I Survived. I was never a typical male child, outgoing, adventurous, active in sports. I was more quiet, curious and sensitive. I didn't have a strong bond with my father. He was there and did things like coaching the Y-group football team for a couple of seasons, etc.; but for some strange reason he always seemed to be that tall dark figure in the background rather that my friend and idol. When you add that to my mother's conditional love, I guess that is why my efforts with parenting were so trying.
From 1st through 7th grade I went to a Lutheran day school near my home. As I said, I was not one of the more out going students in my classes. When I was in the 4th or 5th grade, we had a new student in my class. Mark was much bigger than other kids our age. He also had an attitude to match. He was at our school because he had been kicked out of all the public schools in the area. As far as I can remember, he became my first bully. Being the Alpha that he was, he had a couple of "friends" that hung around him and became his followers. He had several classmates he like to pick on, I seemed to be one of his favorites. I went through all the usual bullying attacks on my person & emotions, fortunately, it was never sexual. I took the name calling, the pushing & shoving, and the humiliation for quite a while. Back then, you were told to be a "man", ignore him and of course, don't fight.
I don't remember exactly when but sometime in the 6th grade, I said enough. I remember walking back to class from recess, one morning. Mark & his friends were walking in front of me. I don't remember what taunt or name he called me but I snapped. He was about a foot taller than I but I jumped on him and hit him with all I could muster. When the two teachers pulled me off him, he was on the walkway with me sitting on his chest banging his head on the concrete. I know I got in trouble for that incident but I don't remember what my punishment was. What I do remember is that after that, Mark didn't seem to be too interested in bullying me anymore. After the 6th grade I wasn't in the same school with him. When I did meet Mark again, years later in High school, he lightly teased me but kept his distance. Hopefully, thinking of me, gave him a headache.

When I entered the 8th grade I was put in public school for the first time. It was quite a culture shock for me. The Junior High school I went to was in a rough area. There seem to be a lot more bullies, everywhere I looked. There were fights, my bike was stolen, fear and humiliation all the time. It was so bad that I skipped school and hide at home for a couple of weeks until my father caught me. I hated that school, I hated the students, I hated the teachers. Although I didn't really care for school in general, this period pretty much ended any thoughts of more then just tolerating school. The 9th grade came and I switched schools again. It was better but I was the "new" student, again; still in Junior High and among students who had been there for the last two years & gone through elementary schools together. I was the outsider who became the loner and because of that, a looser. Or at least that's how I was treated and felt. The next year it was another new school, High school. Although everyone in my class was new to the school, I still had the outsider feelings of not fitting in. And then my parents moved us to another part of the city. I had to start all over again, with not even landmarks I'd known all my life to cling to for stability. I did tough it out, though. I had made a pact with myself that I wasn't going to leave school without a diploma. I'd been going for 12 years, I damn well wasn't going to leave without the piece of paper that said I graduated.

Well, I did it. I had survived childhood and school, I told my self. I was 18 years old(an adult was still 21 then), I started working full time, and although I was still living at home, I was paying my own bills and becoming my own person. At work I was getting respect for my abilities and effort. I was even starting to like and appreciate myself. My self-esteem was growing. I was really feeling grown up. Then my life changed again, I was drafted.

I was just a month from being 20. I was in the Army, in basic training. I might as well have been back in elementary school. My training platoon leader was a great guy. He was the guy you wanted as your neighbor or co-worker. His assistant though, was Mark all over again, only worse. Where Mark was just a big bully, Rod had control over my life. He could(and did) order me around, assign any work duty or punishment available to control and humiliate the trainees he wanted to pick on. The military boot camp training system is very macho, to say the least. Everything that isn't, is attacked as being useless and unwanted. For a bully, being put in charge, this like being appointed dictator. "When I say jump, you ask when do I come down!"
There is a difference between elementary school and basic training, although they equate with the same kind of instruction. Instead of years, we are dealing with 10-12 weeks of training, or torture, if your leader is a bully. Another difference is who you are. Although I was(and still am) a sensitive person, I wasn't 10 years old anymore and had developed my self worth. It didn't take years before I was going down that walkway again.
We were in our last two week of training. We had been restricted to our platoon bays except for training because of Meningitis precautions. Most training units around the country, allowed trainees to go to town on weekends or to the movies, even the PX after just a couple of weeks of training. We couldn't even visit other platoons in our own company. Because we were just about at the end of our training and the restrictions, the company scheduled a movie to be shown in the mess hall, one Sunday. I got to the mess hall before the movie started and sat in a row with a few friends. Rod and his men, came in just after the movie started and with lots of seating available, they sat directly behind us. It started as a bump, Rod kick my chair. He kicked it again, this time a little harder. I turned around and told him to knock it off, which was received with chuckles and smiles from the trio. It didn't take more than a couple of minutes before another kick hit my chair, harder still. Again, I told Rod to cut it out. The next kick sent me and my chair into the next aisle. I snapped. I pushed aside the fallen chair and charged him. We exchanged a few blows and I ended up with my arm around his neck, up in the air. Rod stood over 6 feet and I was just over 5 and a half; with me around his neck, I was off the ground with Rod trying to dislodge me. In this position, neither of us could really hit each other with any real impact and then a couple of Sergeants were breaking us up.
In a very short time we found ourselves in the company commanders office. We only had a couple of minutes before the Captain arrived and neither of us wanted to get in trouble. My record was clean but Rod was looking at an Article 15 or even stockade time because of his past actions. We made a deal. "No, we weren't fighting. We were just horsing around". Because we kept to our story and it was only days before graduating we got off with a lecture and a threat. Big relief for both of us. For the remaining time in training, Rod treated me very differently. Much like Mark, a little tease once and a while but he kept his distance.

That was the end of my childhood and although I ran into bullies over the years, their influence and power over me, were something I could avoid for the most part. Over the years, I have found that once we control the fears we have, those who would use those fears to control us, loose their power and seem to find others who are vulnerable to their attacks. As adults, bullies seem to turn into supervisors & bosses. Most of those are just petty. Only a few rise to the level of control and power that a bully can exert on a child, thank God.

When you are the victim or object of a bullies attention, minutes of their torture, can seem like a lifetime. It matters little that they are operating from a place of little or no self worth. They pick on those that they consider "weaker" in order to feel better about themselves, more powerful, in control of their out of control lives. We only know how much it hurts. My story is minor(at least it is now) compared to most others. I do find it amazing that we spend many more thousands of dollars dealing with bullies after they are adults, when it would only take a fraction of that to correct the child. Especially when childhood is where most of the damage is inflicted on those who have no defense.
bcvegas4u2 bcvegas4u2
66-70, M
1 Response Jan 20, 2015

like yourself I also was not the typical boy growing up. I also was quiet but not shy, as I spoke to lots of people mainly because of my moms dad speaking to others.like yourself I was never ever into sports.but I also had epilepsy and did spend a good bit in and out of a hospital.I also got bullied lots during childhoodbut because of my nature, never ever once considered them nothing more than my friends. I even due to my handicap of epilepsy, being slow learner, and having mild cerebral palsy through back and arms got picked on by lots of other school aged children.that was not fun and most times even hurtfull. once even on school bus after taking a seat, and driver not being onboard yet, got kicked sqarely in my forehead because a bully said I had taken their seat.also at church camp! the one place you would think was safe!I got a pair of my clean underwear ran up the camps flag pole.my mother had to retrieve it for me as I was just to embarrassed and also all rest of camp was known as having his underwear up flag pole.today however looking back on it, it was funny.my cousin was the one who did that.also I had another one occure at a handicapped camp. that one still bothers me some 40 to 42 yrs later.