Friday, November 30, 2012

Why I love Rock Bottom...

This is a comment I left at Welcome to Rock bottom:

Why I love the bottom?  The only way I have to go is up.  All the shit is cleared away and I can see what really is.  It is familiar territory.  When I land there again, I know the steps to head back up.  Kind of nice to lay on my back and look at the stars.  The empty void can be decorated beautifully.  My sister and I love the quote, "The truth will make you free but first it will make you really miserable."  The fact that you are writing this blog and this post is you survived.  The worst happened, you are at rock bottom and you are having a party.  You know you said in a comment to me that you think some of what I write is over your head.  Hugs you will soon start to get it because I am writing about what happens when you start getting above rock bottom.  You will get there too.  The freedom I feel now of not trying to meet impossible standards that constantly changing is amazing once you get used to it.  This is when we talk about baby steps, loving and supporting yourself, respecting yourself, and yea my counselor was also very excited when I got to this point.  Let the healing begin.  Zigzag or back and forth steps are just a cha-cha.  Learning to dance in the rain is a beautiful thing.  Do you like fudge?  That is one of my favorites.  I will gladly bring some along.  By the way, you are not alone, it was a smoke and mirror illusion to keep you in the FOG.  Its ok.  You are doing awesome.  Hugs all around.

From the post

Accepting emotions = respect

Pearl S. Buck

There is an alchemy in sorrow. It can be transmuted into wisdom, which, if it does not bring joy, can yet bring happiness.   Pearl S. Buck

Sorrow, sadness, grumpiness were simply not allowed. I could be happy but not too happy because that was not acceptable either.  A droid child, a doll, to be played with and set aside, ignored for more pressing pursuits.  Emotions, the entire gambit were locked away for survival purposes.

To promote positive self-concept:
2.  Treating children with love and respect.  Children's emotions should be accepted and valued.  ~ Miss C.

I wasn't much better as a parent.  Each of my children could tell you stories of me not acknowledging or validating how they felt.  I am working at changing that.  An incident that lasted all of 3 seconds really upset me last week.  Before counseling, I would have stuffed the hurt feeling in the dark hole that I put all other emotions.  Many hours of counseling were exposing me to my own emotions.  Instead, this time I acknowledged that I felt hurt.  I talked to the person that landed on my trigger that sent me to a really bad place.  I talked about how the incident affected me and my relationship with the other person.  Most importantly I validated myself that I indeed felt what I felt for a real reason.   Too often if an incident is 'small' emotion is not acceptable.  Other times, I have emotions that are totally out of proportion of the event.  Usually with a bit of work, I can uncover the trigger I landed on.  So in this step I choose to accept the emotions I feel through out the day.  I felt real fear early today when the car in front of me backed up at a red light as if I wasn't there.  I laid on my horn and the person stopped inches from my bumper.  I don't know what he was thinking but I was not impressed.  I allowed myself to feel the fear and the anger that the person did anything so stupid.  Hello...Nobody backs up at a stop light it is just an all around bad idea.  The rest of the drive home I processed how I felt about the second in time when I realized the driver almost backed into me.  On my list of things I am thankful for this month I added I am thankful for car horns.  I felt a little like the Who on Horton's flower screaming, "WE'RE HERE, WE'RE HERE, WE'RE HERE!!!" In counseling that is exactly what my emotions did.  I found out that I didn't lack emotions, I disconnected from them.  Reconnecting to emotions is a painful and slow process.  It is easier to raise a child with respect and valuing their emotions than it is to repair the damage.  I think I will rewrite this challenge to what I need:

Treat myself and others with love and respect.  
My emotions need to be accepted and valued by me. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Self confidence a symptom of Self love

"One important key to success is
self-confidence. An important key to
self-confidence is preparation."
- Arthur Ashe
Click Here For Success Tip # 018

Self confidence is one of those things that parents can foster in their children. Unfortunately, many times efforts fail. If I had a dollar for every time I was told that I needed to get more confidence I could have bought some at the store. Maybe next to the dairy section a couple of pints of confidence to go. Tough thing for a child raised in abuse is the confidence bucket has a leak in it. It just drains away at the smallest bump. I didn't get it as a child. I also failed many times with my children. Now, I am learning differently. Pam Young capitalizes on the concept that we all have an inner child that needs nurturing. As the inner child grows in inner confidence so does the adult. I can not change my past but I can work towards improving my self confidence now. I work at an early childhood education class. One of the old handouts I almost threw away was a list of 19 ways Families can Promote Positive Self-Concept in children.  It is a handout that I think was written by the teacher since she normally sites her sources.  I will call her Miss C for now.  Over the past year I learned to admire her passion for training young women to care for children.

1. Providing successful experiences for the child.  This includes not expecting children to do tasks that are beyond their capabilities.  

This one was a biggy for me.  As a child, I was expected to meet my mother's demanding adult expectations of cleaning to her standard.  Then she would say do it your way with a little shrug that I knew it had to be sparkling or I would be doing it again.  I tried to do better for my own children and tended to swing in the opposite direction.  I remember thinking that my little daughter could not get up on her big brother's rocking horse.  I watched her put her foot up over her head to scramble her way into the saddle and rock furiously like she had a race to win.  I underestimated her.  So finding that balance can be tough.

My challenge as an adult is to not expect myself to do something at Master level when I am just beginning or trying it for the first time.  How many times do I chastise myself for not doing things exactly right first time?  My daughter teaches me Zumba.  She reminds each of us to honor our bodies and not do more than we are capable.  Two years ago, I could barely reach below my knees when stretching for my toes.  Tonight, I could touch my toes.  I enjoyed Zumba all along because my daughter did not expect me to touch my toes the first time.  On the other hand, I don't want to underestimate myself, either.  Only staying in my comfort zone keeps me from growing.

How many times a day do I set myself up to succeed?  Do I go to bed early enough so that I can wake up and be on time to work?  Do I over schedule myself with so many activities that I only skim the surface and feel so frazzled that even if I accomplish the task I feel like a failure?  What would my day look like if I set myself up to succeed?  Do I block in down time and think time?  Do I plan to spend time with the people most important to me that goes a long way to feeling successful?  Step number one will be a challenge to break a long time habit of setting myself up to fail.  One of the biggies that once I accomplish a goal I don't always acknowledge my success.  So even if I do it right, I don't give myself credit.  Yep, step one and I can already see a number things I could work on to set myself up for successful experiences as an adult.

What do you do that helps you to succeed and feel that feeling of success?

Celebrating graduation

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ain't good at loving myself

Purpose Fairy is a favorite of mine on Facebook.  She posts a lot of thought provoking images and quotes. One I saved has a picture of a big jar that has a spigot that is almost empty but the cups keep coming to be filled up.  "If you aren't good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you'll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren't even giving to yourself. ~Barbara De Angelis

If this had been the first time I read something like this I probably would have hit like and moved on.  But this hit a painful spot for me that KavinCoach had first showed me it was there.  He asked me, "If you don't love yourself, how are you going to love anyone else?"  I shut down completely when he asked me the first time.  I felt like a fraud and terribly exposed and miserable.  Felt like he was kicking me when I was down.  Fortunately, I worked with him long enough to know that is not his style.  He was attempting to break through a crust shell of self hatred that was a legacy left from the pedophile blaming me for harm that he had done.  A child is not to clear in realizing who is responsible for actions.  As an adult I needed to review how I felt about myself.  Before integration, I joked that I was run by a committee that hated each other.  KavinCoach took me on an odyssey of learning to love myself.  Some days it is really slow going.  Sunday I noticed for the first time in my memory that I didn't have to pass out when I was sick to stay down.  Yup.  We had company last Sunday and I was sick.  I stayed in my robe and didn't jump up and make a meal.  It was different.  I realized somewhere along the way that I am worth taking care of.  I enjoy doing things for my family and it is ok to do things for me.  Resentment dogged me through the years, recognizing the source I can cut off the supply that feeds it.  I was feeding my own resentment.  This is a long time coming.  Sometimes looking into my own soul is spooky but learning to love my own soul I no longer feel afraid. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


(Stop, Think, Options, Plan, Plan working?)

STOPP Stop,Think, Observe, Plan, Proceed (Army)

Try not to act merely in the moment. Pull back from the situation. 
Take a wider view; compose yourself.
Stop and Step Back (from the situation, in your mind) Pause
Take a Breath
Pull Back - Put in some Perspective     
Practice what works

This acronym caught my attention. I thought of how many times when dealing with narcissistic people that part of the manipulation is in expecting a snap answer then changing what is requested part way through then changing it again until it is not what I agreed to do in the first place. An easy example, I was talking to a short lady that needed to go to a job interview and she lamented that her pants were too long.  I volunteered to shorten one pair of pants for her job interview.  When she brought me the pants plus 10 others with the comment than I could do these, too.  I am not too quick on these quick changes like this.  She left the pants with me.  I stopped.  I thought about what I agreed to do.  Observed her behavior.  I pulled back and hemmed 1 pair of pants as I had offered.  I called her and told her the pants were done.  She looked at all the others and asked me when I would get those done.  I told her that I wasn't.  I offered to help out with the job interview.  I wasn't going to do all of them.  She flounced out of the house.  I wish I could say it was the end but I wasn't in counseling yet and I was just starting to recognize narcissistic behavior.  I think this is one of the reasons that many ACoNs prefer all communication by email or snail mail.  This way there is written documentation for accountability and stopping the gas-lighting.  An email can be pulled up, examined, and reviewed.  An email can be shared with others for evidence of what they are saying.  If they deny writing it, you can send the email back to them so they can see what is written.  I am learning that when I am feeling steamed rolled by someone I need to stop and take a step back.  Take a breath and observe what is actually happening.  Pull back to get some perspective and then put into practice the healthy behaviors I learned in counseling.  Healthy boundaries, appropriate I statements, owning my own behavior, and general putting into practice the ways I now know that work for me.  I also remind myself it is to the advantage of the narcissistic to keep me off balance.  It is my responsibility to do what I need to do to keep myself safe and emotionally healthy.  If I choose to do something for them, it becomes about doing it because of who I am and not because of their demands. 

Stepping back changes my perspective

Monday, November 26, 2012

Celebrate Baby steps

I admire Pam Young.  I read her book from Peg Pen to Paradise years ago.  I just didn't know then that I had 5 inner kiddies and no adult running anything.  Integration came slowly one baby step at a time.  Pam Young excelled at baby stepping out of many struggles.  I don't do everything she suggests however I do believe in baby steps.  If you are complaining that your baby steps take you on a zigzag path or one step forward and two steps back think about how fun a cha-cha is, step forward and two back. 
How to do the Cha-cha

 Young@Heart by Pam Young
Make it Fun and it Will Get Done

 Have you ever noticed the only way you see change in someone is if you haven’t seen him or her in a while.  It takes a space of time to register in our minds a difference.  Young parents don’t look at their children each morning and see that they’ve gotten bigger, nor do they say to a child, “You look the same today as you did yesterday, when are you going to start changing?”  Same with ourselves; we have to see pictures from our past to register change and then it’s shocking. 
 They say change is the only constant and it’s true, but when we want to change circumstances, get the house organized, lose weight, get the finances in the black we tend to lose our patience.  We can learn to be happy with gradual change but it takes daily practice.  The sooner we can start celebrating the baby steps and enjoying right now, the easier it will be to accept gradual change.
 As a human, I hope you know “All the gifts have been given to you in order to be happy.”  You are like a little motor home, fully equipped with satellite, electricity, state of the art appliances (think about that Oster of a mouth you have), an efficient sewer system, a gazillion gig computer, a cutting edge surveillance system and the siding and trim are one of a kind!  You are self-contained and that means you have the power to change anything you desire to change and you have the wherewithal to do it. So give yourself a break and stop struggling to change!  Instead decide to take baby steps toward one goal at a time. 
 Would you really like to magically be organized, wealthy, fit and trim and happily married just by waving a magic wand?  I wouldn’t!  I have loved every minute of my journey in every one of those areas.  Today at age 68 I get to look at my life and see that by making it fun I got it done!!
 My teaching techniques start with learning to understand yourself a little better.  A great teacher Ernest Holmes espoused, “Change your thinking, change your life.”  Once we realize we have behavior to change, all we have to do is catch the thinking behind the behavior and our lives will change.   Those of you who are having fun playing with your inner child these days have discovered what I mean by teaming up with and guiding the inner child. We know that most, if not all, advertising is aimed directly at the “kid” in us: “Drive this fast car, eat this yummy sweet food, drink this beer and you’ll have so much fun!”  Once the kid is listening the rest is history.  My Inner Kiddy subscribers have awakened to what those advertisers are doing and that’s a crucial step toward success in getting organized, out of debt and losing weight.  (If you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it, have to pay for it, store it or add to your clutter.)
 Whatever the topic, my strategies and practical steps to changing unwanted behavior into positive action is based on my motto: “Make it fun and it will get done.” I am testimony to that motto.  I am a reformed slob (although I didn’t know Nelly when I got organized, I know she was there because my reason to clean up my act was to have more free time to play).  I got out from under $27,000 in credit card debt and have been debt free for seven years because I got Nelly to create and mind a budget with me.  I’ve lost 165 pounds over the course of my lifetime and am now a size eight and weigh 135.  I am also a survivor of a 15-year abusive marriage and have been happily married for 23 years because my husband is also a playful person who loves life and knows how to play. 
 Make it fun and it will get done!

 Please visit our website at

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Having it all

"Having it all doesn’t mean having everything, all at once, all the time.
Having it all means taking yourself seriously.
It means knowing yourself well enough to find your purpose in life.  
It means knowing what needs to change when you sense that you’ve lost that purpose.  
It means having the faith to believe that change is possible and having the courage to make those changes." 
Marcus Buckingham, Find Your Strongest Life

I read this and thought wow this is a kind of 'Having it all' that I could set as a goal. Having it all when I was growing up for a woman was to have a perfect career, perfect husband and 2.5 perfect children. Years of tracking this taught me that climbing the ladder of success, people sometimes had their ladder against the wrong wall. If someone claims they have a perfect husband, they are either just married or delusional. I always wondered how you had .5 children. I also rapidly discovered that children are born messy and life goes down hill from there. As far as being perfect, pfft...I read Flylady's tirades about the evils of perfection and perfectionism with glee.
Marcus's description of Having it all looks like something I can do with all my imperfections of an imperfect career, imperfect husband and 6 amazing imperfect children.   My daughter teaches me Zumba and encourages me to dance imperfectly.  Moving imperfectly means I am still moving.  Dancing imperfectly means I am still dancing.  Life to me is much more about adapting to imperfections than ever achieving that ever allusive 100% that keeps getting changed.  Part of adapting to imperfections is sometimes walking way from those things that are harmful, hurtful, and unhealthy in my life.  Adapting to imperfections does not mean I allow my basic rights as a human being to be violated.  Healthy boundaries are flexible and breathable and imperfect.  I have Marcus Buckingham's book.  I think for Christmas as a gift from myself, I am going to read it. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012



Breathing is good.  At school, I was pitching huge quantities of old papers.  Found a buried treasure, a list of One-minute, Five-minute, Fifteen-minute, Thirty-minute, and One-hour Smoothers.  Holidays tend to bring on the stress with hardly a minute to spare so I thought I would share the One-Minute Smoothers.  Hopefully there is something for every one to give yourself a quick recharge of energy.

  • Take four long, slow breaths, and as you exhale, imagine that a gray cloud of stress, worries, or troubles is leaving your life, and as you inhale, imagine that peace and love and wisdom are filling you up.
  • Take your shoes off, rub the bottoms of your feet with your knuckles, and massage the joints and tips of your toes.
  • Smell something nice, like an orange or your child's hair, or put on a dab of perfume.
Roll your head around to loosen your neck.
  • Splash water on your face.
  • While standing, bend over to touch the floor, shake your arms loosely, and straighten up slowly as you take in a big breath.
  • Look at something pretty.
  • Knead your neck and shoulders.
  • Nibble something good.
  • Rub your eyes and the bones around them gently.
  • Hug your child or partner for one whole minute.
  • Stretch your mouth open as wide as you can, like a lion roaring, and then let your face relax.
  • Remember a good joke.
  • Repeat a favorite saying or prayer to yourself.
  • Courtesy of

The list is for me to remind me what I need to do when I feel anxiety creeping up to unmanageable levels.  I hope the lists help you too.

My choices

Kevin Costner
I'm happy about the things I've done. Not always happy about the results, but happy about the decisions, because I made them myself. And I think that's an important way to go through life.

Owning my choices first requires me giving up a life time of living by 'Have-to,' I have-to do this - I have-to do that. I am changing all these 'have-to's to become I choose to do this, I choose to do that. But it is not just the power of positive thinking. There are some things I am now saying, "I do not have to do that."  "I am choosing not to do this."  "I am choosing to do this instead of that." I am learning that when I choose one thing I invariable give up something else. Feeling a bit like my Mario T-shirt showing Mario standing on a pipe with the words "Choose Wisely." I am also learning the frustration of being led up a garden path. Choices that appear to be good and pleasing and feel right that down the path you find out is a back gate out to the garbage pit and the need to back up and decide no that is not the path I want to go on. My sister and I joke about times in our lives when we say, "Where are we going and why are we in this hand basket?" This is a spin off from the American idiom "going to hell in a hand basket." One of the earliest steps to empowerment and self confidence is the clear understanding that I choose to.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Keep changing

"You must take personal responsibility.
You cannot change the circumstances,
the seasons, or the wind, but
you can change yourself"
- Jim Rohn

Click Here For Success Tip # 021

 I keep changing and I see how many things around me stay the same. Hard thing for me I no longer have the protection of dissociation and I feel the hurt, humiliation, and shame at the time of events. Harder to know what to do on the spur of the moment how to cope.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Still counting

There is no disaster that can’t become a blessing.  ~ Richard Bach

For all those that are celebrating Thanksgiving today - enjoy the day, the food, and  hopefully awesome company.  I am enjoying a mega gathering of my FOC.  I won't be checking here today I am going to be consuming some of my favorites, chocolate cream pie, stuffing, turkey, green bean casserole, rolls, Veggies with dip, deviled eggs, more pie, tasting bits and pieces of everything.  I am truly blessed with adult children and in-laws that are awesome cooks.  Playing with grandkids and generally enjoying myself.  I miss those that can not come but think of you while I am smacking my lips after chowing down. 

Blessed to be living at the Zoo.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The cracked pot

The Cracked Pot:

A Story For Anyone Who's Not Quite Perfect

A waterbearer in India had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole, which she carried across her neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it. While the other pot was perfect, and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the mistress's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to her master's house.
The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream: "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."
Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"
"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your mistress's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in her compassion she said, "As we return to the mistress's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some.

But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?

“That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them.

“For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my mistress's table. Without you being just the way you are, she would not have this beauty to grace her house."
also found at

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gold in Broken places


Gold in Broken places

Beautiful images and explanation

Nothing lasts
Nothing is finished
Nothing is perfect

My long series on bully's led me to many different sites.  From my studies, I decided that all narcissistics are bullies but not all bullies are narcissistic, but they probably all need counseling for one disorder or another.  With so much harm caused by bullies, I search for answers about healing.  One of the concepts I encountered was a Japanese tradition to mend a broken pot with gold, Wabi-sabi.  Healing the broken places with gold brings to mind a series that I shot with film called 'Imperfect Beauty.'  I still find such pictures where ever I go.  The beauty is the imperfection, not in spite of it.  I am imperfect, flawed, broken....accused of ugliness....but what if my accusers are wrong...what if instead, I heal the broken places with compassion, integrity, understanding, patience, kindness, love.  I was broken as broken as a human can be and still survive.  I healed so many places I felt a bit like a crazy quilt.  A crazy quilt is one of the most beautiful quilts I have ever seen.  This link describes the process of making a crazy quilt with some pictures to enjoy.
For a larger image you can try this link:

Western quilters and Japanese artists glory in the fragments and mending them together. 

Fried in the blazing Sun - retains a delicate beauty that didn't exist before the damage was done.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Judy shared a link that sent chills up my spine.  I didn't think I could learn anything else about my NM that I hadn't already dissected with one of my counselors.  I spent a couple of years just discussing our relationship or lack of.  Lifebegins45 first posted this and Judy felt it was important enough to share, too.  I agree so here it is for the 3rd time:

Why did I feel this was so important? People have emotions.  Some people like me disconnect from them.  However, there is another group of people that emotions are their weapon of choice.  I struggled with comprehending why or how anyone could do this.  I have written before about the 'lessons' my NM gave me on how to use fear to manipulate others.  I don't know why it didn't occur to me that in showing me the tricks of the trade, so to speak, that she was teaching me how she manipulated me.  This article takes this knowledge one step farther in depth of how emotions can be used like a whip.  This covert abuse also requires secrecy.  How many times did I have my mother reveal her 'emotions' only to make me promise not to tell my father?  At first, I felt privileged to have an inside understanding of my mother.  I didn't know it was her way of manipulating me and alienating me from my father.  She isolated me from the rest of the family for many years.  Kind of a cutting me off from the herd so I wouldn't realize that the strangeness about the relationship was her and not me.  She continually reinforced my inadequacies. One paragraph jumped off the page in significance.
 "Covert abusers faking fear are thieves, stealing your reality, the experiences they are putting you through, and making it their own to enable them to continue what they are accusing you of! It’s convoluted. It’s crazy-making. It’s covert abuse."

I finally made sense of some of the strange comments made to me about being kinder to my mother.  For some reason, it hadn't occurred to me that not only did she lie about her emotions to me she also lied to others.  My DH reported back that she was complaining that I had not come to visit in a long time.  I eat breakfast at her house every Saturday.  I don't know what all she had said but I better understand that it is happening.

Jonsi shared a long list of quotes about narcissistic people and other related behaviors.
Which one is your favorite?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I thought I was done

"Do not let what you cannot do interfere
with what you can do."
- John Wooden
Click Here For Success Tip # 092

I thought I was done with writing about bullies for awhile. Then I was talking it over with my sister on our walk and decided I wasn't quite finished. I also read one of my regular blogs that I wanted to share her post about the secrecy that can occur around bullying. Sometimes bullying/abuse/violence is hidden from everyone accept the target/victim. This adds another layer of fear and isolation.

Lifebegins45 shared her story with the hope that someone will read it and know they are not alone.  This is her link:

Her story touched my heart and my experience of being my pedophile's 'dirty little secret.'  When I was 8 years old this was all very confusing and frightening.  Now, I learn it is no less confusing or frightening as an adult. 

What perpetuates some of this stuff...? Hazelden shared in the powerpoint 'Respect and Protect: Violence Prevention and Intervention' that two of the fuels for violence are entitlement and tolerance.  I really sat up and listened for this part.  In entitlement, the person that feels entitled believes the rules apply to everyone except him/her.  The exact quote, "Entitlement is the belief that people have the right to use violence or threats of violence to express feelings, meet needs, or satisfy desires."  The part that make entitlement possible is tolerance.  "Tolerance occurs when violence is accepted as the norm by adults or young people who ignore, rationalize, or minimize incidents of violence."  I experienced all this.  My counselor took many sessions getting me to see that how I was treated was a violation of my human rights and decency.  He pointed out that servants were treated better.  I felt bewildered and hurt because I started remembering the times I did tell.  I was told how I was the cry baby.  They reminded me that I was part of it.  I was told that 'boys will be boys' and that a certain amount of rough play is just part of growing up.  If I showed them bruises, they laughed about how clumsy I was to have all those bruises.  Minimized, rationalized or just plain ignored were the legacy given to me by the adults in my life.  When my kids were growing up, I tried to do things differently.  This is difficult without an example to follow.  I hope that I became an adult that takes bullying seriously.  I hope that I am a person that will not tolerate violence in action or words.  I hope I am the person that says enough is enough.  My counselor calls it setting healthy boundaries.  Here is the irony, when I did set boundaries, I was told how mean and unreasonable I was being. Protecting yourself is not being a bully or unreasonable.  Now, I know I have rights as a human being and I intend to protect those rights. 

For anyone interested in writing their own human rights list you can check out what I wrote with my counselor.

Roots of violence spread in secrecy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

One story

I am fascinated when I am working on a subject that information is brought to my attention that normally I don't encounter.  I followed a link to something else and came across this interview, even champions can be bullied.

The hard thing for me was that for a time during junior high, I was a bully.  This becomes complex as I did more and more research that many times the bullies started out as the target.  Sometimes a person that is bullied turns around and bullies someone else.  I call it 'kick-the-dog-syndrome.' For example, someone has a bad day at the office, their boss yells at them, things go wrong, and they have an all around frustrating day.  They come home angry and out of sorts and kick the dog.  It is this same mentality of taking out frustration and hurt on someone else that perpetuates bully behavior.  Another book that I read, The Law of the Garbage Truck goes into greater detail of how to stop dumping garbage on each other. I can't control someone else but I can control myself and how I interact with others.  I can check in with my own behavior.  Am I exhibiting behaviors of a bully?  Am I choosing to slip into old habits of taking my frustration out on someone else?  How can I create an atmosphere that lets others know that bully behavior is not acceptable around me?  I am finding more and more answers.  I would love to hear from others on how they stopped the bullies in their lives. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Effectively stopping bullying

The hand out continues:

•    Accept or agree and move on. A victim should accept some forms of teasing, particularly when the teasing is about a true personal characteristic (e.g., being overweight, having freckles, wearing glasses, being afraid).
–    Persistent Bully: Are you afraid to fight?
–    Target: Yes, I am. Do you have any other questions?

•    Reframe to a positive. Most personal characteristics have a bright side, and target can point this out. –    Persistent Bully: Hi Shorty! –    Target: Well, as my mamma used to say, good things come in small packages.

Some of these work sometimes and in varying situations.  I like the wide variety of suggestions since different things will work at different times and with different people.  Sometimes a change of strategy is needed for desired results. 
•    Ask for the behavior to stop; be assertive.  Assertively ask for a change in behavrio

•    Talk about the behavior. Rather than reacting to what the bully said or did, the [target]
can talk about the behavior.
•    Say something positive about the bully, then talk about the behavior. Every person, even a bully, has some qualities the victim can capitalize on (e.g., a quick wit, athleticism, or good looks). Mentioning those qualities at the start of a conversation can change its whole tone. Then, the victim can talk to the bully about his or her behaviors and may try acting puzzled or feigning confusion about the behaviors.
–    Target: I don’t understand. Yesterday, you were really friendly in class. Today, you are acting like a mean bully. I like you a lot better when you are friendly.
–    Target: This is strange. You are smart; otherwise you wouldn’t have gotten a B in class. I don’t get it. Why would a smart person waste her time trying to hurt others?

This next one is more complex but very effective, especially with a moderator or counselor included:
•    Talk it out. Talking about the problem is a more complex skill, but a very important one when students want to maintain a friendship. The STOPP (Stop, Think, Options, Plan, Plan working?) model used in chapter 5.  
 (Note: I don't have chapter 5 so I am going to dig around on the internet for more information.)

 This works if your friends are healthy and want a better outcome.  Unfortunately, 'ganging up' takes bullying to dizzying heights.
•    Stay with your friends. Staying in a group does not solve the problem but generally reduces the possibility of bullying. Bullies like easy prey, and it is much more difficult to prey on a group than on a lone individual. However, if a student feels so scared at school that she or she always needs to be with friends to avoid victimization, he or she should ask for help.

These last 2 are for everyone.  Document what is happening and enlist others to help resolve the issues. 
•    Keep a journal.
•    Ask for help

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A drip is a drop

When the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it may be that they take better care of it there.  ~ Cecil Selig

Here is what the hand out suggested:
 Strategies for Handling Annoying Bullying
•    Make fun of the tease, not the bully. Although the automatic response to a put-down or name-calling is to respond in a kind against the bully, it is more effective and less provocative to make fun of the tease.
 –    Persistent Bully: Look at your shoes, did you get them in a dump? –    Target: You mean this isn’t the latest style?
 –    Persistent Bully: Here comes Miss Pizza Face...
 –    Target: Old, old, old –can you find something new to say?
•    Give the bully permission to tease. Giving permission to tease removes the power from the bully and gives it to the victim. A variation of this strategy is to remind the bully of previous teasing, and then give permission.
–    Target: Here comes Jack. I give you permission to tease.
–    Target: Jack, yesterday you were teasing me about my clothes and my hair. Is there anything new today? You have my permission to tease me, but please try to have something new to say.

I thought these were some interesting approaches. Another one I like to use is to alter the meaning of a put down or find the beauty in it -
A drip is a drop
A drop is water
Water is nature
Nature is beautiful
Thank you for the compliment.

I first read this in 7th grade.  I started turning other things around.  Looking at words with a fresh approach.  Tough one came when I was working with a difficult student as a teacher's aide.  The boy would call me bitch.  Hit me hard.  I didn't know quite how to handle it.  So I searched.  I finally found a t-shirt that I knew would get me fired if I wore it.  Can't fire me for my thoughts so every time he called me bitch this is what I thought:
Control of
I also came to realize that the times he called me bitch was when I was in control of the situation.  They asked me if I wanted to work with him a second year, this is when I used my favorite solution for bullies, No, I am staying as far away as possible. 

My sister and I discussed interacting with NM at great lengths.  We tried a number of experiments.  Humor is a powerful tool when the other person is trying to put you down.  However, I do not recommend laughing around someone that is so filled with rage that you are no more than a target on a shooting range.  Humor usually works with those bullies that are not prone to extreme violence.  I learned from KavinCoach that testing out strategies on someone relatively safe is a good plan.  My nasty boss for all his unpleasantness was not violent.  So he became my guinea pig on testing out strategies.  He was totally puzzled when I would turn some of his jabs into jokes.  I don't think it improved out relationship but I had so much more fun.  I also documented all our interactions.  If the bully is a boss, coworker, or really just about any one it is a good idea to keep documentation.  This is especially helpful if the bullying escalates and a court order or some other intervention is required.  Telling one incident doesn't do much, a list of 40 to 50 problems gets noticed.

Hold your breath and keep swimming.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Least/Most Effective Response

The goal of every bully is to gain a response.  Almost everyone encounters a bully at some point in their lives so a planned response is nice to have on hand.  From the Bullying Prevention Toolkit comes the following list of least effective responses.

Hit or fought back

Made a plan to get back at them

Told the person to stop

Did nothing (ignored it)

Told them how I felt

When I first read through this list I was a bit surprised and wondered why I knew this list from another place.  Then I realized that these are also the least effective responses to a narcissistic.   I know that I tried all of these at one time or another and they're right they don't work.  How many blog posts have I read about someone writing a heart felt letter to their parents to have it blow up in their face?  How many times did I try to ignore or do nothing about caustic comments from my NM?  Told the person to stop just had them laughing at me all the more... Plotted my revenge - useless waste of energy.  The one time I hit back I was hit again so hard I went down and it did nothing to resolve the issue.  The more I write about bullies and the more I learn about narcissistics the more I realize how similar their behaviors.  Remember that these suggestions come from dealing with bullies at school.  The list of most effective responses reads quite differently.

Told an adult at home

Told a friend

Made a joke about it

Told an adult at school

Remind self that it was not my fault

Again this list looks very similar between responding to bullies or narcissistics.  It is important with a bully or a narcissistic to give myself reassurance that their behavior is not my fault.  There are healthy adults at school, in the work place, many friends or most counselors that you can find a safe adult to talk over how to deal with the bully/narcissistic.  Make a joke about what they are saying or doing.  (This will have a post of its own.)  Friends have your back, great friends are right in the middle of the situation.  I am thankful for friends that I had that stood up for me, especially my sister and kids.  (Yep both my sister and kids have stood up for me when I wasn't standing up for myself.)  Told an adult at home, this was the least helpful for me.  I tried to be different than how I was raised so that my children could feel confident in talking to me about being bullied.  I don't think I always succeeded but I do know there were several incidents that were brought to my attention.  I wish I had known more at the time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Anti bullying

 "Most of our obstacles would melt away
if, instead of cowering before them,
we should make up our minds
to walk boldly through them."
- Orison Swett Marden

Click Here For Success Tip # 086

Bully shields do not exist, however bully detectors are in built. I was taught to ignore mine. My counselor reconnected it.  I am a Harry Potter fan so I thought about the sneakoscope that kept going off so Harry put it in a sock and buried it in the bottom of his trunk.  He believed it was broken not realizing that there was a sneaky rat in his room all along.  Ick-o-meters, sneakoscope are all in built detectors of boundary violations.  My counselor taught me to listen to the warning signals again.

KavinCoach carefully taught me to recognize and call all behaviors for what they were, emotional, social, or physical abuse.  In my opinion, calling someone a bully instead of an abuser is toning down what is actually happening.  For some reason, people take being a bully with a certain amount of pride.  Calling it abuse, suddenly they are no longer the tough guy bully but now the low life abuser.  Have you ever complained about someone's behavior and the person you talked to shrugged with a nonchalant, "They're just being a bully."  No big deal after all they are just a bully.  Unfortunately, it took murders and suicides to wake up the schools that it is NOT just being a bully, it is abuse.

The link above shares some of the statistics she recommends that the first step is to open conversation about bullying.  Explaining what it is.  I remember working at a junior high a couple of boys were pounding on the girls bathroom door to tease a girl that was in there.  I walked over and quietly asked if I needed to report them for sexual harassment.   They looked appalled, "Ewwed" in unison and took off for the playground.  Sometimes conversation of calling it what it is starts an awareness of what is happening but it is just the beginning. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Self-esteem doesn't bleed

Sticks and stones can break my bones
But names can totally destroy me.  

It starts young, a parent calling their child a brat, rug rat, bad girl.... and the list goes on and on and on.  Sometimes a name is meant affectionately but in the end name calling by parents spreads like a disease to school and teams.  Trash talking.  Put downs.  Sarcasm a steady flow spew out of the TV and considered 'Cool', 'Rad', the 'in' thing to do.  I excelled in sarcasm.  It was a tough habit to break.  I was called all sorts of names.  The advice to tell a parent seems fairly useless when it was my parent calling me the names.  Lights are on but nobody is home.  Ding-a-ling. Air head. Dumb blonde.  Giiiirrrrlll.  It wasn't meant as a compliment.  I worked for a school and the student would call me Bitch.  My self-esteem didn't bleed but it diminished until it was almost non-existent.  I lived and breathed emotional abuse.  My bullies lived at my house.  I didn't need to go to school to be called names.  I was called names at school too.  I was socially awkward.  I didn't fit in with the cliques.  My strangeness was duly noted in my 6th grade annual, "To the Nut..."  I just didn't know how accurate they were.   Chickens in a yard sense the weakest one and will peck it to death over time.  They don't kill them all at once but a constant peck - peck - peck.  Kids aren't much different than chickens.  The height of cruelty reaches its peak by about middle school, around 11 - 13 years old but for some it doesn't diminish in high school.  Teachers can get involved in the name calling and put downs.  Tell an adult - are you kidding me?  Then tragedy hits, suicide, murder, a killing spree.....Oh my what happened that this terrible thing occurred?  Self-esteem doesn't bleed but people still die.

I found the hand out that I shared Saturday it is located at:

Emotional Bullying
Harm to someone’s self-esteem or feeling of safety

                      Verbal                                              Non-verbal

• Insulting remarks                                          • Giving dirty looks
• Calling names                                               • Holding nose or 
•  Teasing about possessions, clothes,              other insulting gestures
   physical appearance 

LEVEL TWO (some of these behaviors are against the law)
•  Insulting family                                          •  Defacing school work or other
•  Harassing with phone calls                           personal property, such as
•  Insulting your size, intelligence,                   clothing, locker, or books
     athletic ability, race, color, religion,        •  Saying someone is related to
    ethnicity, gender, disability,                          a person considered an 
    or sexual orientation                                    enemy of this country

LEVEL THREE (most of these behaviors are against the law)
• Harassing a child because of                         • Destroying personal 
bias against their race, color,                              property, such as clothing, 
religion, ethnicity, gender,                                   books, jewelry
disability, or sexual orientation                        • Writing graffiti

Adapted from Bitney, J. (Ed.). (1996). Johnson Institute No-Bullying Program: Preventing Bully Victim Violence at School. Minneapolis, MN: Johnson Institute.  

Words used as lethal weapons to destroy self-esteem.  Telling can result in greater ridicule for 'not being able to take a joke' or 'they were just teasing' or 'too thin skinned and need to be toughened up' leading to an escalation of even more name calling.  My counselor was surprised when I called this intense emotional attack as "murder by suicide."  I know of 5 suicides resulting from bully attacks orchestrated by an adult.  I still have nightmares.  Bullies are at school, at work and in the home.  There are web pages devoted to this daily challenge.  Statistics show that half of the high school students have either bullied someone or been bullied by someone.  I am on a quest to find answers which is why with a hectic schedule I took this class.  I am looking for answers. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day

In the United States of America, today is the day to honor veteran's, brave men and women that value liberty above all else.  I don't even need to pause from my series on bullying.  To me, terrorist are bullies on an international scale.  Our soldiers stand up to the bullies.  Some people wail that if it weren't for the soldiers there would be no war.  They are right, slaves do not fight wars.  Blaming the soldier for the cruelty and selfish lust for power of leaders of countries boggles my mind.  I am thankful to every man and woman that risked life and limb to stand up to any bully.  I am sadden by those that lack appreciation for the sacrifice for others so that they can complain.  I do not enjoy violence but I learned the hard way that in some cases, the behavior of others, leaves no choice.

My sister posted a link to a video.

Bully Handout

I realized today that I forgot to give the source information on the bully chart yesterday.  In searching online for correct documentation that I could verify the information, I came across a link to a bullying handout that some people may be interested in downloading:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Complexity of social Bullying

Lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at you. 
~ David Brinkley

Afraid to write this one. Social bullying is not new.  The Silent Treatment is as old as marriage.  Some one gets ticked off and shows their displeasure by excluding the offender.  For some people, like me, the first time I was aware that my mother gave me the silent treatment I was first puzzled, vaguely hurt, then wondering what I needed to do to get it again.  I guess if I am happy with the results it is not really bullying.  My dissociation, disconnectedness from my emotions and people, insulated me from most of the social bullying in my life.  Took KavinCoach quite a few sessions to get me to understand what was happening around me that I so blithely ignored.  So rather than try to vaguely describe it, I am going to use the notes from the 'Violence in the Classroom' workshop.  

Social Bullying - Harm to someone's group acceptance

Verbal                                                                                     Non-verbal

Level One    
• Gossiping   
• Starting or spreading rumors   
• Teasing publicly about clothes, looks, relationships, etc.    • Ignoring someone and excluding them  
                                                                                                    from a group

Level Two - (some of these behaviors are against the law)   
• Ostracizing using notes, Instant messaging, email,
facebook, etc.   
•Posting slander in public places                                             • Playing mean tricks to embarrass  
                                                                                               someone(at a school on a bulletin board or
                                                                                                bathroom wall)

Level Three - (most of these behaviors are against the law)   
• Enforcing total group exclusion against someone                 • Arranging public humiliation
by threatening others if they don’t comply
(Adapted from Bitney, J ED. 1996 Johnson Institute No-Bullying Program: Preventing Bully Bictim Violence at School. Minneapolis, MN: Johnston Institute.)

Social bullying is hitting the headlines for targets/victims taking their own lives to escape this nightmare.

There were some weird quirks that happened with my mother that would fall under the category of harming my acceptance by others that has happened more recently.  I stop by her house every Saturday to pick up my sister and stop to visit.  In the last few months, she leaves for her walk when I arrive.  No big deal, however, when my DH went to visit she complained to him about me never coming to visit her.  I read enough other blogs to realize that my situation is fairly mild.  My job at the university was a rumor mill and many of the rumors about me were not kind.  I was so focused on surviving, I really didn't care what was said.  In retrospect, I probably should have paid closer attention since those rumors are what most likely led to me being laid off.  Many times I use pictures to help me grasp a concept.  Tonight when I was working on my picture blog I posted this picture and I felt it did a great job showing how Socially bullying creates hostile environment. 

If you would like to see more of my Fall pictures you can check out my picture post:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Big Bully

Isaac Asimov
Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

Most commonly people think of bullies that push around someone smaller or weaker than themselves. Physical violence, recordable, describable but just the tip of the iceberg. My daughter witnessed physical bullying at school where a student teased another at every opportunity. The bully watched him and knew which doors he existed the school. The bully crouched down where he couldn't be seen and held the door shut. In a hurry, the boy pushed on the glass in the top half of the door. Ended up being cut so badly that he was hospitalized. My daughter told the school counselor what happened. I was very proud of my daughter for turning in the bully. Hundreds and thousands of stories could be added to this one.Violence is escalating which led to this workshop on How to stop Violence in the class room.  Hardest of all is when no one will step up and report the bullies.  The overt bullying is what catches the schools attention.

Physical bullying was the main focus of the class.  This is the main push to stop the bullies.  However, for many there is another kind of physical bullying that goes on undercover, hidden, the target/victim doubts them-self that it is actually happening.  In the work place or at home the bully stands very close to where you are working.  Or you need to pass and they block the way so that you have to squeeze by.  They 'bump' into you when they pass.  Close by they seem to 'accidentally' hit you often.  For me, I was walking down the basement stairs and my brothers would hide then jump out and scare me so that I tumbled the rest of the way down the stairs.  I showed my mother my bruises and she told me to be more careful, not be so clumsy.  She didn't believe me.  The bully teacher grabbing a students arm harder than necessary to escort them to the office.  Sneaking up then purposely startling you just to see your reaction.  Lying in wait to ambush then denying that it was on purpose.  A quick hug that lasts longer than you feel comfortable.  I was taught to ignore my ick-o-meter that internal indicator that indicates a person is invading your physical space.  The moment in time when you want to say, "Ick, get a way from me."  I struggled with accepting all the different little offenses that any one I would sound unreasonable complaining about it.  But it isn't just one, more like a swarm of mosquitoes attacking from every side until you feel like a swollen itching mess of misery.  Recognizing it.  Recording it.  Accepting your own version of the situation.  My counselor helped me to turn my ick-o-meter back on.  Now, if I am around someone that my internal reaction is 'ick get away from me' I am learning to listen.  Too often we wait for the punch or the black eye or the beating before anything is done.  Another delaying is they only did it once.  In my opinion, if actual violence has erupted there were a lot of other skirmishes that happened first.  Paying attention to those early warning signs can make a powerful difference in making choices to protect yourself.  Please, don't kid yourself and say they didn't mean it and it won't happen again ever.  Research shows that physical bullying escalates.  Learning to recognize problems early was part of my training in counseling sessions.  I had the radar, I was just taught to ignore the signal I sent to myself.  I am thankful that my counselor taught me to be alert for myself and teaching me to choose caring for myself.  

I learned to set up my own 'homeland security system' to protect myself.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Route 666 on the Internet Highway

Cyber bullying isn't new.  The first incident I encountered happened during my first year as computer tech 17 years ago.  Police came to talk to me about a student having access to the internet.  Due to delays in connecting the computers to the network, he hadn't used our computers.  The offense was called stalking at the time with Federal charges of harassment across state lines.  They finally tracked down the computer to his mother's computer at work.  She would be facing criminal charges for endangering a minor across state lines.  Her son, an eighth grader, was telling a 6th grader in Florida that he was going to get her and horrible things he would do to her.  When they questioned the boy, he asked what was wrong, "It's just a computer."  He did not connect that the person at the other end was a real person feeling terrorized by his hostile spewing on the internet.  I wanted to know more about this thing called the Internet that they were bringing to the middle/junior high school.  (Student ages ranging between 11-14 years old.)  If I don't know something, I find someone who does.  I attended a computer conference designed for teachers.  The class I took was called "Route 666 on the Internet Highway."  The teacher spun the wheel of misfortune.  In one hour, we discussed cyber stalking, anarchy, and bomb making on the internet.  We never made it to pornography and cyber bullying didn't have a name yet.  I was sick to my stomach listening to a man totally dismiss the fact that he placed the bomb recipe on line that two teenage boys blew their hands off while attempting to make the bomb.  He scoffed that he hadn't told them to make the bomb by posting the recipe.  I was aghast that our school district planned to bring the internet to a junior high school without any protection or filters as to what the students could access.  At the next meeting about using the internet at the school, I expressed my deep concern in less than tactful ways.  I was furious that they so glibly thought that the little darlings in our school wouldn't use it to do anything wrong.  I was criticized for being the only person in the district having a fit over students using the internet.  To placate me when I threatened to unplug the internet at our school computer labs, they allowed me to test two softwares that filtered access to websites on the internet.  I was a one woman campaign trying to wake up an entire school district that their was danger out there on the Internet.  In February, the software blocked a student from going to a well known porn site.  A teacher came to ask me if I was shocked that the student tried to log in to a 'naughty page.'  I snorted, "Yea, I am shocked that it took them until February to figure it out."  When I left the school 4 years later I was still considered totally unreasonable about my concern.  Now, the district has some of the strongest filters available and complain about not being able to do enough to protect kids.  The Internet is wild and still untamed after all these years.  Bottom line, nobody owns it and anonymous can hide any one allowing totally inappropriate behavior with little or no consequences.  Teenagers discovered the power of the internet long before the adults grasped what was happening.  These kids that didn't know what a type writer was, knew that pecking at the keyboard on the internet could send words zinging around the world and in many cases totally unsupervised.  When the district teachers innocently brought down the network by having an email snowball fight, I saw how rapidly a rumor or threat could spread and gain momentum like a huge snowball of words.  Kids and adults found a stealth weapon to launch a verbal attack on any person connected with the belief they can't get caught.  Cyber bullying has reached epidemic worldwide proportions.  You can google 'cyber bullying' and read the horrific stories on line of teenagers committing suicide after cyber attacks.  Adults are not exempt from stalking and abuse online.  One person I talked to down played how cruel cyber bullying was with a sing song answer, "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me."  I came up with a retort for that "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can totally destroy me."  I kept looking for help and found a source that was started in 1995 Cyber Angels

My sister used the internet for socializing long before I did.  I was terrified to use anything but email.  I helped students use the internet but I rarely used it myself.  I used the internet to find answers for work problems but little else.  I was assigned in one of my photo classes to use Flickr!.  As a computer tech I knew the horrors of the internet I was resistant, only in the past 5 years did I discover that a large percentage of people on line are really very nice.  Took my kids setting up Facebook for me about a year ago to get me to use it at all.  The internet is still untamed but like walking through a mall it is my responsibility to stay alert and aware of danger from strangers.  Cyber bullying is real.  Teaching kids to respect each other and supervising computer usage is critical to putting a curb on hurting each other online.  I felt shaken when cruel words were being posted on friends' web pages.  I calmed myself and reminded myself about the 3Ds Delete, Delete, Delete.  I am no closer to knowing how to stop it but I do know it is my responsibility to not allow it to destroy my life.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dissecting Bully Behavior

I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.  - Harry S Truman

Bullies in the playground, a big kid picking on a little kid is just the tip of the iceberg of bully behavior.  Bully behavior breaks out into 4 main categories:
  • Physical
  • Verbal
  • Social/Relational
  • Cyber
I plan to devote an entire post to each kind. 

Today I am focusing on the two styles that I observed but weren't discussed in this class,
overt and covert.  The class talked mostly about overt bullying the kind of behavior that disrupts the class room and brings law suits.  Observable, identifiable, and recognized by anyone watching, the openly hostile situation counts as overt bullying.  In my opinion, these situations, though difficult, give parties involved a place to start a discussion, the observable behavior.  Covert bullying is under the radar, off the grid, behind closed doors, without an audience, some of the other names would be gas lighting, sneak attack, and any form of behind the scenes repetitive abuse.  Covert is difficult because it becomes the word of one against the other.  In overt bullying, the bully is gaining attention and power, the bystanders are drawn into the battle whether they do anything or not.  The bully has the upper hand in an open battle because for a bystander to side with the bully, they don't need to do anything.  So why would a bully go underground, hiding their behavior?  Most obvious of reasons is to not be caught.  Keep in mind that the purpose of bullying is two fold, get attention and/or gain power over another person.   Bringing down another person can sometimes be done more completely through covert bullying.

I grew up in a desert region.  The river running through the city usually wasn't.  It is a huge dry bed with not an ounce of water except every few years or the annual 100 year flood whichever comes first.  Since the river bed is usually dry, engineers building the bridges don't always take the power of the river into consideration.  No water, no power.  Build the bridge and every thing is great with no water running.  I was a teenager the first time they built a freeway bridge over the empty river bed.  The first flood the bridge took a direct hit from a wall of water crashing into the bridge that gouged out a lane of traffic.  They did not account for how wide the water would flow so a part of the bridge went with it.  However, the section of bridge that was more severely damaged wasn't hit by the front wall of water.  The water went under the bridge, around the columns and dug out the supporting ground behind the bridge.  This section of bridge completely collapsed with no part standing.  The two parts of the bridge clarified to me that the greater damage was not seen or anticipated.

I readily recognized the overt bullying I experienced.  It was much harder (please, read many, many counseling sessions) to grasp how I was bullied covertly.  If I don't recognize it myself, how could I put up a defense.  The most painful part of counseling was understanding what happened to me as a child.  When I started counseling, I was raised in a close knit loving family with a wonderful childhood.  After several years of counseling, this false image totally collapsed much like the bridge into the river.  I am learning to recognize the covert bullying for what it is, an attack on me.  I also learned how I would sometimes bully people into doing what I wanted.  I looked at behaviors I needed to change.  When I write about each of the four areas, I will also touch on the overt and covert ways that bullies can terrorize their targets.  To help build a defense against any problem, first need a clear picture of what I need to defend against.    

PS I almost wrote the title 'Dissecting Bullies' then decided the mental image is not quite what I meant.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Narcissistic bullies

I am not sure if all Narcissistics are bullies or all bullies are Narcissistics.  Or if it looks more like a Venn Diagram with parts over lapping.

Another theory I am working on is the possibility that malignant narcissistic are overt behavior bullies whereas an engulfing narcissistic use more covert behaviors to control others.  Why do I even bother to work it out?  One of the more freeing things I learned was that my mother's behavior was all about her.  I also accepted that she bullied me.  Standing up for myself was difficult.  My counselor was horrified when I told him I could count on one hand how many times I had stood up for myself.  From a young age, I felt I couldn't win.  I would always be beaten down or things would just get worse.  The fear instilled in me systematically over the years left me with very little belief that my thoughts, feelings or opinions stood for anything.  My self esteem played hide and seek down in the lower sub-regions of some dungeon.  To me, what is empowering is allowing my mother to own her behavior.  She did certain things to me because she choose to, not because I was bad or out of line.  She made choices to harm me.  Thanksgiving time is my best example.  I don't know what happened in her childhood that makes Thanksgiving miserable for her.  For many years, I believed her when things went wrong and I was blamed.  I didn't help my mother enough, I wasn't fast enough, I didn't do what she asked when she would give me contradictory commands.  The list went on and on of the infractions I did that would cause her to lash out yelling at me.  Over the years it was less yelling but more subtle put downs and slights and anxiety.  After recognizing my FOO was unhealthy and no matter how I behaved I was going to get crapped on, I chose to stop attending Thanksgiving dinner at their house.  The relief the first year was tremendous.  I hadn't realized how much I dreaded this yearly ordeal of ritual gorging.  Don't get me wrong, I love food and Thanksgiving is a food festival.  There in lay the key.  My mother made it an ordeal instead of a celebration of bounty.  Gluttonous mounds of food laced with dieting woes and lectures.  The meal was agony for me.  I stopped going.  I still enjoy Thanksgiving with my FOC but no more interaction with my mother on that day.  I felt like I dropped a boulder and watched it tumble away.  She could no longer heap her feelings of guilt for eating on to me.  I took myself out of the loop.  That is what I learned about in this class on bullying in school.  I learned the need to break the loop.  Scuttle the pattern of behaviors.  If you always do what you have always done, you always get what you always got.  I can observe the behaviors, analyze outcomes, and change the patterns of a lifetime.  I actually look forward to Thanksgiving, green bean casserole and chocolate pudding pie Here I Come.