Bullying, Running and Personal Architecture

I’ll start with the bullying topic. Sometimes people think that bullying is limited to schoolyard brawls or maybe high school cliques. That is not actually the case. Bullying extends way beyond that, into adulthood and into the professional world. It can be broad, by a person who is a bully to everyone, or it can be targeted from one person to another. Being bullied really sucks. Throughout my life I’ve been bullied for being a woman, for being too heavy or too thin, for being too ugly or too pretty, for being too smart or for not understanding something, too emotional or too robotic and (surprise!) for being epileptic. When it comes to my epilepsy, I’ve been judged for the severity of it in for how serious it is or how serious it is not. Sometimes, I’m too epileptic for things. Sometimes, I’m just not epileptic enough.


Bullying never changes. It’s a means of making someone feel like they are not good enough. It’s a way to break them down, piece by piece (big or small pieces), until all that’s left is a tiny little shadow of the person they were. It’s a way for the bully to feel bigger, stronger, smarter, whatever. While it’s not terribly difficult for a bully to stop being a bully, it isn’t so easy for the person on the other end. It takes a lot of work to find all those little pieces that were broken away and pull them back together. Do you use glue? Do you make stitches? Do you need power tools? As I said, being bullied really sucks.


So, at the time that the bullying is happening, or in the time that you are fitting the wonderful puzzle pieces that is you back together, what can you do to help? And why am I talking about bullying in my blog?


Because running.


Running makes me feel strong. When I think about some of the things that I experienced, I go running. I have three pairs of outdoor road running shoes, so I get to select one of those pairs. I put on my headphones and listen to one of my many playlists. I go outside and I run for 6km or I run for 20km, but whatever the distance and pace, I am making that decision to embrace my body. That does not change, whatever my weight is or however I look. When I am running (or jogging or walking), I am putting that piece that was broken back into the architecture that is me.


I was bullied in different ways at different points of my life to the point where I believed a lot of the things that were said. When it came down to it, I was “too much” or I “wasn’t enough”. Instead of being one big beautiful sparkly person, I became a lot of little pieces. Now, I am still picking some of those pieces up. Sometimes things happen that seem minor now, but they result in more damage than they should because of the things that have happened before.


So running.


Personal architecture is how we build ourselves up. It’s a combination of taking things we learn from others and making things up as we go along. Personal architecture is deciding what it takes to make us who we are based on who we want to be. Not who we are told to be, not who someone thinks we are. Not even if it’s what the world thinks we should be.


If I listened to my former neurologist when I first was diagnosed, I would never work, live alone, travel, run, date, finish high school, anything. He said those things to me and while I knew I was not going to listen to him (eww grown-ups), it could have stopped me from experiencing amazing things. If I listened to things from various ex-boyfriends, no one would ever love me, and I weighed too much. Neither of which are true. Former workplaces, I shouldn’t be there because I am a woman with a disability. Former friends, I shouldn’t move away or travel, and I was faking the seizures.


Funny how all of those things are former? Ex’s? No longer part of my life.


Personal architecture takes time and work to sift through what is going to build a lasting, strong home for your heart and what is just is going to break again. And even if it breaks again, it can be put back together. The bullies will always be around and they could be faux friends, significant others, family, colleagues, strangers, classmates, whatever. They will always exist. We just have to remind ourselves that they are not the ones who define us, we do.


And then we go for a run.


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