Sunday, January 16, 2011

Facing a Bully - In the mirror

I am having panic attacks in my sleep over the changes going on in my business life. Interestingly enough during my conscious hours I feel pretty calm. I think it has more to do with the future than sorting things out now. I was journaling this morning and came up with what I thought was the real issue.

My soon to partner is a bully. Friday I was on the phone with a hardware company that lost my order and she demanded that I give her the phone and she would take care of it. They have a history of not confirming orders and she was going to let them have it. Under pressure I almost handed her the phone but the older wiser Al-Anon in me stopped and said I can deal with this you need to go back to what you were doing.

This is the person I will be in business with for maybe a decade or two. In writing this morning I started to think about where I have encountered this before. I believe that you keep repeating a lesson until you change your perspective on it.

There is a list of bullies from the past including drinkers and non-drinkers. It is hard to spot some bullies because like in the case of my step mother the bullying was indirect with southern charm, unless that didn't work and then the venom would truly be frightening.

In a more direct way the bully goes right for your weaknesses sometimes subtle sometimes not so subtle. Feeding the fears you already have about yourself, which is key to the effectiveness of the bullying.

It is not about them is what I am getting to and it is not personal. It is how they have learned to cope with life and get what they want. I bullied my husband before he bullied me. I made him feel small when I took all his responsibilities away from him because it was more efficient for me to do it and I could meet my high standards.

I thought about an example when your mom teaches you to cut your meat. It is awkward at first and your really slow and she has to be really patient with you. If she is not she grabs the plate and says let me do that. You are left thinking she thinks I am too stupid to do this or you find out if you don't want to do it just wait and she will do it for you.

Until I learned better I opted for the too stupid because of my own insecurities. Silly example but I thought it was appropriate because I have done this for other people, cut their meat for them. Not because I thought they couldn't more because I was trying to be efficient and help them out. Then later after cutting everyone's meat at the table I am exhausted and feeling used and thinking I wish people would take care of themselves. Now my dinner is cold.

I was an indirect bully, thinking I was helping and adding to the list of people dumping on me. It is hard to stand up to a bully, especially the direct kind, and in the face of one my first instinct is to run or just do what they say to avoid confrontation. This is why it works for them and they keep doing it even without knowing it.

The feelings that came upon when she demanded that I hand over the phone went way back. Facing the bullies of my past and facing the bully I once was is progress. I didn't know just like my partner doesn't know. Giving people the dignity to do things themselves even if they don't do it the way you would do it is maturity. In the case of the hardware I am better had diffusing a situation and still getting what I want with honey instead of vinegar. Is this indirect bullying, hmm.

I have to see myself in her to really know how to deal with this and if we can work together if she is going try to push me around. We have worked together for a long time but really as separate entities and now that is changing. I know she is scared like I am and is acting out right now. Running around putting out fires while working on new business. She has already got a full plate without this additional stress.

God's timing is always right because oddly enough my plate is empty right now and I have plenty of time to put my energy into work. Seeing myself as a bully is part of my Fourth and Tenth Step inventory and helps me to see that I didn't do it to hurt people I thought I was helping and so I can have patience with her. I can stand up for myself when it is important in a kind and loving way.

Side note: once again, you spot it you got it.


  1. "God's timing is always right" is a true saying. When I can learn to let myself off the hook, others benefit too. Take care of yourself.

  2. There is a lot of wisdom in this post. I have been the meat cutter and sat waiting for someone else to cut my meat. I do my best now just to mind my business and take care of what is on my own plate.