From The Confessional: Bullies Suck

by Karen Johnson
Dragana Gordic/Shutterstock

Bullies suck. The end. Whether it’s the long-lasting scars of our childhood bully, or the bullying we experience as adults, or finding out that it’s happening to our kids, it all hurts. Bullying makes us feel powerless and scared and question our self-worth. But what we need to remember is that it’s really that person—that bratty kid pushing other kids down or the asshole co-worker who needs to feel superior to everyone else—that has issues. Not you.

Bullies are insecure and endlessly seeking validation they’ll never find unless they change their ways. They are so desperate to be liked and seen as something or someone “big” that they’ll hurt anyone in their path—including you or your kids.

If you or your kids have been victimized by a bully, remember who YOU are. Tell your kids to remember who THEY are. No one can take that away from them—not that bitch Stephanie who sits behind your daughter in math class and whispers about her, and not that turd Steve from your office who steals credit for others’ work and demeans anyone who tries to stand up to him.

Stephanie and Steve are nobody. You, however, are fucking awesome.

49yo and am still haunted by the physical/verbal bullying I endured at school. One thing I will be eternally grateful for though is the fact that it took place before smartphones were invented: I would die if there were still videos of it in existence.

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Despite my wholeheartedly agreeing with the sentiment, I was not the one who anonymously sent the "Rot in Hell!" flower bouquet to my childhood bully's funeral.

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I'm still haunted by friendless, empty high school years, despite working hard for current decent life and having some friends. And the trauma of middle school bullying/cruel family is omnipresent

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Fuck you Mark and Tyler for tormenting and bullying me in high school. I’m grew up to be a beautiful writer, wife, mother and grandmother who sows good in the community. Hope you both are living in hell.

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The long-term effects of childhood bullying are brutal. It can take a long time to heal, and some never do. Just remember to look back and see how strong you were, how strong you ARE, because you’re still standing. And you’re probably a hell of a lot happier and more successful in life that that jackass who spread rumors about you in middle school.

Exclusion as bullying has been around forever. And at age 58, I still remember the little bitches that did it to me.

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My middle school bully is now a elementary school teacher. I hope she's changed, cause man oh man, she was quite the little cunt back than!

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I got in a fight in 6th grade and bit off a piece of my bully's ear that had to be sewn back on. I got nicknamed "Psycho" after that, but bullies left me alone me throughout the rest of grade school.

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DH and I were both horrifically bullied in grade school. I don't know why people think forced inclusion helps anyone, in my experience it results in worse bullying. The only thing that helped me was moving.

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But even if we’ve spent a lifetime trying to heal from the pain our childhood bullies caused us, there’s a piece of that history that stays with us forever. We’ll never forget, even if we do find the strength to forgive. The best we can do is use that negative experience for good—by spreading kindness and teaching our kids to spread kindness.

H is being nicer to me but I have 30 years of resentment over mistreatment, gaslighting, and straight up bullying that I can’t seem to get over. I don’t care how nice he is. I want a fucking divorce.

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How do you know when the screaming and bullying and name calling is too much? I don't know how I ended up in a 2nd marriage with another verbally abusive bully. I thought I'd done better. I feel like a failure. Why can't H just stop the rage?

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I have to put vodka in my sweet tea all day when financial bully h works from home. His constant presence here is very anxiety-provoking. I'm always braced for criticism, must tolerate him because of financial survival for us.

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As adults, bullying permeates our lives, just like it did when we were kids. Only now, some of us are married to the bully. And we don’t know how to get out.

I wish my SO would stand up to his bully manager at work. He's way sweeter and passive than me and I just want to go down there and chew her out!

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I wish the office bully would get fired. I'm tired of seeing her run perfectly good employees off with her "I'll cut you" attitude.

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My place of employment will fire this person over here for too many call-ins, but that person over there gets to throw tantrums, bully people & still keep their job? Un fucking believable.

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Co worker got the promotion over me, even though I've been here longer. The reason given: She's more assertive and makes things happen. She's a bully, that's what she is. But I guess it doesn't matter HOW she gets people to do what she says.

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Or, we encounter regular bullying in the workplace. Whether it’s our boss or a co-worker, often we feel like it’s out of our control and we are forced to work with a toxic person day after day.

DH reached his limit and found the kid that was bullying our child and threatening to jump him. No more issues...

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Anyone honestly arguing against trans kids in sport needs to get a grip. EVERY SINGLE HUMAN HAS A DIFFERENT BODY WITH DIFFERENT ADVANTAGES! We don’t pop out like manikins; stop bullying minors with way bigger issues on their plate who just want to play.

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Exclusion is the new form of bullying. What makes it so nefarious is its subtlety. There are no rules against it. There is no complaining to the principal. Just watching your kid’s self-confidence plummet as they wonder why they were left out.

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A couple of boys bully my 7yo son at school. I hate them so much it consumes me. I need to develop a tougher skin.

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And perhaps most heartbreaking of all is when we find out it’s happening to our kids. We might witness it firsthand or hear about it from our children after the fact. No matter what, it’s like someone rips our heart out and stomps it into the pavement. We want to save them—confront the bully, let them know they better leave your kids alone!—but we know that as parents, it’s actually more important (and more effective) that we empower our kids to face that little shit themselves.

We hope childhood bullies see the error in their ways, and that whatever negative life experiences they are having that cause them to be so unkind, get better. We hope they will grow up to realize that they did and said hurtful things and make amends. And as for grownup bullies? Well, we hope the same for them too.

But tbh, the best we can do is raise tough, resilient kids who understand the power of kindness. Who understand how vital it is to be upstanders, not bystanders. And who never, ever participate in bullying themselves.

But it starts with us. They are watching how WE behave—so as parents, we all need to remember that.