You can’t wish the trauma of bullying away. Pretending that the bullying didn’t happen to you or that it was no big deal won’t work, either. Bullying has long-term consequences. The monster lives in your closet until you banish it.
However, healing is possible — whether it’s been months, years, or even decades since you were last targeted by bullies. I used a 4-part program to recover from the childhood bullying I experienced. These steps may work for you, too. However, since we are all individuals, our circumstances may vary. Our goals and needs may well differ. I offer this program in the spirit of sharing what helped me find the peace and closure I craved.
These 4 steps took commitment and hard work, and it dredged up pain that I had — usually — managed to keep in the background. Some of these steps were tougher for me than others. I moved at my own pace, and I took only the actions I felt safe in pursuing. I practiced self-care to the extent that I could, and I emphasized kindness and forgiveness throughout my journey.
The result, for me, was that this 4-part program helped me face the abuse I’d suffered at the hands of bullies in my childhood. Instead of repressing my sadness and denying the reasons for my fragile self-esteem, I acknowledged my past and, finally, moved beyond it. And I wouldn’t trade that healing for anything. Here are the 4 parts to my healing method:
Part 1. Tell your story. Take ownership of it, and tell it first to yourself. Then decide whether or not you want to share the story with others. If you can articulate what happened, you can begin to reframe the events and learn from them.
Part 2. Maximize you online presence. The internet has made the world a much smaller place. Chances are, anyone from your past can find you again within just a few minutes without even exerting much effort. That can be a terrifying prospect unless you take charge of what people will see when they find you online and prepare yourself for the eventuality of their getting in touch.
Part 3. Find your foes online. You do not have to wait for people to find you online. Instead, you can find them first. That allows you to put the people associated with the bullying of your childhood into perspective. You will see that they are not omniscient. They can’t hurt you anymore because, after all, they are just ordinary mortals.
Part 4. Face your foes in the real world, if you feel safe in doing so. You risk re-traumatizing yourself with this step. However, the childhood bullying you experienced might have ended without providing you with an opportunity for closure. You may feel that you still have unfinished business with the people who hurt you. While you cannot change the past, you can shoot an alternate ending by meeting the people from your past once more — on your terms — when you are ready. Finally, you can end the story on your terms.
The first step in healing is to recognize that bullying is no longer a dirty little secret. It never should have been. Fortunately, society now has recognized bullying as deeply detrimental. We have stopped normalizing it. Now that bullying has finally come out of the closet and into the light, you can, too.
You weren’t to blame for what happened. You endured, and you’re probably a more compassionate person because of it. Give yourself credit for being the hero that you are. The sooner you embark upon the 4-step healing program, the sooner you can get past bullying and find peace.