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Bullying & Beyond… 10.Painting the Pain, part one.

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

Trigger Warning – Bullying, upsetting read, almost 1.3k word count and only a synopsis.

I would really appreciate if you would consider sharing this…

If I could paint a picture of the pain of bullying I would because a picture can say much more than any amount of words. But I hope my words can help you instead, paint your own picture of young lives tainted, damaged and almost destroyed by bullying.

Begin by taking a nice relaxing breath and feel the peace and contentment of a happy life…Just breath.

Now add two children to the picture and see the eldest overcome some challenges, such as being shy and changing school after one year. See the youngest child beginning life weighing 2lb 9oz and being the best Christmas present we brought home that Christmas, three months after he was born. Now laugh and imagine the relief of a diagnosis of full health at the age of one. No heart murmur. No lung deficiency. No eye sight problems. See him run into school without a backward glance, loving all the new activity and company.

Take another relaxing breath and practice gratitude for two happy, healthy children aged five and seven. Follow your heart, values and beliefs and raise them to be loving and kind; to watch out for the welfare of others and to go out of your way to be inclusive and help others feel they belong.

Now picture a knot in your stomach as you notice things begin to change… upset going to school, lunch not eaten. Hear her tell stories of constant name calling, jibing and mocking. Feel her pain as they make fun of her prominent teeth and her love of galloping around the playground instead of running because of her infatuation with horses. Approach the teacher. Confront a young boy’s carer for his bullying of her on the school bus.

Notice the tears, bitter tears of being excluded by one or two girls. Soon more of her circle follow their lead and she’s left feeling frustrated and lonely. Watch as school anxiety develops, tears and tummy aches rack her body and people comment how thin she is. See her push her food around her plate…and then around some more. Observe family trips to cafes or restaurants become a nightmare.

Soon separation anxiety develops and you carry her into school and peel her off you as you try to reassure her that today will be better; the children will be lovely and friendly. Add in lots of GP visits, referrals to counsellors, psychotherapy and meetings with teachers. Watch homework suffering and educational milestones not being achieved. Listen as you are advised to have an educational assessment done but in the same breath advised that you’ll have to arrange it privately and pay about 400 euro as the government only fund two per year and more disadvantaged children need it. See some school supports come onboard, extra learning support, confidence building and be advised a follow-up 400 euro report is needed before she enters secondary school, needed they say to access extra support there. Watch her relatively happy during 1st year with no supports offered or thankfully needed.

Feel the kick in your gut as a happy 1st year turns into an upset 2nd year and more of the same, more tears, more anxiety, more loneliness and exclusion. Send her to pottery classes and see her flourish and then watch as even in the privacy of her own home she is a victim, as we laugh and enjoy the company of relatives over Christmas, she is hounded. Witness her stress as two girls send texts with nasty, abusive messages. Contact the Gardaì and find there’s not much you can do, change her phone sim.

Advise the school in case she should be targeted by these girls in person. Hear that the two girls are reprimanded. Listen in shock when you’re summoned to the school to collect your emotionally upset child having been physically attacked, dragged to the floor by her hair and kicked and punched by one of the girls. See the nasty black and blue bruise leave its mark on her skin, knowing full well the ongoing abuse is leaving its nasty tentacles entwined even deeper within. Read nasty lies posted about her on a social media site to slander and ridicule. Approach the parents. Be kind, ask for respect, say you won’t involve the law.

In the meantime watch her at home, refusing school for weeks and support her decision to change school.

Breath another reaxing breath as she flourishes, feeling accepted, part of the group. See her take on new experiences and even a school adventure trip for five days away from home.

Gag and dry-retch, choke and sufficate, imagining how she felt when they poured water down her throat while she slept; minding her own business, doing no harm to anyone! See her retreat into herself, go to school and get phone calls to bring her home sick, refuse school. More GP visits, psychological appointments and point blank school refusal. Mountains of paperwork to obtain home school hours and achieve her Leaving Certificate despite all the torment and abuse.

Years later get messages from the bully who physically asaulted her, telling of her regret, her distress, her depression, anxiety and attempted suicide because of what she did. Feel a horrific and tangible need to rip her apart but instead hear our amazing daughter say how she has forgiven her…breath deeply and learn a lesson in compassion and tell the girl it’s ok, don’t worry, access supports, do well in college.

And later still witness the distress, the panic attacks, the anxiety, the new courses; some completed some not. See her clothes become two sizes too big as the anxiety grips her throat and messes with her appetite. See her busy herself baking and sculpting, creating things of beauty and remind yourself that you don’t care about an unfinished course or a career or thoughtless people who don’t ask how she is doing but instead ask “what’s she doing with herself” and proceed to recount how their daughter, her peers, achieved their third level qualifications.  See her reach out and be told it’s five weeks to see a new counsellor – pathetic Irish healthcare.  Marvel as she learns Dutch with her phone app. Admire how she lobbies every politician for a service dog, unheard of in Ireland but which might just enable her complete her course by helping her ward off panic attacks on the train. Encourage her as she appeals to the welfare system for a companion pass so somebody could travel with her on the train. Practice and encourage patience as she waits patiently for a human being to pass her application. But most of all we just love her and admire her amazing resilience because any of those bullies would have crumbled under the strain years ago and that’s the politest sentence I can pen about them.

Oh and by the way, that’s just what was going on for our daughter. We have a son who was bullied too… but he hid it for a long time, to save us the pain.  I’ll try to paint that picture in part two.

If you think this could help anyone who was or is a victim know that they are not alone, please feel free to share. If you or anyone you know was a bully or you have been told by your school that your child is a bully, please consider the pain you or they have or are causing. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond… 9. Acquiesce, and Dee’s Word of the Day!

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

I’m angry, and it’s not often I’m angry!  I’m also amazed…amazed at how a word can evoke such angry emotion.  This word ‘Acquiesce,’ gives me such an uneasy feeling because for too long, I remained silent in a system that was disjointed and had no cohesive plan in place. Slowly, I knocked on every door.   I struggled to be heard. I contacted every service.  Finally, I discovered the flimsy support that was available.  I wasn’t told this support existed.  I uncovered it, step by painful step.  It did not solve the issue but it went some way towards helping me realise that I was not alone, that we were not alone and that there was another way!  And now I refuse to ‘acquiesce.’  I won’t, under any circumstances, accept, agree or allow something to happen by staying silent or by not arguing.  I won’t acquiesce until I do my bit, no matter how small that may be.  I want to ensure victims, bullies, passive bullies (those who stand by gutless, watching and let the victims suffer), teachers, principals, parents, the community, society, and every nationality have a conversation.  I want them to see the damage school bullying causes. I want to paint a picture of the pain it inflicts – a picture that leave you in no doubt of the long term effects of school bullying.  Please help me break the silence and as we do this, together, please 1.Take Heart!

Dee’s Word of the Day

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/80183056/posts/2151594850

Have you or your children been bullied or silenced? Have you stood by and watched a victim suffer at the hands of a bully?  What would you do differently now?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…8.Perpetuating Social Norms…

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

Today I would like to share T.S’s very emotive, true story from his blog “Crazywriterof6.” As I read T.S’s distressing reality, I felt my body became anxious.  I felt his apprehension and fear.  His sense of loneliness and isolation is palpable.  He says… “Maybe some of you can relate and see that even then, you weren’t alone”. No child should be in dread every day, isolated and living with the fear of bullying!

In my last post I wrote about the difficulty I had in supporting my children, both victims of bullying, because of the pressure on victims to remain silent.  You might like to read it… Big Boys…Don’t Cry!

We now hear in T.S’s own words, his deeply ingrained and debilitating belief as to why he was bullied… “The torture continued. Many moments before this event, many after. I have written some of them out, just to get them out. All this because I was different than the “normal people”, different from what society says I should be. Different because I was overweight”.  I believe he was not different… everybody is different and everybody has the right to be respected for who and how they are.

Please enhance your understanding by reading his story…

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/48424428/posts/20

At a funeral yesterday, one sentence struck me, that sentence was “We could all be better people,” meaning we could all do more to be there for others.

Let’s break down the silence and begin a cross cultural, worldwide conversation about bullying.  Let’s educate ourselves and our children about bullying and let’s tear down out-dated social norms.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…7.Big Boys…

 

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

Whenever our daughter was bullied she would invariably come home upset and tell us or sometimes her upset would become obvious to us after a while, when we took the time to Really Listen!

It was always upsetting to see her so distressed, usually she felt very lonely having been excluded or she was confused and frustrated as to why she was constantly called names and verbally abused. But either way we could comfort her and reassure her that the bullying was not about her but that the problem was that of the bullies.

However, it was not so easy to offer support when our son experienced bullying simply because you can’t help a child who is being bullied, if you don’t know about it. For a long time our son kept the bullying to himself and kept the upset deep inside. I think our son did not want to add to our worries by sharing the difficulty he was having.  I also think another contributing factor to his silence, was social norms. These powerful messages or ways of behaving which are normalised within a society or culture are very powerful and from a young age, boys are conditioned to be tough, be manly and above all, they are bombarded with the message that whatever you do… don’t cry!

If you’d like an excellent insight into bullying I highly recommend you visit Weeping Pines and read Parikhit’s post which shares his experience of bullying… Boys dont Cry

Have you or your child been bullied?  If so did cultural and social norms play a part in maintaining your distress?

Let’s get a conversation going about bullying! Let’s break down the silence around bullying and change some out-dated social and culturally accepted norms.

Le grà (with love),

Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond…6.Avoid the hook!

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

This post has been updated with a therapist’s viewpoint…

Your son or daughter arrives home from school, you know by their mood and verbal and non-verbal behaviour that they are upset.  Maybe you notice they are avoiding you, they resist talking to you about their day or they might even tell you lies, pretending there is nothing wrong.

You might witness their mood deteriorating further and that might include them turning their frustration on you by shouting, blaming and generally behaving disrespectfully.

You are likely at this point to notice your temper rising and your patience being tested. This is the crucial moment…try to avoid the hook, try to resist being sucked into the argument.  Getting caught up in a two way shouting match serves no purpose!

Try to be mindful that this behaviour is your son or daughter’s way of coping with the upset they are feeling as a result of being bullied.

They are trying to cope by literally tossing some of their upset off themselves and onto you.  The very best thing that you can do is avoid becoming emotional.

Instead, calmly and patiently see if you can get to the root of the problem.  What is the underlying issue?  If the emotional outburst continues, again, calmly but firmly inform your child that you refuse to deal with them and set a time to talk later, when they have calmed down.  Then walk away, leave the environment.

Importantly, now is a good time to think of self-care (you might like to read my previous post Here)

Once you have practiced some self-care you will be feeling much calmer and in a better place to help your child.

It is vitally important that at the appointed time or when your child has calmed down that you follow up with them and try to ascertain the difficulty they are having.  If you do, you are showing them that their issue is of concern to you. You are also building trust.

UPDATE…

I would like to thank Jennifer @ Tea With Jennifer for this insight which she kindly gave me permission to share with you.

“From a therapist’s viewpoint the behavior of the child is a form of communication, communicating that they are in crisis & can’t verbalize it correctly.

So they start acting out subconsciously, thus bringing attention to the crisis within them. Fear often manifests itself as anger in many especially males.

Blessings,

Jennifer”

https://teawithjennifer.blog

Have you ever experienced a situation similar to the above?  What happened during it? How did you handle it? Please share, I’d love to hear your experience.

Much love,

Marie xx

A time for “Joy!”

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My Angel of joy!

 

Christmas has been family orientated, restful and restorative.  Today I want to wish you a very happy New Year and share my word for the new year ahead.

The word I want to focus on is JOY.  I want to continue what was my new focus on GRATITUDE over the last twelve months and develop it into GRATITUDE that highlights the JOY in my life!

I want to find JOY in the ordinary.  I want to find joy when I wake up every morning to help me shift the NAT (negative automatic thought) that always tells me I’m exhausted despite what should have been adequate sleep.  I want to find JOY at every opportunity, no matter how my body feels and I want to do my best to bring that feeling of JOY into the lives of those around me!

Here is some of the JOY that I found already today…

A lie on in bed, reading blogs, reading and replying to amazing comments, a lazy breakfast with no eye on the time and surrounded by family, an unexpected hug of appreciation and writing this post to share with you!

What brought JOY into your day? How did you share it with others?

What is your word for the new year?

Much love,

Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond…5.Loneliness

 

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

In my previous post I wrote about the importance of self-care when you or your children are struggling to cope with bullying.

If you’d like you can read it here.

It is very important to continue to practice self-care after the event.  As a way of practicing self-care I am looking forward to a family Christmas, spending time with my two children and family members and as a result this will be my last “Bullying & Beyond” post of the year.

Many of you will agree that Christmas can be a wonderful time of year.  Sadly for lots of people it can also be synonymous with loneliness. If you can, reach out in a way you haven’t before, to brighten someone’s day.

Similarly being bullied can cause strong feelings of loneliness and it comes from the isolation of bullying.  Bullying thrives on isolation and fear. Lack of access to information, lack of support and worse still lack of knowing which way to turn or who to ask all serve to enhance the isolation and loneliness you feel!

The loneliness was something I found hardest to cope with as I struggled to find answers and effective support.

But there is help out there.  Don’t allow yourself to be rendered voiceless.

So this Christmas I don’t want you to feel alone, isolated or lonely.  I want YOU to know that I am here for YOU and YOU are not alone…reach out, share your concerns and talk about the bullying you or your child are experiencing.

What has been your experience of the loneliness of bullying?  How would you describe the loneliness of bullying?  How did you overcome it?

Much love,

Marie xx

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…4.Self-care x 10!

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

In my previous post on bullying I shared some listening tips I found helpful  Read it here

Another important aspect of listening, when bullying is an issue for you or your children, is listening to what your own body is telling you.

When you are stressed you might notice that you behave in ways that are out of character? Examples could include cancelling a day out with a friend, missing time at work or increasing your consumption of food or drink, as a source of comfort.  You might realise you feel anxious and ready to snap at those around you.  If this sounds very familiar then Self-care is the answer.

There is a well known saying… “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”   No matter how tough we think we are, any on-going, distressing situation can wear down our resilience and make us want to run as far away as possible from the upset.  I’ve been there, many times, when I felt helpless to improve the situation for both our children.  I felt totally stressed and unable to concentrate on other aspects of my life.

Thankfully I realised the importance of self-care.  I realised I could not be a source of support to others if I did not look after my own health and welfare first.

To be your best self and function at peak capability, particularly at a time of crisis, YOU need to make time and space for YOU.  

I can’t emphasise enough, the importance of that last sentence!  Self-care might initially involve some professional counselling support for you or your child.  Finding a Counsellor or Psychologist experienced in the area of bullying, and building a positive relationship based on trust, will be the corner-stone to making progress.

Another important part of self-care is finding ways to forget your worries. Part of the reason why I developed this blog and called it “Create Space” was to “create” some “space” for me, to zone out from my concerns, and focus instead on my interests and the positives in my life. This creative space helped me recharge.  I forgot my worries and built my resilience!

Try to find what lights your fire, whether it is joining a yoga class or having coffee with a friend.  Try a walk in the fresh air if you can’t think of anything that would brighted your day.  Self-care will nurture your inner child, lift your spirit, help you put things into perspective and clear your head to enable you consider new solutions.

Remember to practice Self-care!  Better still practice “Self-care, times 10!”

I hope you found this helpful or maybe you know someone who might find it helpful.  I’d love to hear your thoughts. What happens when you neglect self-care?  What’s the last thing you did for fun? How does having “me” time make you feel and why would you recommend it?

Much love,

Marie xx

 

Bullying & Beyond…3.Improve your Listening Skills!

 

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

In my previous post…Bullying & Beyond…2.Really Listen!…I wrote about the importance of Listening.  When somebody, be it a child or an adult, is distressed as a result of bullying, just having somebody who is willing to listen to them can make a huge difference to how they feel.  Your first reaction may be to rush in and immediately solve everything but instead be patient and listen.

Here are some simple tips I found helpful,

1.Acknowledge your child’s emotional state -say that you can see how upset, angry etc., they are.

2.Remove or resist any distractions.

3.Make sure you can clearly hear what your child is saying.

4. Focus your attention and concentrate.

5. Be patient, listen to the whole story.

6. Make encouraging, agreeable sounds to show you are paying attention…’mmm,’ ‘I see,’ ‘oh right’.

7. Avoid making judgements – take time to consider before offering solutions.

8. Ask questions to clarify.

9. Keep an open mind.

10. Summarise or sum up what you heard, ‘so the main problem was’ or ‘if I understand properly you feel…’to let them know you understand exactly.

Remember to pay attention to their tone of voice and observe their body language, which can give you insights or hidden messages which they may not be able to voice.

If you agree on any particular course of action or efforts to address the issue, be sure and follow through.  Listening needs to be followed up with evidence of action, even if it’s only arranging follow-up conversations.  If you fail to follow-through, your child may get the impression that what they have confided just goes in one ear and out the other.

For any victim of bullying, building and maintaining trust is so important and this can’t happen unless you stick to your word.

I hope you find this helpful.  Please feel free to share any experience you have had which would have benefitted from active and effective listening.

Alternatively please share some effective approaches you have used. I would love to learn what worked for you.

Much love,

Marie xx

 

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