When you think of bullying you may think about children at school. You may also think about cyberbullying, either between children or possibly twitter users bullying people who have landed in the public eye, for whatever reasons.
No-one ever wants to thinkif themselves as a victim. It feels defeatist to even say the word doesn't it.
Apart from the odd nasty email or blog comment I don't feel like I have ever been the victim of online bullying. At school it happened occasionally. There were a few girls in my village who used to follow me, saying mean things in a loud voice. It was intimidating. Ironically it was one of the three girls who helped me get my confidence back - we became friends, to the point that when I recently returned to the UK she was one of the few people I sought out for a catch up. I say few people because this last trip was meant to be a holiday, not doing the rounds of everyone at breakneck speed.
I have been bullied by men. One ex in particular stands out as a nasty bully, who, like all bullies, was a coward. He cried like a baby when I left him. He was convinced I would never do it. He had done his best to persuade me that I was worthless, ugly, fat (I was a size 6) and stupid and that no-one could possibly ever love me. It's so nice not having him in my life any more.
So, to the present. I am being bullied again. Not by a family member, nor by my lovely husband, nor someone I considered a friend. I'll just say it is happening in a professional capacity, and I feel, as a result of this person's actions, just like the little girl walking through the village scared of having her arsed kicked. I know that the person will never actually kick my arse, but the feeling of intimidation is the same.
But adults are cleverer than children. I've told the full story to a few people, who agree it is bullying. But whereas a school child will be advised to go to a teacher, a bullied girlfriend will be advised to leave the bastard, a victim of cyberbullying will be advised to go to the police, or name and shame the bullies, I have spent months and months trying to find a solution. Back when I last posted I was going through a stage when I thought I was imagining it (clever bullies instil masses of self-doubt in you, it's a particular talent) but as the weeks have gone on I have realised that I am not imagining it. It is real. And neither fight nor flight will help me.
I fight and I will develop a reputation as a problem. I run and they win. I am in no physical danger from them, other than the physical results of stress, which are starting to build up. But the harm is being done psychologically. I'm not coping as well as I did. I'm irritable with the children and my husband. I don't sleep. My back and neck hurt constantly. Instead of interacting with the children I stick cBeebies on, hand over the iPad, and keep an eye on them from a distance, ensuring they are safe and fed. I spend hours watching them but thinking of my current situation. I have been to my GP, who has prescribed me a combination of anti insomnia and anti anxiety pills. I keep them for emergencies only.
I feel like I am no longer myself.
And I don't know where to go from here. I am looking forward to the children being in nursery so that I can think straight, find a solution. But my last precious months with them before that have been overshadowed by issues which I can hardly explain to myself, let alone them. A happy, carefree summer with my babies it should have been. It has been taken away from me.