E-stranged

Am I Being Bullied?

Posted in Bullying, Family Estrangement Topics by Fiona on March 19, 2012

“The bully and the victim never quite forget their first relations.” 
― E.M. Forster

I want to begin this post by thanking my readers who commented on yesterday’s post and who also sent me emails. I really appreciate your comments and that you have trusted me with your stories.

The biggest theme I noticed running through your comments was the sense of confusion about identifying if the things that are happening or have happened are really bullying.

First off, I want to say, it is okay to trust yourself, and the things that you are thinking and feeling. As one reader wrote, “Finally I decided if it looked like a duck and it walked like a duck and it quacked like a duck … it was probably a duck.” If you think that you are being bullied, I am willing to walk out on a limb here and say the odds are very, very good that you are.

To help sort this out a little bit more, I thought a definition might help. I went shopping for something that might help us to identify bulling in a really simple and clear way, but what I found is there are many definitions of bullying which occur across a continuum of increasing complexity. In the end, the one I liked best is this:

Bullying is repeated, deliberate, disrespectful behaviour of one or more people toward another for their own gratification, which harms the target“. – Valerie Cade

The other theme that I noticed in your comments and emails was that many people assume that the targets of bullying are always weak and helpless and this is what makes them targets. Sometimes this is true, but often the targets of bullying are not weak or helpless. In fact, another very common reason that we might become targeted by a bully is because we are strong, and capable and attempt to be assertive and self-protective. Either way, whether we start in a weakened position and feel unable to stand up or defend ourselves (for any variety of reasons) or whether we actually begin confident and capable of self-protection – when we are targeted, we are all impacted.

Carol asked in her comment yesterday, how do we do better?

This is a worthy question, and the answer is we start by naming what is happening to us. We become conscious and aware. We take the above definition and we ask ourselves …. is the behaviour of the other person repeated … has it happened before … more than once … more than three times … or ten times?

Is the behaviour deliberate? That is to say, is the other person consciously doing something that is hurtful? Another thing about many people is we are very good at giving room for other people to give us rationalizations, justifications and excuses for poor behaviour.  “I was having a bad day”….”I didn’t know that bothered you, you should toughen up”… “I’m under a lot of stress “…”You made me <insert feeling> …. Bullies prey on our sense of understanding, caring and compassion. You may be sure that they are not being empathetic or caring or compassionate about how their behaviour is impacting us! Stop making or accepting excuses … there is NEVER an excuse for abuse. 

Is the behaviour disrespectful? Does it seek to demean, diminish, ridicule, or otherwise hurt or shame us? The intention doesn’t matter here … the ACTION does! We stop listening to the talk, and we start carefully observing the action. The words mean less and less, the action means more and more. Pay attention!

We ask ourselves … who is involved in this behaviour? Make this really clear!

“When John calls me an idiot and says that I am useless, I feel disrespected and embarrassed.”

“When my mother tells me she has seen cats who are better mothers than I am, I feel hurt and ashamed.”

“When my sister tells me I am a spoiled brat who has never had to earn my way, I feel angry and defensive.”

“When my boss called a meeting with all our staff and raised his voice to me and  questioned my work and my ethics I felt confronted, shocked and angry. When the rest of the staff joined in I felt ambushed and attacked.”

Name the behaviour, name the person/people.

Is this behaviour in some way gratifying the person doing it? Does it make them feel stronger, more powerful, does it allow them to build themselves up at the expense of knocking you down? Do they seem empathetic or remorseful after the fact, or are they self righteous and secure in their ability and “right” to treat you poorly?

Finally … does the behaviour have a negative or hurtful effect on you? Does it make you feel hurt, angry, ashamed, betrayed, powerless, helpless, defensive ….

Run through these questions, take your time, think carefully … As long as we are denying, minimizing, or ignoring bullying, it will continue. The first step in handling bullying, is to know that it is happening!

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22 Responses

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  1. pamela said, on March 19, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    I find that people who do not want to share the conversation, and clarify what each other means, are not usually good for me. They might be bullies or controlling people. (Same thing?) The assumption that they are right, and that they know better than I do, shows me that they intend to dominate me.

    Whatever it is called, I am better off being somewhere else.

    • edward said, on March 20, 2012 at 4:50 am

      It is called being dismissive.

      Always Edward

  2. Stephanie said, on March 19, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    My parents would cut me down just as easily as they’d tell me they loved me, and had no interest or room in hearing how it affected me. I’m not sure if they did it for personal gain, maliciousness, jealousy, or just out of distorted habit. I don’t know if they actually “got” anything out of continually cutting me down and then building me back up, other than it was the only way they could “guarantee” to keep me around. If I was constantly dependent on them to build me back up, there was no risk of me leaving. Except I finally found myself (at 24, and I’m grateful it didn’t take me most of my life) and realized that this was not a dynamic I wanted to keep reliving… but it was the only dynamic they are interested in participating with me in. Even now, almost 2 years after I finally cut ties, they’re still showing up at my apartment, calling/texting me, and sending family “scouts” out to try and wheedle information out of me.

    I guess I don’t really know how I finally realized that this behavior was WRONG and I didn’t have to take it anymore, but I’m really glad I found that place in me that told me it was okay to let go. What I was essentially saying was that it was okay to “give up”. Because if you’re the only one making an effort you’re going to be forever hurt and disappointed.

    Before I cut ties, I had started hearing people say, “You can’t change the person, you can only change your reaction to them” and that was really eye-opening to me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t convince them or successfully implore them to change. And “changing my reaction” to abuse and maltreatment was not an option, outside of removing myself from the equation.

    One good thing out of dealing with years of emotional and mental abuse is that I find myself impervious to allowing the same bully tactics from anyone else in my life. I didn’t cut out my parents just to repeat the cycle with someone else. I cut them out to say, “This is not okay and I will not accept it, even from people who I am culturally required to love unconditionally.” That, although painful, has been incredibly rewarding.

  3. Michelle said, on March 20, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Hmmm… I dont drink just like I dont like the taste of alcohol. My friend had too much too drink and I kept telling her too slow down. Her response was: “Its a bar lighten up” She didn’t stop drinking and started sticking her hands in other people’s food. These were people from another group of personal friends. One woman started to get really upset. I told her she is annoying people and to stop. Her response was to do it some more. The woman who was upset got more agitated and I got angry and said “that was out of line. We’re leaving.” (Note: other friends at the bar said I wasn’t yelling or screaming but speaking/scolding in the manner you would do a child.) She wouldn’t leave. I told her to call me and I’ll pick her up. She was later driven to my house by another friend and refused to call me because I scolded her.

    Here’s the kicker. Her and I had several conversations about our crazy families and gave each other mutual support. I did apologize for leaving her, but I can’t apologize for calling her behavior that night drunken or saying she was drank too much or scolding her for touching my friend’s food. She says I am now a bully with low self-esteem for scolding her. I really felt I had no other choice. I think she just doesn’t like she had to be called out.

    Where is the line between bullying someone and correcting someone because their behavior is making them look like an idiot?

    • edward said, on March 20, 2012 at 4:48 am

      You were not bullying Michelle, and she should be happy you were babysitting her.

      Always Edward

    • GooglyGoo said, on March 20, 2012 at 8:12 am

      Ok I saw your similar post the other day, & I’m not sticking up for your friend or anything, I’m a bit of a teetotaler myself. But… I dislike friends who try to tell me how to behave… I’m a grown woman, & if I act out of turn, I guess it’s my prerogative to do so & I’ll deal with the consequences when they come. I’m gregarious by nature & have a tendency to get a little loud & I KNOW that. Any “friends” however who “shush” me or tell me to keep it down, are no longer my friends. My true friends know how I am & for many that’s the very reason they love me. I am who I am & I try my best to be kind & thoughtful to everyone I meet. I would think you’re friend is feeling like even though she may have been out of line, that it wasn’t your place to correct her so publicly or to “call her out”. Even when adults act like children, it doesn’t mean it’s ok to treat them like one. We cannot assign ourselves the role of Morality & Behavior Police, its presumptuous & can be demoralizing & even if you feel someone deserves it, in my opinion it’s just not right. I tell my kids to not worry about what their friends are getting into or their behavior, to just moderate YOUR OWN. Just my 2 cents worth since it seemed like this is still really bugging you. Hope this helps some…

      • Michelle said, on March 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm

        Hey Googly,

        I hear ya. I dont really care who drinks or who doesn’t. I was simply trying to prevent a bar fight, and if things kept going that way, it would’ve been. :) She was really annoying people and I was trying to tell her that in a discreet way. My final act of anger was out frustration and as a matter to avoid world war III — not an attempt to belittle her. The two really needed to be separately or something worse was about to happen.

        Like I said, she now considers me (and my friends) a bully. I told her: You wanted me to be the “good friend” and watch you while you drank. You were annoying people and I tried to tell you discreetly about it. You didn’t follow your friend when she was angry. You didn’t try to contact your friend when she was angry and you were stuck somewhere. However, you blamed her for not telling you discreetly you were being an idiot when she told you that several times before your friend got angry. After your friend left, you didn’t try to contact her or try to stay on her couch, but you blamed her abandoning her. Again, I asked her to contact me and I would NEVER turn her away if she showed up at my doorstep. I told her I can’t be responsible for her behavior especially if she is intoxicated.. If she feels people were abusing her, why did you continue touching peoples food? Why iddn’t you walk away, sober up and leave? She had plently of options that night but the only one she chose is to blame me.

        More simply: Dont ask me to be your babysitter if you dont want to be babysat. :)

        The posts recently were timed with the incident and got me thinking: Is somebody really betraying you if you had other options to choose from in a situation? Is someone really a bully when you are being told you are acting like a fool privately? Or is someone really being a bully if you’re being told to slow down your drinking because something bigger will happen…especially if you want me to protect you from bad things while drinking like going home with a scary guy? Where is the line between betrayal/abandonment/bullying especially when the person wants you to step into the traditional family/friend role of helping them out but they are unwilling to be helped.

        There is much more details to the story and I agree I can’t control her behavior. Just as much, she shouldn’t be blaming me if I dont want to be around her when she is being an idiot. It works both ways. It did sting that she called me a bully. However, if my behavior was bullying by telling her to slow down and it did stop her from getting in a bar fight, then maybe it was for the best.

        Michelle

    • Karen said, on March 21, 2012 at 3:27 am

      Michelle,

      You are not a bully for refusing to enable inappropriate behaviors and that goes for illegal behaviors as well. I once had a childhood friend who was influenced to become a prostitute when she was 16 years old. She as well tried to influence me, and later I found out that her pimp (an older man) had questioned her about me. I tried to talk her out of it, because I cared about my friend and felt it was a terrible choice, but she continued. She said that I “made her feel really bad about herself” because I was judgemental about her getting into prostitution. Also her pimp was angry and mad at me as well, because I deeply offended him. She had revealed to him that I referred to him as poisonious and had no interest in being exploited by him to provide him with a source of income. I was 16. I had NO desire to become a PROSTITUTE. I resented some disgusting sneak trying to manipulate and influence me into becoming a PROSTITUTE. She felt betrayed. Was I a bully for making her feel judged and bad about herself? Apparently, some people who I revealed this story too thought so and they had zero empathy for me. They certainly didn’t care about me and how I felt. If I refuse to ENABLE inappropriate or unacceptable behaviors does that make me a bully? Apparently some people seem to think so.

      I cut her out of my life. It was one of the best decisions that I ever made. I’ve had to do this frequently with other toxic people. She turned into a very toxic, selfish and manipulative person. She made poor choices and was always trying to pull me down with her. She tried to blame me for “not taking care of her”, when it clearly was not my job to do something for her which she should have been doing for herself. I had to SAVE myself and take care of myself. I was a 16 year-old girl. I should not have to take care of other people or to be placed in that position. It isn’t my job and I wasn’t a bully for taking care of me. Yet, I’ve met a ton of people who would respond to that situation and try to make me feel as if I’ve done something wrong.

      This woman, years later tried to contact me out-of-the-blue. I’d moved on in my life and her letter felt like an assault from the past, memories that I would have liked to have left there. I was flooded with all kinds of unpleasant, unhappy memories. Her letter was apologetic in tone, but she never took an ounce of responsibility or apologized. Tthere was also a subtle hint of regret in her letter. She had even written that “We had once been so close.” Well she may have felt that way, but I had re-evaluated the relationship and it was not how I felt. I responded, not because I wanted to reconnect, but I think it was mostly that I felt obligated. I was a product of conditioning and had felt that it was wrong if I didn’t respond (long story). Thankfully, I’ve never heard from her again.

      Something about your situation triggered this memory as I’ve been around people like your friend. They tend to twist situations around. I’ve learned that I’ve had to sever relationships with people who behave like that and that extends to family members as well. It’s all about self-protection and self-preservation. It’s unreasonable and unhealthy for people to expect you to be their caretaker and to assume responsibility for them.

    • Stephanie said, on March 21, 2012 at 3:35 am

      Is this behavior typical out of her? If so, it sounds like maybe you should just not be around her when she is drinking because she is not interested in changing and you cannot convince or coerce her into doing so. Maybe this is something you should talk to her about, when alcohol is not involved. If she is still unwilling to listen to you, then you have to decide whether to hang out with her or not while drinking. If you decide to hang out with her again when alcohol is involved, you know this will happen again. At that point, the onus is unfortunately on you to deal with your own reactions to her behavior, and not try to get her to change her behavior.

      However, I want to address another point. You say you scolded her in the way you would scold a child) which is not only unnecessary, as she is not a child, but also most likely felt incredibly patronizing. If you approach the situation with a holier-than-thou or patronizing attitude, especially if she is from an unhealthy family, it’s not surprising to me that she was not interested in being receptive to your message. If you want her to respect your opinion about her behavior, you also need to respect her in how you approach the situation.

      • Michelle said, on March 21, 2012 at 4:07 am

        Stephanie,

        I didn’t see other aspects of this behavior before. However, after the incident, I saw signs and had an aha moment. I told her repeatedly to drink water and slow the the drinking, her response was the same: “I’m in a bar lighten up.” I felt belittled too. She thinks I was screaming at the top of my lungs. My friends (who are strangers to her) said I wasn’t and used “scolding part” and said she needed it. I told her in a low voice she was annoying people to stop touching peoples food, her response was to do it again. It was as if she was annoying me on purpose. Regardless, I understand how she felt belittled by publicly calling her out.

        I’m very annoyed by her that she told people I haven’t apologized and I have (twice). I have to rethink this friendship, whether it is healthy or not,

        I was hurt she called me a bully and my friends behavior abusive. My ex-boyfriend pinning me down unwillingly and trying to penetrate me: abuse. My father publicly mocking me for dating a jerk who turned out to be married: Bullying. Asking her several times to slow down drinking because something you can see something bigger down the line: most would call that a friend.

        I want to give a big thanks to all the people on this blog for your support.

      • Michelle said, on March 21, 2012 at 11:03 am

        You know I was asked to apologize to said friend (again) today. Friend told other people she hasn’t recieved an apology. I learned today. Not only did she lie about it, she wouldn’t accept the second apology. When I told my life coach about the second apology, she said: If you require a second apology or lie about the first one, you are not over your anger. If you can’t accept the second apology, you are definitely not over your anger.

        I was so worried that she called me a bully, I guess she is now bullying me. :P

    • Fiona said, on March 21, 2012 at 11:51 am

      Hi Michelle,

      Thanks so much for sharing your story about the problems you are experiencing with your friend. I think your situation is a good illustration of how we can get so confused by whether someone’s behaviour (or ours) crosses the line into bullying. I think the Valerie Cade definition I have provided, gives a useful marker for us to think about ““Bullying is repeated, deliberate, disrespectful behaviour of one or more people toward another for their own gratification, which harms the target“.

      Not all interpersonal disagreements or conflicts are bullying. The litmus test … is it a repeated act is a good start. Is your behaviour or your friend’s repeated and ongoing? In your description of events, this sounds like a one off, albeit unpleasant circumstance which has marred your friendship. She hasn’t gotten repeatedly drunk and unruly, and you haven’t repeatedly had the inclination to chastise or correct her behaviour.

      Is it a deliberate, disrespectful action which serves to demean, diminish or hurt? Whilst your friend’s behaviour appears to have crossed some lines in terms of socially acceptable behaviour, it seems doubtful that she was deliberately or maliciously engaging in her behaviour to cause you harm – rather it sounds like she had too much to drink, and was behaving poorly – alcohol reduces social inhibition and common sense. Alcohol is not an excuse for poor behaviour, but nor is drunken stupidity necessarily bullying.

      On your end, your attempts to control your friend’s behaviour and minimize the problem also does not sound like it came from the desire to be disrespectful, or to demean, diminish or harm her. The manner in which you went about “correcting” her, may have not been appreciated, and that is a fair feeling for your friend to have, just as your discomfort and annoyance over her behaviour while she was intoxicated is legitimate for you. Neither response to events necessarily constitutes bullying – but most assuredly there seems to be an inability for both of you to own up to the fact that each of you felt placed in an uncomfortable situation.

      Both of you are feeling hurt, misunderstood and defensive – but this also does not mean bullying has occurred. It is however, a signal to re-evaluate the events and the manner in which they are escalating (unwillingness to accept apologies, the minimization of mutual impact etc.)

      It may mean that in rethinking about the situation you will choose to maintain the friendship, but not engage with your friend while she is drinking. You may even decide that the situation is such that you re-evaluate the friendship and how meaningful it is to you. This is all fair game, however, adding bullying into the mix may be muddying the waters and escalating an unpleasant disagreement into something that it is not.

      Just some things to think about.

      Take care,
      Fiona

    • Philippa said, on November 4, 2013 at 7:10 pm

      I had the same reaction from a so called ‘friend’ I called out on some bad behavior as well. Don’t worry…it’s them, it’s not you. I was told I’m a ‘mean, horrible narcissist’ for telling her that I felt disrespected by her behavior and that I was a ‘user’ for asking her to not leave suicidal texts on my phone at 7a.m in the morning when she has no intent on following through with the suicide. All reasonable boundaries, but she couldn’t handle it, so I’m the villain now…of course. It’s always someone elses fault with these people.

  4. Karen said, on March 21, 2012 at 2:32 am

    “Sometimes this is true, but often the targets of bullying are not weak or helpless. In fact, another very common reason that we might become targeted by a bully is because we are strong, and capable and attempt to be assertive and self-protective.”

    This resonates for me. This is what happened in my husband’s family and I stood up for him, given their passive-aggressive and manipulative behaviors. They then targeted me and vilified me. It was all due to their getting their way at his expense, and mine. And yes, it was very disrespectful and all about their self-gratification.

    I’ve often called my sisters emotional bullies, not necessarily to their face, but to my mother and when I’ve written about their conduct here. It is the same for my husband’s relatives.

    What I’ve observed is that my becoming more assertive and self-protective tended to escalates their aggressive, bullying behaviors. My husband was not very helpful in this regard as he would rather cave in to their pressure to avoid conflict than to stand up for himself. This isn’t a healthy strategy for me. I refuse to be involved with him with other people anymore and don’t feel emotionally safe given his issues.

    In one situation with one of his more bullying and inappropriate friends, I wrote the guy a letter and told him to that he was not invited to our home and to not just show up without an invitation. I made it clear that I would call the police and take legal action, if he ignored my directive. My husband had told him to apologize and he ignored him, but my husband continued to see the idiot. He no longer does see him. They see my husband as a “nice guy” someone to use, manipulate, exploit and take advantage of and expect that they should be able to mistreat me in the same way. They don’t like me running interference and standing up for my husband. I’ve stopped standing up for my husband, because he is a willing participant in their disrespectful behaviors and I had to disengage emotionally as it was unhealthy for me.

    In my situation I think it was exacerbated because outwardly, my persona was gentle and soft-spoken, rather than loud, in-your-face, aggressive and hostile. Most people would label me as “sensitive” and “introverted” and I feel that there is a bias towards people who are “extroverted”. So people have these unreasonable expectations and they presume that I am weak and vulnerable. In response to these behaviors I’ve become less open, less approachable, more reserved and distant as a means of coping. I’m feeling less and less hospitable towards most people given these problems.

    “Do they seem empathetic or remorseful after the fact, or are they self righteous and secure in their ability and “right” to treat you poorly?” NO, they are not empathetic or remorseful. They seem very entitled and self-righteous and secure in their ability to mistreat and that is why I don’t extend an invitation to my husband’s associations or family.

    “The intention doesn’t matter here … the ACTION does!”

    My husband’s family always focused on “intention” never on the action or consequence. It allowed their manipulations to continue.

    “We stop listening to the talk, and we start carefully observing the action. The words mean less and less, the action means more and more.”

    Very true. It is all about the action. Their words are empty, meaningless lies.

    • Fiona said, on March 21, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks so much for your considered response, and for once again, being willing to share your experiences. It can be very liberating to know that you are not being targeted because you are deficient, or weak, or have poor boundaries or all the other things we commonly hear about the targets of bullies. Some bullies quite simply feel threatened by people the perceive as having “too much”… of anything. Others seem inflamed by those who will speak up for themselves and for others – it becomes something of a challenge for the bully to silence, discredit or remove the threat.

      When we can name what is happening, and can more clearly see the dynamics in play, we have greater options to consider that allow us to decide how we want to manage our response and behaviour. We can’t control other people, bullies or no … we can decide what we want to do on our own behalf. Seems to me you have good insight, consistently take steps to evaluate what is happening in your relationships and what you need to do to look after yourself, and then follow through and do it. Of course a bully will not appreciate these qualities in you, however I sure do!

      Take care,
      Fiona

  5. pamela said, on March 26, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    I am very aware of karma, and try to do nthing that would boomerang onto me later in life. I observed my mother in a nursing home trying to do what she has always done. Ordering people around and waving her displeasure at them. Guess what? Nobody was impressed. She spoke and was ignored. She threatened and was ignored. She waved her walking stick around and was disarmed. Her anger grew, of course. After a lifetime of using anger to control people she came to a complete stop. In a nursing home, nobody was impressed and nobody jumped to attention.

    I was so sad to think that she did not get a reality check during her life up to that point, so she went into old age as a childish temper-tantrum type of person.

    I avoid doing anything that I would not want to come back at me as karma.

    • Karen said, on April 5, 2012 at 1:58 am

      pamela,

      This sounds like a version of an oft repeated phrase, “…that people often get back what they give to others.” I think that there are countless variations of this that I’ve heard in one form or another. One such variation is if you treat people poorly you will often get the same kind of treatment back. Maybe, but not necessarily. I mean no disrespect by stating this as it just gets me to thinking about it and my own experiences, so I thought that I would just put this out there and try to explain it more fully.

      This also restimuates a memory of that woman, who I spoke of in earlier threads about bullying. I was discussing her behavior with a therapist and her observation about this person (and something that she had said to me) was this, “…that maybe she gets what she gives.” I don’t know if this is karma or not, but what this woman gave to me in the way of treatment and her thoughtless, careless words was the very reason why I severed the relationship, because her behaviors were manipulative, selfish and thoughtless.

      I certainly don’t believe that I was deserving of her lack of empathy or manipulative conduct. In other words I can see how karma works in the situation that you describe, but not in mine–certainly not thinking that all people who are mistreated or dismissed by others merit this type of treatment because of something that may have done to deserve it.

      I know what you are saying, but my problem with this concept is that if you were raised in a family where you were constantly scapegoated or blamed for the terrible behaviors of others–problems that were about their issues, character disorders, etc., then karma can start to sound like another version of that you somehow deserved it or brought it on yourself.

      In the example that I give, I was not encouraged nor emotionally supported to sever the relationship with this woman, not even initially by my therapist. It took her awhile to even recognize this woman’s abusive behavior for what it was. People are far too invested in understanding the bully, the reasons as excuses as to why they bully and then giving them a free pass if they can sympathize in some respects with their plight. In this case, the woman was a twice-divorced single mother. So what. Life is difficult for all of us. We run into a lot of trouble if we rationalize why someone mistreats another–there’s no excuse. This therapist was not very helpful to me in dealing with this woman, not initially. And this is very problematic when you are vulnerable and the very professionals that you turn to for help, wind up offering non-help. Yet, truthfully I’ve encountered this type of reaction quite frequently. I was not being hard or cruel when I severed the relationship and I’ve gotten sick and tired of other people misinterpreting, twisting my situation and villifying my self-protection strategies. I was taking care of myself. Yet, in this situation and many others, I’ve frequently experienced a lack of understanding and support around my self-protection strategy of severing toxic relationships. So why is that? Why do people interpret that in a negative way and get it all wrong and messed up. I get mixed messages all the time and often people twist it around into that somehow I lack understanding or compassion for others. It’s the same old routine of now I’m the perpetrator. This happen so frequently. People say that they don’t advocate abuse, but in reality my experience is that they are very complicit in the process.

      I’ve been very re-triggered by this discussion on bullying. I think it a very important topic.

      • pamela said, on April 14, 2012 at 11:32 am

        I am aware that the karma principle can get used against someone who is suffering and I am sorry that it triggered bad thoughts for you Karen. I only use it as a guide to my own behaviour, and avoid getting the ‘guilts’. Carelessness in expressing myself is to blame here….I could have added a note that would have clarified that I dont think we need to make ourselves suffer on top of suffering!!

        I hope you didnt have too much angst after my post. Most of us on here are non-judgemental and would only appear so because of carelessly used words.

        What you are talking about is what I call the ‘old triangle’, of rescuer, victim and perpetrator, and I watch out for it all the time. In fact I hardly ever rescue these days, harsh though that may sound. The triangle works like this: I go in to rescue someone and cheer them up (frinstance), and then they start to tell people I am too pushy, or too cheerful, or insensitive. Whatever…you know the idea. At this point I am the bad guy! So, I tried to spend time with a sad person and am now a nuisance and have people telling me off, thus ending up as the victim. Or they might say I do not visit often enough and neglected them when they needed someone.

        No matter what, there is the opportunity to turn me from a rescuer into a victim. I only help someone who is helping themselves, and will only go as far as being a cheer-leader for them, not as a rescuer.

        So, I understand what I did Karen, and will be more careful in future. Love and best wishes, Pamela.

      • Karen said, on April 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm

        Thank you Pamela. Fiona’s articles tend to get me thinking–so much of what she writes resonates for me and i need to talk about it. I need to be here and I’ve had too few emotionally safe places or even outlets to explore, let alone just talk about my feelings, experiences or processes. I tend to meet people who are shut down in so many ways and most I think would prefer to avoid topics that require more introspecion and depth. The topic about bullies was really triggering for me. I didn’t suffer angst after reading your post–not because of what you said or didn’t say, because I do realize given your other posts that you mean well and are not judgemental. What gets triggered is my experiences of other people–the judgements and the blame. I appreciate your taking the time to clarify your thoughts though and how you’ve expressed yourself here. That means a lot to me.

        I’ve been in that loop too–the rescuer, victim, etc., and no, it doesn’t sound harsh to remove yourself from that triangle. I understand that, but I suspect others have judged your harshly or you wouldn’t have made the comment. I’ve done that too, but I’ve encountered people who feel that I’m harsh (my husband included) and then seek to vilify me for taking care of myself or standing up for myself. For me it works a bit differently, but it does feel manipulative as if I’m being judged for taking the healthy step of self-protection and I also tend to feel like I’m being backed into a corner and I resent that. Often times I’ve felt like I’ve had an attack army after me. So I do know what you speak of. Thank you again for your kind comments and for being so open…I’m up late tonight, so I don’t even know if I’m making any sense, so I will close for now….take care, Karen

      • Philippa said, on November 4, 2013 at 7:40 pm

        I get that all the time as well. Bullies and abusers seem to get away with bad behavior everywhere, but as soon as someone acts in their own interests (when no one else has theirs at heart), they get treated like they are atrocious for protecting themselves. People are far too willing to believe bullies and then don’t look at both sides and blame the victim, and then give sympathy to the bully. It’s all backwards.

  6. Pamela said, on April 28, 2012 at 10:10 am

    This place is a good home-base for starting to recover everytime something or, usually, someone knocks me down! I might stay away for a while and maybe 5 or 6 days later, check in to rejuvenate. It works every time. I feel as if I know some of you better than my own family sometimes, so cheers, Karen, Edward, et al.

    • edward said, on April 28, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      There is a sense of closeness that emanates from being open with others who have had their own battles with life and those who tend to make things difficult and this is what people here feel in their interactions of conversation. Happiness to you Pamela…I am always around as well and hope that Fiona is fine at this point.

      Always Edward


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