Monday, April 4, 2011

He was no friend of mine

Part One
Definitions of bully on the Web:

· Strong-arm: be bossy towards; "Her big brother always bullied her when she was young"
· A cruel and brutal fellow
· browbeat: discourage or frighten with threats or a domineering manner; intimidate
· A hired thug
· A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people
· A hired ruffian; a thug
· A person who hurts, persecutes, or intimidates weaker people
· A blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people

Some bullies are looking for attention. They might think bullying is a way to be popular or to get what they want. Most bullies are trying to make themselves feel more important. When they pick on someone else, it can make them feel big and powerful.

Bullies often pick on someone they think they can have power over. They might pick on kids who get upset easily or who have trouble sticking up for themselves. Getting a big reaction out of someone can make bullies feel like they have the power they want. Sometimes bullies pick on someone who is smarter than they are or different from them in some way. Sometimes bullies just pick on a kid for no reason at all.

How to deal with a bully:

Don't give the bully a chance. As much as you can, avoid the bully. You can't go into hiding or skip class, of course. But if you can take a different route and avoid him or her, do so.

Stand tall and be brave. When you're scared of another person, you're probably not feeling your bravest. But sometimes just acting brave is enough to stop a bully. How does a brave person look and act? Stand tall and you'll send the message: "Don't mess with me." It's easier to feel brave when you feel good about yourself. See the next tip!

Ignore the bully. If you can, try your best to ignore the bully's threats. Pretend you don't hear them and walk away quickly to a place of safety. Bullies want a big reaction to their teasing and meanness. Acting as if you don't notice and don't care is like giving no reaction at all, and this just might stop a bully's behavior.

Stand up for yourself. Pretend to feel really brave and confident. Tell the bully "No! Stop it!" in a loud voice. Then walk away, or run if you have to. Kids also can stand up for each other by telling a bully to stop teasing or scaring someone else, and then walk away together. If a bully wants you to do something that you don't want to do — say "no!" and walk away. If you do what a bully says to do, they will likely keep bullying you. Bullies tend to bully kids who don't stick up for themselves.

Don't bully back. Don't hit, kick, or push back to deal with someone bullying you or your friends. Fighting back just satisfies a bully and it's dangerous, too, because someone could get hurt. You're also likely to get in trouble. It's best to stay with others, stay safe, and get help from an adult.

Don't show your feelings. Plan ahead. How can you stop yourself from getting angry or showing you're upset? Try distracting yourself (counting backwards from 100, spelling the word 'turtle' backwards, etc.) to keep your mind occupied until you are out of the situation and somewhere safe where you can show your feelings.

It’s not your fault! As the victim of a bully you must remember that the way you are treated is not your fault. Unless you did something specifically to provoke the bully, you are being targeted for any number of reasons, none of which you have any control over.

Part Two

I dealt with a bully for many, many years. Nothing really physical, nothing really overt, but it was there every single time I saw him. Within minutes of seeing each other he began to throw out taunts and jabs, verbal assaults that were meant to hurt – there was no joking about any of this. The only time that he had any civility in his mouth for me was if he wanted something from me. And even then if it seemed like I was going to deny him what eh wanted the bullying would start. First, the chivying and heavy-handed demands, and then ending with derogatory and demeaning comments when I stood my ground and didn’t just give in to his demands. He was no friend of mine.

As I said, it was nothing really physical, and I’m pretty sure I would have come out on top if it had come to that, especially in the later years. Maybe not so much when I was younger or early teens, but I grew up and was physically more than a match for him had it turned that route. I am glad that it didn’t, however, for many reasons. He was no friend of mine.

Later in life, as the years went by, I learned a lot more about this bully and picked up a lot about what drove him and his actions. Verbally abusive and persuasive as he could be, even he avoided physical conflict. The demons that drove him were mostly his own private demons that he would inflict on others when he felt the pain of their existence. He was no friend of mine.

He wasn’t above being vindictive and I think he went there more so when he was feeling particularly foul. His moods would change like lightning, Affable and grandiose one minute, everybody’s friend – especially yours if he wanted something. A small, bitter man when he didn’t get his way, pouting and hurtful. If he had no direct offense he could draw on, he would create one or make derisive comments about your looks or how you dressed. He would make judgments about your hair, your weight, or whatever he could to make you feel smaller-than and to make him feel larger-than. He was no friend of mine.

Towards the end, in my defense and disgust, I did what I could to simply avoid him. That wasn’t always possible and at times I was merely civil, but I am proud that I never provoked him, neither did I cower and simply accept his derision. I could see when he was around me he had learned that maybe he ought to just leave me alone. He wasn’t getting the pleasure of direct assault, but from the comments he made to other people I deduced that he had decided a behind-the-back attack was the method to choose. As most bullies, when facing confrontation that they can neither control nor win, they go behind you and start with a smear campaign, making comments to others on “his” side, or at least not on your side. I doubt that unless he was fueled by the intoxicant of his choice, he would not have attempted to direct attack. And I suspect that even then, as vile as his comments, he would have held short of a physical assault. He was no friend of mine.

Oddly, in the beginning, I dreamed of being his friend. I really WANTED him to like me, to accept me. I thought well enough about him that I bragged about him to my friends. I admired him and attached myself to at least the image that I thought he was It wasn’t until later that I started to catch on to things he said. By then, I was growing into one of the versions of me that was maybe a little more aware of life. For years I still liked him, and wondered if he really meant what he was saying, more likely convincing myself that it was a joke. All things considered, he was no friend of mine.

He died recently. His life of excesses and the pollutants that he ingested caught up with him. He had years of self-induced health issues and regardless of whatever stories he told, whatever demons he created or fought, the issues he had to deal with were none of my creating. I can say that while I wasn’t his biggest fan, I wished him no ill. He had my pity, but nothing more. He wasn’t a target of mine; he wasn’t someone I hated. He was no friend of mine.

I spoke with his daughter via messaging after he passed and was only somewhat surprised to find that she was deeply offended that I couldn’t offer more than I could at his passing. She promptly lit into me with how he had dealt with things from his childhood that “haunted” him and that “it is no surprise that he had the troubles he had” from what he had to endure. Although she only mentioned one thing specifically, I suspect that he may have created others as well. And it’s amazing that he supposedly carried the grief of that one event through all the years, even when dealing face to face with that person that committed this supposed insult. The event of which I speak happened, quite literally. Years before I was even born! I had nothing to do with it but from our conversation I was given to understand that this catalyst was what drove this bully to bear down on me throughout the years. He was no friend of mine.

I have thought about this conversation for a couple of weeks now and still cannot see the connection wherein the fault lays at my feet. Were I to see this, I’m pretty sure I’d walk up to it, I have a tendency to take blame well and see no reason to hide from what I did, for good or ill. I am also pretty quick to admit that I am far from perfect, but my perfection, or lack thereof, is between God and me. No man gets to judge me least of all a bully. He was no friend of mine.

He was no friend of mine. He was my own brother. My family. For years I loved him. I loved him enough to use his name when I named my own son. And about that time was when I came to see that what I thought saw as humor was hate; what I thought I saw as acceptance was derision. What I thought I saw as love was loathing. He was no friend of mine.

I did not wish him ill, and merely avoided him as he did me in the later years. His daughter was unable to tell me exactly what I did to him to cause this hatred, what I didn’t do to alleviate his pain. She apparently has decided to pick up his torch and treat me with the same disdain he did all those years. Well, I didn’t cause her pain or create her demons either. I don’t judge either one of them but I also won’t purchase that particular piece of emotional baggage that I caused any of their pain.

I’ve created enough of my own, but I will deal with that on my own as well.