I have always been bullied in my life. It wasn’t always like that, once upon a time I had a lot of friends, back when kids seemed too young (or naïve) to get caught up in the ‘who’s cool/who’s not cool’ nonsense. When I got into high school though I started to get bullied.
High school was hard for me.
Heck, school was hard for me.
I think in my career of high school I missed around 122 days.
Saying that’s a lot is an understatement.
I was told by a secretary in the office once that she was surprised, I was going to graduate.
I was in bad shape, emotionally.
Looking back, I can’t tell you why.
Maybe it was a close friend moving away.
Maybe it was just growing up.
Maybe it was hormonal.
I know that in tenth grade the school intervened and essentially held an intervention. I was failing classes.
I was floundering.
I was suicidal.
The school put me through some tests, talked to me some, and eventually put me in Special Education for emotional problems.
It saved my life.
While I can’t say it did wonders for my education – the space served more as a safe haven for me than a spot to learn (I was there for three hours a day for the remainder of tenth grade and then a couple hours the other two years). I survived and went on to college so, it worked.
Being in SpEd didn’t make the bullies go away though.
I would be hip checked into a locker once in a while.
Or someone would embarrass me in class.
Or once I was threatened on the first day of school that this guy was going to just get into my locker – they gave the numbers and combinations out in class, out loud – and steal stuff and I shrugged. I was in SpEd then and didn’t even use my locker so what did I care.
I had trouble with the lockers.
I had to have a friend jam it open when I did use them early on.
I was a mess.
I went away to a Commercial Art class in 11th and 12th grades and got in more because I was in SpEd than because I was a good artist and the teacher made it clear he didn’t want me there and resented my being there.
Going into class one day I was minding my own business and was cup checked so hard – you know, punched in the crotch – that I hurt the rest of the day. Why? Because I had a University of Michigan winter coat on and the guy that did it, hanging outside with his friends, didn’t like the school’s team.
As an adult I had the pleasure of being targeted for bullying by an ex-girlfriend and some former friends of mine. I had made the mistake, I guess, of going into the video store where the ex worked – which was news to me – with my girlfriend of the time. She waited on us, laughed, and that night my car was covered in Vaseline and pictures of old women from a porn mag. My dad woke me up to tell me about it so I would go clean it up. This was a girl that broke my heart terribly and she had targeted me.
That was just who she was.
Then, years later those friends I mentioned started stalking my old blog and posting nasty comments on it – once going so far as to make light of my father’s having Cancer at the time – and even contacted a different girlfriend of mine to tell her how awful I was. I had a table at a convention and even ran into one of them who had made a shirt with my face on the back with the front saying Hello, Is It Me You’re Looking For – as a weird way to be just generally cruel with no real cause or reason.
None of this is to paint myself as a victim or to say that I am some sort of innocent in life that has never slighted anyone or done anything that I regret.
That isn’t the case at all.
I am someone who regrets everything I do.
Trust me on this.
But what it is to say is that none of these bullies ever got their come-uppance.
None of them ever saw some form of justice.
These people just went on with their lives.
They had families, they got jobs, they found love, and they moved on.
The closest I can say any of them ever came to retribution was that one of them had a stepchild die of suicide due to bullying, an irony I wager the person never took to heart. This had been someone that had targeted people to try to push them to the edge and over.
That was their game.
They were smart enough to do it and charismatic enough to get away with it and still are.
Some bullies grow up.
A lot of them don’t.
They just move on.
And me, I finally reached a point where I had better support and had gotten a little meaner myself to survive.
And sometimes, surviving is all you can do.
We all like to think that there’s going to be a cinematic moment where the bully meets the bigger bully (which isn’t really a great ending, is it, as it’s just another bully) or that we, the bullied stand up for ourselves and it matters. We hope that there will be a moment of divine revelation where these people realize what they are doing and the sort of ugliness they are perpetuating but…it rarely happens.
Sure, there are some that grow out of it.
Some that are loved out of it.
And some do meet that bigger bully and realize that it’s easier to get along to go along.
Again though, most don’t.
They just go on.
They get into the professional world and bully underlings or fellow co-workers.
They abuse their loved ones or kids.
They abuse their friends.
They are bombs looking for a target.
They are barely contained rage looking for someone to set them off.
We are witnessing a horrific slaughter in Ukraine perpetrated by a monstrous man who is the worst-case scenario for bullying – a man who needs to show how strong he is by domination at any means. Putin is content to murder thousands of people under the false flag of Nazi-ism, which is a buzz word that is still powerful and reminds the Russian people of the glory days of beating back the fascists. It’s a rally to gain support where there should be none. Calling him a bully isn’t strong enough but when you boil it down, that’s what he is.
He’s a bully.
And he’s one we can’t just ‘stop’ because he has access to weapons that could kill millions, if not risk destroying the world.
And that he’s willing to threaten using them if someone stands up to him shows you the sort of madness he’s under.
The bully with the biggest gun, and we’re all forced to watch him do whatever he wants because if we try to stop him, he’ll kill everyone.
Big boy has to have his toys and play his game his way.
Then there’s Donald Trump, America’s big bully, a man who shouts down anyone who dares to oppose him. This is beyond politics, this is about a man that has been given the permission by people around him to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants like an infant learning to speak. All because he is ‘just speaking plain’. People like that ‘plain speak’ because it gives them permission to say what THEY want to say. We don’t mind people being bullied so long as we’re not the victim, am I right?
Trump is ego made flesh and while he never got us into a situation like Russia is in, he is happy to applaud like a giddy child for the strongman actions of Putin because the only thing a bully likes more than bullying is to be pals with the bigger bully in the room.
And these are just two people in a world of billions.
All of us have worked with or for people who bully us or others. People on power trips and want that small bit of control over others.
Heck, we bully people, not always meaning to, but not being mindful to the fact that something we think is harmless fun can be hurtful to someone else.
It’s a slippery slope.
Life shows us, time and again, that bullies win.
If you are famous, attractive, rich, or powerful you can do just about whatever you want.
Just look at the mess of a person that is Kanye West, someone like Trump in that he says whatever he wants and does whatever outrageous thing he desires and people either laugh it off or support him as living best life. If the person isn’t pointing their rage at us, we don’t care.
Make us laugh.
Give us drama.
Make it messy.
That’s all we care about.
Give us a show.
We are so caught up in our entertainment and our lives, and honestly, desperately trying to avoid our own drama, that we LOVE when others find themselves caught up in it.
Hey, at least it ain’t me being bullied.
Only, it doesn’t HAVE to be that way.
Yes, they do often win, but they win because we don’t stand together with one another. We look the other way. We don’t say anything. We don’t support people going through it. We just hope it doesn’t come our way.
Bullies love the confrontation and the continual ‘juice’ they get from the nastiness they spew. Sour that juice though and they realize it ain’t worth the squeeze. If we stand together and say something, it stops being worth it. If we stop laughing at the humiliation of others, the bullies realize that they won’t get the attention they crave this way.
If we stand together and say ‘no more’ then they realize that they can’t win in the end.
Stop supporting and encouraging strongman/bullying behavior and stop fostering environments that breed these monsters.
No, they won’t just go away. Bullies are part of what we are.
But that doesn’t mean we have to let them flourish.
That doesn’t mean we have to help them profit from us.
That doesn’t mean we have to shrug and just ‘take it’.
We can’t always beat bullies but together we can beat them back.
We can support one another and make sure that we don’t feel isolated and alone, the way they want us to feel.
We can look out for one another.
And slowly we can build a world that has no use of bullies and doesn’t tolerate them.
This world is too precious, we souls too rare, to let someone use us as cannon fodder or as the butts to their jokes because something is broken in them, and they won’t put the work in – or don’t know how to put the work in – to fix it themselves.
Yeah, bullies win.
But that can change.
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