Pass It On

2015-12-07

winter flowers

English version below.

Ich habe euch etwas vorenthalten. So gutmütig ich bin – es gibt eine Gruppe von Menschen, denen ich nicht so schnell verzeihen werde.

[Uruguay, Juni 2012] Tja, sie hatten sich einen riesigen Spass daraus gemacht, sich über mich lustig zu machen. Sie redeten über mich, lästerten, lachten. Ich fühlte mich hilfslos und verdammt einsam. Ich hatte eine so verdammt schwierige Zeit hier und jetzt musste noch so etwas kommen. … Einmal kam eine ins Zimmer, von der ich bisher dachte, dass sie von Xs Freunden eine von den sympathischsten war. Sie starrte mich an, brach in Gelächter aus und rannte wieder raus. Mir war zum Heulen zumute.

Mein letztes Erlebnis dieser Art in Uruguay, viele subtilere waren v.a. in den ersten Monaten meines Austauschs vorangegangen. Ich lese alte Einträge und bin erschüttert über die gemeinen Kommentare, Witze auf meine Kosten und die herablassende Behandlung, die ich dokumentiert habe. Einsamkeit und Selbstzweifel haben mich aufgefressen.

Verloren, so verloren.

Es ist so einfach auf jemanden zu herumzuhacken, der anders und alleine ist. So einfach sich von dieser Unsicherheit zu distanzieren und sich mit einem kranken Machtgefühl zu befriedigen, indem man sich überlegen gibt.

Unsicher, so unsicher.

Wie oft hatte ich mich damals gefragt, was ich falsch mache? Wieso man sich über meine Aussprache lustig macht anstatt mich zu fragen, wie es ist, weit weg von Familie und Freunden zu leben – wie es bei allen anderen Austauschschülern der Fall war? Wieso war ich nicht gut genug? Man sucht die Schuld immer bei sich.

Kalt, so kalt.

Ich denke an die grausamen Aktionen, die so viele liebe Menschen erdulden mussten und müssen, und werde wütend. Heute bin ich stärker, aber damals, vor vier Jahren, war ich noch grau und isoliert und so viele Menschen bewerten dich nach deinem ‘sozialen Wert’. Komisch, unsicher und unscheinbar? Wertlos. Perfektes Opfer.

Ich werde nie verstehen, wie man Genugtuung daraus ziehen kann auf Schwächere zu treten.

Was mich unendlich traurig macht ist der Gedanke, dass die Täter unbeschwert ihr Leben weiterleben, während ihre Opfer teilweise noch jahrelang mit den Folgen zu kämpfen haben. Ich bezweifle sehr, dass sie eines Tages Gewissensbisse erleiden werden, und das ist so furchtbar ungerecht.

Ich will mich nicht rächen, diese Menschen haben es nicht verdient, dass man ihnen nachträgt, sie haben es vermutlich schon lange vergessen. Rache ist nicht die Lösung. Es hat keinen Sinn sich so was zu denken wie “Ich werde erfolgreich sein und es ihnen zeigen“, denn damit gibt man ihnen immer noch Macht über das eigene Leben.

Ihnen vergeben kann ich leider auch nicht. Noch nicht. Was bleibt? Der Wille, aus dieser Erfahrung das Beste zu machen und mich zu bemühen anderen das zu ersparen. Ich möchte Gemeinheiten wie diesen mit doppelter Herzlichkeit wettmachen.

Und genau deshalb finde ich es unglaublich wichtig jegliche Freundlichkeit zu ermutigen. Leider ist es nicht selbstverständlich nett zu sein und nach dieser Erfahrung weiss ich dies umso mehr zu schätzen. Es gab auch Licht in dieser dunklen Zeit, und ich will es unbedingt weitergeben.

Ohne gewisse Menschen in Uruguay und in der Bloggerwelt wäre ich damals vollends verloren gewesen. Ich kann nicht ausdrücken, wie dankbar ich ihnen bin. Es ist nicht einfach, nett zu einem Aussenseiter zu sein, ich weiss es selbst. Es ist auch nicht selbstverständlich sich die Mühe zu machen einer Unbekannten aus dem Internet aufbauende Kommentare zu schreiben. Ihr seid meine Rettungsleine gewesen, ohne euch hätte ich aufgegeben. Danke.

Hört bitte niemals auf, euch die Mühe zu machen jemanden aufzumuntern oder beizustehen, auch wenn es sich nicht um einen guten Freund handelt. Auch kleine Gesten reichen. Es wird nicht umsonst sein. Vielleicht merkt ihr es nicht, aber ihr könnt damit jemanden retten. Ich wurde schon so oft gerettet.

silhouettes on a hill

I’ve withheld something from you. I might be quite kind, but there’s a group of people I won’t be able to forgive anytime soon.

[Uruguay, June 2012] Well, they had a hell of a lot of fun mocking me. They talked, bitched, laughed about me. I felt helpless and damn lonely. I had such a difficult time here and now, as if wasn’t enough, this. … A girl came into the room. Out of X’s friends, I thought that she was one of the nicest. Well, she stared at me, burst out laughing and ran out again. I felt pathetic.

My last experience of that kind in Uruguay, many more subtle ones happened especially during the first couple of months of my exchange year. I’ve been reading old posts and am unsettled about the mean comments, jokes at my cost and the arrogant treatment I documented. I was devoured by loneliness and self-doubts.

Lost, so lost.

It’s so easy to humiliate someone who is different and alone. So easy to distance yourself from this insecurity and satisfy yourself with a sick feeling of power by acting superior.

Insecure, so insecure.

How often did I ask myself what I was doing wrong? Why people made fun of my pronunciation instead of asking me what it feels like to be far away from friends and family, home? Why wasn’t I good enough to make the same experience like the other exchange students? What was wrong with me? We always blame ourselves.

Cold, so cold.

I think of the cruel acts that so many kind people had and have to endure and get furious. Today I’m stronger, but back then, four years ago, I was still grey and isolated and so many people judge you by your ‘social worth’. Weird, insecure and plain? Worthless. Perfect victim.

I’ll never understand how some people can draw satisfaction from bullying the weaker.

Thinking of how the culprits get to live their life untroubled while their victims in some cases are haunted by the consequences for several years makes me incredibly sad. I doubt that they’ll ever get a bad conscience to plague them and that’s so unfair.

I don’t want to take revenge, those people don’t deserve that I hold a grudge against them. They’ve probably forgotten about it a long time ago. Vengeance is not the solution. It serves no purpose to think something like ‘I’ll be successful and prove myself to them‘, because that way, we still give them some power over our life.

Unfortunately, I’m also not ready to forgive them yet. So what remains? The will to make the best of this experience and try to spare others of going through the same. I want to compensate the meanness with the double amount of kindness.

That’s why I think it’s incredibly important to encourage all kinds of love. Unfortunately it’s not a given to be kind and after this experience, I’ve learnt in to appreciate it even more. There was some light in that dark time and I absolutely want to pass it on.

Back then, I would have gone under without the support of certain people in Uruguay and some German bloggers. I can’t express how grateful I am for them. It’s not easy to be kind to an outsider, I know it too well. Neither it’s understood to bother writing helpful comments to an unknown person in the internet. You were my life line, without you, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Thank you.

Please never stop making the effort to cheer someone up or help someone in need – even if it’s not a close friend. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture, and it won’t be in vain. You might not realise it, but sometimes it can save someone. I was saved so often.

couple rambla Montevideo Uruguay

52 Comments
    1. I understand this process pretty well. You’re right, the mentality of proving them wrong by becoming a success isn’t worth it.
      Being happy for the sake of being happy, spreading joy to those around you, and instilling kindness in others is so much more valuable. Plus then you don’t have the looming expectations of people in your past hovering over you. That feeling gets to be too suffocating, I think.
      There are people in my life I don’t know what to do with either, I can’t forgive them for things they’ve done. As a Christian I’m told to pray for my enemies. So I do, I pray for them and then let the thoughts go out of my head. You’re right to not give them power over your life.
      Thanks for the insightful post, and for being awesome! ^.^

      1. Forgive and forget. Thankfully it doesn’t always have to come in that order. Time will ease quite a few wounds and scour away the pointy edges and the hurts, get me to the point where I can more manageably surrender them, almost forgotten they don’t matter as much.

        1. You’re right, Boon, thank you for your reflective input! I hope I’ll be able to forgive them once what they’ve done doesn’t really touch me anymore. It certainly has become less important during the last two years.

      1. Thank you for your thoughtful and encouraging comment, Jessalyn! :) wow, I admire you for your ability of praying for them, I don’t think I could do it sincerely if I’d pray. I’m sorry that you also have people you can’t forgive but I hope we’ll both be able to do so one day. Maybe as Boon said when enough time has passed so the memory of what they did has faded..

        1. You’re welcome! ^.^ I’m glad it was encouraging.
          If it wasn’t for the fact that the Bible teaches me to pray for them I don’t think I ever would. It’s a part of my faith, not really a part of me. It’s all thanks to God that I can pray for them sincerely, even when I would rather not.
          I think one day we will be able to forgive them, especially when a lot of time has passed.

          1. Good thoughts Jessalyn. I don’t like bullies. They’ve caused lost of pain in this world. Forgiving and praying for your own heart is good way to get release and move on.

          1. I’m sorry I didn’t see your comment earlier, it landed in the bin for some reason :o

            I think it’s fascinating that you pray for others because your faith tells you so! Technically I’m catholic but I’m not really religious, though I’d like to learn more about faith and religions in general. Especially about the good things like forgiveness and compassion :)

            Anyways, someone wrote that we don’t necessarily have to forgive them and I’m wondering if that might be okay. To just let it go.

            1. I’m more spiritual than religious. I believe that having a one-on-one relationship with Christ is what’s most important when it comes to my faith. The more I learn about Him (mainly through my own bible reading, and family discussions) the more I see wonder in the world.
              I think forgiving them keeps us from building up scars on our hearts. When we forgive I think it really helps heal the damage, in addition to helping us let it go.
              One of my favorite quotes from the bible is “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” (Matthew 9:13 and Matthew 12:7).
              There are a lot of hard emotions to work through when forgiving others though, I know that for sure.
              Lol it’s okay. I can’t believe it threw away my comment! I hope your holidays have been wonderful!

            1. Comments just don’t like me lately! I replied to this one a couple of days ago, but I went to check and make sure it posted and it was gone. Sigh. Now I can’t remember what all I said. ^.^;
              There’s a lot to learn, I’ve been raised Christian but no matter how much I study there is always something new to learn or find. It always keeps me thinking.
              I think the act of forgiveness, especially if the person hasn’t asked, is more for my own sake than theirs. It keeps me from holding onto things, and in turn helps me to let go.

              1. Hi Jessalyn!
                I’m sorry for my super late reply. I really have no idea why your comments keep landing in my spam folder.. that’s so annoying :/
                Anyways, I hope you’re doing well! :)
                I really love how you keep trying to become a better person, that’s wonderful. I feel the same desire in me, but I think you’re already one step ahead.
                I think I struggle with forgiveness because I don’t think they deserve it. Like if I’d forgive them, it’s like nothing has happened. Does that make sense?

    1. Sweetiieeee I always struggle to understand how people can be so mean… I have been bullied A LOT, and wasn’t half as strong as I am now, I wondered what I was doing wrong so many times, I just wanted them to like me, what was so wrong with me? If only they were given some empathy and understood what we are going through… ❤️

      1. Thank you so much for your kind comment, my dear! I’m really sorry to hear that you were bullied a lot :( I think the bullies are insecure people who have to prove themselves or something like that so actually they’re pitiable but it just makes me so sad that they make other people bleed for their insecurities :(
        A big hug from Switzerland!! <3

    1. The meager boy with glasses, a family name that was given to squinting people (as if a handicap was not enough to bear by itself), a strong preference for books and FischerTechnik… a bully’s favourite dish!

      But in your tags you list “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” – if I am honest with myself, I am not so sure I was ever ready to trade reading or constructing for being liked. Which probably accounts for a couple of lessons learned: You do not have to run with the pack to be happy.

      And I have to learn to hide the disdain I feel on occasions better still. I’ll try and make “the effort to cheer someone up or help someone in need – even if it’s not a close friend”, as you so nicely put it.

      1. Thank you very much for sharing your story! I just had to look up ‘FischerTechnik’ – it looks so cool! It’s so unfair that those factors were the reasons why the bullies chose to bully you.. Kids can be so cruel and I wonder if it’s because they’re not raised better? Or is it just part of a child’s nature?

        I’m glad you could at least learn some valuable lessons – I certainly love your photography especially because it’s something I don’t see very often!

        All the best to you, I’m looking forward to your next photos :)

    1. Feeling alone is horrible. Even more horrible is feeling alone when surrounded by people. I’ve been there many times. Sometimes one small small is what I held on to for days. Your question, “What did I do wrong?” is ever so hard to answer because the answer is nothing. I think we believe that if we can find an answer to that question; then we can change in some way to alleviate the pain and the loneliness.

      1. Yes, the loneliness one feels while being with people is horrible.. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been there so often, I hope things will get better for you! What I’ve learnt out of it is to appreciate the tiniest things, often overlooked, much more.

        And it’s so true what you’ve written! I guess we really would like to have an answer to understand why we’re experiencing what we do but unfortunately so often it’s just bad luck and other people’s issues.

        Take care, my dear! <3

    1. “That’s why I think it’s incredibly important to encourage all kinds of love.” I agree! Glad that we connected. Seems we are on a similar path to try and figure out our own unique contributions to the world. Thanks for visiting.

      1. We definitely think and feel very similar in this aspect! :) Thank you too for visiting and all the best to you, I think you’re already making a great contribution, keep it up!

      1. Thank you, Katarina! :) btw I’ve just bought a used Mark II and can’t wait to use it after only using the EOS M till now :D

          1. well, it’s just the II and not the III like you have, but I remember you telling me how much you love it and I hope the older version is good as well :D

              1. oh dear, I’m looking at the photos and they’re AMAZING! Thank you for sharing!! :) It’s a pity I don’t understand the tests though :/

    1. That opening photo was well done. So was your writings.

      “Please never stop making the effort to cheer someone up or help someone in need – even if it’s not a close friend’
      I agree, because then it really counts. I have found that a kind word costs me nothing, but it can make a difference.
      And age, age, has taught me that if you have something good to say, you better say it. Life can be short. No point in having anymore ‘would have, could haves’.
      I’m off to read more of your stuff.

      1. Thank you again for your kind and insightful comment! :) What you say is true but unfortunately so many people still don’t care about saying something nice anyway..
        I’m still quite young but I’ve also come to realise that those ‘would have, could have’ thoughts can consume my thoughts so I better act, say that kind word or whatever instead of beating myself up over not having done and regretting it. I’m glad to know that I’m on the right track though your posts about becoming more cynical worry me a bit. But then, you’re still an idealist so I think I don’t have to worry about losing this quality of mine.

      1. it’s not always easy but I’m definitely trying to do that – thank you for your kind comment! :)

    1. I don’t think you need to forgive. You just need to let it go, and to keep doing good things.

      1. Thank you for your words and the song – I’m thinking about it. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones! I’m glad you’ve found my blog and appreciate your comments a lot!

    1. Thanks for liking my post.
      As much as people are different from one another, there are many reasons why some become bullies. I try to understand why some become bullies, so I can feel compassion for them or perhaps simply avoid them. Also, from a writer’s perspective, they become a small study for the creating of possible characters. I suppose an actor might study such people also for insight. In a way, making them specimens of study can move you from victim to objective observer. Another angle is to see the lesson in what you experienced as a way to make you a better person. And then move on.

      1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Gloria! I also try to understand why people become like that, mostly because I can’t understand how they can be so cruel.. but at the end I always come up with the same couple of reasons and am not sure if they apply to them since I never know what (and if) they went true in the past.

        I love the writer/actor perspective! I’ve never thought of it that way. That’s actually very inspirational, thank you for that input! :) Have a great week!

    1. Achingly beautiful, a paradox: pain / sorrow … and piercing words that capture the hurt and injustice. “Please never stop making the effort to cheer someone up or help someone in need – even if it’s not a close friend.” That was powerful. Hey, thank you … for visiting my blog. Peace to you … I’m looking forward to visiting again. T

      1. Thank you for your beautiful words! I’m glad you came by and left that kind comment. Peace to you as well and have a great week! :)

    1. When I was child I was bullied. It went on for about ten years. Sometimes things were better, sometime were worse. Physically distancing from those people was the only way to free myself. Even if I know I wasn’t the nicest girl around, I know it wasn’t my fault. But our brain works on an action/reaction scheme and you’ll end up torturing yourself.

      Your way to respond to what happened to you is one of the healthiest I’ve ever seen. You react thinking about the people who helped you. You react by doing acts of kindness and encouraging other people to do the same. I don’t think life is “fair” and I don’t believe too much in a “balance”, but you will be remembered as kind, insightful and compassionate girl :) And beautiful. You are a damn good looking girl :op

      1. Bullied for ten years?! That’s horrible, it makes me sad to think that the young You had to go through that. :( Could you take something positive from the situation? Maybe afterwards, when it was a rather distant memory?

        I’ve never realised that this – thinking about the people who were there – was my way to deal with it. I know that people who were bullied often turn into bullies themselves and I have noticed certain not very pleasing new traits afterwards, but I guess as long as I’m reflecting my actions, I’ll be fine with who I am.

        Yes, thinking that life isn’t fair makes me so sad and knowing that I’m incredibly privileged makes me want to share my fortune with others who weren’t as lucky.. oh, and thank you for this lovely compliment (I had to smile about the “damn good looking” part :D) – you too are beautiful! :)

        1. Only now that I read your reaction I realised how much I was bullied. I wrote ten years as a matter of fact, because it went on since I was seven until I left to enroll at university, but It really was a long period of time. They didn’t bully me every single day for ten years straight, even though during middle school I was really bullied every single day. I had some good moments, mostly at the oratory and during high school, because my persecutors didn’t attend those places, but wow! Considering how long I was bullied my self-esteem problems set in a complete different light. I can’t believe how strong and positive I am! :D
          I think that “thanks” (thank you guys, I really don’t appreciate your harassment, but… “thanks”) I left my small town, I studied in a big city, I lived there for almost twenty years and now I am in England without a regret. I miss my parents and friends, sometimes I even miss Milano, but I don’t miss my hometown.

          But enough talking about me :op for the “damn good looking part” you have to thank Vince Gilligan’s “Small Potatoes” in the fourth season of X Files :) Yes: bookworm, bullied and NERD! :op

          1. Hi Nina, sorry for my late reply! Ten years is definitely a very long period of time. I think even one year can be tough, I can’t imagine that times ten :/ and even worse when it was every single day! You’ve truly become a wonderful, strong and positive woman and I’m happy you were able to turn your life around :)

            On a side note: Oratory? I know that from Uruguay and didn’t expect that it exists in Europe as well, that’s so cool! Did you also work with kids from poorer neighborhoods then?

            I guess not having any regrets at the end is the most important thing, I’m glad you succeeded to choose the right path! :)

            haha I’ve never heard of X Files ;)

            I hope you’re doing well! <3

            1. Thank you, Monika :) and don’t worry :) I am well and I hope it’s the same for you :)

              I still have to finish reading your post about finding a little of Uruguay in Italy, but I assure you that Oratory in Catholic Italy is a big thing. You see, an Italian saint, San Filippo Neri, invented it in XVI century and was later re-invented by another Italian saint, San Giovanni Bosco (Wikipedia calls him “John Bosco” my glob!), at the end of XIX century. In Italy almost every parish has an oratory for the youngsters.

              I didn’t work with kids from poor neighborhoods because I worked at the oratory of a very small town, around 5000 inhabitants, and in a way we came all from the same “neighborhood” :)
              The job of the junior volunteers as myself,was to educate the kids to the Christian values through playing, which is a part of the Salesian Preventive System. Even if I don’t consider myself a Catholic anymore, I remember fondly those days and the nuns I worked with.

              1. I went to the “Liceo y Colegio San Miguel” in Uruguay and “Don Bosco” (sounds better than John Bosco, hahaha) was a big name there! wow, I can’t believe the oratorio has such a long history.

                Thanks for telling me about your activities, that would have been my next question ;) my boyfriend’s brother is very active in the oratorio and I once went too during my exchange, but two of the volunteers also (just like the others who kinda bullied me) didn’t like me for some reason and made it obvious, so I didn’t return.

                Anyways, the project in the poorer neighborhood I mentioned in my last post would be about those kids from the oratorio (and maybe their families too). The plans are still very vague, but it’s awesome to know that you’ll know what I’ll be talking about :D

    1. Main thing about that you mentioned is “those people don’t deserve that I hold a grudge against them.” So true. Apart from that, you told your story in a way that moved me deeply, especially when you talk about the people that helped you out through the internet without even know you in person. It is amazing how you can have a deep intimate friendship with someone you have never met, someone you’ve never seen but in photographs. And I can testify that happens because it happened to me. cheers

      1. Hola Luis! Thank you for your kind feedback :)
        I’m very happy to hear that you’ve made the amazing experience of finding friends online as well :)
        I hope you’re doing well. Have a lovely weekend and take care!
        Hugs from Switzerland,
        Monika

      1. I’m glad to hear that. You’re doing an amazing job paying it forward, there should be more people as kind as you <3

Let me know what you think!

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