One time I was at a birthday party and a girl there was loudly making fun of what this other girl at the party was wearing. Technically this trash mouthed girl is a GROWN WOMAN talking badly about another GROWN WOMAN in the presence of young children, all of who heard every rude and cruel word that came out of her yap! So if you were wondering whether or not mean girls grow out of their mean-ness and gain the confidence and human decency to stop being cruel bullies, I’m sad to report that some of them don’t. They walk among us, monsters in disguise until they rear their ugly heads.
It would be cool if bullying was something people just grew out of like shoes, superheroes or boy bands, but lots of them just become taller, louder, bustier, hairier and MEANER! The female bully VERY OFTEN goes unchecked, unchallenged and protected by a posse of insecure weaklings whom they have frightened into allegiance, thereby increasing both their powerbase AND skill set. This is because the emotional and psychological bullying girls do more of is harder to catch than the physical bullying that is more often the style of the boy bully. Both are equally likely to spawn little people who live what they learn, carrying on the family tradition of bullying.
Bullies live by the motto, “I am unhappy and afraid so therefore I will make you feel the same way.” The mob of miserables, who act as enforcers for a bully usually break away as soon as they no longer need protection or risk suffering punishment or retribution for deserting the master of disaster . Of course young bullies often mistake fear for allegiance and loyalty. This inaccurate assumption assures that eventually they will be alone in their misery. Like this.
See what I mean? Nobody REALLY likes a bully. Maybe that's why adult bullies work alone.
Years ago, a superior at work started her bully rage against me by casually strolling by my desk, picking up a photograph of me and my husband and remarking, “My, my, Nicole! You married UP didn’t you? You either have family money or you’re a porn star in the sack.” I spent a year being the food for her rage. Had I been the only victim of her terrorizing taunts, I might have done something about it. Instead I quietly endured. I NEEDED a job and she was much higher up on the food chain than myself! It was like working in a shit filled steam room of an office infested with bubonic rats with a sexually harassing raging cokehead supermodel boss. Sort of.
I started this ranty blog mentioning the loathsome excuse for a grown up that mocked another in order to boost her tragically low self-esteem AT A CHILD’S BIRTHDAY PARTY, because it speaks to just how important it is to stand up to bullies. Nipping this stuff in the bud early makes for a much healthier future grown up and parent. It seems pretty nuts, right, having to endure bullying as an adult? Whoda thunk it? But it happens. Way too often - it happens.
Often as in last week when I was Christmas shopping and minding my own beeswax, it happened to me! A malevolent monster of a bully disguised as a human mom tried to break my spirit. I should mention that she was a complete stranger…in a bookstore….with her child.
My mood was solid fabu. I had enjoyed breakfast with my mother, bought a pair of pants that felt comfortable AND looked good on my trunk o’junk, enjoyed a hilarious text fest with one of my besties that made me snort laugh repeatedly AND found the perfect Christmas gift for my boy spawn. While waiting in line to purchase the gift, I was oblivious to my surroundings, simmering in my thoughts about the joyful things in my life such as friends, family, food and perfect fitting pants, when I felt a peculiar poking on my right Croc. Yeah, I wear crocs! I got me some furry black phuckers with jibbitz.
I know, right? Full of awesome.
I looked down to see a fascinated toddler playing with them. He pointed to one and said, “DAT?” Curious little fella wanted me to tell him about my jibbitz so I bent over to tell him ALL about the awesomeness adorning my feet. His mom bent down to see what the fuss was about too. That’s when she practically choked on her tongue laughing when she asked,
“Oh my GOD! Are you ACTUALLY wearing furry Crocs?”
The look on her face was full of unmistakable mockery and the tone in her voice was heckling and haughty. Having just read a story that morning about a 10 year old girl who killed herself as a result of being bullied, I decided that I would address her disagreeable dumb-fuckery head on as I have never done before. Those of you who are regular readers, friends, family and whatnot KNOW I can spin thoughts into words pretty rapid-like. It went something like this……
“Of course they aren't Crocs! They’re dead babies that I painted black and then I glued hair on them that I skinned from cats. ARE YOU SERIOUSLY MAKING FUN OF MY SHOES LIKE A BULLY? I’ll bet you were the mean girl in high school weren't you? ”
I wanted to keep going, to tear her fragile ego apart with the force of a thousand rhinoceros farts. I have never spoken to anyone like that in my life, but then again, I’ve never experienced such mean spiritedness from a complete stranger. I didn’t do it. I shut up and turned around because although I may be a smart-ass, I’m not a mean girl or bully. I use my power for good NOT evil.
It helps me to think of people like my bully as mythical Hydras who will grow two heads in the place of every one head cut off. For a young bully to become an adult bully, fear and anger must have unlimited access to the soul, feeding on it until it becomes the driving force of the person’s interactions with the world. Over the years, they have needed to grow strong in the face of resistance because nobody cared or DARED to stand up to them or for them. It’s a daunting task. Dealing with angry and hurtful people is much more difficult than ignoring them, but being strong and brave enough to stop a bully is actually a way to stand UP for them. A child bully doesn't have to become an adult bully.
Historically I was silent, doing nothing to stop bullies. I watched them scare others and was too afraid myself to know what to do. All that has changed for me since I had children. I want them to be stronger than I was. I'm trying to encourage them to be kind, even when it’s difficult to do so and most importantly, role model this kindness. They are always listening to what I say and watching what I do, learning what is acceptable behavior. Now that I’m a mom, I know that I must be brave enough to try to make the world a better place for my kids, even if I’m afraid. And I am. Afraid that is. Adult bullies have years of experience, honing their craft. Like the bookstore bully they are experts at exposing fear. I wish I could say I was fearless adult, self-actualized and secure enough to successfully battle the bully beasts, but I'm not there yet. I haven't fought enough battles.
Still I will fight! I might not make a difference. I must not accept failure as an option, because although I can't make another person change, I won’t give up being the change I want to see in the world. I’m glad my kids weren’t with me when I unleashed my insecure response to the bully who Croc mocked me. I briefly became her company in misery, letting my inner bully escape and I wish I could take it back. I’m better than that and next time I’ll prove it.
Unfortunately, I’m sure there WILL be a next time because even though I tell my kids otherwise -
MONSTERS ARE REAL