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I was bullied as a kid....

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Sunday, December 04, 2011

Sometimes in our journey, we must confront things in our own hearts if we are to make progress. In my case, I didnít get to be 385 lbs because all was right in my world. I carry a lot of personal pain from my childhood that, even at 42 years old, still affects me every day. It seems somewhat pointless to talk about it now but I feel like I should. Maybe it is for no other reason other than to let it all out or possibly there could be someone else out there who could draw strength from it and maybe realize that they are not alone.

I wont go into a lot of detail but suffice it to say, I was bullied severely when I was growing up. It started out in grade school where I was never really accepted because I was the ''fat kid'' and I also had a pretty bad speech impediment. I stuttered and the more anxiety I felt, the worse it got. Reading out loud in class may as well been my version of ''Fear Factor''.

It didnít graduate to outright bullying until I hit Junior High School.

They came like a pack of wolves.

My time in Junior High until about my second year of High School proved to be the worst years of my life to date. When name calling and public humiliation wasnít enough, thatís when the hitting started. I was terrorized almost daily, I still remember the punching, the kicking, the time I got egged in school and the teachers did nothing. I had a paper route and many times I was chased and harassed. Our garage was broken into just to steal my bike on a number of occasions. My parents were powerless to help and the school system did nothing...boys will be boys.

My home ceased to be a sanctuary and I lived in fear all the time, even those few friends I did have left me.

That's where my disordered relationship with food really got started. The only place in the world I felt truly safe was in my room. I would shut myself away, play video games on my Commodore 64, and eat....a lot. It was soothing to me. I was becoming a hard core emotional eater. I would delve into anything that provided some escapism, eating and video games provided that venue.

I hated sports.

I participated in sports mainly because I think my parents were trying to get me to socialize as well as to slim down... Epic fail....

I spent the vast amount of my time sitting on the bench due to my weight and it seemed so pointless, a total waste of time. So I quit. I became a loner and only followed after those activities that provided solitude where I didnít have to be compared to anyone else or judged. Fishing was a big thing with me. It was just me and nature, no people. If I did go with someone, it was with my sister and my dad. Fishing was one of the few times that my dad and I didnít argue.

I guess that's really all there is to it. Thatís me in a nutshell. I am the grownup version of the little boy who never really did fit in, who never measured up, and who has always struggled with friendships.

I try not to let it affect me but those scars are very real and they create the filter through which I see the world. It is difficult to this day not to interpret things that people do as deliberate attempts to hurt or snub me. I donít show it since I know that I cant let my feelings out, I donít want to drive people away but it is so tough. The effects of bullying are far reaching. I feel it everyday.

This whole journey for me has been far beyond just losing a few pounds. It has been about figuring out who I am and healing. This has been a difficult process since it has been peeling back painful layers, but as they are dealt with, I have peace about it. It is this process that ensures that I will never go back to the old Robert.

The whole concept of running and endurance sports has helped me tap into what Robert is really made of, a rite of passage if you will. At no time do I ever feel more in tune with myself than during a good run or just being out there meeting a challenge.

Sometimes the most difficult challenge to meet for someone like me is to earn your own self respect.

On night shift, all I do is think and write. Thanks for putting up with me but this was important for me to get this off my chest.

If there is someone like me out there, take courage, you can get your self respect back. You can believe in yourself and understand that burying your feelings in food is not the answer.

You can do it.
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    I was bullied in school from grade 5 until grade 10. Most of it was verbal abuse, tho there was some occasional pushing and shoving. I complained to the school who just told the bullies to stay way from me (like that ever helps). In jr high I tried to fight back once or twice, but instead of being helped, the vice principal threatened to not let me walk for graduation. Eventually, in high school, the bullies got bored or moved away and I grew bigger and taller and eventually it all just stopped. However, I certainly left its mark on my personality. It took me many years to overcome. Finding something you are good at - like sports, or your job - is one of the best ways to overcome the self confidence issues that are caused by being bullied. It is so sad to see just how many people were bullied as a kid. Issues with food and weight and self-confidence are just some of the ways being bullied manifests itself as we get older. Robert, I applaud your courage in coming forward. It is just one of many steps on your road to recovering yourself. Keep it up. It does get better.
    1653 days ago
  • v MSPRIS3
    Thank you for sharing this with me (us)

    I too was bullied (though not physically), and I know that the effects of bullying, lasts forever. It may not be there on the outside, but our minds never forget, and I honestly believe the ridicule I was given when I moved to a new town, set the tone for the rest of my life. I am constantly thinking about what others are thinking, I hate having people behind me, I have a hard time making new friends etc. The list can go on.

    You are very brave for sharing and very brave for trying to get past it.

    Yes, You can do it!
    1653 days ago
  • v ANNE7X7
    This is so beautifully written and heartbreaking all wrapped into one! You are a brave man for sharing your story! You're amazing!!!!
    1653 days ago
  • v JENN26POINT2
    I felt very alone growing up too. I wasn't physically assaulted like you, but I was picked on all the time. One kid asked me to be his girlfriend. I accepted, excited because he was super cute and very popular and I thought it was my ticket. I later found out it was a joke.

    In jr high, there were 3 girls who picked on me horribly to the point of destroying my personal property. I remember one day the school lunch contained "cherries" which was actually cherry pie filling (so healthy, right?) and they decided my expensive calculator for Algebra wanted to eat some too. It was destroyed and I had to explain to my parents what happened, but they didn't do anything about it. I was on the basketball and volleyball team, but never had a single minute of actual game play, except when they implemented the "5th quarter" rule to allow the "bench warmers" some game time.

    In high school I ran with the "losers" or the "drug users". I used drugs and dated a guy who was VERY bad for me and my future. I fought with my parents constantly. I ran away from home, I smoked, and eventually started using some pretty hard street drugs.

    College was my turning point. Things changed in college. No one knew me. It was like I had a clean slate to work with. I broke up with the bad-for-me boyfriend, quit using drugs, and consequently, gained 25 lbs. I was still picked on, but I was picked on by friends, so I accepted it. I joined the Army in hopes of gaining some self-confidence. I worked while I was at Basic Training, but once I returned home, it slipped away.

    Now I'm married, have two kids, a job at the coveted Rock Island Arsenal, a nice house, a newish car and truck, and have a pretty good life. Those people who picked on me in high school have 2-3 kids (straight out of high school) and are all divorced (at least once) or never married and still renting their homes. I guess what goes around comes around, in a sense. But as GiantSteps said, it does get better - and obviously for you it has too. Now we just have to tackle those demons that still take up residency in our heads.
    1653 days ago
    Thanks for posting this Robert.
    1654 days ago
    I was never physically bullied, but I was painfully shy as a child, and it didn't help that I looked 3 years older than other kids my age and was just a bit on the chubby side. I wasn't popular. My husband's experience was more like yours. Until high school he was the smallest kid in the class and the fattest. He was also painfully shy and had speech problems. He was bullied until grade 9 or 10. Things turned around for him when he gained 9-inches in height over one summer and slimmed down at the same time. He became a distance runner and weight lifter during his high school years, but he also turned to alcohol for almost a decade.
    Congratulations on your achievements. They are that much more significant in light of what you have had to overcome.
    1656 days ago
  • v K0ALACAT
    This was a tough read for me. I, too, was bullied. What I learned was that I was on my own. Adults were too busy to protect me. The best course of action was to ignore it. Make Cs on all my work and I won't stand out. It's better to be friendless than bullied. No one comes to the aid of the bullied, lest they also become a victim. Loneliness didn't kill me. In fact, there are a lot of things I prefer to do alone. Eating soothes things when I'm hurting. Eating takes me to another, safer world. Eating and dieting takes the focus off the real problems in my life.

    I've been dealing with this forever. How, at 53-years-old, do I go back and learn the social skills that I was supposed to learn in adolescence?

    1659 days ago
    Wow look at you now!! Those people that bullied you are probably 50lbs over weight, have a crappy marriage and havn't been _aid lately...Your revenge...sweet isn't it?!! Robin emoticon
    1660 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. It is very touching, and will help others in the same situation who have never been able to talk about it, emoticon
    1660 days ago
    What an awful experience you had. Shame on those adults that did nothing to help you. I felt your pain like it was my own. I was so painfully shy that I never spoke in school. I actually had a teacher that tried to bully me into talking. Thankfully he was eventually fired from teaching. So I was never attacked physically but emotionally it scarred me for a long time.

    Thank you for sharing this.
    1661 days ago
    Bullying was pretty constant for me as well. I was overweight, bad at sports, bookish, and very awkward socially. A social pariah; even most of the unpopular kids wouldn't hang out with me. As bad as things were in middle school they got worse in High School. You see my school was formerly a Catholic school my city purchased and they kept some of the nuns on as public school teachers. When it got around that I didn't believe in God the nuns would encourage other students to harass me. There were always kids who thought they could beat the love of Jesus into me with their fists. When I came home beaten up my dad was embarrassed that other kids got the better of me so instead of sympathy I got "tough love." My debate partner even told me that he hoped I would have a long painful death so landing in Hell wouldn't be as big a shock to me.
    The thing that resonated with me was the "It Gets Better Project." In my case it really did. I realized that a lot of kids peak in high school. They might be a high school football star or cheerleader but what does that buy them after high school? In college a lot of people didn't consider me a freak or looser; the admired my creativity and originality and looked down on all the mindless sheep following the fold who tormented me my whole childhood. In spite of all the kids who put me down I've done pretty well for myself. Like the project says, don't give up; it does get better!
    1662 days ago
    This blog really touches a sensitive part of me..... I went through the exact same kind of bullying...being hit, kicked, teased, called names..... and why? Who knows..but bullying has GOT to stop!
    1663 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this with us. Have you ever thought about using your experience to help a kid who is being bullied now?
    1663 days ago
  • v KIPPER15
    Thanks for sharing. Even with the new information and news stories on bullying, teachers still don't do much. In my step-son's school the "jocks" are allowed free run to bully whom ever they want. When I complained, the principal was shocked that I would consider this a problem. Go figure. emoticon
    1664 days ago
  • v VCRUMP11
    Thank you for this post.
    1664 days ago
    Wow! I could feel your pain just reading this. I am so sorry that you were treated this way. But I looked on your page and saw the pic of you with your children and see that God gave you beautiful gifts to make up for the pain you were put through. And for all you've accomplished, way to go for taking back your life. What an inspiration. If you can do it, we ALL can too. emoticon
    1664 days ago
    How sad that the teachers didn't do anything about the bullying! Shame on them. Thank you for sharing. emoticon
    1665 days ago
  • v CM_GARDNER78
    emoticon I haven't read a blog of yours in a little while - this is the first one! Wow. You are NOT that kid anymore. There are tons of people who respect you for just who you are!
    1665 days ago

    This whole process has involved facing my own personal childhood assumptions and demons too. And it hasn't been easy.

    But it's been worth it.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1665 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this. There are so many people on Spark that have been bullied, myself included! I am glad that you are not letting that stuff affect you anymore!

    Enjoy the running! I run to help with my pain too! It is the only place that I can't be told that I am not good enough!
    1665 days ago
    1666 days ago
    My twin and I were also in the same boat, even though it was less physical for us. What I never understood was why the school teachers and principals could never or would never do anything about it. And those who romanticized their high school years, I couldn't wait to get out of that place. The lockers that were basically worthless, so I would get a soft banana in my jacket pocket, or my twin who had a book or two taken from her. I believe it was returned the last week of school. And yes, getting over those things and the effects of those things is a part of our getting healthier journey. Many think it is just about the food, but managing to change who you fundamentally are in relation to food and exercise is tough and requires understanding yourself and changing it, with many steps back. But hopefully more steps forward in the long run than back.
    1666 days ago

    Great blog, kids can be very cruel! Thank you for sharing this

    1666 days ago
    Your life is in your own hands! You can let them win...but you clearly are NOT. Build a community of friends who love you right where you're at. Keep reaching out. Breathe, relax. You can do it.

    1666 days ago
  • v HHB4181
    Great blog. Great job turning your life around and sorting through things.
    1666 days ago
    Wow what an amazing blog! I too was very big in hs and was teased and had no friends. Like you said I still see life through those eyes and keep my guard up. So happy to hear you made it through and became stronger on the other side. You look awesome!
    1666 days ago
    Thank you for sharing such a powerful story. At some stage in most people's lives we come up against something which can seem insurmountable, unbearable and horrible...

    And we "learn" to cope through some form of self medicating / emotional dysfunctioning. For some it is food, others alcohol, drugs, self harm, withdrawal, disassociating, co-dependent relationships, etc etc.

    And sometimes we get lucky and we get better, we find something or someone that is less damaging, more nurturing and we begin to heal.

    I hope that you continue sharing your growth, your learning and your wonderful ability to "normalise" what is an enduring common experience for many people. One of my children moved schools due to ongoing bullying and the frustration I felt as a parent was horrendous. I have since prescribed "learning Aikido" and this is helping on many different levels.

    Thanks again, Mark.
    1666 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/8/2011 8:23:38 AM
    What a powerful blog post. I'm a middle-school teaching major, and I'm learning a lot about bullying and ways that teachers can DO something. Thank you for sharing your story.
    1666 days ago
  • v LAURIE5658
    Thank you for getting it out there, Robert, as I can truly relate. I was also a fat kid and was ALWAYS picked last in gym class. I'm sure if given the chance they wouldn't have picked me at all but we won't go there. Then when you add the fact that my mom was the high school principals secretary since my first day of kindergarten and for a total of 31 years, I took a lot of grief and bullying from that alone.

    The bullying never became physical but the emotional scars run extremely deep to the point where some will never heal. I suffer every day in ways I am unwilling to describe. Those are my secrets. My Hell.

    Running has shown me things about myself that I never knew possible. What a life changing time in my life that gives me great hope and joy! For perhaps the first time, I have self respect and love for me!

    Love you, my friend!!!
    1667 days ago
  • v KAREN_NY
    Kids can be so mean... and adults so reluctant to use their influence and roles to prevent it or do something about it. :(
    I was teased & left out in the cold when I was young too, but I can't claim to have "been there" where you were.

    Wishing you peace at heart,
    and many stress-relieving, pain-purging, long runs. :)
    1667 days ago
  • v PIXIEMOM13
    I, too, was bullied in Middle and early high school.. no physical abuse, but mental and emotionally - yes. A gang of boys led by one named Randy (name NOT changed) called me "Fatgirl" and made my life h*ll. It definitely has affected my views on a lot of topics -- and heightened my fear for my son being bullied since he is different in his own way (autism)...luckily his school has a zero tolerance policy towards bullying - and his classmates are far kinder than my own were.
    1667 days ago
    I think you are making real progress in your journey away from your painful childhood. We're with you!
    1667 days ago
    It sucks how cruel kids are, while I wasn't flat out bullied, mostly cause people were afraid I would kick their A** I did hear all the whispers behind my back, got made fun of for not wearing the right clothes (cause we weren't really rich), I played sports but was never really the best except at the shot put, the typical "Big" person sport. Even when I would kick butt at the meets I got no recognition. I guess that is why I now like road races etc. where you would think people would be elitist and cruel about slow pokes they aren't, I get encouraged all the time by much faster athletes. Thanks for sharing this it does stir up a lot of the emotions that remind me why I need to keep the emotional eating in check.
    1667 days ago
  • v LUVMYK9S
    Thank you for this blog! While I was never bullied as a kid, my ten year old son has been singled out by other kids, usually older kids, because of his size. He gets ridiculed and humiliated on a constant basis. I feel like I am a failure as a parent because I don't know really what to do to help him. He is an emotional eater, he is an only child and he is very lonely. Most of the kids in our neighborhood are either much younger than he is or much older. He has some friends at school, however, he tends to gravitate to the 'bad crowd' or troubled kids because they more readily accept him. I have him working with a counselor to help him understand and cope with the other kids picking on him constantly. He still has some anger issues and will lash out when the teasing becomes unbearable. He has also been involved with martial arts for several years to help him build his confidence and self esteem (he is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do). We discuss healthy diet and exercise, and he is an active kid, but I am at a loss at what more I can do without pressuring him about his weight.
    1668 days ago
  • v TVHUFF
    Ok, so while everyone else is talking about how inspirational this post was...can I just nerd out for a second and say how much I loved my Commodore 64? Montezuma's Revenge was pretty much the best game EVER when I was a kid.
    1668 days ago
    Thanks for continuing inspire us, even when you think you're just venting, and more importantly, for sharing a piece of your soul.
    1668 days ago
    Thank you for sharing that! I know what you are saying, I have been in the same boat. I was bullied as a child, preteen and teen, I even got into a relationship where I was bullied "abused". I just always assumed that was the way thing were meant to be for me. I have worked very hard to overcome this thought process. Some days, i feel like I'm still in school and like you said, take things as personal toward me. It is nice to know (even though it is a sad thing) that there are others who can relate to what I am going through. I am really glad that you wrote about this. Thank you, again.
    1668 days ago
    wow, that was powerful and hit close to home! I know how you felt and also what a wonderful feeling to get yourself back and in some cases a whole new person! Good for you and thank you for such an inspiring post!

    Here is my transformation video and also another one where I talk about the low self esteem brought on by teasing and bullying when I was young. It follows us.
    1669 days ago
  • v LILPAT3
    I was never really bullied in school but I certainly did not fit in. First two years of school I didn't get to go because I had A Plastic Anemia and could not be around people.
    I ended up being extremely athletic..better than most of the boys..and therfore I was not popular.
    I also think that the forties is when many repressed memories of ones childhood start showing up. I guess what does not kill us makes us wiser and stronger. Hang in there!
    1669 days ago
    That is really terrible. I'm sorry you had to go through that as a child. No one should.
    1669 days ago
  • v 4BARBIE44
    Thank you for sharing this! I was also harassed and picked on in school emoticon
    1669 days ago
  • v SYZYGY922
    I really identify with this. I was terribly, terribly bullied as a child, and experienced much of what you describe here. You would think that as a girl I wouldn't have had to deal with violent bullies, but I was slapped, kicked, punched, and shoved to the ground numerous times, almost always by boys. I even changed schools and it was the same thing everywhere, and no one would do anything. To this day if anyone compliments my appearance, I assume it's to set up some sort of joke. I still have nightmares and I'm uncomfortable around children.

    I'm so glad you've found a form of fitness you can enjoy and make it for YOU. I'm working on getting there. I've lost a lot of weight and am only "kind of fat" but I still have a lot of extra emotional baggage that needs to come off as well.

    Thank you for writing this.
    1669 days ago
  • v BLACKROSE_222
    Thank you so much Robert for sharing. I know how difficult that was to put out - and we all appreciate it. I think it is important to look back at who we were, and what got us here - if only to see where we are going and how we are going to get there.

    You have come so far, and have done so much in these years - think about what that little boy would think of you now. I'm sure he would be so PROUD.
    1669 days ago
    Thank you for your courage to share. I'm so sorry you had to go through all that.


    1670 days ago
    I really feel for you. I was also bullied at school, to the point where I decided to take my life when I was 11 years old. I totally understand your turning to food, it's comforting and it doesn't judge us. Your battles to overcome these deep wounds are truly inspirational.

    I'm going to do everything in my power to instill in my son good values and respect for other people's feelings so that he never inflicts such wounds on anyone.
    1670 days ago
    Thanks for sharing. That was amazing. You do help others and you are a good guy.
    Remember that. I have great respect for your courage to talk about this. I am glad that this current generation of kids are learning that bullying is not okay. Finally, the adults feel they have some clout to stop it also. (changes in laws)
    I think almost everyone who has had a weight problem has lived with bullying, rejection or some form of dysfunctional relationship. I don't wish to share, but all 3 have applied to me. Self-respect is something I am still working on. It was very foreign to me 10-15 years ago. SO thank you. I appreciate you.
    1670 days ago
    Thank you for daring to share. I was teased unmercifully as a child but not really bullied in the way you were - and yet, even that left its mark. I know what you mean about wondering what people mean by things - and when the conversation stops when you enter a room, you are just sure they are talking about you. It has taken me years to discard the crippling self-consciousness...I was a loner too and got terminally addicted to books.
    I just want to say that exposing the wound to air and sunlight is a good way to start the healing. You made a good choice. And I know others will be helped...
    and YOU will be helped. Robert, you are a FANTASTIC person and I am so happy that you are beginning to realize how wonderful you are and how much you have to offer. Prayers and hugs, Sara
    1670 days ago
    I'm not sure I can add much to what has been said. Thank you for having the courage to tell your story. You are a fabulous inspiration to me and many others I'm sure. I hope sharing your story helps you heal and let it all go be in the past. Bullying is not a trivial issue and as you said, can leave far lingering scars. Just remember, you've grown in to a fabulous man! Many thanks for sharing, leading and just being you. I'm quite honored to call you my friend.
    1670 days ago
  • v NIKEIT2016
    I will also say Thank you for your courage to speak and open up to all of us. Take comfort in knowing many of us are standing with you in support.

    Many children were bullied years ago and no one did much about it. Today's awareness will help children and hopefully their scars will heal.
    1670 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/4/2011 3:45:23 PM
    I was bullied as a kid as well. I still remember being chased by a baseball bat at the bus stop. I had an attendance issue as a result. Take heart in knowing that schools will do something now. Bullying and harassment is against the law and we deal with it when it is reported. If it's pervasive and unrelenting, we press charges. We also do a lot of education on the subject, so kids know that the bully and those being bullied need a lot of help and support. I'm sorry you, and I and anyone had to deal with this as a kid, but at least society is learning from our hardship.
    1670 days ago
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