Hello everyone and happy Friday, wherever you are in the world! Today I’m continuing to share with you my personal struggle with mental illness–and triumph over it–in the blog series called A Light in Darkness.
What is A Light in Darkness all about? It’s where I share the highs and lows, the tears and scars, and the joy and spark and love that has ultimately gotten me to this wonderful point of my life. My path, my beautiful life. I hope that by telling my story, I can inspire others to keep going with their lives and feel wonderful.
I am by NO means a trained counsellor. I cannot offer you professional advice. I do hope that my words help, and it will be wonderful if they do. My only training comes from life itself, and I’m still learning! You can read my first posts in the series here.
Today’s topic is dealing with being bullied, and how I’ve learned to handle it.
I’m not sure anyone has gotten through the internet without being insulted or harrassed, unless they simply never speak to people a day in their lives. It doesn’t affect some people at all. It angers others, incites cycles of cruelty, and can hurt others to the point of suicide. Online bullying can be a lot more dangerous than people make it out to be.
Over the years, I’ve been viciously attacked by various people. Women I’d been friends with for a long time. People in close-knit forums. Random people on social media. Actual FRIENDS. I’ve been called every name in the book (seriously, if you can think it, I’ve been called it), my family life, intelligence and beliefs have been butchered, I’ve been told everyone hated me and that I should kill myself, I’ve been called a liar and a horrible friend and a terrible excuse for a human being who simply wastes the air decent people should breathe. I’ve been told that I deserved to be raped and to have my boyfriend commit suicide and for my life to go to hell.
Still others constantly harassed me on Active Worlds, the 3D chat program where I met both my ex and Jon, to the point that I was driven out completely because I could no longer bear the hateful attitudes, and Jon himself was bullied.
The vast majority of this happened when I was much younger, was severely isolated, was prone to self-harm, and had no self-esteem whatsoever. Being knocked down a lot, especially by people I’d trusted as friends, were such serious blows to my mental state and my view of myself that I was constantly self-harming, feeling suicidal, and withdrawing from TRUE friends because I was so afraid they would turn on me too because I was just that unlovable.
I turned to friendships and relationships, offline and on, that were REALLY bad for me because I felt that was all I deserved. I put up with constant verbal, emotional, physical and even sexual abuse. I even altered my personality for people and tried to please everyone in existence just so I would be liked. I stayed in a dead marriage.
But slowly, with the support, love, and encouragement of my family and my true friends who stuck by me, I began to realize that these hateful people were wrong. Most of them had never even gotten the chance to know me well, which meant they had no idea WHO I really was. And the others were just sad individuals experiencing a lot of held-in pain and taking it out on those around them.
It didn’t reflect who *I* was. Myself and the people who mattered knew who *I* was. The *friends* weren’t really my friends, and they didn’t deserve to be.
Their hate couldn’t win and it couldn’t change me. Hate has different standards than love does, and I sure as hell don’t want to conform to hate’s standards.
I started removing the toxic people from my life, slowly but surely, and stopped listening to anyone else who said I wasn’t a good person. As my self-esteem started to increase, the feelings of guilt in removing these people turned into giddy senses of freedom and like leaden weights were lifted from my shoulders. Once they were gone, all I was left with was the people who truly liked me and held great kindness and love in their hearts, and my own like for myself began to grow freely.
It can be very difficult to ignore hateful people who sit behind computer screens or devices and do their darnedest to hurt others as much as possible. It can also be difficult to not be cruel right back at them. But when hate begets hate, it just turns into a vicious circle of cruelty that goes nowhere and just ends up in more pain; you feel worse and feel angry and off-centered, and the other person’s own pain and anger is kindled hotter and brighter. Nobody wins.
Unfortunately, I have been guilty of dogging cruel people and making the situation worse. Did I ever felt good afterwards? Absolutely not. I had continued the cycle of cruelty and negativity, and I made trolls troll even harder.
These folks are experiencing deep pain that hasn’t been healed. They’re in desperate need of love and healing. They may not know what kind of battles we’re facing and how words affect us, and we also don’t know what their story is. They need professional help, not retribution.
Sure, I still get angry when I see someone else getting bullied. But I reach out to the bullied person and spread my love to them. This goes for both online and offline situations. Spread the love and stamp out the hate. And, you never know. You might save someone’s life.
Most recently, on Instagram I was appraised by a random man who said that my boyfriend must feel very secure as the only reason I wasn’t cheating on him was because no other man would have me due to how hideous I am.
Sure, it stung for a few short minutes. My self-esteem is still on the rocks and I tirelessly work on it, slowly building it up. Old memories of online bullying came back to haunt me, and I remembered how horrible I’d feel and how much I’d hate myself. And I knew how greatly I’d improved and how much I’d grown to like myself as a person.
So I told myself this. And I tell myself something like this every day. I write my love letters to me in my journals and anywhere where I can see them, and so should you. Because you’re wonderful.
My face is part of me. It has nice eyes, skin, and teeth and I quite like it. It sees, hears, smells, and tastes all the wonderful things this world has to offer. It looks cute in glasses and it makes me look a lot younger than I am. It can blow my boyfriend out of the water with just a look. It looks great with or without makeup. It feels wind and rain and warmth and gentle human touch.
I am me. There is no other me in the world. I was born to create, to love, to cry, to laugh, to experience life as the rich, beautiful chaos that it is.
Not everyone likes me. Not everyone will like me in my lifetime.
And that’s fine. I’m not for everyone. I don’t need to force people to like me, because I am who I am, and if they don’t like it, they can keep on going down their road of life.
But I am worthy of love, friendship, and happiness just like everyone else. I’m not better than anyone else, but I’m also not worse 🙂 I don’t deserve abuse, you don’t deserve abuse, and nobody does. Not even the trolls and the bullies. I am worthy of the wonderful people who are my family, my friends, and my love.
As Dr. Seuss once said:
“Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.”
I hope this post can inspire you!
So, goddesses, how do you deal with cruelty online or off? How does it affect your views on yourself? Any tips or advice on continuing to love yourself and keep rocking your life despite negative presences? Your comments are most welcome! 🙂