Many moons (and moods) ago, I may have mentioned there’s a bully in my life. At the time, I put it down to it’s-probably-just-me. In some ways, I’m the perfect target – because I’m on my recovery journey and therefore always trying to look inward for answers when I feel like shit, I did this even when I felt positively victimised by Bully-Face, figuring it was probably my stuff and not theirs. I’m also a highly sensitive soul who’ll immediately absorb and then in my own mind magnify any hint that I might be less than. This shit was getting to me and under my skin but I fought like a madwoman to let it be, pass and go.
Last week it surfaced again. Belittling comments, snide remarks, insults disguised as jokes and unnecessary digs about my ability (or, rather, the lack thereof). As usual, I did my best to seek truth in these statements instead of feeling angry and resentful. This time I cannot. In fact, I spent the whole 50 minutes of last week’s therapy session (yes, I’m in therapy now, but more of that some other time) talking about Bully-Face. In other words, Bully-Face didn’t just make me feel like crap last week, they cost me £80 too! Something’s not right in that equation. My counsellor asked precisely the right question: “when have you felt like this before?”
When have I, indeed?
I don’t know who might read this, but given I send my thoughts out into the blogosphere I have to be a little careful in what I disclose. Let’s just say I had another bully in my life for a while, and the modus operandi is stunningly similar.
A bully needs you to always be in one of two states: in total adoration and gratitude or in the dog house. Ignoring a bully rarely works, I’ve found. Ignoring them means you don’t suck up to them and nor do you fear them and they can’t live with that. This is when they have to FIND reasons for you to get back in one of those boxes – they’ll either turn on the charm or they’ll invent a reason to shoot you down. It’s maddening. In the past I was once thrown out of my own home for buying the wrong shape bread roll. Yep, ANY reason will do so long as it lands you in the shit. Of course this ping-pong between extremes leaves everyone concerned exhausted, mostly because it’s fucking tiring. Being on high alert in a situation where the shape of a bread roll results in eviction eventually wears very thin, but this is precisely what a bully wants because when you’re forever terrified of getting things wrong, all they have to do is utter one teeny, tiny little kind word for you to experience such relief you end up feeling giddy with joy.
It sounds nuts when you outline it like that, doesn’t it? Well, it IS. But it doesn’t happen just like that. It builds up over time. Just like domestic violence does. Few victims will tell you their perpetrator punched them in the face on the first date. A bully operates in a similar fashion and it goes something like this: charm offensive extraordinaire until you trust them, then a few little digs to see if they have you where they want you. If not, more charm. Try again with a few gentle stabs somewhere sensitive. Bingo. In the beginning, the little digs and stabs come as a shock because they were so charming, right? So you end up feeling utterly crushed that someone you have grown to trust and respect said or did whatever it was. Ultimately, if the bully has done a good job, you blame yourself. Once you’re at their mercy, you find yourself at the other end of the spectrum: their treatment of you is so poor and so shocking that when they finally say or do something that isn’t fucking terrible, you feel grateful. This is the way of the bully. You’re welcome.
At least I can better understand why it is that Bully-Face du jour gets to me the way they do. Is Bully-Face someone I like, respect and admire? Nope. Quite the opposite. In fact, more than anything else I pity Bully-Face. It takes a very broken and fragile person to behave the way they do and I know in my heart it isn’t about me. I just happen to get in the way.
Bottom line is I dreaded today. My whole weekend was interspersed by worry and anxiety about today. Of course things are rarely as bad as we expect them to be when we allow anxiety to get a hold of us, but I refuse to put up with this. I just won’t do it. So things may change a little around here. I’m going to keep on trying to do and be my best, keep out of Bully-Face’s way and keep my nose clean. If I end up in a situation as ridiculous as the one I found myself in Friday, I will speak up even if it kills me. Bully-Face isn’t important in any way, shape or form to me and others can see through it too. No more trying to go out of my way to help. I will do what’s required of me to the best of my ability and that’s it. I’ve handed Bully-Face the proverbial rope. I can see this car crash a mile off and I don’t intend to be anywhere near it when the wheels come off.
Fuck that shit. Strategy Keep Nose Clean and Keep Self Out of Way is the way forward. If that fails I’m outta there. End of story.
Wanna hear the good bit? No matter how wound up I feel, however angry or pissed off, I ain’t pouring wine on this. I may have felt uneasy and resentful because of Bully-Face over these past few days and spent £80 on it too, but here it is: it’s shitty and I’m still sober = I win.
Today I’m not going to drink.