My Bully, My Friend: My BF
This is hard. I have been bullied and scapegoated. The two are similar -- the latter is usually used to exile a person or group that is threatening the staus quo. With that said, I have learned that I had a bully friend, a BF,....and, sadly, it doesn't stand for best friend. I will reference BF because names are not of any importance to me. This blog post is just that, a blog; a way to reach out and spread awareness that bullying exists. Bullying and scapegoating happens more than we know. And probably more than we want to admit because it is personal. Articles keep popping up everywhere of tweens and teens (especially girls) losing their lives over being bullied. When will this stop? What is the problem? It must be projection.
"The technical name for this dumping process is projection, and it is the projection defense that is behind all bullying and scapegoating. With the projection defense, feelings of guilt, aggression, blame and suffering are transferred away from a person or group so as to fulfill an unconscious drive to resolve or avoid these bad feelings. This is done by the displacement of responsibility and blame to the other who serves as a target for blame both for the scapegoater and his/her supporters." - Psychology Today
When I realized it was happening to me and tranferring to my daughter, I realized I had to find a way out. I began reading hundreds, yes hundreds, of books and articles to better educate myself. I am learning as I go --how to be more assertive, kind but assertive. Truth is, I am often a doormat. I didn't always realize one can be kind and assertive simultaneously. We are allowed to take up for ourselves. We don't have to be victims...but it takes a lot of courage. I know. But getting it out feels good and I felt compelled to create this blog to reach others in a similar situation. We must help and protect others. We could save one life. Perhaps many lives.
Me as a target: BF behaved the way a best friend might: got close, gained welcome into my home, sought personal information, and learned of my personal strife (everyone has strife!) and goals. Let's cut to the chase: I was dropped like a hot potato. You heard it, dropped. The process of "friendship" was slow and drawn out, but the drop....it was fast. Done. Done with me. Used. Projection. My BF pretended to really like me, for a while. BF pretended to be interested in my life. BF even gave me gifts. BF pretended to be interested in my daughter and my family. Why?
Many days, a friend, and the next day, bully friend. We used to share stories, laughter, dreams, then silent treatment. Wait-- not totally silent. Only when it suited. One time, at an important life event, BF pointed a finger and said, "You are silenced." It all happened so fast, in public. It felt like public shaming. A person with me knew the level of frustration I had experienced moments before and tried to help. This time, she got the wrath. Since children were around us, this was not the time or place for anyone to prove anything. Consequently, I said nothing to defend. (I had tried earlier in the day to communicate effectively but to no avail.) Often bullies have a plan and know when to execute it.
Looking back now, I feel blessed. People who must always be in an authoritarian postion will find the kindest people around -- perhaps the bully is ultimately projecting fear. Don't be a doormat, when that moment of discovery hits -- and you know something is NOT RIGHT -- go with it. Remove yourself! Don't keep going back for more!
I have learned that the BF dabbled here and there. Often times, the lead bully or scapegoater forms a group and singly gathers support until the target is completely alone, on an island. And there is power in numbers so the bully racks up links in the chain. Fortunately, over time, friends have told me what I need to know. You see, this world is small. Connections are indeed, everywhere. (And we should not be afraid to reach out and make additional connections. We need each other in this world!) As for me, I simply asked questions regarding myself -- and guess what, there is no harm in talking about myself -- isn't that ironic? (Thank you, Alanis Morrissette -- Ironic is one of my favorites!) Remember, if you are ever in a situation with a BF, I highly suggest reaching out to others. Here is what I tried: "Has anyone talked to you about me recently? If yes, what was said about me and how was my name used?" You might run into some brick walls...not everyone feels comfortable helping because they might also feel intimidation from the BF, especially if the BF is a mutual "friend". Keep in mind that we can clear our own names by talking to others, especially in a bullying situation. Thank goodness for friends and kind, honest people in this world. My faith in people is being restored, even as I write this. Humility in the right doses is a fine characteristic!
What are you going to do? When someone intentionally spreads rumors or gossip....it is social bullying. How will you handle it? Definitely it depends on the severity of the gossip although I believe all gossip is hurtful. If the gossip becomes so obvious that you are feeling ostracized or your career or reputation is at stake -- take action. (Hopefully, it won't get to this point.)
It is sad -- almost pathetic -- when children are involved in bullying and adults know it is happening, or condone it. In my case, the lowest blow occured at yet another important life event in which my BF insisted that we celebrate together (Our daughters were there.). We didn't celebrate together. The event was used as one of those "in your face", but so strategic it was camoflauged so others would not have noticed. The demarcation line existed but in a very fine line and for my eyes only. (Here's the doormat -- my BF knew me well enough to know I would not say anything in public.) It is very difficult to explain without details. Only a few family members in my life know exactly what happened on this particular day. But I received the subliminal message loud and clear; this BF no longer needed me. I had served the BF's purpose. What seems cryptic to you wonderful readers was yet another attempt to squash me. After the event, I reminded myself and my daughter who also felt the blow of being intentionally ousted in a small group, of Christopher Robin's and Pooh Bear's famous quote, "You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." It was all I could do at that moment -- because my daughter and I both knew the ramifications of this ousting was indeed meant to speak volumes and could change the course of our lives.
As a sidenote, but one that is relevant in this world today . . . is it brave to block on social media? After all, social media has become like real life for many of us. Most of us use it to connect -- among other things. Question: Have you ever been blocked on social media? Was it painful? Why? Essentially, it's my opinion that blocking does not show power. I believe power should be used to extend goodness and kindness. While that kind of power exists in a Utopian society, I can hope and do my part to practice it in reality. But I digress . . . Social media "control" is when you block someone from your life and don't provide a face-to-face explanation or any explanation at all. Do people block to prove a point? Is it an instant action regretted? What actually is the point? A cyberspace snob? Or is it more? That we can click a button, that we have control over our own lives and block whoever we darn-well please, that we can hate on people and show it on Facebook? I will say, when life hands you a block on social media, especially one with no explanation, you say, "Good luck blocking that truth/guilt out of your heart." That one does not belong on your doormat.
Let's consider as a possible BF course of action . . . blocking on Facebook. It brings insinuations -If indeed you are being bullied in any way, such action speaks volumes to mutual friends. It's kin to spreading a silent rumor . . . that might be happening, the blocker leads people to think something bad about someone else. It is a "silent" way of rendering strong suggestion. And coupled with other physical actions , the block is probably a tactic. But remember, although we can't control others, we can control ourselves and our lives and remind those who dabble in gossip that we have a voice. Being blocked on social media -- is not the end of the world! Keeping with the subject, it likely suggests motives.
But keep on keeping on with your glass half-full. If you are inclined, pray for people who feel the need to bully. My high school chorus teacher taught me the Irish Blessing: "May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand." This is what I bestow upon my BF. There is no purpose in hatred.
Through this experience with my BF, I have reached out to many people and I have realized how fortunate I really am. In losing one bully friend, I have reestablished other relationships. I have also made new friends along the way.
Finally, I am human and I have survived a BF. I survived when my BF cast a stone at me and extended it to my family -- even to my young daughter. While I will forgive, I will most certainly not forget any of this. You see, I still have lots of questions. One day, I might ask my BF a load of questions. Until then, I will share this way -- all facts; I even kept a detailed journal of the remarks and gestures as they occured. Perhaps my subconscious knew best.
My BF mostly used verbal/social bullying and that does damage to the soul. It will take some time for recovery. May we know the impact we have on other human beings and their lives. Life is not perfect and people are not perfect. Unless a person's life in this world is over, well -- it can change in a second! So don't throw stones and don't throw sticks!!! Through all of this, I am in charge of my destiny. I control my feelings and relationships. You can do the same. My steering wheel is powered by me and by God.
A BF can push your buttons -- and far worse as we see in the news every day; but we can turn adversity into positivity. Bully friend(s) teach us that: "In life, we never lose friends, we only learn who the true ones are." Pointing fingers and belittling are not characteristics I will portray. Bullies want your voice silenced so their voice can be heard -- but just scream louder. Go to the summit! I will continue to use my voice to encourage others to do the same. I have the confidence to take a stand. Be a best friend, not a bully friend. Help, don't hurt.