When we deny who we are and how we really feel, either physically and/or mentally we silence our authentic self. We reject ourselves. For years I didn’t admit that I have fibro/fatigue, except to a few family members and close friends. When we reject ourselves we are bullying ourselves. We think we are not good enough, we focus on our flaws and feel a sense of shame.
Similarly, when we are bullied we are also silenced. We are judged by someone and denied the opportunity to be our real selves. We think we are not good enough and we withdraw from society or family. When we withdraw emotionally we block off our true emotions, denying ourselves the right to acknowledge and feel our emotions.
When our daughter experienced bullying, it caused her to step into survivor mode. She put up a front whilst crying inside. She couldn’t let the bullies see her crying. She knew if she broke down crying, it would fuel even more bullying.
After finishing secondary school she moved past bullying, building back her resilience. She participated in further education and in society. She set and achieved many new goals. She met new and inclusive peers, friends and educators. All these mature, self-aware people bolstered her confidence.
However, even if it’s been years since you were bullied, a simple, present day event may unexpectedly trigger the same feelings. This was the case for our daughter. It only took one educator to criticise Emma and her work, in front of her peers, to bring our daughter right back to survival mode.
This time it was different. Emma found the courage to address the issue to her school counsellor. She sought advice. She spoke up to that educator. She stood up for herself. She didn’t need to call upon her parents. She was self-sufficient.
But despite speaking up for herself, the trauma of being disrespected and denied the right to be herself, triggered her survival mode. All the things she could do with ease soon became overwhelming. That was almost nine months ago.
All symptoms of bullying.
Then Emma’s new puppy, Doris arrived.
More mental health support came on-board. But there are still ups and downs.
She felt lonely a few nights ago but she didn’t deny her feelings. She didn’t hide it. She cried for the loneliness and for the years of denying her true self. You can learn more about isolation here Bullying & Beyond…A victim’s abject loneliness.
She cried while we were away, only showing us a glimpse when we returned. But a glimpse is enough to show us that she has turned a corner because now she is beginning to listen to and acknowledge how she feels. She is learning to externalise how she feels instead of internalising the pain. That is a big step and an important lesson!
We can also learn a lesson from her new, trainee Psychiatric Assistance Dog, Doris.
Doris saw Emma’s upset. Doris didn’t deny her. The opposite in fact, Dorris, a little puppy, stretched herself across our daughter’s lap and kissed and licked her. Dorris accepted Emma exactly as she was.
Have you been denied the right to be yourself? Do you deny yourself? What supports can you access to build your resilience and be your true self?
Mindfully Marie xx