Bullies have always been in my life. My older brother, Simon, chose me as the target of his daily teasing sessions. I would end up throwing a temper tantrum and he would simply stand there laughing at me. My husband wouldn’t allow me to go out for ladies night out if my girlfriends were going to drink. Instead of throwing a temper tantrum I would simply whine and try to manipulate him. I ended up resentful and burnt his dinner.
My prayer group leader used religion to bully and control me. Any time I disagreed with her she used a spiritual answer to show how wrong I was. I couldn’t stand up to her because she had GOD on her side. I’d scratch my head and wonder why I was always wrong in this relationship and felt so helpless (See our section on Religious Addiction)
What Is The Solution To Bullying
I had tried tears, manipulation, and silence. Then I discovered the tools of Al-Anon and they have guided me ever since.
The Serenity Prayer line, “Courage To Change What I Can” Became My Guide
I didn’t have control over the bullies. The secret to handling them, taught to me by my sponsor, was to remember I had a choice. In the past, I had accepted the role of victim. That seemed the natural position to take when facing a scary situation. What I had not realized was I could simply use my recovery tools to make it stop.
1. I could stop and use the WAIT slogan (Why Am I Talking?) This is choosing not be a part of the discussion. Often, when I did that, the bully would stand there in bewilderment. One person can’t wage a war alone. His bubble would burst.
2. I could apologize for my part in the situation. This silenced more than one bully. Not only was I not being a victim, I was dealing with the situation from a position of power and accepting my part of the problem.
3. I could also simply say, ”I will stay in this room (relationship, job) with you only if you stop yelling.” My sponsor helped me to understand that the bully is often just a frustrated individual who wants to be heard. I could help them learn to speak in a calm voice if I kept leaving the room until whoever it was understood I would not stand for yelling, abusive language. or conflict. This does not, of course, always work. Some people are very difficult to manage. These people who are toxic to you may have to be eliminated from your life. Tough love for yourself.
The 3 Tools Above Take The Heat Out Of Conflict
If the situation ever involves violence or the threat of violence, however, you have to take care of your safety first. That may mean getting out of the place where you are, seeking friends, or relatives, ending the relationship in a safe way, or calling 911. Or Researching a safe way out.
Every Bully Needs A Victim Don’t Let It Be You
My life no longer has bullies in it. I meet people who try to bully me, but since I have learned every bully needs a victim, I can opt out of that role before it even begins.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
If you have questions or are in an abusive relationship and need help call: The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By Madeline Schloop