It isn’t often that you can come across a book which you feel was written about you, for you. A book that is written with such poignancy and devotion to the storyline and its true meaning; one that you can relate to in more ways than one. Unfortunately, when the book in question contains a storyline which in an ideal world, nobody SHOULD EVER relate to, you start to feel ashamed for feeling relieved that you DO relate to it.
Not long ago, author Lesley Allen released a novel titled; ‘The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir’, which has just been released in paperback to coincide with National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month.
(#Review! The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir – (@Lesley_Allen_) @BonnierZaffre #antibullyingmonth)
Thank you to Lesley Allen and Biddy Weir, I was able to muster up enough courage to finally tell my own personal story about being a victim of bullying.
This is my story….
Imagine this; you’re five years old, in Year 1 of Primary School and incredibly shy. You keep yourself to yourself and never get in anyone’s way, pretty much getting on with daily life at age five. Still imagining? Good. Keep going…
Now imagine being the five-year old that got picked on for sitting on the playground floor reading Noddy magazine on their own. Imagine being the five year old that got shoved, pushed and laughed at for being a quiet child (or in their world, a loner). Now, imagine being a five year old that has just been pushed into a brick wall and was called ‘fat’. I’m sure a few of you are probably shaking your heads in disbelief thinking it’s not possible at age five. It is. It was. Want to know why? Because I was that five year old that you have just been imagining for the last paragraph.
Back in 1995 if you were getting picked on, people used to come out and say ‘it’s only a bit of name calling, you’ll get over it’. No. Just NO. We wouldn’t stand for people calling us names now, as adults, why should we stick up with it as children?
From the very first moment of being called fat, my life turned upside down. ‘Fat’ didn’t just appear once, or twice, it used to be a daily occurrence. A FIVE years old. In school I was never considered popular and to be honest, given the nature of the ‘popular gang’, I didn’t even want to be. I was very happy sitting reading my Noddy magazine, waiting for the school bell to ring for home time so that I could see my mum. My protector.
As I got older, I felt like I was constantly looking over my shoulder, trying not to act in a way that people would bully me for. But no matter how hard I tried NOT to get bullied by trying to be someone else, I was still their target. Their meat if you will. Those fat comments did a little more to me than just upset me as no matter what I did, I couldn’t shift the comments from my mind and believed them. I believed them so much, I started attacking myself; I began to play up with my food. I hid it, I dropped it, I threw it away. You name it, I did it, as long as I didn’t have to eat it. At such a young age, I saw food as a poison instead of a necessity. Due to that, my weight plummeted and anorexia & bulimia took over. It was an extremely unhappy time for my family, especially my mum as she couldn’t understand it the way that I understood it as she wasn’t in my head. I mean, if you’re not going through it, how CAN you understand it? Outsiders assume that anorexia is a choice. It really isn’t, it’s an illness, a mental illness.
When I went to Middle School at age 10, I naively thought that the bullying may stop due to everyone being split into different classes with a lot of new students. Don’t get me wrong, it did stop…for a couple of months whilst everyone adjusted. I should have felt elated that I wasn’t getting bullied for a little while, but I wasn’t. Why? Because up until that point, I had already been badly affected by bullies and I wasn’t going to magically feel better and happier overnight. It doesn’t work like that. It cannot work like that. My eating habits were steady, I ate the bare minimum, but at least I ate.
As soon as the bullying started up again I felt more frightened as the bullies were now older and much scarier. I was only a small child, short and very slim build so if anyone towered above me it scared the living scherzy out of me. Getting pinched seemed to be the daily occurrence, as did getting chairs pulled from under me when I’m sitting down. Teachers didn’t believe me, instead, they blamed it on me by saying that I must have done something to antagonise them. I started to dread having to stay in a lunch times due to the bad weather as too many of the nasties were stuck in one room with me. I had nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. I remember one day I tried to stick up for myself and ended up getting a huge sellotape holder bashed onto my hand. Ouch.
I absolutely dreaded going to school and it made me ill. The worry about what would be facing you when you walked through the school gates. Feeling unsure as to whether you’ll go home at the end of the day with all of your possessions. Oh sorry, I didn’t mention that did I? My possessions got stolen at school. Sometimes I was lucky enough to find them still there at the end of the day, even if they were outside in a puddle or covered in mud. Looking back on my school years, it is absolutely ridiculous thinking about what I was bullied for! Horrible names for having hair on my arms, my surname, my weight, my hair colour, my freckles, my dimples; you name it, I was bullied for it.
When I left school, the bullying stopped. I felt free! I could be ME, or could I? Sounds simple doesn’t it? The thing is by that age, I had no idea who I was. I had spent so many years trying to make people like me, blaming myself for what the bullies did, or wondering what was wrong with me that I lost sight of who I truly was. All I was certain of by the age of 17 was that I was a very timid, unconfident teenager with a big heart. Regardless of how broken I was, I gave my heart and soul to other people. Why love myself when for over 8 years, I was attacked for who I was. Does that make sense?
I got my very first job when I was 17; made my wish come true by becoming a checkout girl so I could sit down all day. Ahem. I seemed to follow the family by working in Tesco, and I worked really hard. I wasn’t work shy at all, I did what I had to do and more, without complaining. For a while I was loving it but then overnight, that got robbed of me and I had no idea what I had done. Walking into the canteen or past a group of people you had grown to really like, only to overhear nasty comments about yourself felt like a kick in the stomach. I was the new girl in town and soon enough, those nasty comments seemed to go everywhere and the friends I thought I had, bar one, became no more. Thankfully, that friend has been stuck with me for ten years!
This is harder than I thought, wow. I am tearing up writing this because it is extremely hard to see just a small part of what you went through in black and white in front of you. I feel ashamed. I feel as though there is something wrong with me for people to constantly find fault with me in such nasty ways. I don’t understand it, and to be honest, I don’t think that I ever will.
Bullying is a subject that gets spoken about a lot, but barely anything gets down about it. Not only do people get bullied face to face, people can get bullied online too. Cyber bullying. It’s horrendous and unfortunately I have been on the receiving end of that too. It is quite known that there is a huge stigma attached to bullying because assumptions are often made about the severity. ANY form of bullying is severe and should not be tolerated. Constant name calling etc can leave scars on your emotional well-being and even affect you for many, many years after the event. Physical bullying is often seen as worse because people can physically see it rather than take the victims word for it. Physical bullying can leave scars in the same way as name calling etc can, unfortunately, both types of bullying can result in such devastating endings. Suicide.
It can take an awful lot of courage to be able to speak to a person that you trust, about any forms of bullying that you are going through. It’s far too easy for an outsider to go ‘you need to tell someone’, whereas the victim is probably sitting in fear wondering what would happen if they told anyone. I know I did, I was petrified that the bullying would escalate even more. I couldn’t handle it at the level that it was at, how would I be able to handle it any worse? Luckily for me, my mum believed me. She also was one of the two people to believe me when I was getting bullied at work when I was pregnant.
It’s probably sad to say that my story isn’t much different to millions of others out there. The scars are still evident deep within, I’m not a confident girl and I struggle to trust people due to what the bullies did, and everything else that has happened in my life. I don’t feel worthy of people’s love or attention, and every time I’m being treated rubbishly by people these days, it brings me back to moments I wish to forget. But I can’t. I’m trying to, don’t get me wrong. I will never be like anyone else, never. I am truly thankful to the people who have stood by me and have had my back over the years. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.
Over the years I have told my stop in dribs and drabs, never have I ever told it like this. What you have read is only a summary of what I went through, there is far more to it than that as I am sure you understand. Reading Lesley Allen’s book shook me to the core, but, without Lesley writing such a safe haven of a storyline, I don’t think that I would have found the courage to speak out properly. Thank you Lesley and Biddy Weir.
Bullying needs to stop. We need to stop feeling ashamed for being bullied, but we need to have the safety net to do so.
This was my story, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading it.
If you have been affected by anything in my post, or are getting bullied yourself and have no idea where to go from here, you can find contact numbers and support details right here: