Lady Gaga was on The View a couple weeks ago talking about how she had been bullied as a kid. Taunted, being dumped in garbage cans, and the recipient of all out cruelty was a part of her daily life. She told the ladies on the show that even now in the midst of super stardom, she still suffers from enormous low self-esteem. A necessary and daily ritual for Ms. Gaga includes looking at herself in the mirror while saying, "You are a superstar" to aid in altering her self-perceptions of “loserdom” to this new reality of stardom.
I don't have an awful lot in common with Lady Gaga except I too was bullied daily both at school and at home. And with the subject of bullying now gaining greater awareness and being addressed in a wider public arena, I have increasingly become more aware of the impact it has had in my own life.
I was a big child both in height and girth. Everyday I was called names such as Blubberbutt, Fatso, Pearbottom, Ugly, and the ever witty, "Do you have a license to be pregnant?” I marched seemingly unaffected and unresponsive through my days. Physical harm was not uncommon for me. I have sharp and poignant memories of sixth-grade recess and the game Prisonball. Wherein when a player is hit with the red rubber ball (which hurt like hell) by the opposing team, the player then goes to “prison” and is out of the game. And game after game, I seemed to be the first one in prison and sometimes was the only one. Alas, even in this state of incarceration within the painted yellow chipped boundary lines, I did not gain relief from receiving violent red rubber ball pelts over and over from the cruel bullies. I would huddle against the cold cement wall protecting my head in my arms. The colorful name-calling continued, and I would just take it. No complaints, never told a teacher nor anyone at home. I just quietly took it. I never considered there was another way.
I now know living in this non-feeling and unresponsive state of being day after day gave me the ability to cope. I was able to detach, disassociate, and what I call “live somewhere above my head.” I don’t remember crying, being angry, or planning any kind of retaliation.
While I have many stories from the land of “Bullydom,” there is only one incident I can remember that elicited crying myself to sleep. It involved at an eighth-grade party. David N. was hosting an end-of-the-year party at his house, and even though by that time, I had lost weight, replaced my coke-bottle glasses with contacts, and easily could have been mistaken for a young fashion model, I was not, nor were a couple others of the ‘unwanted,’ invited to the festive celebration. All night I truly believed that David just plain forgot to invite me and somehow my name had been mistakenly overlooked.
I lay in bed fighting sleep. I just knew he was going to call or show up any minute to repent of his oversight and sweep me away and into the loving, waiting, and remorseful arms of my classmates. And that night when my fantasy disintegrated into a painful reality, I wept year’s worth of tears, and the message that I wasn’t wanted, didn’t belong, wasn’t good enough, or pretty enough was seared into my little soul.
It would take blogs and blogs to write about how events like this shaped my perceptions and my character. Fortunately now there is an abundance of research and materials available providing help and information regarding bullying. Mark Dombeck, Ph.D., states www.mentalhelp.net , “The experience of being bullied can end up causing lasting damage to victims.” www.futurity.com offers this quote: “Bullying dampens academic success.”
And just as there are now many articles stating the devastating effects of bullying, there also exist abundant resources offering help and guidance for victims. "Dealing with bullies can be difficult,” states www.how-to-stop-bullying.com. Self esteem has much to do with how to deal with a bully, empowerment being key in helping to preserve a healthy self esteem.”