Friday, January 24, 2003

On Bullying

I've always believed, deep down inside, that the Chinese have exceptionally long memories. We remember a lot--if not all--of things that have passed, especially trespasses against ourselves and our families. How else can one explain why there's such a long tradition of "revenge" myths and plots in our martial arts fiction? You know--young boy sees family killed, seeks out famed Kungfu master, studies and endures years of torturous training and humiliation before finally executing complete and painstaking--often very painful--revenge on those who have taken his family away from him. There's even a Chinese proverb that hints at getting back one's own at one's detractors--"Leave in rags and shame, come back in fine brocade with a retinue." To be able to exact payback/revenge/counter-humiliation seems to be a path to "closure" (as American shrinks term it) for the Chinese. As Lindo Jong in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club tells her daughter, Waverly: "Chinese torture best torture!"

It might be essentialist of me to generalise like that about my ethnic culture and group, but as with all stereotypes, there is a grain of truth in there somewhere.

Late at night, when I can't sleep but my Inner Charlie's Angel and Inner Pragmatic Woman is silent, a little voice from the past whispers to me, reminding me of where I came from and why I landed up where I am at the moment.

You see, many people see me as a poised, confident and bright young Rhodes scholar--one of those overachievers and high-maintenance divas who don't know what it's like to be unpopular, to suffer any form of hardship. However, underneath this mask, there is actually a very hurt little girl who is still nursing her wounds from her growing pains, who still curls up and cries sometimes. The grown woman may look impervious to life's knocks but inside, she's still as fragile as an egg with a few cracks delicately flowering over her nerves and heart.

That Little Voice reminds me that I got to where I am because I was bullied for thirteen years in school--all through primary school right up until I graduated from high school. That Little Voice tells the truth when it says that I've achieved all that I have, that I have so much ambition, that I crave stability and security--particularly in terms of my emotional life--because I want to forever stave off being bullied as I was in school.

Sometimes, when I feel happy about my life or when I go out with my friends who actually like me for who I am, I can hardly believe it. I can hardly believe that people actually like me for me or that life has turned out so much better than I could ever have imagined while I was in school.

Sometimes, I feel like I am wearing masks. That I am a fraud--the sweet, sunny woman my current friends generally know me as couldn't be me. Of course, my Inner Pragmatic Woman and Inner Charlie's Angel both try to keep That Little Voice--that carries all my doubts and insecurities in it--silent. They say to me: The person that you were is not the person that you are now. So move on. Be happy.

But That Little Voice sometimes refused to be silence. It's That Little Voice who surfaces, especially when I have doubts about my life and my self.

I read my autobiography so far and I see where That Little Voice originated from. Like all children who were different in any way, I suffered for my difference. And even now, when I hear of the rise of bullying in schools and when I see little children and teenagers being bullied, I weep inside for them and I step in to stop it when I can and am able to do so.

For those who were bullied, I know the emotional price you pay. The mental and emotional scars never go away even if they fade.

For those who bullied others, I can only hope that what goes around comes around.

For all the adults and teachers who allow and encourage bullying to happen, I can only hope that you will one day realise the damage that you are inflicting on future adults. May it come back to haunt you in your later years.

For my Readers, I can only hope that this installment of my autobiography provokes some thought on the issue of bullying.

Bullying--let's stop it when and where we can.

Continuation on my blog where this and the excerpt from my autobiography is cross-posted

No comments: