Will Your Child Become A Bully?

BrianCuban     It was summer 1971 and I was attending Emma Kaufman Camp near Morgantown, West Virginia. A summer tradition for a countless number of Jewish children from my hometown of Pittsburgh.

Every year there was the “Emma Kaufman Camp Annual Talent Show.” This year, I decided to participate, after watching my peers highlight their talents year after year.   As I walked up to the wooden stage, I was suddenly facing over 100 ten and eleven year olds. Everyone was laughing and joking with each other. There I was center stage. I would sing the Beatles hit of the year; “Let It Be.” There was no microphone, no music. I was standing emotionally naked and exposed in front of a hundred other kids. I reminded myself that this was my choice. I wanted to take control of my fear. I wanted to take control of the bullies who had taunted me at school and at camp. To become popular, to be noticed, I thought if I could sing “Let It Be,” my excess weight would not matter to anyone and would be accepted. The bullies, who made fun of my weight and psychically assaulted me at school, tearing off my pants because they looked tight around my big stomach, would not matter. I focused on the wooden floor in front of me. I was too terrified to look at the kids staring me down, talking and laughing.   I opened my mouth. The only sound that emerged was a guttural groan. The sound was the noise a wounded animal might make.

Kids were laughing and jeering. I was humiliated—not much different from the humiliation of allowing bullies to attack me. Not much different from shyness and the shame of body that constantly gripped me.

I walked off the stage and broke into a run, past the snickering and laughing campers back to my cabin. I cried. Not for my failure. Because I knew that, the worst was yet to come. Déjà vu. My cabin mates would be back soon. Some were just waiting for the next excuse to ridicule me as if they were bored with calling me fat. Our cabin counselor would intervene and tell them to leave me alone, as he had done before to no avail. Anyone stood up for me to that extent.

My fellow campers filtered back into the cabin. One, who had bullied me over my weight since my first day at camp, made his way straight for me as I lay on my bunk. “Not only are you fat but you sing like shit.” The other kids’ chimed in. “Fatso cannot sing.” “Fatso can’t sing.” Still crying I jumped up. I ran at him as hard as I could and used all of my weight to knock him back onto the bunk bed. It was as if I had finally realized that I had to stand up for myself since no one else would. Not the camp counselors who paid lip service when they witnessed the bullying. Not my parents who did not know because I was too ashamed to tell them. Not the other kids who stood silent witness. I had no safe place to unload my pain. Unfortunately, I would not know for many years later but much damage had already been done. Childhood bullying can lead to long-term problem such as depression, and mental illness up to 40 years later. According to the same study, individuals who were bullied frequently were nearly twice as likely to be suffering from depression at the age of 45. I was no exception. This is also coincidentally (or not) around the age I became suicidal, only to be rescued at literally the last minute with a .45 automatic on my nightstand. Add into the mix, a twenty-seven year bought with anorexia then bulimia, drug addiction and alcoholism before recovery. Children, who are bullied, are much more likely to experience these problems. I became a “poster adult” for the longer-term effects of bullying as a trigger for long lasting problems. I bullied my freshman college roommate without mercy hoping that repeating what happened to me would both gain me acceptance and make me feel better about myself. It only made me feel worse. My college roommate was, like me, an overweight quiet, shy kid from San Diego who wanted nothing more than to be included and to make friends. My response to these urges was to call him a “fat pig” and tease him about his loose fitting clothes on his “big body.” I would leave notes on his bunk on how he was not wanted and unworthy to be my roommate. The irony was that our other two roommates wanted neither of us around. They left me notes asking me to find another place to live. Of course in my mind it was because I was fat an ugly and the only way they would change their mind is if I showed I was one of them if I bullied “Hawaiian Dan.” A lot has changed since then in terms of awareness but bullying still goes on at the college level. Behavior is learned. Behavior repeated. A never-ending, damaging cycle to both the bully and the victim unless self-awareness becomes part of the equation to allow us to step back and looks at our behavior, a tall task for a teen wanting acceptance.

That is not to say that every bullied child will grow up to be a bully or suffer the long-term effects. We are all unique individuals. Genetics and environment can take one hundred different people going through the same issues in one hundred different directions. However, learned behavior and the need for acceptance can be powerful motivators when the psychological conditions are ripe.

While what happened to me can be a cautionary tale in the possible effects of childhood bullying, not all children will respond the way I did. Adults who experience the effects of bullying as a child, self-esteem and awareness have to step in for recovery.   Face the past. Analyze it. Discuss it. Learn from it. I have been in therapy for over ten years doing that very thing. Not only does it lead to recovery from the long term effects of child hood bullying, it can prevent you from repeating the cycle. It all starts with you.

Brian Cuban is a an author whose  best-selling book “Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder” chronicles his first-hand experiences living with, and recovering from childhood bullying, eating disorders and Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD) and drug addiction.  Brian speaks regularly about his recovery and breaking the male eating disorder stigma.

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Name Fame

BrianCubanThis is the third short blog excerpt from my new book. “Finding Yourself In The Midst Of Chaos” It will be released in 2015. These are rough excerpts and may not appear this way in the final book. I enjoy sharing my writing process.

January 6, 2000. Time for my doctor’s appointment. Irregular heart beat. Did not know there was such a thing as Atrial fibrillation. A gift from twenty years as a bulimic? Maybe it’s the cocaine and steroid abuse. Doctor Mcnulty does not know about any of that. I won’t be checking those boxes in the questionnaire. They should have a box for what I am ashamed of in my life. A box for self-loathing. Can he help me with that? There is so much of that. No self-awareness needed to see the destructive chaos of my life. Easier just to live in it. Awareness won’t happen for years. Today is a tornado of destructive behaviors and thoughts. Spinning… Spinning…

The receptions looks at my questionnaire. She looks at me. She looks down again. “Are you related to Mark Cuban” the new owner of the Mavericks”?

“Yes, I am his brother.”

“Wow! We are so happy that you and your brother bought time team. Can I have your autograph”?

Someone wants my autograph? She thinks I am an owner of the team with Mark? No reason to tell her otherwise. Someone is interested in me. Someone cares about me! It’s only name fame but It’s my last name too and I like it. I sign the back of Doc Mcnulty’s business card. As my illegible signature takes form, the familiar high.The moment of the purge. The high of that cocaine line. The feeling of acceptance I got with those destructive acts. I want to keep feeling that. I am no longer ashamed. I am no longer a thirteen year old, fat, bullied little boy. I am Mark Cuban’s brother. I will become that. It will define me because I want it to. A conscious choice.

Flashback: A week earlier. Working out at the Premier club. The local “place to be seen” singles, pick-up health club in Dallas. Seemed like the place to get in shape and meet my next ex-wife fresh off my second of three failed marriages. Both failing because I was too ashamed to open myself to any level of intimacy. Have to look good or no one will want me! Despite weighing about 200 lbs., I keep seeing that 260 plus girth in the gym mirror. An evening binge and purge and the scheduling my first liposuction will make me feel better about the stomach for a few moments. That bald -head even though I still have hair although looking at my father and grandfather, I knew full well what genetics had in store for my head. Emptying my already thin bank account and maxing out my credit cards on hair replacement surgery will take care of that. When all is said and done, cosmetic surgery would come close to bankrupting me. Not yet understanding the ravages of Body Dysmorphic Disorder infecting my thoughts.

Today however there was something new. I see my brother Mark at a locker. That was not new, as we would see each other quite bit. We often used that time to catch up.

“What’s new Brian?”

“Everything’s great!” My standard answer to family who know nothing about my Eating Disorder and descent into the darkness of addiction.

“Have some big news but it has not been made public yet so you have to keep it a secret! I just bought the Dallas Mavericks! It will be announced in a few days. You want to come work for me? “

Of course, not seeing into the future and understanding that the best answer would be for me to say no and forge my own brand and identity, it took all of .001 seconds for “hell yes!” to come out of my mouth because I had no identity. I saw only the opportunity to be safe, secure, and noticed with family who loved me. Our father’s sons. Doing what he taught us. Never abandon each other. Always be there when the other is hurting. I think Mark saw a person he loved lost and struggling. He did what our father had taught us. The bond of brothers. The grey area and often shifting zone between love and enablement many families experience. Many siblings experience. In my mind, there was no point in trying to live up to a standard I could never achieve. I would go along for the ride. The ride of name fame. Years before thoughts of Billy Carter and Fredo Corleone would go through my head. Before I would agonize over social media taunts that I “rode my brothers coattails.” I would agonize over these barbs because I knew that for so long it was true. They could see the real me. For today however, it’s great. I gave my first autograph…

Brian Cuban is a an author whose best-selling book “Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder” chronicles his first-hand experiences living with, and recovering from childhood bullying, eating disorders and Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD) and drug addiction. Brian speaks regularly about his recovery and breaking the male eating disorder stigma.

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Love And Loss

This is the second short blog excerpt from my new book.  “Finding Your True Self  In The Midst Of Chaos”  It will be released in 2015.  These are rough excerpts and may not appear this way in the final book.




Watching my beagle, Peanut decline to the inevitable is tearing me apart.  She is my child.  She understands me. She  has never left my side no matter how far my clinical depression, eating disorders and drug addiction drove me to ignore her. I know the cycle of life happens to all living things. The lawyer in me knows. The intellectual Brian knows. The heart wont accept it. Please live forever! Please live as long as I do. How will I go on without you. The pain of the inevitable feels a lot like addiction and eating disorders. I am the only one. No one understands. My pain defines me.

I think back on those times when she was a puppy and I cry for the attention I didn’t give her. The balls I didn’t throw her. The tummy rubs she didn’t get because I would rather go do a line of cocaine in a bar.  I would rather sleep all day on black market Xanax to get ready for the next high. She didn’t care. Always waiting. Waiting…

That day when my ex-wife took me to the rescue pound to show Peanut to me, she knew. Even though we connected on so few levels because I was too afraid to show my true self to her, my ex knew one thing. I needed something to draw out the true Brian. I needed something to show the love that I couldn’t show her because I was so afraid she would see my eating disorders, drug addiction and shame of self. She would see that fat bullied thirteen-year-old boy that never grew up. She knew I needed Peanut. I will always be grateful to her for knowing that.   When I first got Peanut, the rescue shelter had named her “Flower”.  It just didn’t fit. The longish body and brown streaks reminded me of a Peanut. The incessant face licking as she wanted to be loved the way I wanted to love someone but didn’t know how.  Peanut knew how. They always know. Why don’t I always know?

I’ve experienced loss before.   Like many, I’ve experienced the loss of grandparents. The first when I was only five. The only memory I have of it is my father walking up the stairs from the basement holding a candle as is the Jewish tradition when a loved one passes As a child, I had no concept of loss through heartbreak. Only that he was not coming back. My father knew. He cried. That was my heartbreak at five-years old. Feeling my father’s sadness even then.  Bone deep feeling for  loss of others, sometimes people I have never met. Identifying with them. Crying for them. Crying with them. Crying for their loss of loved parents, child or pet. Crying for my brother when his beloved Pitt-Bull passed. His constant companion.  Crying for him and with him. Becoming his pain. Becoming him. Becoming everyone’s pain.  I can’t figure out if it has made me a better person or it has been a curse. As of the writing of this book my parents, while of advanced age are still with me. The cycle of life will visit them. I know this. It will visit me. It will visit Peanut.  What will I do?  How does loss of love define me?  How has it defined me?  I know I am not alone. I have a girlfriend. I have family. I have friends. I feel totally alone..


Brian Cuban is a an author whose  best-selling book “Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder” chronicles his first-hand experiences living with, and recovering from childhood bullying, eating disorders and Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD) and drug addiction.  Brian speaks regularly about his recovery and breaking the male eating disorder stigma.

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John Ziegler (A “Filmmaker” And Penn State Scandal Pundit) Denies The Holocaust

BrianCubanSelf-professed filmmaker, conspiracy theorist, and Penn State scandal pundit John Zieglar had made a name for himself to some extent, making YouTube videos trying to restore the reputation of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. He also professes  the legal  innocence of convicted child molester and former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky.

John has now  ventured outside the realm of Penn State and Happy Valley into the seedy internet gutter of Holocaust Denial and Distortion.  Unfortunately, he is on the denier side of the field and challenges the death count of six million Jews murdered, some of my relatives included. He claims that the number “makes almost no sense” and proceeds to back that up with an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 12.35.12 PM

What is Holocaust Denial?  It can take several forms.  The first is obviously denial that the event took place at all.  This is the theory that most are familiar with.  There are however, several forms of Holocaust Denial.  Another  more prevalent and current form of denial is more nuanced as deniers try to get their views into the mainstream. The strategy is to deny or distort key underlying facts that make up the event such as claiming that deaths in the concentrations camps were all a result of disease and starvation or that no gas chambers existed.  One other current and prevalent  type of Holocaust denial/distortion is to claim that the accepted number of six million is exaggerated.   Mr. Ziegler exposes himself by using an antisemitic, Jewish conspiracy theory to support this contention.

Mr Ziegler  cites his “proof” that the number is exaggerated because it was used prior to the accepted historical date of the Nuremberg Trials. He uses the date 1939 as evidence that the number is not accurate. This date among others, is oft-cited by deniers  as proof that because the number six million was used in reference to Jews in various contexts having nothing to do with the Holocaust, prior to the event being widely known, it is  proof of a “Jewish Conspiracy” to fabricate the number.  In reality, the six million number directly related to the extermination of Jews was first used during the Nuremberg Trials. No legitimate historian disputes this.

What was Mr. Ziegler’s source for his information on when six million was first used?  The U.S Holocaust Museum?   Yad Vashem? No. The Simon Wiesenthal Center?  Nope.  The Anti Defamation League?  Wrong again. He chose to go to a popular  gathering spot for anti-Semites, and Holocaust Deniers.  The Axis History Forum.  Below is his tweeted proof that six million was not accurate because it was used before the Nuremberg Trials.  These dates and sources among others are cited almost exclusively by Holocaust Deniers to prove a “Jewish Conspiracy”.   If any further evidence  of Mr. Zieglar’s true motives are needed, a quick Google search of the alleged quote containing the number “6 million” can be done.  This is representative of what you find other than being used by deniers.  Exposure as antisemitic propaganda.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 3.02.32 PMSix million is not sacrosanct. When numbers that large are comprehended, it is impossible to document down to the last body. As the saying goes,  “The Nazis did not issue death certificates”. This issue is no different than any other genocide in that respect whether its the Holocaust or the Armenian Genocide.  In fact, there is recent evidence that the number may be significantly higher than six million.  This however,  is not a couple of MIT math professors who think they can total it to the last body through scientific process.  This is a guy who basically claims there is a Jewish conspiracy to come up with the number. That my friends, is Holocaust Denial.   A tactic used by anti-semites  to promote a vehicle of hatred towards Jews carried past the last survivor into the future.

Such claims, while hate speech are not illegal in the United State and they should not be.  As Mr. Ziegler  is entitled to deny the Holocaust, I am entitled to call him out with facts. Now I have.1939ziggyScreen Shot 2014-06-04 at 3.38.25 PM










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