Friday, January 8, 2016

Autism Answer: It's Important to Believe That (Hope for Bullies and The Bullied)

Shay, telling a story with symbolism.

My son, Shay, is wearing a noose around his neck. He tried to explain it's symbolism to me, something about protesting bullies in school. Something about how all lives matter, the bullies and the bullied, and how we need to remember that our actions have long reaching effects and when we choose to be unkind we're tightening a noose around our necks, and the necks of our victims. He's still working on the clarity of his message but his passion is not murky at all. 

After dropping his brother off at school we chatted in the car. The topic? Bullying. 

Shay: Was I ever a bully?

Me: Well, we've all "bullied" people. So, I have seen you bully people before. But you were never a bully. Only two of you boys were ever actually, what I would call, a bully.

Shay: Jory and Tyran, right?

Me: Yup. And they were different types of bullies. Tyran knows he was a bully, and he worked hard to change. I was amazed! Jory, though, I don't think he knows he was a bully. I won't be surprised if he never knows. 

Shay: Ya, he made us feel like it was our fault, like we couldn't take a joke when he was being mean. I think he didn't know how much it hurt. But he mostly bullied Tyran. He bullied Tyran a lot. 

Me: (sighing while years of hurt surface) I know, darling. I know. I didn't see it so much back then, but I do know. 

Shay: And you didn't really stop him either, mom. 

Me: (nodding and acknowledging) Your sort of right. I did stop him, but not enough and not with clear vision. 

Shay: When Tyran bullied me and Declyn, you didn't stop him much either. 

Me: (feeling my footing again, here I have a little more confidence) I know it didn't feel like I was stopping it the way you wanted me to most of the time, sweetie. I know, and I appreciate you for still always knowing I love you. But remember, I was thinking of a much bigger picture. As a mom I didn't want to just stop the cruelty of that moment, I wanted to teach skills and offer love all around. I wanted Jory and Tyran to know that their feelings were valuable but their vision was too self-focused, and I wanted you guys to know that your feelings were valuable and you should tell your brothers what those feelings were. I wanted so,so,so much for you guys, and I wasn't always sure how to show you or teach you. 

Shay: That's probably why we usually knew you were on our side even when it didn't seem like you were mad enough about the bullying. 

Me: Well, I have to admit, I was also fooled by the kind of bullying Jory was doing to Tyran. He seemed bossy, but not like a bully to me. Even though I should have seen it, I didn't. Until I did. And that's when we really helped him find new ways to treat you guys, and himself.

Shay: (patting my hand) You're adorable, mom. Now we're all best friends and we're going to make movies and write books and stuff together. So you helped us in the long run. I guess the stuff you were doing was right. 

Me: I don't think it was right, that's for sure! I would do a lot of things different now! But I was always willing to learn and think and listen to you guys. That was right. 

Shay: I guess there's always hope for bullies and people who are bullied, in the long run. 

Me: Yup. I believe that. 

Shay: It's important to believe that. 

We pulled into the driveway and headed into the house together. Comfortable and relieved. 

We went to our work spaces and started telling stories. 

This is mine. 

Hugs, smiles, and love!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 

Me and Shay.