Adults can have bullies, too

Adults can have bullies, too
photo by OSM

In adulthood, a bully can take a number of forms: a spouse, a partner, a friend, a co-worker, a fundamentalist, a sibling, a politician, et al. But, regardless of platform, there is one universal truth:

bullies haunt.

Bullies are mind-thieves: the bullied’s peace of mind gets involuntarily redistributed and relocated to other parts of the brain –

  • 35% goes into trying to find an answer to the question, “Why are they doing this to me?”
  • 10% goes into planning an escape route through which one might scuttle out of harm’s way.
  • 25% goes into self-shaming. It doesn’t feel winnable. Wait. Tell me again, Michelle, why I should ‘go high?’
  • 30% goes into trying to NOT be consumed by the situation. You pray pray pray that when you wake up the bully will not (still) be sitting on your chest. It’s unconscionable to think that in life’s rearview window this moment in time may ultimately be about a person aiming at your face in some personal vendetta target practice.

Sometimes bullies have allies: minions who throw gas on the fire at the base of the stake the bully has strapped you to. There is dark power in numbers. 

Other bullies are lone sharks circling for blood.

No self-expression is safe when there’s a bully in the hood. They are spring-loaded to turn your words against you: bullies are the snipers of mean. Swerve left, swerve right –  doesn’t matter, cuz either way you’re gettin’ hit.

Sometimes the bully seeks to tarnish your reputation. Sometimes the bully enjoys packing your shadows with fear and boogeymen. At their worst, bullies are a legitimate threat to body and mind.

Some bullies strike out at you to hide from their own pain while others enjoy the thrill of the chase. These are equally hideous motivations, for they both rip their balms from the innocent.

Bullies mess with your internal compass. Their messaging and doublespeak is so persuasive that you end up questioning your own judgment.

You defend missteps you never took.

You defend your character, one that’s been cast in a bizarre adult 80’s after-school special.

You fear that your real friends may be swayed by the Dark Side of bullyshit.

The only real antidote for bullies can be found in the integrity of those around you. It’s true that people tell you who they are with their words and their deeds. Look, listen, and believe the unspoken. Keep the good ones close to you, then trust their judgment when things get rocky.

I may or may not have a bully in my life right now. It depends on whether or not bullies read blogs on ChicagoNow. And if they do read blogs on ChicagoNow, then it depends on whether or not they recognize themselves in my words. And if they don’t, then yeah – I’ve got a bully.

But I also have good people. And a public platform of my own. See? I already feel better.


That’s my piece, and that’s my peace. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my silly words – it truly means the world to me. Carry on…


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