Bullies Among Us

I’m plowing toward the end of the next Glory book and she’s been bullied by someone. Lucky for her, she’s got great friends who help her out. Plus, Glory’s never anyone’s victim if she can help it. But this is fiction. And the whole situation got me thinking. That and the news lately. It breaks my heart to hear about young people giving up on life because bullies have gotten to them. Doesn’t mean I don’t understand their despair. But how sad that no one in that person’s life saw what was going on and stepped in.

But, you know, bullies are everywhere. Sometimes they can be parents, who tell us what we should do, who we should be, even what to study in school. And kids don’t always have resources to resist that kind of bullying. The worst part is, it’s done with that phrase “Because we love you.” Hmm. Yes, they truly believe that. But conditional love isn’t what I want and none of us should settle for it.

Which brings me to the bullies we might date or even marry. Yes, we do. You know it. The boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife who knows what’s good for us. Who sets the rules in the household, what time dinner should be ready, how clean the house should be, how much money we can spend. Bullying.

I watched a movie on cable last night, “The Hangover”. The dentist in that was in a relationship with a female bully. The man had to check in by phone, lie about where he was and, in general, become someone he wasn’t, just to please her. He’d been bullied into submission. Yay, he broke free at the end, but it took a lot for him to do it. Funny, his buds knew she wasn’t right for him from the get-go, but he couldn’t see it. Even had the ring ready to propose. It took a traumatic event to get him to shake loose. Why? Why do we have to hit bottom before we get the nerve to see the truth about situations and do something about them?

That’s easy to answer. Because rocking the boat with a bully means big repercussions. Nasty ones. If you have no best buds to anchor you, someone to have your back, you can be overwhelmed and sucked right back in. Because bullies love their victims. And they don’t want to lose them. What’s a bully without a target? A pathetic, insecure person who has to pick on someone else to make him or herself feel powerful. Our parents? Different agenda. It’s control. Because if they let you loose and you fail? It’s all on them. And they don’t want to look like losers who can’t produce good kids. Hmm. Back to the insecurity issue, aren’t we?

I hope no one reading this is the victim of a bully right now. If you are, whether in a family situation or with a strong-willed person in school or a relationship, I hope you look around and find people who can help you. There are all sorts of resources if you don’t have your own posse of friends who love you. And if you do? Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you feel powerless. That’s what friends are for. We can’t all be like my fictional character, Glory, who I can write to be fearless when she needs to be and clever. Trust me, I get to plan and think about how she will react to things for a long time before a scene ends up in a book. In life, sometimes a split second decision makes all the difference. Give in? Or walk away? Your choice. Never let the bullies get you down.

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8 Responses to “Bullies Among Us”

  1. While I am not feeling bullied right now, I remember feeling scared and lower than dirt throughout my lifetime. As a teacher, I taught my students what bullying was, the types of bullying, and how to handle themselves when they felt bullied. I also taught children who were bullies what was causing them to do so, we worked out their causes and I saw improvements in their behavior. I hope that they remember this as they mature and stop the cycle.

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  2. Anne-Kathrine Says:

    Thank you for writing this!! It’s sooo true. I love my parents but they have their own form of bulling. It took me a long time to not let what they said affect me. Unfortunately I ended up in an extremely abusive marriage and didn’t see how bad things were until I woke up one day and realized I’m better than this! My sis is my rock and if it hadn’t been for her support I think things could have ended up much worse.

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  3. Excellent blog, Gerry. Some folks think bullying is just a kid thing, but if the patterns aren’t broken, they continue into adulthood. I’ve got a co-worker at the day job, who doesn’t know how to relate to anyone except by bullying. Very sad situation.

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  4. I’ve been very lucky in life and never been bullied..except for the odd bit of hassle from stressed bosses, etc, but nothing that would really qualify. My fear of bullying on behalf of my son is immense though….he’s only tiny and is safe as houses now as he’s with me all the time…but come January he’s off to nursery, and my sort of 18 year or so terror is about to begin…..

    All I can hope, and it must be all any parent hopes, is that he’ll come to me straightaway if it happens…

    …and then God help the quilty party 😉

    Great blog 🙂

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    • This protectiveness is how every mother should be. I know I was with my son. Sadly, it’s not always the case and too often kids won’t go to parents for help with bullies. It’s so important to keep lines of communication open. I thought I’d made my position clear, but learned by accident, when my son was in grade school, that a boy a few houses down and a couple of years older was bullying him. He’d terrorized Oliver into silence and my husband and I went to the other parents as soon as we found out. Did they believe us? No, not until they found things the boy had stolen from us in the kid’s bedroom. My poor boy had let him in when I wasn’t home from work yet and he’d taken jewelry from my jewel box. Never did get a real apology from the parents but the boy didn’t bother Oliver again. And we sat our son down and let him know never to be afraid to tell us anything. Trouble is, peer pressure is much stronger than anything else to a child. Very difficult to fight. Funny, Ol has grown up to be a strong, independent man who doesn’t buckle into peer pressure at all. So I guess he learned from that bad experience. Thank God!

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  5. This is so true Gerry! I wish it was as easy in real life as it for Glory to be strong and deal with bullies. it is a very sensitive subject for me.

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  6. Amanda Somner Says:

    It has taken years for me to understand that I came from a bullying mother and married a bully of a husband. After many failed counseling sessions with my husband, I thought I would give up. The turning point was when I did a self evaluation poll from Oprah’s web site. I vaguely remember that I had to write the five most inspiring people in my life, the five most dependable people in my life and the five people that make me feel worse about my life… and so on. Then there were more lists about each person to help me identify why I viewed each person in that way.
    Out of that my Mother stepped into the light as the first bully I had to deal with. I had run away a long time ago, but her taunts still bullied me from a distance, so I chose to stand up to her. The emotional baggage that she tried to load on me was shorter lived that I thought it would be, and my ability to say what I needed to say to her made me feel closer to being an adult. (I was 35ish at the time…)
    It was more complicated to stand up to my husband, but most of dealing with my husband as a bully had to do with me improving my self image. Acceptance of who I was and striving to improve myself were key elements. At times I felt as if I was the only one that believed in me, but that was all I needed. Because I believe in me, a lot more other people do too. Including my husband, who is enjoying his confident, energetic, intelligent and sexy wife.

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    • I’m so glad you’ve found your strength, Amanda. Some people make fun of Oprah, but I DVR her show every day and have gotten a lot out of her self-help programs over the years. It’s great that you learned to value yourself and stand up to the bullies in your life. Way to go!

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