Bullying: Why I can’t just ‘get over it and move on’

Last weekend I decided to confront someone about the way they had been talking about me for months behind the closed doors of a Facebook group. I told them that the things they were saying were not just unfounded and with no real cause but were vile and much the same as I had heard all those years ago in the school playground. Their response?

‘People are bored of the whole bullying thing. It happened, it was shit. Get over it and move on.’

I hadn’t mentioned bullying but they obviously realised that their behaviour amounted to that and they really couldn’t understand why, even now, 16 years after leaving school and three years after writing about being bullied, I was still talking about it. Why being bullied was still a topic of conversation for me.

Bullying: Why I can't just 'get over it and move on'

You see, being bullied isn’t something that affects me now in day to day life. It’s something that happened and it definitely shaped years of my life and contributed to the person I am today. But, it happened such a long time ago. I’ve written about it and it was cathartic. I should just get over it and move on, shouldn’t I?

I’ve heard people saying the same to others with medical conditions, people who have children who suffer with medical conditions, people who are abused, who are victims of crime, who are in a traumatic event or who lose family members in different circumstances – that they should all talk about it or write about it and then just get over it and move on.

But that’s the thing. Whenever you experience something, whenever you feel wronged by society, the government, health care or anything else, whenever you lose someone, whenever you have something terrible happen to you – it changes everything.

First, you come to terms with what has happened, you find out why it happened and you try to mend things as best you can – your home, your family, yourself. But then you realise there are other people out there, other people who may have experienced the same thing or who may experience the same thing in the future.

And you want, more than anything else, to stop other people going through what you did. You want to make change, raise awareness and make the world a better place for your children, and your children’s children.

So instead of just getting over it and moving on you do what you can. You talk about what happened, the reasons why it may have happened and what life is like now. You talk about the little things that could have made such a big difference and you hope that by sharing your story it may make that difference to someone, somewhere – it may stop them being mean to the little kid at school, it may stop a child having to eat their lunch in the school toilets and it may make someone go and sit with that child who is by themselves all the time. It may prompt a parent to talk to their child and it might make a child open up to their parents, to their teachers or to a friend. It might just help a little.

Gandhi once said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. I don’t talk about my experience with bullying to give myself something to write about, to have something to post on social media or to make myself feel good. I write about it and I talk about it to make a stand – and to make change.

I was bullied relentlessly because I was ginger, because I was shy, because I had braces, a large forehead and glasses. I was bullied because I didn’t have designer trainers, because I wasn’t stick thin and because I lived in a council house. I was bullied for pretty much anything the children at school could think of. But, I am glad that I went through everything I did before the times of social media, before your life, even as a teenager, is amplified by Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. I know that if I went through what I did in the world of today I would have found it harder to cope, I wouldn’t have been able to get away from the abuse and those hours at home in the evening, instead of being respite would have been a continuation of the hell I endured at school.

And that is why I am still talking about being bullied at school. Because if I went through what I did, and it affected me so much and made me feel so low and so down on myself how do children of today feel when they are experiencing it pretty much all day and all night every single day both at school and online?

I saw a news video where Lucy Alexander was talking about her 17 year old son Felix. He had taken his own life after years of torment by school bullies and she’d written an open letter to parents everywhere. The main emphasis of the letter was to teach children to ‘be kind, always’ – and it really is that simple.

It’s so hard to think of how many lives have been lost, and how many lives have been torn apart by children just being mean, day in, day out. If I can talk about what happened to me, and if it means that one child will go to school and be kind, if one child will stop being mean to someone – and walk in the other direction instead of calling them names – if one more child can get through school unscathed because someone has read about my experiences and it has changed something for them – then for me, that is enough.

So no, I won’t just get over it and move on as my story isn’t just about me any more. It’s about the world my children are growing up in and it’s about the experiences they have in life, and that their friends have. It’s about the bigger picture and for me, that is worth talking about.

31 thoughts on “Bullying: Why I can’t just ‘get over it and move on’

  1. I’m quite shocked that someone said that to you to be honest. My husband suffered a lot of bullying at school, we both did, but him more so and it still affects him. It also affects the way he parents as if anything bad happens at the school it triggers off a worry he’s got that the same thing could happen to our children. He has actually had some counselling not for that specifically but it was something they addressed and it definitely helped him x
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  2. I don’t understand the mentality of people who bully. What do they acheive exactly?

    You have been nothing but helpful and kind to me, and for that i will always be thankful!
    X

  3. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been bullied can imagine the way it can erode your self esteem. I was bullied too, and although I don’t really think about it anymore, I am fearful for my children and also passionate about teaching them to always think about how their words can make another feel and to be kind. Not just the ones not getting involved but also the ones befriending the victims and making them feel better. Louise x
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  4. Hit the nail on the head there, D. It’s not about “oh, woe is me” wanting sympathy and attention – it’s about raising awareness of the cruelty that can be experienced and the lasting effects it has throughout a life. I can only presume that this person you have spoken to has never experienced any kind of trauma, bullying or challenge in their life – and it is sad that they find joy in picking apart someone else’s life.
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  5. How dare anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t feel. I wasn’t really bullied but had the odd spell of being picked on by the cool kids and even that has stayed with me. You’ve come out stronger and you’re a great role model to your children x
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  6. This is a great post Donna. Thanks for speaking out for those who feel they can’t speak for themselves. You are amazing, you are so brave and I am LOVING all these powerhouse posts you are putting out into the world. You, my lady are inspiring and a force to be reckoned with. Xx

  7. I’m shocked that somebody, a supposed adult, would say that. They clearly have never been bullied or were the bully. Bullying is a subject we should be talking about and well done you for doing so!

  8. I don’t have the right words to describe that individual but their behaviour is abhorrent. You’ve got it spot on with this post. As a victim of bullying my entire childhood it’s something I fear for my own children and basically shutting up ‘getting over it’ is not the right attitude xx

  9. Love this post! It was only the other week that I was on the receiving end of some vile words from another blogger. What was said was borderline bullying, and in my eyes, this person is just as bad as the children at school who unleashed hell on me via their tongues. This group you mentioned is for pathetic people who obviously have nothing better to do with their lives. The sponsored posts have dried up for them; no PR wants to work with them, and the bloggers that once respected them have seen their true colours. Let them talk about you, I’ll let them talk about me, look at what we are achieving in life Donna both online and offline, isn’t it fantastic?

    You keep doing what you do because you’re bloody brilliant at it, you are better than them.

  10. Your feelings are your feelings and therefore always justified. How dare someone treat you like that. From someone else who was bullied, just wanted to send a big hug and tell you I think you are bloody amazing! Xxx

  11. It always saddens me when i hear stuff like this in an adult world. It really shouldnt happen! Your feelings are your own and you need to experience that and not have other people tell you otherwise. As someone who was bullied through school, through uni and through adulthood it upsets me that people can be like that. Fantastic post as always!
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  12. Brilliant post, perfectly written. It’s the bullies who have and are the problem. I think as long as we speak up against them, we reduce their power to have any effect. Keeping the conversation going is sooo important, so no, you shouldn’t just ‘get over it’. You are doing the right thing, and your blog is (I’m sure) much better than theirs (whoever ‘they’ are!) xx
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  13. Such a heartfelt, beautifully written post, Donna. I agree with you 100%: if you just move on and stop talking about it, its pretty much the same as burying your head in the sand and pretending that because you are not experiencing bullying right here right now, it doesn’t exist. Bullying is very much present, particularly in secondary schools and it needs to be nipped in the bud, tackled as soon as it’s noticed otherwise the irreversible could happen. The death of a teenager because of bullying could so often be avoided… Keep talking, shouting about it so that people who are being bullied have the strength to talk to their close friends and family rather than rocking themselves to sleep and thinking they are not worth living. As for adults believing like teenagers and bullying other adults, now that is completely beyond me… There are no words. xxx

  14. One of my favourite authors says;

    “When we deny our stories, they define us.
    When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.”
    -Brené Brown

    I want to keep choosing the brave new ending, and that very well may mean being real and honest about hard topics like bullying.

    Keep writing your story Donna.

  15. Brilliant post. Ive 3 children myself and fear everyday that bullying will cross their paths. Minor incidents have happened to date and dealing with those have been heart-breaking enough. Well done to you. I’ll help to spread the word.

  16. Do you know what Donna? I’d like to say I don’t know anyone who would say such a throng when challenged on why they are being unkind. But… sadly I do. My only conclusion can be that people who would reply with such a sentence must be deeply hurting themselves about something. Perhaps they too have been bullied or assaulted or intimidated. Perhaps their behaviour is a direct result of what has happened to them? No excuse of course but they do say the abused can become abusers and to sit and snigger behind people’s backs is probably a very emotionally immature way of dealing with not just this situation in hand but actually, probably, life. To be be kind, to have compassion and heart… it really doesn’t cost anything or take any energy but to be mean, to be down right unpleasant, to sit and cackle behind a computer screen… that takes energy, energy this person clearly has to get rid of. In the real world I’d sincerely doubt this person would have either the balls or they gumption to say anything remotely similar. Of course they’d say they would but I wonder, if it came to it… no, I don’t think so. People like this only behave this way because something or someone is feeding their ego, an ego that desperately needs massaging. It’s terribly, terribly sad for them and that’s the only thing to remember. You are a kind person so not likely to retaliate with a hit for a hit (which is good) but I think dialogue has to stop now. You can’t help someone who doesn’t know they need help and as for changing them… until they’re happy then it will never happen. You’ve tried to be kind by reaching out and calling them on it and it hasn’t worked. Leave them to it now. Leave them to expend their energy in such a way and to defend it like they have if they do wish… the only person being eaten up is them and that’s punishment enough. You were bullied a school a child but this post proves it’s not a delicacy of the young immature mind. Be thankful you Camden out the other side because this person clearly hasn’t and probably ever will. I’d pity him or her but I’m afraid after this I’d have not time for them. Take care for now, R

  17. I was bullied at school and was told by my parents to cope with it ! it was aweful and I took an histrionic overdose. When my son went to secondary school he was bullied by words, violence and cyber bullying and the schools way of dealing with it when I spoke to them was to tell the class that he was being bullied and would be reporting to the head every day to report any incident. I was so shocked because it made it so much worse for him- eventually I took him out of school and taught him (not very well ) whilst I went through two appeals to get the school I wanted and transport as it was in a rural environment and at that time I couldn’t drive. I got the county councillors, Police, the Department of Education and my MP involved and eventually got Ofsted to make a unannounced inspection which highlighted the problems. my son loved his new school and did well . I say if a child is being bullied it could effect the rest of their life but help is out there – It took me six months and a lot of worry and tears but I got there. Don’t put up with these weak and obviously unintelligent adults who are bullying you they are probably jealous of your success and happy life.

  18. Great post Donna, this was very brave of you to open up about something so personal and confront it head on. I think it’s great that you can also be a role model for children and teenagers. You’re saying ‘hey I was bullied at school like you, but you will be ok. I have a lovely family and children. I’m a successful self employed mum boss blogger and red heads rule’. I was also bullied at school for being tall, skinny, nerdy and baffled why these same people somehow forget how they acted when they were younger and try to befriend you in later life. You may have changed, but no thank you.

  19. Oh Donna what is wrong with people??? I’m so sorry that first someone was being cruel to you in a FB group, when are they going to grow up and I am sorry that you had this comment thrown in your face like it was nothing. Well done you for confronting them in the first place. I hope you are ok and well done you for writing this. x
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  20. People can be so unkind and for no reason. Thankfully I’ve never really suffered bullying. Or when I was at school it wasn’t classed as bullying – nowadays it probably would have been. Being called a boffin, a group of girl friends decided they wouldn’t play with me and ostracised me for a couple of day. But it didn’t really impact me because they got over it, a boffin was a good thing for me, it showed I was working hard, and tbh I had enough confidence in myself to know that it was their problem and not mine. Nowadays it would be classed as bullying and you never know to what extent it would end up with social media.

    It does make me a little worried about children growing up and going through school life. It seems every little thing can be picked out. I’m just hoping that N has enough self confidence and a good enough support system and friends to stay away from any bullies.
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  21. Such a great post Donna, beautifully written and one that I can sadly relate to. I am so sorry that you were bullied and that someone in your adulthood has been so rude. Sadly I truly believe that there are adults out there who behave like the children you speak of and it saddens me. I too was bullied throughout high school Donna, it still haunts me now. Sadly I don’t think these experiences ever leaves us, as to whether they make us stronger I’m not so sure. When something triggers a memory I feel very exposed just like you do I am sure. Well done for approaching this subject, and like you speaking of something like this may just save someone the torture x
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  22. I am so sorry you had such a bad experience at school. I completely understand though (fellow ginger here)…
    I was bullied throughout primary, secondary, college, university and worse, in the work place.
    It never really stopped and even now there are places where people think it’s ok to speak behind my back, be rude and damn right nasty.

    I am thirty-three and still get bullied! I got so fed up of it that I wrote a blog post not too long ago but I still feel it… the damage is done.
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  23. Bullying is something which should never be tolerated and it scares me that my children will soon be of the age where they will venture into social media, I want to protect them from the dangers that lie there but I know I won’t be able to. I was bullied as a teenager, by boys for being too thin. They regretted it in their twenties when they decided that ‘thin’ was actually ‘slim’ and what they liked. I blew them out big style and moved on but their taunts stayed with me into adulthood. There are some mean and nasty people in this world but I believe we need to keep focusing on the positives, tell ourselves every morning and that we are happy, lucky and fortunate and that it WILL be a good day. Don’t give those morons a second of your thoughts, they don’t deserve it x
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