Friday, June 17, 2011

Where the bullies hide

I'm hearing a lot about bullying these days on the parent pages and the mommy blogs.  People are talking about bullying, what it is, and how to stop it, naming a problem I have been all too aware of since I was in sixth grade and the target of class-wide bullying.  In retrospect, I understand why it happened. 

My parents, Goddess bless them, recognizing early that I was bright for my age, sent me to first grade instead of kindergarten when I was five.  Although they meant to do what was best for me, to some degree that decision sealed my fate.  Not only did I not learn all those critical life skills everyone is supposed to learn in kindergarten, children who become the targets of bullies are frequently the youngest, the smallest or the brightest child in a class. 

I was all three. 

The whole horrific experience lasted pretty much the whole year, to the point where the following year, when we learned about the Holocaust, I had a good idea what it was like to exist in a Hell from which there was no rescue. 

Then along came my ex-husband, and I learned about bullying on a whole new level.  That was the kind of bullying I encountered when he used his knowledge and familiarity of the legal system against me, filing frivolous actions of every kind, forcing me to use resources I didn't have in my defense.  (Whenever I suggested to members of the bar that the fairest thing the bar association could do was to appoint lawyers to handle divorces for non-attorney spouses for free or at reduced cost, my suggestion was always greeted with shock, horror or laughter.  But it's one way to ensure the playing field stays even.) 

Which brings me to a few years ago, when once again I encountered the same kind of attempted bullying by someone I considered a business associate, partner, attorney, and friend.  When I approached her as a hurt friend, she responded to me as a lawyer to an opponent.  What hurt all the more was that this person purports to be a highly spiritual person, one who supposedly left the practice of law to embrace a more spiritually-inclined way of life - which includes claiming to channel messages from otherworldly energies. 

So after much thought and reflection, I've decided to stand up to that kind of bullying.  It's taken me awhile to come to this place, because I waited to see if she would evince any remorse, contrition, or the slightest awareness she hurt someone who, by her own admission "never let her down, always came through for her, and was always there for her."  But although I've waited a long time, there's been nothing, and so, reluctantly, I've decided to act. 

Bullies come in all guises and in all forms.  Like every other form of evil, in order to exist, they must rely on good people doing nothing.  

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