Friday, August 12, 2022

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Good News Cabin (2018-09-18)

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DEEP EMOTIONAL IMPACT

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Part Two in a series about my long struggle with depression and how I was shown the way out.)

In my previous column I talked about how I had been diagnosed with significant depression a couple years ago.

Various factors can cause depression – genetics, physical injury, loss, unresolved negative experiences, etc. And often, more than one is involved. I knew depression ran in my family from other relatives. However, I also knew, in my case, some negative events had left some deep wounds.

I was bullied as a kid growing up here. And it wasn’t just one bully, but a rogues gallery of bullies. Many were transient kids whose parents came to Grayling because of jobs and left for the same reason. Two native sons however followed me for around ten years, insulting and threatening me – sometimes in school and sometimes on the way home.

While their threats to physically hurt me were bad enough, it was their words which had the biggest impact on my life. Words when repeated over and over tend to become little recordings in our minds. People’s words can have either a positive or negative impact for that reason. Often these negative recordings will continue to replay themselves throughout the person’s life, especially at emotional times.

Negative labels like ugly, wimp, freak, loser, slut and sissy often come back to haunt victims during difficult times in life. For instance, when a relationship breaks up, a victim might think, “If I wasn’t so ugly, I could stay in a relationship,” because a bully had told them they were ugly and they no one would ever want them. It can become a vicious cycle throughout their lives.

I remember being bullied for having freckles, being clumsy, poor social skills, being too imaginative, etc. For me, the cycle of bully recordings went on to create long periods of depression and anxiety during adulthood.

Now, you may remember me saying my bullying went on for ten years and wonder why. Well, I told my parents once. My mom talked to my teacher, but nothing was ever done. The bullies threatened to beat me up if I did tell.

In Sunday school I was taught to always “turn the other cheek.” God hates violence.

We were told in school if we did punch someone we would be suspended, regardless of who started it. It was a no-win situation with the results being victimization over and over again, because any way out would bring negative consequences. Everything worked against the victim. Why try?

It seemed more brave to just “buck up” and pretend the words did not hurt. Just like physical wounds, however, untreated emotional wounds need to be tended to become infected and cause problems later.

By the time I saw the psychologist, I felt I had reached the end of my journey in life. I had climbed to the top the mountain only to discover the view was simply me surrounded by craggy, old, lifeless mountains. No beautiful valley below. Nothing but rock all around.

My journalism career had ended two years before. Freelance writing simply did not bring in enough income to survive on. My dream of making a living as a writer had been shattered. As in some many times of disappointment before, those words of the past played over again inside my head. “Loser.” “Worthless piece of [feces].” “You’re never going to amount to anything.”

I had always fought the words in my head before. This time though I simply accepted them. I claimed them. The bullies had been right all along. The circumstances in my life were proving what they said to be true.

Now, I sat before a psychologist, after not being able to hold down a job, I was broken. He talked with my doctor and they prescribed some medication to get me thinking more clearly.

But what could this psychologist do to help a loser? A worthless piece of [feces] who hadn’t amounted to anything.

Nothing. Except he would take me to see the Eye Doctor.

Kurt J. Kolka is a graduate of two Christian colleges — Concordia University in Ann Arbor and Anderson University in Indiana — where he studied both Bible and theology, as well as journalism. Contact him regarding this column at kurt.j.kolka.writer.artist@gmail.com.

 

 

Kurt Kolka
Kurt Kolka
Kurt J. Kolka grew up in the small community of Grayling, Mich., near the forested AuSable River. After majoring in English at college, he began a career in writing and newspapers spanning more than two decades. In his spare time he creates a Christian comic strip, The Cardinal, which has a 28-year history of publication. He has also authored a book, “Bullying is No Laughing Matter” (Front Edge Publications, Ann Arbor, Mich., 2014) and is working on his first novel. Kurt and his wife Diane have been married for more than 25 years and have one daughter, Rebekah, and an overprotective dog, Alli. Of life, Kurt says, “Life is never dull with God at the steering wheel, but, man, does He have a lead foot!” More about Kurt and his musings may be found at www.betweenthepines.org.
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