Just over a year ago, I was driving to the TorontoIslandAirport to pick up one of my sisters who was returning home after being away for over a month. And as I was driving through Toronto, I began to think about my sisters and me and, at that moment, dealing with bullies. I had always thought that I was unable to face down bullies and not let what they said or did become part of the fabric of my life and who I thought myself to be.
When I was a child, I was bullied by kids on the street who chanted “Fatty, Fatty, two-by-four etc.” at me. And John, the kid down the street who thought it was just great to use me as his personal football tackle. For a time, my mother ran interference for me either comforting me from the stings of words said or calling John’s mother to get him to stop [which he did – yeah for the power of mothers!].
I was bullied by family, by so called friends, and by teachers who used shame as a tool to get me to be compliant. [I can still hear Mr. McDougall saying, “I expected more from the sister of Lynette and Sheila Winter.” And I was effectively cowed into submission.]. Especially I was bullied by bosses, both men and women. Every time that I was called into the office to speak to the current boss, my immediate reaction was, “What have I done now?” I was always wondering what I had done wrong or what I had not done which I should have known I was supposed to do.
As I grew up, I learned how I could deal with bullies and bullying myself. I used two weapons – either my intelligence and I would bludgeon with words those who tried to taunt me OR my physical size and I made sure that I was bigger and stronger than others so that, if I caught them, I would usually cuff them hard about the ears [and I know that that hurts]. Essentially, I bullied back. I never started it but I sure as shootin’ made sure that I finished it!
As I was driving down the Don Valley Parkway that December day, I thought of the major examples of bullying which came up for me. And I realized that I had been able to face down each bully and champion myself in each instance. I thought, “Hurray for me!” I realized that I was stronger than I had ever thought myself to be. I could face them down! I could stand up for myself! I also realized that I might stand up to those who were bullying me but the emotional effort to do so was profound and, after the fact, I would dissolve in a puddle of nerves.
With each instance of being bullied no matter whether or not I was able to face down the bully, I started to believe that I deserved it. While I had been able face them down, what bullies said to me and how they treated me become part of who I believed myself to be. I told myself, deep down inside where it felt uncomfortable to look, that being bullied was what I deserved and that’s just the way things were. I even did it to myself. To hell with the middle man, I could and did, do it to me on my own! Not a comfortable realization to have.
Eventually I chose to live my life doing things which I didn’t want [be it in work or in my personal life] because the fear of being bullied into choosing to do something I didn’t want to do was a greater force in my life than the discomfort I felt in doing what I didn’t want to do. I told myself that it was a far, far better thing to do to just soldier on or, as Leonard’s mother [think ‘The Big Bang Theory’] would say, “Suck it up, Sissy Pants!” than to choose differently.
I know that I was trying to measure up to someone else’s idea of how to live life. I know that I had come to believe that there is such honour in the struggle. That is just so much bull shit!
I am now awake. I am in rapport and comfort with mySelf in this moment more profoundly than I have ever been. I know that my personal power lies in my willingness to respond to mySelf and to exhale mySelf into the world.
I now choose to reveal mySelf to everyone and in every instance of my life. I choose to be relevant and meaningful rather than polite and appropriate. I no longer wait to interject mySelf into any conversation. I interrupt and hi-jack conversations as I need to and say, “Not me. Not my world. Not how life works for me.” I choose NOW rather than ‘maybe later’. I do not accept the old adage that you have to go along to get along. I give no credence to the saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, then say nothing at all.” I say what is important to me even if others might write me off as bothersome or difficult or a flake. I no longer pull back from any conversation in order to keep the peace or see to another’s comfort level. I know that to hold myself back leads to me bullying myself for choosing not to be myself and speak my truth. AND I know that feeling shame for having made that choice has no value but to hold be back from expressing my authentic self.
I AM HERE. And without yelling it or brutalizing anyone else, I have my own Peter Finch moments. I stay present even when it might feel uncomfortable or vulnerable. I say, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” when I need to and in the way I need to say it in that moment. I hold my ground [even with myself] everywhere and with everyone who is in my life.
Being fully present to mySelf, I do what I believe in in order to create the world in which I want to live. I take the lead. I choose to reveal my authentic Self and to step into my world with courage and not fear. I know that it is doing that which continues my transformation and evolution. In choosing to live being conscious in every encounter and choosing transformation rather than despair, I know that moment to moment to moment I discover the more that I can be, and the potential and possibility of the world which I strive to create.
And as I have come to know this for mySelf, as I have chosen mySelf, I believe that each of us can make similar choices grounded on our personal truth and authentic selves. I believe that if we are willing to let go of old beliefs and values and attitudes, if we are willing to let go of imposed and expected responses and behaviours, if we are willing to live lives of what Brené Brown calls ‘ordinary courage’ then we will step into and realize the fullness of our capacity and potential.
Just consider how absolutely marvellous that can be! Imagine the unlimited possibilities for the world!