Fourth grade was a bad year for me. I was bullied by my peer group, bullied by my teacher who preyed on weak students, and I didn't have best friends. Moreover, it was in fourth grade that I noticed that every girl in my class had a best friend. Literally all of them were paired up, and I was the only one without. I remember thinking that even if someone wanted to be my best friend, there was no one available to want that...everyone already had the coveted "bff." It was a miserable year.
Flash forward 21 years to today. I realized today that I have been being bullied by someone I know for the past four years. It's been far more subtle than the other fourth graders on the playground, or Mrs. M keeping me inside every day for a month to write an essay on why it was wrong to steal and why I was going to go to hell because of it (fyi: I stole Joey Mehl's garbage pail kids out of his desk, but I gave them back plus I had to give him all mine. And we went to public school, to answer that question.), but it is bullying none the less. There were witnesses today, and today I decided that it will not continue.
There is far more power in knowledge than in age. Over the years I have realized the following about bullies:
1. They are afraid.
2. They generally hold equal or less power than those they bully
3. They work by intimidation tactics.
4. They prey on those who acquiese, who seem powerless, and who avoid conflict
While upsetting, my problem is relatively easy to solve.
1. I can't do anything about this person's fear. That's not my problem.
2.The person bullying me has no real power over me in any adult situation. This person is not my boss, not my husband, not anyone I rely on to enhance any aspect of my life.
3. Intimidation tactics stop working when the bullied person stops being intimidated. By showing no response, no lack of control, I take away the bully's arsenal.
4. I decided this fall that rather than avoid conflict, rather than just say everything was okay when it wasn't, I would disagree. I would argue my points, and I would express myself. This hasn't failed me in the last six months. It's a huge suprise to my bully that I'm disagreeing with what I'm being "told to do," but that's the way it is. Like a child having a tantrum, my bully freaked out when I did not give the expected response. It'll get worse before it gets better, but life is like that.
What this person doesn't realize is that the year that I spent in Montgomery prepared me for any level of hell that I could possibly be exposed to by someone who wants to be an "authority figure." My weakness was in not realizing the comparisons between this situation and that year. Now that I understand what the levels are, I couldn't possibly be more prepared. Bring it on, my bullying friend. Bring it on.