The art of bullying.
Day 256 of the Cornwall Bypass project…
I had a moment of my teenage years where I hated going to school. I was ostracized over something stupid that I never fully understood and because I wouldn’t back down, I spent most of my days (for months) alone. I ate lunch in the locker room and cried by myself in a bathroom stall. I was 12. It felt like hell.
Today people would say I was bullied — then it was teenage girls and hormones that were to blame. The truth?
People who feel powerless in their lives often seek out ways to assert their power over those who seem weaker than they are. It’s sad and unfortunate and in small ways we all do it. Those days where we snap at the person serving us because we had a crap day at work; or your kid gets the brunt of the argument you just had with your spouse; or you flip off the guy who cut you off because you are running late — you know those human moments when after you let your ugly side creep out you feel a desperate need to apologize for being a such an immense dick…In that small moment you let go of your empathy and act selfishly without regard of the impact you have on the person on the other side of your outburst. These moments are mistakes and not often what we consider traditional bullying because we feel badly about it afterward — if left unchecked without that empathy creeping in however, that’s when those small selfish moments which make us human, transform us into something else. Something no one really wants to be.
Sorry kids, but this is when I tell you bullies don’t go away in childhood. They surface throughout your adult life as well any time or any place there is an idea of power and powerlessness — bullies exist to exploit those vulnerabilities.
You guys are watching me as an adult deal with a seemingly larger-than-life bully right now. The Prince Edward Island Government and their tactics are not dis-similar to what I experienced in grade 7 as a 12 year old. They want me to concede to something I know in my heart to be wrong and something which wouldn’t allow me to rebuild HJC.
So the stakes might be higher, but it still feels like hell and there are days I still lock myself in the bathroom and cry. The only difference is, this time around, I have all of you.
It’s because of you I’m not backing down. You guys whether you know it or not are my strength and my sanity.
They (the PEI Government) feel as though they have all the power and take offense when the plebeians (you and me) disagree.
I learned a lot about myself crying in a bathroom stall at 12 years old and I learned even more about bullies.
Most of the time I feel sorry for them.
The kid who feels the need to put someone else down, the bully, often has the sadest story of all. Don’t get me wrong. Knowing this doesn’t make what you go through any easier, but it does allow you at least start to understand why these things are happening. Mainly guys, it’s not about you. The only way those people ever got ahead was through the exploitation of the people surrounding them. The only way they ever felt good was to know someone else felt worse.
Getting off on feeling as though you are more powerful than someone else is not enviable. In fact it is weak and easy and it breeds abuse.
So how do we fight it?
The trick is that bullies only gain power through the rest of us relinquishing our own. So, and this is hard — it starts with you.
It starts with you believing in yourself and what is important to you. Believing in yourself enough to lock yourself in a bathroom and cry because sometimes shit just isn’t fair, dig deep, brush yourself off, and remember — this too shall pass.
Whether you know it or not my belief in HJC and how important you have all become to me and the work we still have left to do — that is where my power lies. I’m not giving you guys up without a fight — so I resist.
At 12 alone in a bathroom stall, I was strong enough to resist.
At 12 I was able to understand right from wrong.
At 12 I knew enough about myself to believe that whatever I was going through wasn’t about me, because my family and my barn family still liked me, I couldn’t be all bad right?
So how do you think that 12 year old kid grew up?
She grew up and founded a barn family of her own. And because of all of you, my power is still intact and I am here, resisting.
One way or another this too shall pass.
Whether HJC is rebuilt or we must part ways — the bully in this will not gain our power. We won’t let them.
This is going to be a hard summer.
It’s also going to be an amazing summer full of magical moments we will cherish forever. That’s the way it works; the bad and challenging help us to appreciate the good and peaceful.
We are powerful.
We are strong.
We will not be bullied.
We can do this.