or being a survivor


Not long ago I received an email from a 42 year old man who was still suffering from the chronic bullying he experienced in school. 

He relates, "It was 4 years of Hell.  From the moment I got into school, until I left, it was constant. It was worst in the boys locker room at gym. Things happened there (rat tailing in the groin, having non sharpened pencils put in the butt) that have repercussions to this day. Telling the teachers only made it worse, as it meant beatings later. My parents told me to ignore or avoid them, but they made it a point to find me."

"...Even when I was on crutches for a little while, it wouldn't stop. I was pushed over and had my crutches taken away from me.

"Now, I am a diagnosed bipolar, and through counseling, the incidents in school seem largely responsible. I fear crowds sometimes, and prefer solitude. I am meds just to get through the day. There have been a few times when I have been asked to come to re unions, but of course, I tell them I want nothing to do with them. Somehow this hurts them.

"I have thought of suicide (precious few bipolars don't).  ...I have been hospitalized several times.  I am unmarried, as I cannot have any kind of relations with anyone.  This is what bullying can do, but I'm sure that there are many of you that know that...."

Hi Brian,

You are right, that I hear these type of survivor stories all the time, but they are still painful to read because I feel the pain that you experienced as you tell it.  Bless your heart, you have endured so much.

I hope you don't mind if I give you my thoughts on how you might heal from your trauma.  I don't want to sound like a preacher.  Certainly I'm not perfect, or even near perfect myself, but, I really thought about you the last couple of days and how I might be able to help you - I didn't answer your email immediately because I wanted to think about just what to say.

Straight out, I believe you need to have a "forgiveness ceremony" and decide to let these past abuses by these bullies go, forgive the bullies and let God take care of them.

One way to do this is to write out every incident that happened to you (mention the names you remember) on small pieces of paper over the next couple of weeks and then invite a friend or relative over to read them and put them into a fire, vowing to remember the incidents no more and forgive all of the people involved.  (Think of each of these bullies as 3 year olds asking to be held and forgiven after they have wronged you - its much easier to forgive someone if you think of them as a child first.)

You don't have to be religious or believe in God to do this, you just have to believe in your ability to do this.

When Jared died by suicide, we had to do a lot of forgiving to do.  First we had to forgive Jared for doing what he did.  The whole family has been able to do that.  Then we had to forgive the kids, and the one bully who made his life so full of sadness.  We have forgiven them too.  (They never asked for forgiveness, but we let our bitterness go nevertheless.)

Brian, when you do this, your life will change almost immediately.  You will feel a great weight lifted off of you and it will be like you have come out of the darkness and into the light.

There are two articles about forgiveness that I found that might help you understand what I am talking about.  The first is by Bishop H. Burke Peterson:  Removing the Poison of an Unforgiving Spirit.  Go to http://lds.org/general-conference/1983/10/removing-the-poison-of-an-unforgiving-spirit?lang=eng.

And the next is by James E. Faust: The Healing Power of Forgiveness. Go to http://lds.org/general-conference/2007/04/the-healing-power-of-forgiveness?lang=eng.

These two men are religious leaders in my church.  They have some important words to say about forgiveness.

I wish you well as you go through your healing process.  I know enduring the type of trauma you went through is just as bad as losing a loved one by suicide...and I know you have felt like ending that pain by suicide too.  Forgive and you will feel like a second birth has happened.  Then GO to forward and hold your head high.

Much love from Brenda

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