Posts Tagged ‘bullies’

Hello Cruel World

October 13, 2010

I’m astride my bike near the big park.  G.D., the local bully/cool kid, calls out to me.  I turn and look and our eyes meet.  With cold inscrutable contempt he takes the rather hard “softball” he is holding and simply beans me in the face with it.  He watches my anguished pain, humiliation and shock the way an infant watches milk tossed off the highchair tray, studying his universe of cause and effect, of pleasure and pain.

Time stands still.  With a whooshing of surreal clarity everything telescopes back into sharp close-up focus.  G.D. is almost unbelievably handsome, charismatic with intermittently smiling eyes and a star aura.  He shouts at me to go get the ball—the ball rolling off down the street after it bounced off my face.

In a millisecond of calculation I picture retrieving the ball and having it thrown in my face again, the lesser toughs cackling like hyenas as my puddle of already liquefied self-esteem seeps into the nearest sewer.  Like a refugee running from armed soldiers I make a break for it, blur-pedaling my green Schwinn stingray fastback with equal parts rage and fear, laughter receding behind me.

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The Undersea World of Jed Clamp-it

June 7, 2010

In the old days nursery rhymes like “Ring around the Rosie” were actually about bleak things like the plague.  In the spirit of getting medieval on the primeval black death tragically washing up on certain beaches, I found myself humming the theme to “Beverly Hillbillies,” but with some different lyrics spilling out.  Sing it with me—in honor of all our collective children.

Come and listen to a story ‘bout a Pig named Big

A company so rich it went dig, dig, dig.

From the bottom of the sea it was pumping up the crude

Until a pipe went bust and Big Pig’s being sued.

By everyone… Shrimpers.  Governments.

Well the next thing you know Big Pig is in the shit;

Execs and lawyers whisper, “we gotta get away with it.”

Said “Pretending that we care is probably the key,”

So they piled in the jet and they flew to “I can’t see.”

Facts that is:  dead birds.  Tar balls.


Well now it’s time to say good bye to Big Pig and all his bitches.

And he’d like to thank you folks fer kindly givin’ him the riches.

Yer all invited back again to this travesty.

To have a heapin’ helping of bitter irony.

Con artist that is.  Purveyor of fine sea food.

Throw another shrimp on the engine.

Y’all don’t get sick now, y’hear?

After all it was you and me

April 6, 2010

I found the case of a young girl’s suicide in the wake of being relentlessly bullied, to be just heartbreaking (see New York Times: 9 Teenagers Are Charged After Classmate’s Suicide).

While there are many different questions raised by this tragedy, my aim in blogging about it here is to challenge us to consider our own place in the group—our own inner bullies as well as inner victims.

When it comes to bullying, I tend to believe that the fish rots from the head down.  When I have been involved in organizations where the leaders were bullies (not to mention mentally and emotionally volatile, narcissistic, etc.) I have seen this trickle down to staff behavior and to the behavior of the kids being educated and supposedly helped by those organizations.

A comment to this article by someone named “Marty” seemed to echo my own sentiments and was recommended by 215 readers—more than any other comment (and there were well over 500 before they closed them):

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A bullet-proof vest for the soul: psychological abuse in relationships

February 2, 2010

In a recent  NPR interview by Michele Norris, about psychological abuse in relationships, Dr Steven Stosny (Psychologist; Author, Love Without Hurt) spoke about the gender difference regarding the things that we are mean about when we systematically put our lovers down.  While Stosny acknowledges that we all say mean things sometimes, non-abusive relationships allow for apology (and hopefully a change in behavior moving forward) while abusers tend to be self-righteous in telling the other that they deserve the bad treatment or are at fault for “making me do it.”

Stosny claims that one in four relationships have some degree of psychological abuse, and that this abuse can be a precursor to physical abuse (in about 40% of cases); yet he points out that as wrong as physical abuse is, unless it results in disfigurement or overt maiming, it is the psychological abuse that causes more damage—making people feel lastingly unlovable and worthless (while physical abuse is easier to recognize as “wrong” and out of control—about that other person having issues).

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Ice Capades

December 10, 2009

It’s been cold lately and the sound of heavy car doors slamming in the night across the street, and V-8 engines idling outside in wintry air conspired to take me back… back to being sixteen and in the back of Glenn’s old yellow Mustang, four friends cruising around looking for fun or adventure in the bleak night outskirts of 70’s Chicago suburbs…

We pulled into the Wendy’s for god knows what reason, out of our usual area, not really knowing where we were or who we were mingling with, far from in our right minds.

These were days when life unrolled in the vivid gritty color of Scorsese’s Mean Streets.  Amongst us four friends, I was the little guy, scrappy enough—a self-declared existentialist bred of losses with an appreciation of the absurd and a soft-spot for nihilism—a kid with a bad attitude who truly could not have cared less.

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The secret pain of the entitled child

November 25, 2009

On this week of giving thanks, I thought we might turn our attention to a certain sort of child who tends to try our patience:  the entitled child.

Recently my wife was helping serve hot lunch at school when a high school girl asked if she could just “take a water.”  The bottled waters came with lunch if you bought it, and my wife explained that they had to serve everyone who had paid for a lunch before they could give any extra away.  In the meantime my wife learned from another mom that this child always asks for free stuff, yet comes from a rather wealthy family.  The girl came back and, in a surly tone, again demanded a water but when politely told she could buy one at the student store (just steps away) for fifty cents, she let out an angry and exasperated sigh, saying, “Fine… I’ll just go thirsty!”

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The empty chair, the unreturned call—bullies and the parents who don’t parent them

November 24, 2009

An all too common situation that parents confront is when a child is bullied.  This can happen as young as preschool age, and I have been aware of myriad situations where it is mishandled.  On the one hand we can look at how to support a child who is bullied, yet a thornier problem is how to handle the other side of the equation:  the parents of the bully.

Nothing stabs our parenting hearts more than when someone hurts our child.  We quickly project all the dark forces of the cosmos onto the four-year-old with an impulse control problem who hits, bites or victimizes our child, or onto the fourteen-year-old who mocks and excludes them.  It’s not that the bully doesn’t need limits as part love, it’s that we also truly need to see that the bully is a part of our self.  If we consider this deeply enough, then any interaction with, or contemplation of, a bully becomes more than a teachable moment—it becomes an opportunity for Shadow work and a deepening of compassion.  This, ironically, can be a path toward deeper wholeness, and thus equanimity and happiness.

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