Writing this as part of healing…

Writing this as part of healing. It has happened before. I’ve only recently woken up to the fact. It is hard to remember how I dealt with it then, but eventually, over the years, the feelings slowly receded. To the effect that I can’t remember much about it except the final slamming down of my easel and packing up my stuff and leaving the drawing group, a group I had been an active member of for years, stifling the tears. I never went back. Maybe a classic example of cutting off my nose. The funny thing is, I didn’t miss it then. And I don’t to this day. But I never really acknowledged the verbal abuse as bullying. And I never talked about it. But now it has happened again and I realize that for the past five years I’ve been bullied. It just took a final straw to bring it to a head. For me to feel physically shattered. Heavy rocks in my stomach. The continual swallowing of nothing in a dry mouth. Words playing over and over in my head. My responses that I will never give, playing over and over alongside. Red rimmed eyes from tears that keep welling. I am 70 years old and I like to get involved in local activities. It keeps me excited about life, vibrant, interested in new things. In this case it was music. Ten years ago I joined a band. It began well. Everyone was very friendly. They became almost like family. I wouldn’t miss a gathering, a rehearsal or a performance for the world. However, for the past five years I have dreaded going to rehearsals, but I’ve held my head high and gone along – returning home miserable instead of uplifted. Then I began to stay away, coming up with an excuse e.g. ‘the venue makes my eyes sore’ (allergies), ‘I’m not feeling so good’ etc etc. When ever I had a real excuse not to go I felt relieved. What form did the bullying take? Stinging put-down emails, snidy comments in front of other people. Generally being made to feel demeaned. Over and over. How did I deal with them at the time? I looked for the humour. I graciously rose above with a smile. But six months ago I could take no more. This time I have allowed the tears to flow. I was angry, even ashamed, that I had allowed it to happen. And for the first time I talked about it: how I felt ostracised; how my self confidence was rocked; how sad and hurt I felt; how I felt excluded and not good enough. I was unaware that this was a form of bullying. I dealt with it over the years head on by using humour and jokes, to laugh these things off, to rise graciously above them. But I didn’t have the strength to do it any more. My wings were too damp and bedraggled. So I have opened up. I am talking about it. A really good friend recommended I read The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times (Shambhala Classics) by Pema Chodron. This I am doing and it really is helping. One piece of advice is to cut the offending bully completely from your life. I am in the process of doing this, but it is early days and Pema Chodron advises not to rush this process, to let it stay with you knowing that it will pass. I listen to George Harrison’s All Things Must pass as I write this and I am sure George wouldn’t mind me posting the lyrics here:

“All Things Must Pass”

Sunrise doesn’t last all morning

A cloudburst doesn’t last all day

Seems my love is up and has left you with no warning It’s not always going to be this grey

All things must pass

All things must pass away

Sunset doesn’t last all evening

A mind can blow those clouds away

After all this, my love is up and must be leaving

It’s not always going to be this grey

All things must pass

All things must pass away

All things must pass

None of life’s strings can last

So, I must be on my way

And face another day

Now the darkness only stays the night-time In the morning it will fade away

Daylight is good at arriving at the right time

It’s not always going to be this grey

All things must pass

All things must pass away

All things must pass

All things must pass away

As I deal with my own hurt, I start to view this experience as a series of gifts. Beginning with writing this piece; it would never have happened without experiencing the trauma. Secondly, I now get an inkling of what other people, especially youngsters, go through when they have to deal with bullying – the desperation, depression and hopelessness is but a whisper away. I appreciate this knowledge as a gift and am confident more will follow. This time I will not be cutting off my nose, I make music with a different group of people now and I will continue to make kindness my number one priority and be true to myself.

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