When I was a wee boy, I wished so hard to be a little girl. I happily spent the time playing with my sister and her friends. Whenever Mum’s high-heels vanished, they’d usually be found under my bed. Nothing indicated that this was “wrong”.
With best intentions, my parent’s eventually put a ban on playing with girls, including big sis. I was about 5 and this was the first enormous wrench from my tiny life. One day, I’m happily playing as a girl, and the next being forced to play with boys….yuck!
Two memories that immediately spring to mind are feeling completely lost and alone in a little boy’s alien world and… eeeeek… they did smell! I wasn’t comfortable and they never looked over the moon either.
Fortunately, we had a couple of mutual interests in dinky toy cars and marbles, but when they were kicking a ball around or swapping football cards, I was secretly playing with dollies and skipping ropes. Action Man would even be dressed in Cindy-doll clothes!
There were some nasty bullying incidents at primary school, but that was more to do with being too fearful and timid to stand up for myself. The first recollection of verbal abuse was when I started Secondary School.
It wasn’t friends or the boys at School who started the name-calling, but the older 16-18yr olds, who had already left school.
After a rocky introduction into a boy’s world, I found my own unique niche and was always out with different friends after school. By that age, it was cool to hang around in groups of boys and girls (smoking!).
Full awareness of my apparent “effeminate mannerisms” only came to light when the first insult hit me like a bolt of lightning. I was around 12-13yrs old.
Those hurtful names would tear me apart, but only ever in private. They say “sticks and stones…”, but that’s a load of bollocks.
I could be outdoors with friends, when suddenly older lads would be hurling abuse in the street, “Pansy-boy”, “Nancy-boy”, “Queer”, “Poof”… “Shirt lifter”… blab la dee bla
Friends would say, “Just ignore them… don’t let them see it bothers you”.
I’d lie convincingly, “It doesn’t bother me”.
When name-calling crosses the line, it easily escalates into pushing that boundary a little bit further. First, there were threats of violence, and then the actual physical attacks.
While bullying and violence were being played out at home, I was also falling victim to the same outdoors. It’s easy to see why someone might develop a certain belief that it’s all they’re good for. There’s a warped resignation for your fate.
Whether the older boys hollered, “Poofy-boy” or punched me in the face, I would turn away as though I didn’t hear them and even pretend not to feel the punch. I lived in daily fear of my tormentors. Behind closed doors, the loneliness was heart breaking.
I started to watch other boy’s behaviour very closely, taking note of voice tone and actions, etc. I would practice walking and sitting in front of the mirror and record my voice in an old reel to reel recorder. I was learning to become your average man.
Today in group therapy, a member was talking about being bullied by someone they feared. There was something about his experience that was awakening memories of an old emotion.
Shame and Humiliation.