ALAN EISENBERG Speaking Out Loud about Bullying
“Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.”
― Robert Brault
In 2007, the blogosphere was just starting and I saw something there that I had been waiting for years to see. It was a public venue to write down all the pain that my youth of being bullied had caused me. I started a website called Bullying Stories and began to systematically write on my blog each story of a time I was bullied in my life. I thought it would be cathartic and release the demons that had been haunting me for so many years. I was wrong and it caused an opposite reaction.
As the blog grew and others added their stories and I added research about bullying, I found out how big the problem of bullying really was. It haunted me and eventually released in me my full anxiety, depression, and what’s now known as Complex-PTSD (C-PTSD). I could no longer deny that much of my life decisions and feelings were based around what happened to me in my youth. I still didn’t believe it could be true, until many years later, when the research came out that said that a youth of bullying can and does haunt people into their adult years.
So I did seek and get help and am happy to say that, today, I have faced the biggest bully head on and feel as though I’ve won. That big bully I had to face…it was me the whole time. So how do you solve what is in you?
Through the bully whisperer?
The bully whisperer, what does that mean? In the past few years, we have heard of the dog whisperer and other animal whisperers. I admit that I did watch some of the shows. Interestingly, most of what these “whisperers” were doing, was dealing with the animal’s natural fight or flight instincts, anxiety and their fears.
Guess what? Humans are also an animal and in most cases, bullying survivors are dealing with the exact same issues as their animal counterparts. It is hard for us, the higher thinking animal, to realize that we are still instinctual and that these instincts can overtake our brains, allowing us to fall into our animal tendencies when dealing with painful pasts. Years ago, I coined this problem my “Perceived Threat Syndrome”.
This term, for me, was shown when my mind would tell me to react to what I perceived to be a threat from someone else, but that person wasn’t actually threatening me. With my heightened issues due to my C-PTSD. This is what happens when you have survived so much threatening trauma.
So, for me, the Bully Whisperer is a technique used, just as was done with the animals, where you are helped through learning that what you perceive as dangerous is not. This technique in the mental health world is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This was certainly one of the ways that I worked through my own issues with my bullying past. It worked brilliantly and is still a staple for many who work with PTSD and C-PTSD survivors.
In, the end, it took two years of extremely hard work on my part, with lots of reading, self-help, and professional mental health to work through my past issues due to bullying. At the end, when I could accept my past, accept the apologies that I didn’t get (or in some cases did) from my bullies, and accept myself for who I was, I was able to live in the now, let the past go, and believe in the good of the future.
Once in this place, I have accomplished more in the past few years, because my fear of failure and my lack of self-worth was gone. I started a company called “Bullying Recovery” to help others and wrote my memoir about my journey to recovery from bullying called “A Ladder In The Dark”. I started taking care of myself, both my body and my mind. I learned to love me, the hardest task of all in my recovery.
You might be reading this because you were in the same place as me or you need to help someone in a place of pain. You may have recovered or also want to make a difference in the issue of bullying. We all can and we can be a “whisperer” for others. Having taken the journey, myself, I can tell you that patience and practice is so important. But if I could do it, believe me when I say you can too.
Alan Eisenberg is a Bullying Recovery activist and author of “A Ladder In The Dark: My journey from bullying to self-acceptance“. He has been writing and speaking to various audiences about the issue of C-PTSD and Bullying Recovery. Mr. Eisenberg has been featured on several print, radio shows and podcasts on this issue, including NPR and in the Boston Globe.