Hate That Echoes Through Years

hate, bullying

Some things clutch to your soul so tightly that no matter how old you get, no matter how much you learn or unlearn, those things and memories never fade. They might not travel alongside you anymore but always lurk in the shadows – looking for a momentary slip of your vigil so they can jump in front of you and haunt you again.

Some incidents create wounds that never completely heal and when these incidents accrue over years, the scars left by them stay as a permanent reminder of those painful times. In due time, the surface might heal but the wounds remain fresh and tender inside: not visible to others but still painful for the wounded.

A lot of this trouble usually starts during childhood. Fresh clay, with no structure of its own, can be deformed by cruel adults who are aware of the power they have. They know that the defenceless child is meek and trusting so they take control over the pen with which the child is writing their story, disguise it as guidance or passing of wisdom, and instead of helping the child discover the wonders of the universe through that writing, start creating a path to the child’s most intimate fragment – the subconscious mind.

And this access to the subconscious can be highly perilous.

Have you seen those theatrical presentations where the bright, floral, colourful setting can change to a dark, gothic one in seconds? A malicious adult’s interference can do that to a child just as swiftly. It can push a creative, bubbly, talkative child with the biggest dreams in their eyes to the back of the class, full of questions, self-doubt and fear.

Then they strut along to the teen which is just as unforgiving as the adults who set off this avalanche. With the self-confidence already lost, the child is now vulnerable when they stand on the brink of the journey of life in the ‘real world’. What should’ve glimmered with hope is now filled with dread and desolation.

Is it fair that a child can know how anxiety feels before they know what it means, before they know that emotions aren’t limited to just happiness, sadness and fear but exist as an umbrella with several categories and sub-categories?

Before children can form full sentences on their own, we start labelling them. The sad thing is that labels exist for everything. “You are too dark”, “you are too fair”, “you are too fat”, “you are too thin”, “you are too loud”, “you need to speak up”, “you are too lazy”, “you are too active to be controlled” and if by a rare stroke of luck you manage to find a balance early on then “you are too perfect as a child and you should be making some mistakes”.

When a child does not know of a time without perennial harsh and critical remarks, that too from their closest people, their definitions of “normalcy” get tainted. These opinions and insults shape their expectations from themselves and unknowingly become acceptable standards of hate, setting them up for a lifelong struggle with their identities. The next time someone mistreats them, they stop questioning it. Shouldn’t it be easier and wiser to pick kindness over this kind of pain?

If a person can start at 20/30/40/50 years of age as an unfit, unintelligent, talentless, hobby-less person and become super fit, well-read, knowledgeable, and skilled at various sports, crafts, and multiple skills, have a rich, multi-dimensional personality and go from being “useless” to “very worthy” then who decides that a 5-year-old child cannot?

You can learn skills at any point of time in life but what do you do when you get stuck in a body you can’t love or be ok with? When you ‘see’ people hate how you look before you even speak to them, how do you learn to stand on your feet or look in the mirror without reflecting that hate towards yourself (or even worse, others)? It is often said that people who bully others are projecting their insecurities onto the bullied. Isn’t it our responsibility to stop this chain reaction and be the end of the generational trauma?

Time does not heal everything. When noxious arrows of mean comments pierce the heart, time cannot remove them. Even if a person actively tries (through therapy, self-discovery, self-reflection, etc.) to heal these punctures, there are always some leftovers.

It is funny how the mind works. You might forget the good things people have told you over time but the hate sticks around like it was pasted with superglue.

I was blessed with a name that is not very common. Today I realise the value of this uniqueness but I spent the better part of my life hating my name, wishing I had a name more familiar to everyone just so that I would not stand out. This hate was an after-effect of being bullied by tutors and instructors. (Yes, plural.) Every time someone made fun of my name, alongside their laughter would echo the laughter of a whole class of my peers’ laughter that the said instructors egged on.

The world is cruel. Unfortunately, some bad fish exist everywhere. Some teachers bully weak students – discriminate against students based on their intellect, ability to follow a standardised pace in class, looks and even their names. They do not realise the humongous impact this has on their students.

However, there also exists a good friend we all carry within us. Our gut feeling. The gut is that strange friend who knows EVERYTHING. Your mind and heart may be at war about something and things might not seem to add up. You might be in a dilemma and feel lost because something doesn’t quite align with your belief system that’s been built over the years. In such a situation, if you listen to that faint voice inside you, you’ll realise that it knows what is best for you because that gut is somehow always looking out for you like a loyal friend.

Sadly, this misdemeanour is not limited to adults. Children are just as bad, if not worse. With no idea about boundaries and often, as a result of being overly pampered, children fortunate enough to come from financially secure backgrounds or blessed with beauty or intellect learn that it is okay to be mean. We ignore the early signs of abuse thinking it is natural for a child to be fussy or a bit mean but the harm they cause compounds over time.

The stronger children are allowed to ‘declare’ that a somewhat weak child is not allowed to join the group of outspoken children. They plot and plan against this victim just because they are not old enough to stand up for themselves.

Hearing things like “You are not my friend”, “you cannot play with us”, “I will not have you in my team”, “you cannot sit here” is so commonplace that even if parents are around the children, these things fall on deaf ears. It is understandable that parents are overworked and frustrated because of so much that goes on but the first parental instinct is to protect your child, right? We cannot forget that protection also extends to saving the child from social exclusion, isolation and mental abuse.

Young parents, I have a heartfelt, two-fold request for you:

Please teach your kids to not be an abusive person. If they’re naturally talented, smart, beautiful, and confident, please encourage their all-round grooming by also making them kind, thoughtful, considerate and empathetic. Encourage them to grow along with everyone else. Of course, they should not drop their aim to be the best but they should know the limits and that their growth should not come at the cost of being a good human being.

Please also teach them that it is not okay to be around such a person, to be the victim and ignore such behaviour. Just because someone (adult or fellow child) tells them they are not good enough does not mean they have to believe them. Help them build their confidence so strongly that they remain humble but also what they think about their worth trumps what others tell them. Make them open to constructive criticism but ensure the pen that writes their story remains in their hands.

This world could really use some kindness. It is difficult to unlearn years worth of experience and ideologies but that fresh clay (the young child) is the easiest thing to start with. Once set, you might not be able to change its structure but early on they can be taught what moulds to never accept. Make the fundamentals so strong that no matter how many voices tell your child they’re not worthy in some way, having internalised their worth, they’ll never be left defenceless again.

4 thoughts on “Hate That Echoes Through Years”

  1. This is something that should be read by everyone. Adults do stuffs both knowingly/unknowingly and their lack of knowledge about this, affects, not only their, but also their childrens behaviour to their peers.

    I liked reading this so much. ♥️ very well written.

  2. Very well articulated Angada!
    I totally agree with what you’ve said and loved how beautifully you’ve written.
    Keep writing more

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