Bullying is something that most kids deal with. It’s not isolated to any one place. It’s not just bullying in the form of being beaten up. Bullying is something that can take many forms and can have varying effects on people.

Bullying also doesn’t have an age limit. We often hear about childhood and teenage bullying. We hear the phrase, “Children are cruel.”

But bullying isn’t just something you deal with as a child or when you’re in high school. What happens when the bullies grow up? What happens when they haven’t learned more productive ways of interacting with people they don’t understand or had no negative repercussions for treating people poorly when they were children?

Bullies stay bullies unless they learn differently.

But we stop calling them bullies. They get the term toxic people. People who don’t know how to deal with people in a more productive way. They mentally stay in high school, thinking that putting people down is an acceptable way to deal with people they don’t like or feel threatened by… and really, bullying is nothing more than another form of abuse.

I was constantly bullied as a child. I was poor. I was heavy. I developed younger than anyone else my age. I wasn’t popular.

I was bullied in high school as well. I still wasn’t popular. I never tried to be. It didn’t feel like me if I was to tried to be popular. I was uncompromising when it came to being me.

It’s something that I maintained when I was an adult. Or I thought I had.

I met a group of “friends” when I was in the most abusive relationship I had ever been in. These were the friends that I thought I deserved.

I didn’t have a very high opinion of myself (I still don’t have a great opinion of myself, to this day). So, I thought I deserved a group of friends who would smile to my face then firmly plunge the knife in my back. I dealt with it. At the time I felt I deserved it.

The whole time, I didn’t understand what I did to deserve to be beaten in that manner. Did I deserve the verbal abuse? Did I deserve to be the object of idle gossip? Probably not. But that’s how I was treated.

The bullying that I took as a child, I continued to take as an adult. And I saw them do it to everybody they were friends with. Friendship meant nothing more than meaningless companionship and an excuse to get more gossip on other people. It’s like the circle functioned on this degree of dysfunction.

And at a certain point, I had to get of this dizzying ride. I couldn’t stay on this circuitous ride of gossip. At some point you take stock in your life. You think about what’s important to you. I also realized that I kept getting in to abusive relationships in all of my romantic relationships and in most (but not all) of my friendships. I was the one keeping myself in this cycle.

So, I left. I cut my ties.

The one time I went and looked back they were still talking shit about me. I hadn’t talked to any of them in a couple of years. And the very mention of me brought on a barrage of abuse and libel (as this was in written form). As I looked at all these negative things everyone had to say about me I could only think, “Wow… this is just pathetic. I don’t talk to any of you anymore. You don’t know me anymore. Yet you all want to jump on this bandwagon of shit-talking.”

I felt more validated in my position. Cutting all ties was the smartest thing that I had done.

I have tried to put all that behind. I try to get past it. And in many cases I have. I have also learned my lesson. I have no desire to invite these people back in my life.

When you do the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. If I keep letting these people back into my life over and over, I would be totally nuts.

Bullies exist at all points in life. They can be children or adults. It’s how we deal with the situation that makes a difference. I could have just kept falling further and further down the abusive spiral. In many ways I’m grateful for being able to see the way out.