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It’s National Anti Bullying week this week. Along with the stuff I’m currently talking about in therapy, it seems a very appropriate time to share a little story. Hopefully it can help other people but to be honest, it’s to help me as much as anything.

For years I’ve felt that if my son Reggie was ever in trouble for doing something wrong, no matter what it was, I would help him and be there to support him.

However, If he was being bullied or god forbid ever the bully, then I wouldn’t be able to go near the situation.

Someone else would have to get involved. The anger and fear building up inside me at the thought of needing to have that conversation with him is uncontrollable at times.

I mentioned this as an off the cuff comment in therapy not so long ago, I moved on. Very quickly my therapist intervened ” hang on a minute, tell me a bit more about that, why did you dismiss that feeling so quickly”.

Out of nowhere I said ” Now humour me here Charlotte, I doubt this has anything to do with anything, but i was quite badly bullied as a 12yr old in school, do you think that may have had any affect on me?”

”Ah” She said. ”Yes, yes I do. I think we may have found the root cause of the problems. Can you tell me a bit more about it?”.

There was this particular period halfway through year 8. A particularly lad, long story short, decided he was going to pick on me. There was never any physical bullying, but it was psychological. That was bad enough.

I was being left out of groups that I was normally involved in, isolated on the bus home from school and made to feel like in was the one doing wrong. I was being called names and left on my own. It’s f***ing awful.

One particular and very vivid time I remember being at football training one evening. I’d walked up to the car park waiting for a lift, when a good pal of mine Tom, came running up from the field and handed me my new Sheffield Wednesday jumper that I’d left behind.

The lad who was bullying me had been spitting all over it.

I know it’s just a jumper. But I loved that jumper. It meant so much to me at the time and I never wore it again after that.

I talked to Charlotte about how it felt like the bullying went on for a lifetime. In reality it was only a few weeks. That’s all it needed to be. The damage had very much been done.

My parents spoke to the lad’s mother and it was over. They were brilliant and I felt safe and supported by them the whole way. That’s all I wanted at the time. I didn’t want to interrogate things, understand why it had happened or even know what my parents had said. I just wanted it over. And it was.

With a knowing nod and (weirdly) a decent sized smile Charlotte said:

”So it turns out we’ve being doing a really good job at addressing the symptoms of why you’ve been feeling the way you’ve been feeling, however now I think we’ve found the root cause. ”

The reason you’ve felt insecure about relationships for the last 25 years, the reason you use food, money or alcohol to try and suppress any anxiety or emotion is all linked back to this time. It’s a trauma”.

”Everything you’ve been doing is an attempt to smooth over that void you’ve had. You may not have known that’s what it was, but that’s exactly it”.

I can’t tell you the weight that was lifted when I heard that. Everything changed. For the better.

I still feel anger towards bullying, but in a different way. Friends and colleagues have said it’s very obvious when someone appears to be showing bullying tendencies, how protective I get over others, and I’ll stand up to this people but in a constructive way. That feels good.

I want to help people with similar experiences. It’s easy to ignore them and act they they didn’t have an impact.

It requires us being vulnerable, open to critics again. but out doesn’t have to be. When you’ve been in a certain situation yourself, you know how others have felt. They may never have had the opportunity to feel seen or heard before.

I want to help others to feel supported, and to move on again.

This story has a happy ending. And I really do consider it the end.

Being bullied as child doesn’t have anywhere near as much power over me as it has done for the last 25 years. I’m aware of it now and what i was doing to fight it. By facing the trauma I’ve been able to learn about it, understand the emotions that I didn’t understand, and piece together it’s connection to those negative habits.

The power is still there. But I’m in charge now.

And I’m on the hunt find that jumper again…

If you or anyone you know has been affected by bullying now or in the past, advice on how to get support can be found at the following places:

Anti Bullying Alliance

Bullies Out

National Bullying Helpline


If there’s anything in this blog that you can relate to or are curious about finding out more, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Take Care & Speakeasy