to it, lack of peer pressure, I didn’t get pressured into smoking, doing drugs or alcohol. I seemed to have strength and courage when I was standing up for someone else, other than myself. For myself, I quickly learned that bullies get bored when they think their bullying doesn’t bother you. I then started making fun of myself, that extinguished any ammunition they would’ve had. They finally realized they had no powers over me….they’d move on to someone else. I would usually jump in and defend them, then I realized I was making it worse for them. Until I told them to do what I do….
    Luckily the bullying ceased in H.S., maybe I wasn’t as awkward, maybe I was so good at making fun of myself, the bullies just didn’t even begin with me, maybe I just built a wall around me, that came down only when I felt safe. Once I graduated from H.S., I was totally free from the bullying. However something within me didn’t feel right, I still felt like I did as a young girl in school. I still felt socially awkward in the work place, kept to myself, I was quiet, reserved, but very blunt and outspoken if someone said something to me I didn’t like, If a guy showed interest in me I kind of quietly freaked out, and did my best to get rid of him.
    I did eventually marry, and 28yrs later I’m still married to the same guy, whom I love with all my heart. We have 2 adult children, one of whom is married, (and gave us a beautiful granddaughter, and about to give us a grandson in about 5wks.) but it took some time to get over that hurdle, of mistrust I had. I too was also diagnosed with ADD(without the H) but I wasn’t diagnosed as a child. we girls often get overlooked, slip through the cracks. I was 42yrs old when I was diagnosed, and I can honestly say, that it was THEN that I felt liberated. I finally realized that I’m not the freak I thought I was. Dammit, if I was only diagnosed as a child, maybe I’d have adapted to things easier.
    I too love to write, and hope to finish and publish a book I’m working on about my son, who has autism.
    Thank you for telling your story. You’re an inspiration.

    Like

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