Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ask Away Sunday: How I Forgave My Bulliers

I had someone ask me a good question. They had just finished reading Love Request and the bullying side-story struck a nerve. The question was: How did you learn to forgive them? The questioner prefers anonymity.

I had to really ponder my answer. Truth is, sometimes I wonder if I have forgiven them...but in the end, I came to the realization I have. I cannot pinpoint when but I can tell you how. For me, it wasn't anything anyone else said to me; it wasn't therapy; it wasn't church. It was just...well, realization that came over time.

I was bullied from second grade until I was a junior in high school. I was called names, beaten up on the playground, I had spit balls thrown at me, I was the brunt of endless jokes. The hearing-impaired girl could do no right.

A common "game" I remember the kids playing--this is sometime after elementary school when the kids no longer cared to risk rolling around in the dirt with me to place bruises and kicks on me and yet before they discovered drugs and sex and got distracted from their torture, so middle school. I always sat in the front of the class to better read the teacher's lips. Behind me, boys would constantly whisper--just loud enough for me and those around us to hear, but not loud enough for the teacher to hear--"Tara, Tara." This was followed by snickers.

If I turned around and glared, they'd laugh their arses off because OMG I heard them! If I didn't turn around, they'd laugh even harder because of course, they just assumed the dumb deaf girl didn't hear them...No matter what I did, I was laughed at. Sometimes this had spit balls involved.

This "game" stayed with me throughout my life for some reason. I think it impacted in me what I just said above: "no matter what I did, no matter how I responded, I could do nothing right."

Bullying continued into adulthood, just changed forms. As a hearing "impaired" person trying to work in the hearing world, I was denied jobs as soon as my "affliction" was mentioned. I was fired for not answering the phone--which I couldn't hear on. I was escorted off the shop floor because my hearing aid made me "unsafe". There was no end to the humiliation.

I tell you all this not because I'm bitter, but so you know.

So how did I forgive? HOW?

Well, as I told the questioner, over time I realized 3 things. And this was the catalyst, the point where I learned to let go.

1. These people (bulliers)  must feel real bad about themselves because they only feel good about themselves when they are making others look or feel bad.

Obviously, these people have issues with their own image and self worth. I have not walked in their shoes and I can't judge, but rest assured, they are the ones with the problem here, not me.

2. They are intimidated by me. It has been instilled in humanity for some time that deaf is dumb. Even if people don't say it anymore, they act it. When people look at us and start speaking really really slow and loud, they send a message to those around us--including their children--this person is stupid. Look how I have to talk to them. he he. And the cycle continues. Actions speak louder than words.

And here I was, handicapped from the get-go, making straight As. I was not and am not dumb. And when you have someone supposed to be dumb/retarded doing just as good or better than you...

3. Had they not treated me bad, I wouldn't be who I am today. Heck, I may have been the one treating people bad! Because of what I went through, I know better. I'd rather be treated bad than live knowing I treated someone else bad, that I possibly scarred them for life.

Conclusion: People fear what they don't understand. If you're being bullied (and adults get bullied too!), try to tell yourself these things and're not the one with the problem, no matter what they say. It's them. 

Will this make your problems go away? Nope. But it may help you face it.

Want to ask me a question about me, deafness, my books, editing, publishing, whatever, for next Sunday? Head over to this post to fill out the form.


  1. I can't fully understand how can anyone make fun of someone who clearly has a "medical issue", and how are kids brought up that they think they are cool for doing so.
    I like this realization: "they are the ones with the problem here, not me." - it's one of the first things I realized, it took me few years, but still.. :) and yes, we would be who we are today. that true.

  2. Wow, I have to say I think it helps that you have used the bulling to teach others about it. We are all who we are due to the situations we have faced in life. Saying that it is up to each of us to make the most and be the best person we can be. Kudos to you Tara for sharing it with us all.