On Writing & Bullying

Let me start with saying that I grew up in a town (population: 60,000) which you may recognize from your childhood. It is the town of the Pied Piper (“Rattenfänger”). Yes, that spooky man that removed all the rats but then got no money and took away all the children. The city where this supposedly happened is called Hameln and I was lucky enough to see all the possible ways the town tries to attract tourists with this story. And let me tell you, being a teenager and have to make your way to the next shop through a crowd out of people staring at a man who looks like his three year old son picked his clothes, speaking like he escaped from a different century and playing the whistle all the time is not really the best way to cheer you up. An additional extra is the demographic age of the population which is, let’s, say a bit old. Did I mention that the last bus drives at 9 pm?! No? It must have slipped my mind. 

Don´t get me wrong, I do like the city and the surrounding landscape. Luckily the next big city, Hannover, (Population abot 500.000-and yes, I consider this big!) was only 45 train minutes away and we used this opportunity as teenagers to go there and see concerts and hang out. It may also have happened that we “accidentally” missed the last train back to Hameln so we ended up staying all night and took the first train home at 6 o'clock in the morning.

So there I was growing up in a house with my father and my grandmother L. (you will hear about her later for sure, and it will include a pan and a cuckoo clock!). My mother and father were divorced when I was little and my mom moved into the next village with her new husband.

Even as a kid I was always quiet and tried desperately to be “normal” and fit in with the other kids. But that did not succeed at first very well. When at age 12, I came into the “Gymnasium” (a school which starts in grade 7 and you stay there until grade 13 when you do your A-levels) I had a really rough time connecting with the other kids. I am not sure how it started but somehow, I ended up becoming the victim of bullying. That included mean rumours on a daily basis and my classmates avoiding me like I had a disease. These were times when I felt completely sad and hopeless and hated each day. I thought it would never change and I simply did not want to tell any adults about it because somehow there was this internal belief that maybe there really was something “wrong” with me. So if anybody is out there reading who is currently in this kind of situation please be sure that I know how lonely and sad you can feel. But guess what-things changed for me!

After 1.5 years  I took all my courage and spoke to my school counsellor about what was going on. And not just him - my parents and teachers came together to search for a solution that would make me happy again. So in the middle of the school year I changed all of my classes and got into the so called “music-class”. Luckily I had played the piano since I was six years old, so there was no problem for me to attend this class, who had additional music lessons every week and would perform each semester at the school concert. For the first time in a very long while I was greeted with love and friendship. There I met incredible people, some of whom are still close friends until now.

But the most important thing, I learned back then was that I am allowed to speak about my problems and people are willing to listen. It was during that hard period of time that I started to write and it was during that time where I developed the writing routine that would literally save me later. Back then and most of the time now my writing is only for myself. It helped me form all those thoughts that were in my mind and seeing them on a piece of paper as poetry, a short story or just notes was a very important experience in getting me connected with myself again. Now I am so grateful that I have proof of all the things that were going on in my mind, that they were real and important to me. While writing, I never thought of it as a kind of “empowerment,” but looking back, it seems like one of the best habits that I have started so far.

And of course when I look back now, I see written pieces where I think “What the hell was I thinking back then???!!!” or “Ugh, nowadays I would make exactly the opposite decision,” and let me tell you, some poems or stories are simply so embarrassing that even now I blush when I read them. But at the same time it shows me how human all my thoughts are.

As a conclusion, I would like to encourage you to take your thoughts and feelings seriously and maybe as a way to acknowledge them, to write them down. Even when you seem at a hopeless and dark place and feel completely alone things are going to change. Later you will be able to look back and see how strong you were even when you did not feel like it.