The Story of Me, the Bully, and Effective Fibbing
Fred Smith used to come up to me every day at lunch and say, "I'm going to follow you after school, Amy. And then I'm going to hurt you. Don't tell anyone." And then he'd walk away. Total appetite killer, let me tell ya.
Sure enough he'd be waiting for me after school, sometimes the second I got out, sometimes a few minutes later after I'd already walked a few blocks heading for the library down on the eastern edge of town. That's where Mom worked, and I guess the need to be near her was strong enough to risk my life on most afternoons, because I could have just gone west to our house, down the hill, and been safe. Alone and safe.
So, I'd be stepping on the cobbled bricks along East Nichols and he'd slither up behind and start the torment, "I hate you Amy. You're ugly, stupid, nobody likes you." He'd go on and on, stepping on the back of my feet the whole way. And I let him. Over and over I let him do this to me because I—perhaps from all the yelling and fighting in my home—had lost the ability to defend myself, I still have trouble today. When someone yells at me, or cuts into me, I become quiet and wait for them to stop. I can't speak; I can only go into survival, secret-protection mode. You can make me cry, but you can't make me speak. And if you make me cry it's over, done, I'll probably never speak to you again.
So anyway, I'd finally had enough. There had been the usual approach in the cafeteria, the wait after school, the horrible whispers in my ear, and now he was flicking at my arms, stepping on my feet. Suddenly I spun around to face him—that slit-eyed, spike-haired monster devil child—and he stepped back a little in surprise.
"My father," I said slow and even, "is so tall his head hits the hanging light in our kitchen . . . and he's big, really big and he's gonna rip your eyes out and scratch you up and down when I tell him what you're doing to me! So you'd better stop, Fred Smith! Do you hear me? You leave me alone from now on!" Ironic enough, my father was a real bully himself and wasn't even around anymore. He'd lied in court that we weren't his children and then gotten re-married and had his own new child. I think I must have been speaking of my dream father, the one I'd created to replace reality.
Fred stumbled away, falling down into the street, and I turned and continued to walk forward. My whole body shook, but I was glad, so glad, to finally have stood up to him. After that encounter, he left me alone and all I had to worry about for the rest of eternity was my own bully tormentor inside my head, the one he'd started and which fed itself through doubt and insecurity. "You're ugly, stupid, nobody loves you . . ." I'm getting better at standing up to that internal bully, but it's still there.
A teacher once told me that there's a bully in every class. And if he or she leaves, another one steps up to take their place. Sad. Human nature is still a big ole' primal event, isn't it? Perhaps we should all just hang out and listen to this song.