We hear a lot these days about bullying. The majority of it pertains to school age kids or online bullying. Bullying is not a new concept by any means but in further years past it was more of a “hush hush” or taboo subject. It was almost normal to “tease” others. I was definitely bullied for a few different reasons growing up as a shy and awkward child who had issues of various types. I have been bullied as an adult over the years as well but the bully that is probably the most harmful is the bully inside my mind.
All it takes really is for someone to say something to me or make me feel uncomfortable and I start to doubt myself and everything I have done and said. I begin to tell myself that others do not like me and are talking about me behind my back. It does not matter if I actually heard or saw it. It simply matters that something happened that triggered those anxiety ridden voices that live inside me.
I have had men in my past who have said things in anger or because maybe they just were immature and had little to no sense that were hurtful to me. Many would be able to know immediately that the words were not necessarily true but meant to be like am emotional wound laid upon them. Most would be able to drop those words and thoughts from their minds 10 or more years later but not me. The inner bully inside me stores all of those evil words to use for later dates. If I feel insecure about things such as my weight, career, parenting, and more those words are reused on me to reiterate my insecurities. That bully inside not only uses its own words but it reuses the hurtful words and events from days past to beat me up on the inside.
I can remember a few years ago someone involved in the same business as I was had done a few things to me or directly around me that were hurtful. I had spent some time defending someone else and myself and it never seemed to leave this person’s mind that I had stood up for what I believed in. I was criticized and blamed for things I had nothing to do with and most of all I was verbally assaulted and then finally told I was “the most annoying person” they had ever met. The truth of the matter was I stood up for some things I believed and other things I did not believe in and I was then put under a microscope and for whatever reason any bad that surrounded this small group of us I was blamed or brought to center. Again, some would have long forgotten words said by someone they barely knew and have had nothing to do with for many years now but for me when I feel insecure and anxious about myself and the things I say or how I act those words come back to me and my inner bully uses them against me. I obviously must be annoying. Maybe that is why some parties I am not invited to. Maybe that is why I was excluded from this or that. It also may be why sometimes when I do go places I am quiet and withdrawn for fear of what I might say. The logical part of me that can often explain this away is silenced by that bully inside. The bully only wants to talk about the negative and use my anxiety against me.
Sometimes as a parent we beat ourselves up. Parenting is not an easy job. Nobody gave us a manual that covered every situation that can arise. Nobody trained us on exactly what to do and gave us all the money and tools necessary in life. Those of us who have been single parents or are single parents often face extra obstacles along the way. Most of us know we did the best we could and can in spite of it all. Sometimes things happen and we cannot make it all right. Maybe we cannot afford everything they want or even need. Maybe they reach the older ages where less is completely in our control. They grow into young adults and we have to relinquish a certain amount of control you know. Someone can make a comment or even tell me I am not a good mom or I did not do something right and it can hit me like a ton of bricks. You see it is not only the things they say that run through my mind, it is that and so much more. Every insecurity and every decision I have made as a parent for the last 17 plus years goes running through my mind. The bully inside pulls out all of the bad from the past which makes me believe all of the current bad stuff and more. My mind is not able to rationalize how I worked very hard and my child never went without the basics in life and so much more. My mind does not remind myself how I got him to and from most of his sport activities and any other activities mostly on my own. I am not told to remember what a polite and handsome young man I have. The bully inside me knows that being a parent is something I have always taken seriously and it uses that against me. It tells me I am a terrible mom and I should have done more and done better. I am reminded of how I spend time on myself here and there when I really should have focused only on my child. The reality is that none of this is true but I cannot always control my mind and ignore the bully’s voice. The very nature of my anxiety is to be somewhat paranoid and think the worst.
As I have worked with my most recent counselor on we cannot control everything. We also have to try to think logically when those anxious thoughts come to us from our bully inside. I can tell myself that I cannot do anything right but the fact is I do a lot right. I am not perfect but I try. I can tell myself that nothing I do is worth it but the reality is I do a lot of good things for others even without personal gain. Silencing the bully inside is not easy and it can be a definite challenge for me almost daily but I owe it to myself and to those around me to try to be a better self. My anxiety is a huge part of this and all I can do is try and use the tools given to me and always be willing to try new things and recover from it all when it happens. Anxiety is real and cannot always be controlled. People often hurt me with their words whether directly or indirectly but I assure you that nobody is more hurtful than the bully inside.