The Lasting Effects of Bullies

I woke up Saturday morning, feeling angry at someone who has not been a relevant part of my life since 2018. I hate it when something from my past comes and invokes all the old feelings I had back then. It says to me that I haven’t allowed myself to close that chapter in my life and I really need to because there won’t be any secure form of closure.

This deals with bullies. I’ve had my number of them throughout my life. I can probably name them all if I gave myself enough time to dwell on them. Not all of them were from my childhood. In fact, a large number of them were from my adult life. From my father to at least 2018, I’ve had to deal with bullies. I don’t know what it is about me that attracts them, but I wish I did.

Aside from my father, I can remember two from my childhood. One, the only reason I can think of why was because I was best friends with a person she wanted to be friends with, or felt intitled to. The other person seemed to be upset that I was friends with the only three Asian people in the school. Otherwise, I can’t think of any other reason, and honestly, haven’t really thought about it much.

I can’t think of anyone until I was in college. I made a friend who ended up dating another very dear friend of mine and suddenly, I was worthy of scorn and hatred. I don’t know what that dear friend said to her to make her turn on me that quickly and hatefully, but it hurt a great deal. I lost a dear friend and a new friend group. I was blatantly ostracized and excluded from things. When she went away overseas, it became apparent the person who had the biggest issue with me was her. No one else seemed to mind my presence. When she returned, the ostracization started back up. I tried later to be friends, but there had been too much bad blood by that time. She still felt the need to judge me exceedingly heavy, and I felt like I couldn’t have a relationship with my friend who had done so much for me at a time when I really needed him. I couldn’t thank him or let him know how much he had truly meant to me without having to deal with her. I wasn’t invited to their wedding. I was excluded from major life events he experienced. She has tried since our last falling out in the early 2000’s to reclaim friendship, but at this point in my life, I refuse to accept her. I was wounded deeply, tried to be the bigger person, and still got treated horribly. I’m too old to hold grudges, but I’m also too old to know better than to allow someone who has had no regard for my feelings open access again. I’m happy for him and wish we had that relationship we had back then, but time has passed and I can support him and appreciate him from afar. That makes me happy. But it’s hard to not feel extremely cheated and left out, even know. I was excluded from having a friendship with someone I valued, and that’s hard to reconcile. I know that wasn’t entirely her fault, as he obviously told her things in a light that made her dislike me, and I recognize that, but her behavior alone completely obliterated any chance of repairing things. I can forgive a lot, but I can’t forget that.

The bully that started my ire this weekend was a woman who hated me from the moment she met me. She hated me from that instant, for the next 10 years, and she probably still hates me. She made that hate extremely obvious and acted on it numerous times during my 10 years working with her. It got me in trouble, even when I had never started anything. I treated her with as much respect, kindness and understanding as I possibly could. I even went so far as to put myself in her shoes, experience my presence through her eyes, see her perspective based on what I knew of her, which honestly, was a shit ton. this woman literally couldn’t shut up about herself. Ever. My office was across from the break room, and when she would sit in there, she would drone on and on for an hour or more about everything to do with her. I understood why her husband was distant from her. I understood why her oldest daughter wanted to leave the state and make a life away from her. I understood why she became an alcoholic. I could hear her stories, all centered on herself, and know exactly why what was happening to her was happening. Why people regarded her the way they did. I could even muster some sympathy for her existence as she was completely oblivious to it. She lacked any sort of self-reflecting or introspection. She would talk and it was very apparent she wasn’t hearing herself, she wasn’t listening to what she was saying and she certainly wasn’t aware of the correlation between what she was talking about and why these things had happened. And her bullying was relentless. She would come into my office and start yelling at me. She’d walk past me and make a snide remark. She would “pretend” to know I wasn’t able to hear her and say shit about me. There was literally no level too low that she wouldn’t stoop down to let me know she felt I was the worst person on her planet. During this time, I was dealing with the abuse that my ex-husband had piled on me, a divorce, a relationship that was not just horrible, but terrifying, being broke, possibly being in poverty, trying to find a way to take care of my kids as a single mother and afford them and myself without going belly up. I was dealing with so much stuff that honestly, she was one less thing I needed, or wanted. I was trying to deal with the PSTD and anxiety from all the last 32 years and didn’t need it added to. To her though, I didn’t matter. What my life experiences were weren’t her concern, ever. She had zero compassion for me and let me know any chance she got.

One year was bad enough. It was 10 years. 10 years she openly bullied me where I got no resolution, was told to simply take it otherwise I’d lose my job, and to try to make myself as small as possible whenever she was around. One person should never be allowed to have that much power. Ever. So yes, that whole situation still makes me angry. I feel that burning rage build inside me when I think about her. She has a special place in the seething, burning place in my soul. I can’t even say I hate her. I will say, when I hear about bad things that have happened to her, I feel just slightly more justified. If someone told me she was killed horrifically in a terrible accident, not dying instantly but in immense pain till the end, I’d just shrug and say, “Totally justified.” To me, that’s a level of dislike that goes beyond hate.

It’s a part of me that honestly, I don’t like owning, but accept that once someone reaches that place, they have damn well deserved it. That I have given them every opportunity to make things better and have failed willingly. That they have deliberately chosen to be someone worthy of that kind of hateful disdain. I give everyone plenty of chances, even her. If you don’t take even one of them, you cease to have my sympathy. Or any emotion other than waiting for the day you cease to exist. I am also pleased to say, there are only a few people in that space, and I’d have to say, she’s the only one that has reached that level. Maybe one other, the other person who happily allowed her bullshit to continue. He is equally loathed and in that same seat, since he not just refused to stop it, he encouraged her and others to bully me.

As a person with CPTSD and anxiety, these bullies end up being like bubble gum stuck in your hair. You can try everything and hope. You can cut them out, but you’ll never forget the horrible way your hair looks for literally months later, and the memory lives on for decades. Things around you, other people, something you see, something you hear, will make that person pop up in your mind. Sometimes, your brain has a weird muscle memory, and something traumatic happened on that day, which is why you suddenly remember and relive the rage. You might not remember what exactly, but those emotions are as fresh and burning as the moment whatever had happened.

When you chose to bully someone, particularly someone who is dealing with everything in the world, has mental health issues, and is struggling, you are doing long term damage. When you decide to make that person your kicking dog, you are doing monumental damage. If you are aware and consciously doing these things, you are not a good person, no matter what version of yourself you chose to play that through. You lack any humanity or sense of goodness.

I can at least say my friend’s wife had a reason. My friend had expressed a deep hurt I had unfortunately perpetrated against him to her, and she reacted to show support and love. I can be hurt by that and what resulted, but I can understand it and move on and away from that. It came from a place of love, even if it became something ugly and distorted. My ex-coworker was just inhumane. A monster. Even if it was only to me, which it wasn’t, based on the things she would talk about. She was a monster to everyone. She was just less of a monster to some people, depending on how much she needed you, whether to control, abuse, or lovebomb. She made conscious decisions to be the worst person possible to me, because she felt the need to control something, beat someone to be lower than her or how she felt so she could feel better, or just to do it because it brought her some sadistic pleasure. I have long since given up trying to figure out the whys. It isn’t worth it. I can only be thankful that because of her, I know when to see someone is a horrible person and avoid them. To prevent them access. It wasn’t a lesson I should have had to learn. She was the one who should have learned how not to treat others, but instead was enabled in her abusive behavior. Some things are simply unforgiveable. Some people are just unforgiveable. It’s awful when you have one in your life. Like bubble gum in your hair, they never really go away.

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