Category Archives: bullies

Princess Stella

Many moons ago I wrote about the cat my sister was giving me, even though I didn’t really want it, but I didn’t really tell her that, so… it was pretty much my own fault I would be taking in a cat I didn’t want.

The cat’s name was Stella and she was a princess.  She came into my house in September and immediately took over.  Other than those first moments out of the cat carrier, her paws never touched the floors.  Instead, she leaped through the air and flew from table top to counter top to buffet top to… you get the idea.

Although I am aware that MY cats occasionally sneak onto these forbidden surfaces, they wouldn’t dare do it in front of me because it is against the rules at my house.

And so my cats were stunned and hurt to see Princess Stella getting away with these shocking maneuvers.  She basically took over the house, all their special spots and hiding places, and she took over me, their human mother.  And she lorded it over them.

Hour by hour, day by day, they became more hurt and dejected.  They started staying outside as much as possible to avoid the princess.  And I felt guiltier and angrier about it by the minute.

I began to see that a pattern from childhood had repeated itself in the present day and I needed to break that pattern.

This cat, that I never wanted in the first place, was clearly not working out.  I had to tell my sister “no” for the first time in my life.  I had to do it fast and I had to mean it.  In spite of the possibly good intentions she had, in spite of the trouble and expense she had gone to, in spite of my almost-out-of-control panic that had been triggered by this situation, I had to say that the princess was just not fitting in and would have to go.

Ah, sweet emotional illness…. I was a wreck.

But I did it!!!  I gave that damn cat back!  It’s kind of funny now, but at the time it was completely stressful and traumatic.

Even now, seven months later, I consider the whole episode to be a significant turning point in my development as a human being with a sense of agency.  It gives me something to build on as I move forward in life.  And it gives me a way to know better what I want for myself and to believe that I deserve to have what I want.

In a strange way, I owe this turning point to a little black and white cat.  Thank you Princess Stella!

Advertisements

8 Comments

Filed under anxiety, boundaries, bullies, decision making, dysfunction, family, getting along, growth, honesty, journey, motivation, peer pressure, progress, self-care, self-respect, stress, Uncategorized

In Defense of Me

I had a little text exchange earlier today.

My sister sent me a picture and two videos of the kitten she is giving me in the fall.  I did not want a new cat as I have three and that is enough.  But my sister cleverly sent a picture first and then asked me if I would like to have a new kitten.  She would pay for all the shots, the spaying, and bring her to me from N. Carolina since they were coming up anyway.  It was a cute cat, and my sister always gets her way, and one of my cats is 19, so how long would I have to wait to be back down to three cats anyway.  So, I said yes.

Now my sister sends regular updates via text, which is considerate, I suppose.

Today I felt compelled to thank her for her efforts which are allowing me to see my kitten grow up even though she is hundreds of miles away.

Instead of responding with a “you’re welcome” she texted back with “You’re welcome to come down and see her and bring her back with you.”

Gahhhhhhh!

Why would I want to drive myself all the way down to Asheville, NC to pick up a cat (that I probably shouldn’t have said yes to) when you’re coming up to New York anyway in September???  In fact, all of this was your idea to begin with.  In fact, about a hundred whyshouldI’s raced through my mind when she responded the way she did.

The safest answer I could come up with was, it wasn’t in the budget to make a big trip this year.

Her answer:  Budget?  It’s a couple of tanks of gas!  We have plenty of room for you.

Gahhhhhhhh!

This convo was exactly like nearly every exchange with my mother.  No matter what I say in answer to any question, large or small, my answer is up for grabs, correction, improvement.  How did these people get so far into my brain?  Why do I have to defend everything all the time????

It’s the boundaries again.  I never learned good boundaries.  Neither did they.  But they are okay with it and I am not.

I can not be okay with poor boundaries.  I will never get better if I don’t firm up the boundaries.

And why am I still thinking about it and turning it over and over in my mind an hour later?

I get so stuck sometimes.

I probably should have sucked it up weeks ago and turned down the kitten even though she is super cute.  But I didn’t and now I am entangled.

My answer that shut down the exchange: I would have to fly.  That’s a hell of a drive and I’m not up to it these days.

She had nothing but an “oh, okay” for that one.

Score!

Such small successes in this journey, but I’ll take it.

8 Comments

Filed under anxiety, boundaries, bullies, decision making, decisions, dysfunction, family, getting along, growth, history, honesty, journey, pressure, progress, self-care, self-respect, Uncategorized

Scarred for Life!

I read an article recently that discusses what happens to children who have been traumatized at certain crucial stages of development when they grow up.  The author’s opinion was that trauma during the terrible twos and again during puberty had a permanent effect on the individual.

Awhile back I read a different article about a study.  The study involved a group of children who had been bullied at certain ages and checked in with them at intervals for their entire lives.  The study reached the same conclusion–that particular childhood stages were very vulnerable for psychological damage and that the damage is virtually permanent.  The bullied children as adults tended to remain unsuccessful outsiders throughout adulthood no matter what.

Well, I could have told them that!

It’s kind of nice to know that the way I turned out is not my fault.  I did not choose to hang onto the past and fear the future.  I did not choose to wallow in grief or get lost in worry and anxiety.  Instead, this is basically what I became “made of” due to the timing of events and how those events mixed with my “self” during my childhood and youth.

This means to me that my task is not about weaknesses or flaws.  I don’t need a cure.  I need to accept who I am now.  I need healing and purpose.  My task is to keep finding my way.

2 Comments

Filed under anxiety, bullies, depression, dysfunction, emotional health, grief, growth, healing, human nature, journey, progress, PTSD, self-care, self-respect, stress, Uncategorized, wellness

Progress? Who knows….

Tonight I learned how to make Christmas cards with two friends of mine and about ten other women at our local library.

While checking out one of the card-making stations set up by the instructor, I recognized a woman carrying a cane who came in along with two other younger women.  She was the mother of one of the girls who, in junior high school, made my life a living hell for several months.

At the end of eighth grade and beginning of ninth grade, I was the main character in one of those two-against-one-best-friends-betray-a-weaker-friend-mean-girls-scenarios that you see portrayed in so many movies, TV shows, commercials and… cold-blooded crime shows.

Of course, since it is my story, there is so much more to it than that.  But for now I’d rather just write about tonight.

When I saw the mother walk in, I quickly assessed if her daughter was with her and I didn’t see her at first.  So I thought, good.

It turned out, however, that I was wrong.  As everyone seated themselves for the class and got comfortable, it turned out that indeed, the “evil one” was going to make Christmas cards, too.

It did not occur to me to leave, so we’ll call that progress.  And I did not have an anxiety attack, also progress.  I did decide to avoid being near her, which meant a certain amount of hyper-vigilance.  I’m not too sure how to grade that one.  Maybe it was just some good, old-fashioned self-care.

If I had never met this person before, and knew nothing about her, I’d be under the impression that she was a nice woman who was close to her mother and enjoyed some of the same things I do.  All that might even be true to a certain extent.  I mean, we were actually friends for a time way back when, so there must be something in common.

At any rate, I do know about her.  I know what she is capable of.  I know what I carry around with me to this day because of her and the other girl involved.

People like her are the reason that people like me leave their hometown and never come back.  I did leave for ten years but circumstances brought me back here and now it looks as if I am here to stay.

I actually had her as a customer once at the Terrible Job.  At the time I had no way to avoid waiting on her.  She seemed nervous and hyper and like she was trying to please me.  And the whole time I’m thinking, “Ha!  Your son is in prison.  You raised a violent criminal!  Why am I not surprised?  Your violence led to a second generation of violence.  Ha!”

I expected to see some sign of this tragedy in her face, but there was nothing there for me to see.  I also wanted to see some sign of sorrow or shame for what she did to me way back when.  But again, there was nothing to see.

No, people like her do not carry their own shame.  They carry no sense of responsibility for the effects of their actions on others.  Instead, they give their shame over to their victims.

Over forty years later and I’m still having to deal with such things.

6 Comments

Filed under anxiety, art therapy, bullies, decisions, emotional health, enemies, first impressions, friends, growth, healing, history, injustice, peer pressure, progress, scapegoating, self-care, social phobia, Uncategorized

Ancient Ruins

My choreography friend and I decided to make ourselves official.  We invited two other friends to belly dance with us and we are called the Ancient Ruins.

Of course, with my hearing slowly deteriorating, I thought she wanted to call us the Ancient Runes.  I thought, what a cool name!  We could get T-shirts with our names converted to runic symbols!  A couple weeks previous I’d had a dream that had some letters on a boulder that looked like runes.  I’d been wondering what the dream meant.  It meant I have ESP!

Oh well.  Back to muddling through life without the advantages of fortune telling.

It felt weird at first to go ahead and do this.  It felt disloyal, even though we were among the marginalized dancers.

We did not keep it a secret.  Our long-time teacher knows and she is actually jealous.  Eh, if she wanted a different kind of troupe than what she’s got now, she should have kept a better handle on things.  I’m always so impressed by people who wreck things, or are otherwise uncooperative, then get jealous when the marginalized ones cope by doing their own thing.

People be so messed up!

We are teaching our friends the new dance we choreographed and they are enjoying it.  Because it was designed at a duet, we need to change parts of it to accommodate two more dancers.  All of us are making the changes as equals.  We can spend as much time on it as we want without anyone whining that they are bored.

We also have a new dance in the works already.  One of our new troupe mates had a favorite song that she thought sounded danceable.  She shared it with me and I fell in love with it instantly.  It will be perfect for the kind of choreography we want to do–“Heathens” by Twenty-One Pilots.  I suspect we will start working on it in earnest after the holidays.

In the old troupe, nobody would have given her idea the time of day.  And nobody wanted to learn the dances my friend and I choreographed.

I wonder if all groups kind of fall apart when you go past a certain number of participants.  Four seems to be just right for now.  I can think of two more compatible people we could invite, but then we would outgrow my spare room.

We still have to navigate what we will do with our new troupe.  There will be the possibility of performing at some point.  But I think that is the main thing that changed the other troupe into something I don’t recognize anymore.  It brought out the divas and control freaks and some passive-aggressiveness on top of it all.  Nobody wants that for the Ancient Ruins.

I just want a healthy and nurturing outlet for some creativity and self-expression.  We couldn’t have that anymore with the old troupe.  I plan to participate in their Christmas Hafla in a month.  There will be Mexican food for dinner afterwards.  Then I suspect I’m completely done with it.  My first graceful exit.

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under art therapy, bullies, decision making, dreams, self-care, self-respect, Uncategorized

Disappointed Not Entirely Surprised

So the United States of America has just elected the bull in the china shop to be the next president.

I happen to know or be related to a lot of his supporters and some of them are giddy with happiness.  Some of them I know to be miserable, narrow-minded people in need of much healing.  Some of them took their misery out on me during my formative years or even in recent times.  So this election result feels to me like the bullies won as they always do.

There was a huge amount of name-calling during the election campaigns.  As someone who endured a huge-amount of name-calling during my formative years, the name-calling triggered me on a daily basis.  My skin is still not thick enough.  I will never think name-calling is a good idea.  It is very disrespectful in a very basic way.

There was a crazy amount of disinformation–or gas-lighting if you really think about it.  Several weeks ago I spent hours on line trying to debunk a meme about “if Mexico can build a wall on their southern border, why can’t we build one on our southern border with them” blah, blah, blah.

I was able to find the person who created the meme and had posted it to a meme website.  I found several articles explaining that such a wall doesn’t exist because of lack of interest, money and the challenging geography in that part of the world.  And finally I found the source for the photo they had attached to the meme.  They copied it from a website for a company in Kansas City, Missouri that builds fences in the U.S.

After hours of work to find the truth, I realized that if I posted my findings, no one would accept it, believe it, or care.  I would just get jumped on as has happened before in my life.  Sometimes it seems like saying something only makes things worse.

I do recognize the problems with our politics as usual and I also want things to change for the better.  It just seems like we, or they, have gone about it in a very tragic way.

A couple weeks ago I told my husband that if we end up with a president Trump, then I would have to keep a very low-profile, especially online.  A lifetime as a target has finally taught me that much at least.  My twelve years at the Terrible Job has also taught me about the wisdom of staying under the radar.

Before we knew the outcome of the election, I felt positive and strong enough to handle any result (never really believing that internet memes could take the day).  Now that we have fallen down into the rabbit’s hole, I’m feeling a little bit ill.  From the healing work I have already done, I know it will take time to let those feelings run their course until they subside and something else can rise up.

Okay, so there is still a day ahead and a life to live regardless of the state of the world.  Time for me to trip the light fantastic.

4 Comments

Filed under bullies, getting along, honesty, human nature, PTSD, self-care, social phobia, Uncategorized

Out to Lunch

Today I took myself out to lunch at our local Wendy’s.  It has been three and a half years since the last time I ate there.

Wendy’s was the nearest place for lunch when I was still working at the Terrible Job.  Back then, I went there most days for lunch.  The last few weeks before I quit, I’d sit at my table furiously eating my spicy chicken sandwich and fries and looking at Facebook on my phone.  I mean that I was actually furious.  By the time my lunch break happened, I would have already had a lousy day and it would have been about six hours since last eating anything.  As hungry as I was, I never finished my meal either.  It was during the time period that I was restricting my food intake–sort of an act of aggression but directed at myself.  I’d eat about half my food and then angrily throw away the rest of it and drag myself back to work.

Yes, I was quite a mental mess by then.

Since today is Sunday, I knew I would not run into any former customers or former co-workers.  It would be safe for me to eat there.

Growing up I was of the mindset that I had to go where I likely would be treated badly.  I didn’t really have a policy of avoiding troublesome people.  Well, often enough there was no other option.  I was a kid, I had to go to school.  Going to school involved walking on public streets.  I was just a kid.  What else was I going to do?

Some unhappy kids skipped school, did drugs, got into fights.  Those did not seem like good options for me.

As an adult, I kept up that habit of staying in bad situations.  Often I volunteered for such.  Then came the day when I was at the end of my rope and I decided to go home from the Terrible Job.  I promised myself I would no longer do things that were sure to end in trouble or unhappiness for me.  No longer do I tolerate toxic people or situations.  Sure, it limits where I can go at certain times of the day in this small, crappy town.  But this is my little gift to myself.  I no longer participate in my own victimization.

Today it is Sunday.  I can go to Wendy’s if I want.

I ordered my spicy chicken and fries.  I ate until I was full.  I people-watched.  It felt so normal and safe.  It felt like taking back a little bit of my life, but on my terms.  No self-judgment or self-criticism.  Nobody prying into my personal life.  No having to explain anything to anyone.

It’s really hard to basically start life all over again but not moving away to do it.  Old habits and old distractions and old dangers are everywhere.  I am new, or at least I want to be, and I am surrounded by old.  It has been a very good exercise in letting go and learning how to be detached in a healthy way.

I can do this thing.

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under anxiety, boundaries, bullies, decisions, depression, emotional health, enemies, getting along, growth, healing, human nature, peer pressure, progress, PTSD, self-care, self-respect, social phobia, Uncategorized, work