Less than. Greater than. Social hierarchy, and the need to boost oneself by putting others down. ‘Put downs’, ‘taking the piss’, and other forms of trying to make people feel worse, so as to feel some power and status – at least for a moment. Bullying. That is why I started writing. The end point is somewhere else.
I have just experienced a strongly public, strangely impersonal, social media assassination. I actually feel grateful for the moments I’ve encountered this diseased streak of humanity in the past. It would have been devastating had I not recognised them when they came.
As a child, at times I was bullied. At times I was the bully. Just like everybody else.
I was somewhat unguided. No moral compass. No idea what to tolerate or accept. No idea that those moments spent inflicting pain to make myself feel good were the ugly side of humanity.
I learned these things as an adult. Much too late for many of the people in my past to ever forgive me. So I need to suck that up and own it.
I have been writing in an attempt to capture the essence of this moment. In being on the receiving end of narcissistic abuse from a total stranger. Her work was deliberate and methodical. Her ability to stay composed and plausible while I fought her was flawless. I still retain friends who have retained her as a friend, despite what she did to me, and their pronouncements that they care about me.
This has been an experience that returned me to the world I left behind a lifetime ago. Where humans were not to be trusted. Everybody (including me) would point out your flaws behind your back and smile at your face. I lived for a long time in the ugly side of life. There was violence. There was rape. There was theft. And no-one was faithful in word or deed. People lived ugly.
When this finally killed me, I had to build a new way of living in the world. One based on faith, and hope, and trust in the human animal. A world based on giving in service, being ruthlessly honest, and understanding that we are all flawed and doing our best. The narcissistic sociopath was always the exception. Some folk do have fundamental damage that will be with them for life. They become hollow, and they feed on pain.
So now, many years into doing my best and experiencing those rewards – of investing in people, and knowing the little I have to give is of value, the narcissist enters in a form unrecognisable to me. She is half my age.
She sought me out. The signs were obvious straight away. So I managed what I could, then set a boundary. And her anger came down on my wee business.
My reputation isn’t the problem. I have been called worse in the past. I’m no longer invested too much in the criticism of others.
What threw me is how easily 40 other 20 year olds jumped on her hatred and threw it at me. That really shook my faith in what I was doing.
I limited my online profiles. For the first time ever, I was worried that these people might have access to photos of my children.
This lifetime has been a hard run. Much work. Little support. I have an online crew who love me, but I also have three children with complex needs, an income that is challenged because of this, and no partner support (my choice – I find the rewards of such partnerships lacking).
Here’s what this experience does do. It helps me teach my children. That everyone has had a bully (not just you) and everyone has been a bully, at at least one stage in their lives. I think they thought I was making this lesson up. But attacks are random. It’s like rape – it can happen to anyone at any time.
I can teach them, it’s NOT my fault if it happens, but it is my job to say get the fuck offa me. Just because you force it down my throat, doesn’t mean I won’t bite it off.
Cos I will.
What we learn is not to be a bully. What we learn is never to tolerate the bullying of others. What we learn is to be better people. We cannot change others. But we can learn these lessons about our own behaviour.
But there is a ‘real world’ factor in this. It’s not just about philosophy and educating our babies.
In reality, running my wee home business around three children is hard. I have driven to St Leonards at 10pm to see clients in major distress. I have given my time at all hours. I have kept my house as presentable as possible around raising 3 kids with respect for clients, and with an nod to being in an outlaw vocation where credibility is always at stake. I study. I work. I pay taxes, and advertising, and merchandising. I work through my ex-husband’s claims in family court that I must be ‘raking it in’ with strict honesty, while the world sees me as a bludger. I offer my services for charity and fundraising.
And I’m tired. This is hard work.
So when one vicious human sets me up in this way, and 40 strangers jump onboard without hesitation, I know its time to move on.
There has been significant time, and work, and financial input into creating my little business. And I could continue. Because none of this will matter in six months, or even in six minutes. I do know that. The emotional impact is far bigger than the real world cost.
But part of continuing would be to prove my bully wrong, when really, she doesn’t matter at all. Whether I fight her or not, she has her satisfaction. All I can really do is make sure that my decisions are not because of her. She may be the catalyst, but she has no control. This is not about her.
It’s about me, and my kids. Like every decision I make.
The next client I see could be one like her. Or one sent by her. She’s stolen a week of my life, and that is enough time.
I choose freedom. Time to move on to the next phase of my life.
I have never regretted leaving anything.