I was bullied and picked on a lot in primary and early high school, and I’m sure many of you were too. For me, it lessened a bit in later high school and university, but has made the odd appearance during my working life, and has even reared its head in extra curricular activities.
When I think about it, perhaps it hasn’t really “lessened” at all. Perhaps I have just been “lessoned”. Perhaps I have just got better at recognising it, calling it out, dealing with it, and making it go away. Perhaps as I have grown up, I’ve become more resilient, more assertive, and more able to re-frame how I feel about difficult situations in general.
Bullying is, unfortunately, very common. As sorry as I am to admit it, I’m certainly not the only one in my immediate family (child or adult) to have been bullied this year. All of our household, at one time or another, have felt victimised, bullied, harassed, or asked to measure up to (demonstrably!) unachievable targets of one sort or another (a form of corporate bullying if you will).
What I am dealing with now is something a little different. It’s just as hurtful but it’s still a form of bullying. It’s not something I ever really expected to be subjected to at the age of almost 44. Right now, it’s a bit surreal. I feel like I have been planted as the protagonist in a “Mean Girls” movie! Unfortunately though….noone offered me the script. What can I do or say, when it comes to light that a person I had considered a friend, has (for reasons unknown), started spreading malicious rumours about me, in what appears to be a concerted effort to tarnish my reputation?
Clearly, in this situation, there are many things I cannot control:
- I can’t control what messages people take away from things I say or do.
- I can’t control what people say to me, no more than what they choose to say about me behind my back.
- I can’t control the impact of these rumors (lies) on my reputation or the reputation of others who associate with me.
I guess this is starting to look like a pretty bad state of affairs……
There are things I can control in this situation:
- I can control who I confide in and I can listen to my gut and judge from what I see as to how confident I feel in a person’s ability to keep confidences.
- I can control what I say and how I act, and….more importantly
- I can control how I REACT.
Most importantly though, I can control my own boundaries and disengage from people who appear not to have my best interests at heart. I am a reasonably assertive adult, but there are situations where it’s best to say nothing and just disengage and avoid any further ugliness in which you will be implicated in fact and not merely in fabrication and speculation.
I know the truth. I know the people who know me and love me know it too, and won’t believe any of these lies. So when and if I need to cross paths with the person who is targeting me, I will not let them project their negativity or hurt or jealousy (or whatever is motivating this childish behaviour) on to me; I will go in with shoulders back, head held high and do what I need to do.
I am writing this post about the impacts of bullying for a number of reasons. The main 2 are these.
Firstly, tonight marks the start of a new year for me and is a chance to start afresh, forgive those who have wronged me and ask forgiveness for those who I have wronged, intentionally or inadvertently, recently or in the dim and distant past. Perhaps it was a sign that I was made aware of this situation just before this event in our calendar. Perhaps the person who is currently bullying me feels wronged by me in this situation, I apologise if this is the case. I certainly forgive them. It doesn’t mean I will forget. It does mean that I will ask the universe to grant them the gift of growing up and getting wiser and using their powers for good and not evil.
Secondly, it’s Are you OK day this Thursday and I wanted to take the opportunity to raise awareness of bullying and the impacts it has on people. Bullying is never OK. And if you are feeling not OK about anything, be it bullying or not, please reach out to someone you trust, or an independent counselling service, so you can hopefully start to feel more OK.
And yes, I’m OK. Fortunately for me I have a great support network and a determination not to let anyone rain on my parade!