The Long Term Bullying Effect?

I am  pondering more on how  and why I react to the anger and blame of others. I have just started to see that sometimes, perhaps I am just conditioned to accept the blame and anger poured out on me. I may be inconvenient, dramatic. I may need something from you. With all of this being said,  I know who I am. I understand the importance of the integrity, character and ethics I was raised to incorporate into my daily life. I don’t manipulate you or cheat on you. I won’t lie to you. Is  it  that why I am a target for people who just  feel the need to blame someone and it seems easy to blame the nice one, the one that sees the best in people. The one that will forgive you, because maybe, you just had a bad day.  This week, I had thoughts for the first time in a very long time about the bullying that went on during my elementary/middle school years. My thoughts turned into a theory this time. I had never once thought the bullying when I was a kid had anything to do with relationships I have now, especially the romantic ones. Where’s the connection? Is there one? I mean, after all, I grew up and become a professional after college and grad school How would my grade school recess misery translate to any anxiety in my current relationships, period?

Long ago, I was wearing the target. In grade school. Everyday. On the bus, in the school yard. In class. The target was super-sized, before super-size even existed. Bright colors and all. So obvious. I had no social skills, no game, not much going for me. Last one picked for teams in  gym class. That one. You know who I am.  I was called all kinds of names (“reject”, “retarded”, “loser” were a select few repeated daily). Jokes played and humiliating tricks weekly.

For all of those who read this and say “toughen up, thicken your skin” to a child bullied,  why should an innocent child thicken their skin due to the rudeness and abuse from other children?  You may say that the child will have to learn this eventually beyond the school yard, so start now. That’s awesome. If you recognize there is an unsavory situation, such as a child being bullied and that’s the primary solution an adult can summon up, I worry. Why not give this kid some coping skills, or help them with dealing with a hard situation. There are MANY poor solutions that create a bigger target for the child, like obvious protected status. This is a precarious and difficult situation for the child. Use caution and pay attention.  There are a few other things I have heard back in my youthful days that swept child bullying under the rug:

  1. Boys will be boys.
  2. Sticks and stones…
  3. “if he’s mean to you and teases you, that means he really likes you”

From experience, I can tell you straight away that these little cutesy phrases are not helpful in the moment. I am not convinced  that violence is the answer either. Believe me, there were many times I wished I knew how to fight. I  wanted those kids bloody, vulnerable and asking of mercy at recess; fantasies of revenge and actual violence really don’t answer the problem either. So what do you do? You grow up and you take it. You take it every single day. You stop crying because your feelings were hurt.You stopped crying a long time ago. You may even start believing what they say. That happened to me. I can only speak of myself. I absolutely do not speak for other adults bullied as kids. I would love to hear from them!

Once high school began (new school, new people, new start), adolescence hit. People started to make fun of me and talk about me, but this time it’s behind my back. I know I was awkward. I didn’t know how to converse with others. I know I couldn’t really relate well to anyone.  I can imagine a great many reasons why they may have even made an effort and given up, because I may not have even recognized their effort(s). A singular sentence, a hello…. and I probably dismissed it because I didn’t even know how to respond.  My experience from 3rd to 8th grade left me little raw, I guess.  At least, in high school,  they were trying to not make me feel like nothing in front of my face, for the most part. Behind my back is much better. Right? Yeah, I am not sure either. I heard about the behind-my-back talking from only one person; who knows it if is even true. So I made a plan for college. I would CHANGE me.

College started in the mid 80s for me.  I never did get to develop those social skills to make it through sorority rush, but by then,  I really didn’t care. I met lots of cool independent students and a lot of fraternity brothers. The fraternity crowd  seemed to love to give freshmen girls (at barely 18,  I was still a girl) tons of attention and  a selection of 20 flavored schnapps.  That is a whole other issue, I will address at some point soon. The social experiment  during my four-year undergrad degree could take up tons of space on this blog site!  It was a million years ago, or at least close to 30 years ago when I started that journey. I became stronger and I developed a personality; I had a bit of adjustment issues there, but I developed a bit more of my identity.  Isn’t that what the college years were for? I learned to laugh, assert myself, have fun, and smile. I learned to make some really good friends. And I was lucky to have them.

Today, I am looking back and thinking.  WTF happened? Did the childhood bullying decrease my self-esteem and increase my tolerance for emotional abuse to the extent that I tolerated it from my ex-husband? Can I stop the level of inappropriate anger aimed at me simply by walking away? Already, I have stopped tons of inappropriate behavior from so many people who want stupid sexy stuff and sexy talk on dating sites or at bars. I tell them that’s not appropriate and I kick them to the curb. That’s easy. The bullying was done in school when no one liked me and it was very unpopular to openly admit you were really friends with me or hang out with me outside of school. So its harder sometimes to recognize a similar brand of emotional abuse coming from the very people who tell me they really like me or even falling in love with me. If they loved me, they couldn’t possibly be treating me badly?

 

So I ask:

I am not so sure. I just don’t know anymore. What do you think? Is the long-term bullying effect possible? Even in very subtle undertones? You never know until you are sitting there feeling rejected like you did in third grade.

By the way:

This bullying subject is not likely to go away for me. It’s a concern I have for kids today that suffer from a different type of insidious bullying: Cyberbullying.  I will address this in the future.

My blog is about relationships. Any kind. I have been focusing a lot lately on the romantic one I was in ( but no more!), but its important that we consider all different relationships to figure out the best harmony and balance for ourselves.

 

Sabotage in 26 minutes

And just when everything was going so well. I had a great night Thursday with him. We really solidified our connection. It was so good. And yet.

So last night, I was waiting for  a text from him. I got it; then he sent me a text. It seemed open-ended. When I asked for clarification within a minute of his text, I got no response. So I texted again. Odd, since he just texted. I should have said “have fun with your friend; see you tomorrow”.. But no. That would be easy. I became anxious and freaked out for a reason I can not yet elucidate. I had a crappy day, ending ironically with a mechanical malfunction in the bathroom. Yes, a crappy day indeed.TMI maybe? So, I started to lose control of my good judgement as I was desperate to know what day he was meeting his friend. How was I to know he was suddenly unavailable to talk or text right after he sent  a text that did not indicate in any way, shape or form that he would be immediately unavailable. But why oh why did I feel the need to text and call a freakish amount in 26 minutes? He finally called and completely went off on me…..I couldn’t say I blamed him. I asked him to give me a little slack.  He  just so pissed off and irritated (his words) and was on the verge of blocking me. I told him in light of other behavior by both of us, to NOT cancel our plans for Saturday (today). He said “okay”, but who knows if he was simply trying to placate me?  I asked him to just let me know tomorrow when he will be able to come over and wished him a good night when he finally stopped going ballistic about my freakish quantity of calls and texts.

Needless to say, I got off the phone and was fairly hysterical, and realized this whole thing was a crazy anxiety attack of some sort. While he stressed that I didn’t have an emergency, I felt like my shitty day was my own emergency and I was hoping to just get some compassion. I could have just waited a day and told him all about it. I have never had anxiety that caused me to sabotage something so completely in a downward spiral at warp speed.  After an equally long conversation with my dear friend, I was able to calm down and relax. A little. Why did I create such a massive production for NO reason at all?  She ordered me to put in a movie, do not drink anything (alcoholic) and calm down. I did all those things, except the movie thing. I knew I couldn’t focus on anything really.

So I decided the best thing was sleep. I woke up this morning, pleased to find that I actually did sleep. I realized I was heartbroken. When he ended things  a few weeks ago, I was sad and upset, but I feel so much more invested now. Because of what he has said. Because of how I have been feeling. Everything. I am crushed. I am not going to text or call him right now. He will need to contact me. The sleep gave me that unknown sense of clarity one needs to act more appropriately. To not act impulsively. Like last night. What a nightmare!  I will, however, take the time to defend myself right now and reflect on the fact that I don’t think my behavior warranted his level of anger. I was disruptive, unknowingly. Yes, I was. I was perhaps inconsiderate as he was clearly unavailable. But had I done anything mean, manipulative, dishonest, harmful? No.

Question to the masses:

I am beginning to wonder if I am being overly sensitive and should understand where he is coming from….or should I stand up for myself and stand by my actions, inconvenient, but not harmful or mean/manipulative. Was his reaction warranted, and if so, I can live with my sabotaging behavior. Should I stand by and know that I didn’t intend to cause harm (and I really did not cause any harm)?

I leave you with this: My theme for today is the Import LP: Walking Wounded by Everything But The Girl. Pretty much every song would be a fine choice. Portishead is another choice.

Have a good weekend!

Remembering me?

So I had a great walk with a male  friend I have known for over a decade. We talked about our current relationships, both of which were initiated on the internet. Both of our relationships are flourishing. They are so different though. It is amazing to get a reminder from the people we know well to remember ourselves and our needs. I must tell you, because it may matter to some of you, but my friend and I have been platonic from the get go. Nothing, no hook up, no kiss, no first date. Never happened. He’s just more like a slightly older brother who will talk to me real like and give me the hard truth.

I tell him about some of the things my guy told me in the beginning and things I learned about what to talk about and not talk about (he didn’t tell me, he just reported what went well and not so well in past relationships where his kids were concerned–I just took note). My friend had to remind me “but you do love your dog and love to talk about him? Are you changing who you are and what you talk about  because of him?”. He was being kind, not harsh. My friend knows me. For over ten years. New guy has known me for maybe ten dates.  I told my friend, as I truly believed it yesterday, that it is not a big deal…I can go slow and be careful of what I talk about with he kids. I barely talk to them anyway, because one of them feels I am overbearing when I barrage her with questions. I can’t even think of a double barreled interrogation at this time, but whatever. Now its just “hi” or “can you pass the parmesan cheese”…minimal.  I take the lead from him. My friend reminds to be my own person.  We need friends like this.  And of course, I tell him my truths and perceptions about this relationships.  Because that’s the kind of friendship we have.

 

Remember YOU in the relationship. What do you need? Who are you? I posted last time about considering the other person’s feelings. For sure. We definitely need to learn and remember that. But never lose yourself in the process. Never.

 

I would love to hear from all of you about your experience navigating a new relationship (even and especially if you are married or still with them now), learning more about yourself and what happened when you temporarily forgot YOU? And if you can straighten out my whole language conundrum between Like & Love in French. That would be cool too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wait for it….wait for it….

And there it is! So in my last post, I described the absolutely lightning speed recovery from a month-long relationship. I was somewhat blindsided by some of the guy’s break up speech, but was kind of aware of the insecurity (because of course, I felt it).  I  had a great Sunday morning and got to the Bronco’s game. By the end of my brat and diet coke lunch, came the second shock of my weekend.  HE TEXTED.AN APOLOGY. Yes, people would certainly say, calling is better. However, being at the game, I was totally fine with the text amidst the loud noises in our amazing seats! He admitted “you were right” and said he was sorry. He did NOT end the apology with a ‘but’ trailed by anything else negating the apology’s authenticity. He didn’t defend his awful behavior Saturday. He just apologized. Well, I was floored. But there is still work to be done. Words are cheap. They were words I have not heard often, if ever, from a guy I was dating. The words of “you were right”. We texted a bit more and he said he’d like to start over and admitted we went too fast , but he’d like to make that right as well.

So the next day, I sent one text of three words (I remember the text issue and plan to stick with small amounts of texting conversation, even with his apology). He texted back and we made a plan to play it by ear for Monday. I never saw him, but as it was Halloween, he had kid obligations. I went down south to spend time with my friend and her family, and he texted me later that evening.

 

Tuesday morning he texted me first and we sent a few texts. I was very surprised he wanted to come for dinner when I invited him over. Last night was quite amazing.He apologized in person again. To my face. He and I talked and talked. And talked. He told me that he felt like an asshole and said that either Saturday night or Sunday before he texted me, he realized “he was falling for this woman and just pushed her away”. He told me then he definitely wanted me to be a party of his life (and his kids).  We talked about spending more time together and strengthening our relationship. We discussed honesty. We discussed spending time with the kids once our relationship feels stronger. It was already getting stronger, just getting back to where we were, and then some.

I never imagined this would happen. I thought I was totally fine with out him. I think I realized that while I don’t need someone to feel whole, I did actually miss him a ton. Even just 24 hours taught me to keep true to me. To continue to work on me. No matter what. I do think that will be part of my success in all this.

So yes, I waited for something I didn’t even know was coming and that was pretty incredible. A first for me (a true apology with admission of wrong doing). I hope there are a lot of other awesome firsts. I think I could be falling for him also.

Scary. I will wait for the next time. As patiently as I can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oddly enough…

Oddly enough, the new relationship came to a screeching and abrupt end on Saturday around noon.  Apparently, my insecurity was too much for him. “We went too fast,” he said. Hell, I could have told  you that. As well as the overbearing physical closeness and over-texting. Funny, though, he had no problem with physical  closeness and being thisclose our first night getting to know each other. That’s when the going too fast part started. At the very very beginning. Before there was a beginning.  And oddly enough, after the first hour of venting to a friend, I was feeling much better already…an hour?  Okay, so if I am seriously feeling much better in an hour’s time of talking to a friend, then how heavy of a loss was it? I mean, yeah, I was upset when he told me today and in the aftermath of texting with a friend. An hour later, and I am over it? Maybe the relief of not stressing about texts or calls that never come.

I learned a few things  about myself. That’s huge. I think anytime we can be  what self-improvement is in order till I practice my imperfections. That’s the key to being open-minded though. We have to actually be willing to see those imperfections and have the volition to make positive changes. There’s the rub! We have to actually do something to effect change so that the disaster was not in vain.The disaster was just a tool to greater self awareness and a new improved you!