Thursday, November 11, 2010



How was your day?

Will: Fine, except for when I was attacked for no reason.

Oma: How awful! What happened?

Will: I just got beat up.

Oma: Who did it?

Will: Madelyn.

Oma: What did you do?

Will: What do you think? I ran away!

Art by Feodor Rojankovsky

The other day I got attacked for no reason. I was halfway out the door, already late for an appointment, when the phone rang. Thinking it might be a call I'd been waiting for, I rushed back in to answer. The woman, an acquaintance new to a group I'm part of, began with some observations of how things were done differently in this group than she was used to. When I tried to explain the reasons, she launched into a full-blown critique of the group. Then she got more personal and listed some of the things I was doing wrong. She assured me she was just trying to help.

Devastated, I listened to her soft-spoken and (supposedly) well-meant evaluation of my performance, thanked her for calling, and said good-bye. At first I felt embarrassed—I didn't even know I needed her help! What a loser I was! Then the defensive team in my psyche took over. Hey! Who was she to beat me up? She wasn't aware of the circumstances or the efforts to do the very things she'd suggested. And I won't be explaining them anytime soon. Sometimes the only thing to do is run away—fast!

What do you do when you feel bullied? Why do people outside a situation take on the responsibility of critique? How do you ever trust or like a person who you know disapproves of you? (Just wondering. I'm totally over it.)

I'm not a crybaby!


Misty said...

I've been dealing with a bullying problem of my own, lately. It stinks. I'm sure you handle it more graciously than I do, but I just want to stick my tongue out at them every time I see them. (I said I want to, not that I actually do it.) Avoidance is my defense.

kenju said...

We women have a very active group in our neighborhood. One of the women is a former schoolteacher (4th grade) who apparently misses telling people what to do and how to do it. I had to take over the email communications for the group because the former person who did it got tired of that schoolteacher telling her how to do it and what to say. (I didn't know that when I agreed to take the 'job'.)

Sorry for writing a whole post here - but she might read my blog - so I can't do it there.

The first time she tried to tell me how to do it - I politely but firmly told her I had a handle on it and if I was going to be doing the job, I"d have to do it my way or not at all. She backed off.

This is a woman who never wants to be head of anything, or host anything in her home, but she is the first person in line to tell you how to do it - and offer her help - which is a thinly disguised way of maintaining control.

You might not consider this bullying - but it is a mild form of it.

She is also in our book club, which I somehow got to be the leader of. At our first meeting, we were trying to decide on a book to read and she poohed on all suggestions. She said..."I think we should only read fabulous books!!!"

And I calmly (but firmly) replied..."What YOU think is a fabulous book may not appeal to any of us." That shut her up.
She is lobbing for "To Kill a Mockingbird", which we have all read at least once, and no one else wants to read it again. We told her that when she agreed to host in in her home, she could pick the book.

My advice to you is to tell that woman if she is so unhappy in that group - she should feel free to leave and start her own.

polly said...

I don't get how some people are always right and have to let everybody know it,not ever thinking how anyone else feels. It's interesting how some are worried about others feelings and some aren't. I still haven't learned how to stick up for myself.

Diane said...

I've just been dealing with this somewhat myself. It has been a struggle to not let it influence the way I do things, but then I have to tell myself after a thorough analysis, that it's okay to do it my way. If I'm wrong, then I need to change.
I think we're geared to try to please everyone, and keep peace. It's not always possible.

Heffalump said...

I just avoid social situations and groups in general!
Bullying is a sore subject with me right now, as my 5th grader was recently beaten up on the way home from school by a group of older boys. They cut off all routes of escape, and he wasn't able to just run away. Oh, how I'd like to beat up a few of those boys myself!

the wrath of khandrea said...

i'm working on it, because my therapist says it's better to "let it go". frankly, my "get revenge until i'm satisfied" approach was much more fun, but apparently not as healthy for my spirit.


mama jo said...

love all the comments...when someone criticizes me...i just want to i don't do well with bullying, do i? but, it just makes me so mad when someone does that,i want to punch them or something!

Susan Adcox said...

When I was a kid, I was a shrinking violet. But after 20+ years of being a teacher and now becoming sort of the family matriarch, I've discovered that I'm accustomed to being in charge. I don't think I've ever bullied anyone, but I am having to learn to tamp down my managerial instincts!