It’s not just the word –
It’s the remainder of the insult
or the bruise or the balance left behind.
This is the bully, which is more than the insult itself,
which is more than the action –
This is the humiliation
this is the wake and the aftermath;
but more, this is the worst part.
This is the deliberation in your head or
the internal discussion we have
which takes place after the fact.
This is the internal narrative that goes
why didn’t you stick up for yourself
and then leads to a rehearsal of terms
and the practice of what you’ll say
the next time this happens
I wish it were true
that there was only one kind of bully.
But of all bullies, the worst bully is the bully within.
The worst is the bully that won’t go away,
like a virus with no cure, or a disease that moves in
and takes everything away.
The mental aftermath is the bully from within
the voice in your head and the enemy in the mind
“Why didn’t you say something?”
“Why didn’t you do something?”
Ever say this to yourself?
Sure, I have.
I’ve met my fair share of schoolhouse bullies
and locker room tough guys.
I have seen the mean girls or the gossip creators
and character assassinators.
I don’t like bullies.
I don’t like anything that punishes the mind.
Life is tough enough.
There are other bullies too,
like the ones from the office
or those in the executive boardroom.
I’ve met people like this
I’ve been witness to bullies on job sites
and in both blue and white collar capacities;
yet, there is more than this.
It’s not what people say or how they treat others
it’s what this leaves behind.
It’s the theft of services
and the lingering reaction,
which takes over the core of a person’s wellbeing
and deters them from bettering their life
It’s the lie that lingers
which puts people down
and takes them away from their best possible self.
This is what bullying is
and this is what bullying does.
It’s still the same as it was on the playground
or in the classrooms or the hallways –
the idea is to stay relevant,
to keep from being on the bottom;
but more than this,
the motivation is to keep from being the one
whose name has been run through the mill.
You know the mill, right?
These are the gossip mills in the rumor factories
which takes place at the water coolers or in break rooms.
This is where we build weapons of emotional destruction –
destroy the character/destroy the person.
The motive here is to keep from being “they guy with the ball.”
Remember that game?
Kill the guy with the ball . . . so, whoever had the ball
was the person who was chased and attacked.
Rumors are this way too; only, this is no game.
We have been trained for this since kindergarten.
We have been trained to separate
the different divisions of popularity
and taught how to survive or who to be –
or who not to be.
We have been fed and trained
by an early simulation of socialization
and it begins young
and then it grows,
as do the crowds and the cliques,
and the social designations of who is who –
who’s cool, who’s desirable,
who’s good enough to be included
and who’s safe enough to not be a threat –
who is the predator
who is the prey
it’s no different from when we were kids.
Not everyone was a bully then
and not everyone is a bully now yet
bullying still exists
Regardless of age or even physical strength,
this is all about power and control.
This is about positional insecurity,
the victory of narcissism
and a means
to avoid the threats to one’s personal validation.
I have met bullies who are short in stature
and weak in physical strength,
but what they could do with a pen
or an email
is enough to beat someone into submission.
I have seen people use their power to their advantage.
I have seen those who lead by intimidation
or who point fingers
or those who shout, “Do as I say,
but not as I do.”
I don’t like bullies.
And I’ve seen them.
I’ve seen what they do
and I’ve heard what they say
and, at the same time,
I have seen them degrade people into submission
the job market is a tough place to be right now.
People have mortgages or landlords
and bills to pay.
People are trying to pay for their children’s education
and, of course, college is not a cheap trick.
Not at all.
This is why we find ourselves in a new form of insecurity
which is not less painful than physical insecurity,
financial insecurities are a killer!
This is what the bullies prey on.
This is how they keep you out of their inner circle.
This is what they use
because they know you can’t fight back.
Don’t like it?
Go get a job someplace else!
Just leave, they say; and again,
there goes that word “just.”
Just leave, as if it’s just that simple
to “just” find a new position
or throw away the tiny items a person has worked for,
such as seniority in their position
or a shot at the next title or role
which was about to come their way –
It’s not just the words or the bullying;
it’s the damage from the aftermath
it’s the unseen bruises, which cannot heal
because you’ll have to bite your tongue –
otherwise, you’re hit by the mob mentality or worse
you’re out of a job.
I remember a place where office politics
were separated by pods and cubicles.
There was the top tier and those in the fold
and then there was the lower tier
and those who were on the outside.
someone from the lower tier was welcomed to the fold.
What was amazing to me about this
is how they swore they would never “be” that way.
Oh, how quickly they turned
and how quickly they’d forgotten
where they came from.
Their best friends become strangers
and in some cases, they even become enemies.
Beware of the fall from grace.
It’s tough enough to climb up on the ladder
but when you fall,
remember the people you might have stepped on
are at the bottom as well,
smiling, welcoming you back
and just waiting to show you
the scars from the knives you put in their backs –
I don’t like bullies.
I don’t like what they leave behind.
But I’ve seen them.
I’ve seen this up close, live and in person.
Come to think of it
back when I was a kid,
the school called home and accused me of bullying.
The Old Man punished me for this.
But in my defense, I explained that I wasn’t the bully.
I was just there.
The Old Man asked me,
“Did you do anything about it?”
No . . .
Then you’re just as guilty.
Thanks for the lesson, Pop.
I think I know which way to go from here.