Chicken or the Egg?

The age old debate of which came first the chicken or the egg?  An article on Bullying in the work place noticed that those that are already anxious are more likely to be targeted.  My counselor told me the same thing when I joked I must have a target on my back.  He responded that I do.  He told me it was in the way I walk, talk, make eye contact, or not make eye contact.  I send off signals constantly that I expect to be treated poorly.  I found an article on workplace bullying. This study was done in Spain.  They don’t blame the victim but suggested that not only disciplining bullies but teaching victims to help break the cycle.  Last year, I attended a work shop about bullying.  They spoke mostly about peer bullying. They discussed the 3 components of bullying.  There is the bully, the victim and the audience.  I felt very confused by this because my mother always made sure we were alone.  How could there be an audience?  I listened carefully.  I finally understood that my father was indeed the audience.  My mother played all sweet and nice in front of him then turned vicious behind his back.  When I told my father about her behavior, he didn’t believe me.  He told me I just misunderstood her actions.  I was an adult before I recognized the little smirky smile my mother got just before saying something cruel couched in terms that could be denied.  Other people were unwitting audience at times.  The bully has the advantage.  All the bully needs is for the audience to do nothing.  If the audience encourages the bully, it is a major rush taking bullying to frighteningly cruel heights that can lead to murder and suicide.  My counselor talking to me told me that the bully doesn’t come in for counseling, the victim does.  He told me he can’t change the audience or the bully but he can help me change me.  He can teach me how to be assertive and stand up for myself.  I can learn to stop giving away my power.  To break the bully cycle, any one of the 3 components can change and reverse the spiral downward.  Doesn’t matter which came first, either one can stop it.

My experience that the bullies in my life were the adults.  I was a designated scapegoat so therefore I was going to be blamed.  I found dark humor in the t-shirt that said, “I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was going to blame you.”  My sister and I were blamed for things our mother did.  She would actually punish us for her wrong doing.  She dropped off her diet, we went hungry.  She lost control of her temper, it was our fault we woke her up/kept her from eating/ made her mad.  My mother is not going to change.  My sister and I did.  I am learning to stand up for myself and others.  I am learning that I have a voice and can use it.  I learned that I have power; I had it all along.  Abuse in my life convinced me I was powerless.  Seeing my own power is amazing and a little frightening with a bit of frustration for how long I gave my power away.  I am breaking the cycle.  Part of healing from PTSD is recognizing that in spite of the terror I was raised in, I am not powerless.

I’ll be honest, I love finding videos about individuals that break the cycle of abuse.  The football player that dubbed the down syndrome girl their team mascot and invited her to prom.  They had a wonderful time.  The WWF fighter that gave his arm ban to a young man that was an avid fan.  The team that encouraged the water/bat boy to play and the opposing team that helped him get a home run.  There are amazing people in the world that are changing bully situations into lifting one another experiences.  I have seen some of the success stories play out at the school I work at.  People working together can change the atmosphere from one where the bully terrorizes unchecked to one where kindness rules.  Any one can change the dynamics, the bully can realize that their behavior is counterproductive or fired/sent to jail (depending how severe their behavior), the audience can protect the victim, and the victim can evolve to a survivor warrior choosing kindness and not revenge.  Change any part of the bully spiral equation and the whole thing falls apart.

3 thoughts on “Chicken or the Egg?

  1. I hadn’t thought about us going hungry because she messed up her diet. I was thinking of the messes she made and told people I did it. The bullying I endured in school often started with the teacher. Part of stopping bullying is learning to have healthy boundaries and healthy ways of maintaining them.

  2. I have been looking for “action” information, that give me concrete ways to work on things I”m struggling with. This post gave me a lot to think about.

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