This post has come about after several days of contemplating. I thought it might be time to actually write this thing.
Recently I got a private message on Facebook from a guy who I didn't bear any particular grudge against, but wasn't to fond of either. It was a message of an apology for stuff said and stuff done to me some years ago. Though the person I would most like to get an apology from hasn't done so yet, and I'm not holding my breath for it either. It was the second time I've received a message like that, and both times sort of got me down a little bit because it forced me into thinking about past events.
On the whole I would say that I had a fairly happy childhood. I lived in a small town with less than 2000 residents(most of the time). What I didn't have was a happy school time. I hated every year of my ten years that I spent in primary and secondary school. For ten years I had to live with being called names, mocked, made fun of and generally being targeted for reasons unknown. I took every opportunity to make sure that I was sick so I wouldn't have to go to school. During those sickness periods I would spent watching TV, reading books and listening to music. So it could be said that they were the making of the person I am today.
So yeah, I was the outcast, the loner, the freak if you will of my class. Anything and every thing that I did was wrong in some kind of way. I hated studying for school but I loved spending time in the library (where my mum worked) and read books. I rarely did my homework, which was one source of taunts and when I did do my homework I was also made fun of. So no matter what I did I would always be made fun off.
Made to feel less of a being than the rest. All of this was mainly due to one person, but the rest didn't help. Some encouraged him, some joined him, most just stayed out of the way and ignored it.
As my sister so elegantly put it, No one asks to be bullied. No one. And anyone who suggests otherwise never had to go through life thinking it wasn't worth living.
I remember once plucking up the courage to speak to the principal at the time, I never told my parents what was happening though, who very quickly dismissed it and mostly just didn't want to know. And the class teacher(the same class teacher for 5 years) seemed to give the class even more fodder, whether she did it knowingly or not I don't know. But to this day I do bear a little grudge against her as well.
A lot of people seemed to think bullying is just a normal part of childhood, that it is there to "toughen up" weak kids, while ignoring the quiet suffering of so many. Well it is not a normal part of any childhood, no one let alone a child deserves to go through life like they are some how inferior and less worthy of life then others. That is what bullying teaches the victims. Not self-sufficiency, so it teaches us that we are better of dead. But towards the end part of those ten years that is what I had started to believe. The sad truth being that sometimes it takes someone dying to make a difference.
At the tail of of the secondary school I was depressed verging on suicidal. But I didn't tell anyone. During that period I had also started listening to heavy metal quite intensely and I was open about my music taste at school as well, and again I was the odd one out. Though since then I've come to find out that shit loads of my peers listened to the same or similar music as I did. It might have been my affinity for classical music as well, that didn't help.
In my head it all sort of collapsed when I tried to kill myself.
I had been contemplating it for some time. How easier it would be all around for everyone if I just wasn't there any more.
Then I tried it again.
Neither time anyone knew of it. The first time I couldn't go through with it and the second time I finally realised what it would do to my family. Especially if anyone found my body.
I tried it twice.
What followed was a gradual realization of that I didn't deserve any of this. Why would I should I let bastards wear me down. My sisters didn't deserve what they were going through either. And at the time I created the first Icelandic website dedicated against Bullying. Though that website seems to be lost in the midst of the might Internet Jungle. The idea at the time was to start a group, and I had started all the planning. Got some posters made by my brother(third one). Things written. But it wasn't to be. But I would like to think that it got the ball rolling, because now there's at least two big groups in Iceland dedicated to fight against bullying.
There had been discussion before in the media, some talk in the school that I had attended (New principal), and I still remember the day when I walked in there to complain to both the principal and the vice principal to complain about the treatment of my youngest sister. One of her bullies at the time also happened to be the vice-principals son.
Due to the website I started getting phone calls from both victims and parents of victims. And I realised that I was not on my own with my experiences. One of the phone calls was from a political blogger who wanted to make a documentary entitled Bullying: Hell on Earth, and he wanted to interview me. The day before it was shown on national television I had written a blog naming and shaming few people in my home town, especially some higher uppers in relation to my eldest brother and his treatment. It sparked a huge discussion in my home town, some of course questioned why I decided to publish it in an open forum. Some people suggested that what I had done constituted as bullying, which just goes to show that some people don't know what bullying is. Most supported what I had written and thanked me, because those were the sort of issues that everyone knew of in a small town. But no one talked about, because it just wasn't the sort of thing that was talked about.
Today. Today I am a fairly happy individual. I moved away from Iceland. I got two kids that I love dearly and I am finally enjoying being in the educational environment.
The memories still hurt, but not as much these days. Time doesn't heal all wounds, it just makes it more bearable to live with.
I wrote a companion piece to this entry called The Social Price of Bullying, with some selected studies on why bullying IS a very important issue and does affect all of us.