Bullying in my childhood

Trigger warning:
This text contains images and descriptions of sexual harassment and bullying, among others.

In the last few days I have started to pull one more thing out of the pandora's box of my trauma: the bullying in my childhood. I was aware of bullying, especially in my teenage years, but what is coming up now is something new, and it is unsettling and destabilising. Intrusive images are coming back, this time of bullying.

The trigger was my plan to go to a meeting in the Sierra Norte de Madrid to meet friends from various countries, some of whom I haven't seen for over ten years. I had planned to travel yesterday, but I am writing this at home in Sevilla.

The day before I started to feel uneasy, doubting whether it would be possible to meet my self-care needs at the meeting place in the Sierra Norte de Madrid. I wrote to the person responsible for logistics to ask if it would be possible not to share a room with cis men, but his answer was that there is only one room with 20 bunk beds. This new information set off all the alarm bells, and it didn't take long for me to cancel my trip.

Despite the cancellation, since then my post-traumatic stress has risen considerably, I feel very vulnerable and unstable. Yesterday I was completely drained of energy and just wanted to hide in my bed and cry. I didn't even go to the swimming pool, which is now part of my daily routine. Already the night before I was thinking about a school trip in the last year of primary school (when I was 9 or 10 years old), a trip of several days, and probably with accommodation in bunk beds. As always, I have no memories, only emotions, and strong emotions.

Yesterday afternoon I let my inner child draw, and their drawing tells me something, I think:

Dibujo de bullying en una ducha de un vestuario. Mi niñe interior sentade en el suelo debajo de una ducha, y cuatro niños desnudos con erecciones señalando al niñe
Drawing by my inner child of bullying in a locker room shower.

I don't know if this drawing corresponds to this trip, or just a typical locker room shower in a school gymnasium. I also don't know if there was abuse, or if simply, with my own history of sexual abuse by my father and older brother, a situation like this, with naked boys verbally bullying me, awakened all the fears in this child that was I. The truth is that I doubt that sexual harassment or abuse took place.

Today I have been somewhat more stable, but with intrusive images related to bullying. At noon I went to the swimming pool, and both in the pool and in the sauna I had moments when I had to struggle with the intrusive images and crying.

Today in the afternoon my inner child drew another picture:

Dibujo de mi niñe interior sentado en un banco en un vestuario, llorando, y dos niños desnudos señalando al niñe
Drawing by my inner child, 27 July 2022

It's a very similar situation, this time not in the shower, but in a changing room, which could be in a swimming pool or a gym.

Beyond these images, another one comes to mind: me as a child hiding under a blanket in a bunk bed (!), and around the bunk bed two or three naked boys/kids.

So far I have no idea what part of this corresponds to reality. I don't doubt that there was bullying, although I have no memories of bullying in these contexts. But I have my emotions, and again intrusive images. I know that I was bullied in the playground already from the first years of high school (I have zero memories of primary school), bullying that was limited to verbal bullying.

Luckily I feel I have more tools to manage this new flare-up of my PTSD. I am not falling as much as I did months ago, but these days I feel less stable, very vulnerable, and with emotions running high. I also cry more frequently, although not as much and not as hard as I did months ago.

I can no longer avoid working on the story of my bullying, a story that seems to start much earlier than I thought it would. I hope that this really doesn't leave anything more in my pandora's box.