There’s a saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That’s only half right. It’s true that sticks and stones are bone crushers, but cruel words crush your spirit and cause serious injury to your self-esteem and even to your sense of who you really are. I don’t know if the bullying you endured in school was verbal, physical, or a combination, but the experience of being bullied leaves painful layers of fear, shame, and rage. I was bullied when I was in junior high school, and I can still remember a few incidents, although they lost their sting long ago.
You write that you are blocking painful memories. That’s a strategy that keeps you from being conscious of pain, and you say you are good at it—doesn’t that mean that you have powerful internal strengths? Not every single detail needs to be dredged up.
Therapy is an organic process. People often say they are blocked, which implies that there is a block or a brick wall or something and it must be broken or smashed down. I think that with time and empathic attention this wall will slowly crumble, and the memories that you are looking for will emerge. Meanwhile the strength that is part of you will become more available and you will be energized to try the new, exploring and developing your beautiful life.
Your decision to seek therapy to get over those painful school experiences is a good one, and I salute your courage. You have to be brave to start therapy. You need a lot of stick-to-itiveness too, because therapy takes time, commitment, and persistence.
What makes a bully? Most of the time, bullies learned their behavior from people who bullied them, who treated them violently and taught them to see the world as a dangerous and awful place, where you have to be aggressive to protect yourself.
Bullying behavior is pernicious and should be stopped. Making room in our society where people can speak freely about their feelings to other people who are able to listen with sympathy will help us all to reflect and act wisely and so there will be fewer bullies, which is good for everybody.
Your openness when you speak to your therapist and write to Good Therapy will spread positive energy around. My heart goes with you.