Surviving and Thriving After Bullying
Bullying almost destroyed me.
It started in first grade, then continued in eighth grade and high school, when a few girls tormented me.
These girls would TP and egg my house, throw spit wads in my hair, block my car so I couldn’t drive, punch me in the stomach, let the air out of my tires, and spread horrible rumors about me.
What made it worse is that adults knew this was happening, but no one did anything.
I had no one telling me I was a good person. And I didn’t have it in me to realize that on my own.
The bullying turned into shame. I reasoned that if these kids were bullying me and no one was stopping them, something must be terribly wrong with me.
So began my lifelong battle with self-esteem.
When I was 13, I began living a double life: I earned straight A’s, was a cheerleader, and was in a professional ballet company. I also started drinking, and for 13 years, I used alcohol to boost my social confidence and escape my feelings. I saw alcohol as the solution to all my problems.
I was also depressed but hid it well. I focused on trying to please everyone to avoid rejection, so I never had a strong sense of who I was. I contemplated suicide five times. In the middle of all this, I got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology.
I hit rock bottom at 26. I literally woke up one morning and realized I was an alcoholic (I’d attacked my boyfriend the night before in a blackout). I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I wanted to die.
I’d known I needed help for a long time. But this day was different. I was done pretending I wasn’t drinking every night, that I wasn’t depressed, and that I didn’t live in daily fear.
I was done with my double life.
It’s a cliché, but I was ready—and the teacher appeared.
Without thinking, I opened the phone book and called a crisis center called Turning Point. I stayed there for eight days.
I was both terrified and excited to live life sober. I started therapy. I got into a 12-step group, and it changed my entire life. I came to believe in a higher power and made spirituality my priority.
I returned to school and got my doctorate in psychology. I’ve been a psychologist for almost 20 years.
But that’s not the end of my story…
When you decide to work on yourself and be in the helping profession, you have to face all your dark places. Just because I was in recovery didn’t mean life’s ups and downs stopped happening, I immediately got rid of my limiting beliefs, and I developed excellent coping skills.
In the past ten years, I divorced an alcoholic husband, survived thyroid cancer (I still have daily low energy), lost my life savings after I got cancer at a time I had no health insurance, and lost my home (and job) after the economy tanked in 2008.
But once again, I got back on my feet.
Then the universe decided it was time for even more healing…I’d decided to try to love again and met a wonderful man. But shame issues ran deep, and my fear of rejection was hurting my relationship.
I knew I needed help, so I returned to therapy, found a different 12-step group, got a sponsor, and worked the steps. It completely enhanced my life again.
What helped me the most on my healing journey was women on the same path that I was on. They were strong, wise, and generous, and they listened and supported me like no one else. They shared their struggles and successes with me. They taught me how they got out from under shame, and how to go through life’s challenges with grace. I never could have come this far without them.
I became a life coach to support and guide women who are letting self-doubt hold them back from achieving their dreams. Now I’m the person for others that I needed when I was alone and bullied.
I paid a lot for the lessons I’ve learned. Living life daily without escaping my feelings is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
But now I know that not only can I survive anything—I can also thrive. The bullying made me the resilient, confident, and compassionate woman I am today.
And when I’m able to use what I’ve been through to give other women hope, encouragement, and strength, it’s totally worth it.
I want you to know that you can get over your past pain, your limiting beliefs, and your fears—and you can absolutely become the strong, confident, and giving person you’ve always wanted to be.