“You’re fat!” “You’re ugly!” “You’re stupid!” “You’re a (fill in the bad word).” Bullies say things like this all the time, day in and day out The seem to know when someone is hurting, and if no one seems to be hurting just now they go straight for anyone who is “strange:” different that the bully is, different than most of the other children, or even just different from the bullies. When bullies find someone that seems weaker than they are they go for that person, telling him or her that he is worthless, she is incompetent, that she is stupid or that he is as dumb as a rock. The word “dumb” itself was a bully-word from the beginning: originally, it just meant “unable to speak” or “unable to hear” and didn’t mean stupid.
But what are bullies really trying to say? That they don’t feel perfect. That they don’t know how to love an understand themselves. That they feel so badly about themselves and are so worried that they are bad, fat, stupid, dumb, or whatever that they can’t even bear to see anyone even a little like what they are afraid they are. It’s like they are sunburned all over: they can’t even wear their own kindness! Think of it: they are hurting so much inside, and have been hurting so very, very long that they can’t even make themselves feel better with anything.
So what bullies are really trying to say is: “I’m afraid. I’m afraid that I’m stupid, dumb and a hopeless failure. I’m afraid no one can love me because I’m so unlovable. I hate feeling this way but no one tells me how to fix it,
“And if I am not lovable, if I am worthless, then feeling like this hurts so much that I have to hurt others. Sometimes it makes me feel strong when I do that. Sometimes it makes me feel better for a little while. And sometimes I can hurt them before they hurt me.”