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Healing Lessons,  Life Experiences

It Only Takes One Bully

I really do not know what happens to me when I am not feeling well. My brain does cartwheels and I have to write about situations I think about but rarely speak of. This time I have the need to write about something I loathe.

I Loathe Gossip

Now that’s a great opener isn’t it? GOSSIP. I don’t like judgmental attitudes either, but I despise gossip. Having been a Samaritan since I was eighteen in the UK, I can say without doubt, that GOSSIP is one of the main causes of suicide. It has always been this way and now with cyber bullying we have a massive challenge.

Girl in crowdAccording to the Oxford English Reference Dictionary, gossip is unconstrained talking or writing about a person or social incident. Groundless rumors.  When I looked in my English/Latin dictionary, it didn’t appear. Surprising. GOSSIP is without a doubt both lethal and despicable, yet people love it. I am often asked by friends or family from abroad ‘who are these Kardashians? What do they do?  I have no answer. Just look at the “gutter press” in the checkout counter at any supermarket and you will find people looking at these lies and believing them.

The Royal Family really do go through it, constantly. I remember when the paparazzi murdered Princess Di.  They couldn’t dish enough dirt and she wasn’t there to defend herself. Which brings me to this.  How does one do that? I have been told by some of recipients of this filth that if they fight it, it brings more dirt so they tend to ignore it…………but they can’t. So let’s see what comes out and perhaps we can get some responses and ideas.

Certainly, regarding children who are bullied, we have to create an environment of safety so they can speak with a responsible adult who will deal with the situation. Did you know that if you know of a child who is bullied at school, and report it, with nothing being done, that District can be sued. I am not one to file a lawsuit, but as money is the spice of life in this country one has to hit where it hurts the most. We have to change negative into positive. Love and support can do this.

It is a sad statement that some bullying situations create resentments from one person that can almost ruin a person’s life or reputation, based on one single incident. It only takes one. We have seen the media in action. They can destroy someone in a single blow. The media are vast and powerful. So what do we do about this kind of finger pointing on a smaller level? I will tell you that ‘ripening’ as I am brings more confidence to deal with this. Trouble is, sometimes management people who make decisions tend to avoid taking action in such circumstances, thereby forcing the person who is under attack to move on. I have been involved in several of these it only takes one painful events. The purpose of this blog is to make us aware of what happens when one doesn’t speak up. It isn’t easy because when I state, “it only takes one”, it also only takes one to influence others to join in the gossip. I don’t hate much. I do hate secrets and gossip… but you know that about me.

It Only Takes One

Some years ago I did quite a few workshops for the Caron Foundation in Wernersville. It is one of the best drug and alcohol programs on the East coast. The have another program also that I went through twice, called Breakthrough. It is designed for adult children of alcoholics, addicts, dysfunctional families. The first time was to experience what I felt some of my patients would benefit from and tried it out. It was amazing.

The second time was shortly after 9/11 when my childhood horrors reared their ugly heads again. Incredible. I was well known at Caron and my workshops and lectures were well attended. After 9/11 I was asked to do a weekend grief workshop, which is my specialty. In that gathering was a young man whose wife had perished in the towers. Another had a son who had died too in that awful attack. There were others whose partners had died from disease; their parents also. It was intense and I did what I always did; used some humor, which was appropriate. They loosened up and we discussed grief issues with open and honest exchanges. It was very well received and I am still in touch with some of the participants.

A week or so later, I was contacted by Caron Foundation regarding the reactions to the weekend via the ratings feedback. I was told that one person thought I was flippant. I never worked for Caron again. My years of connections with high ratings went down the drain. It only takes one.

I don’t know where this took place or where she was from but I heard about a woman who worked in a similar field as my own. She was brilliant, adored by her patients, an incredible professional who was a perpetual student, always willing to listen to those who had more experience than did she.  She was a remarkable person indeed.  Her reputation was glowing until she challenged someone in one of her recovery groups. Within a very short space of time, she was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior and reported to her superiors. The accuser wrote lethal posts and texts, swaying the opinions of others and they believed in the lies. What this woman went through is astounding.  It only took one. Everything she had done before, how many lives she had affected to improve their situations and become successful, went out the window. All was ignored. Brutal. She was interviewed relentlessly for weeks on end. Finally the culprit was unmasked and her reputation restored – but was it? We tend to think that PTSD only applies to veterans. She is definitely enduring such symptoms and of course her trust level is zilch. Fortunately her superior stood by her as did some of her colleagues, but gossip is lethal.

I have worked with PTSD, with First Responders and Veterans from several wars, for over thirty-five years. In Johnson City, Tennessee at the VA hospital I did some training for counselors to deal with grief and addiction, and for VA in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and other states. I addressed the United Nations in this regard.  I did some special challenging work a little more locally and have presented nationally and internationally on the subject of grief.

In one case I was a participant in a group at a facility with which I had been involved for forty years. I love this work – confidentiality is my religion. Fortunately, I have always been very well received and so grateful for that. People of all ages, backgrounds, religions, people of color – it didn’t matter. Imagine my surprise when I was informed that one participant in the group felt he couldn’t speak of his war experiences in front of me because he knew my history in the WWII, that my husband, John, had recently died and had served in combat in the Royal Navy in WWII, and a lot of other information about service in my family.  He wondered, how did that help him? I was asked to briefly leave the group.  It only takes one.

What can be done about this behavior, as it is rampant. Over the last sixty years, I have been involved with people who have ‘cried rape’, or who have lied and cheated to gain whatever ends they desired, professionals who will step on anyone to advance their careers without regard for the damage they create. The media has much to answer for. So many who accuse others, weep and whine if the tables are turned. We saw that when Princess Diana was murdered. They chased her constantly with lies and innuendos until they killed her. When they were challenged they almost broke down in tears and NOTHING WAS DONE ABOUT THEM AND THEIR GHASTLY HASSLING. They are bullies and bullies are inverted cowards so challenging them brings out the ‘victim’ mode and the excuse that they have to earn a living. Such bull.

When I work with families of murdered children, the media hide in the bushes outside their houses. They wait and pounce as soon as the doors open. They pose questions with microphones shoved into faces and are suggestive as to who might be the perpetrator.  Was it a member of the family? Oh, I forgot. The first Amendment. Time for a change. Journalists and photographers can be bullies.

Get Your Scream List

There are very simple methods of dealing with this. If you hear gossip DON’T LISTEN. If friends start talking about others, leave. Professor Albus Dumbledore of Harry Potter fame said, “It takes courage to confront your enemies and more courage to confront your friend”. True. Do it anyway. Surround yourself with people you trust….really trust. Those who accept you as you are and have an honest interaction with you.

It is possible that in whatever recovery there is to be done, some people cannot hack it. I’m referring to those who are friends of the person suffering. They give unsolicited advice and tell insist you should focus on what is positive and concentrate on that. What a load of crap. These people just don’t get it.

Man alone in the dark on a benchThis is why, years ago I created the Scream List. Get a few people who are really trustworthy and whom you can telephone when you want to yell at the unfairness of people’s loose tongues. Don’t internalize, verbalize.

These are people who, when you reach out, do NOT give you advice, who probably just grunt at you and say ‘I know’, “‘I get it”, “Been there”, “Want to meet for a cuppa?”, “Want a hug?” They have to be people who know the difference between secrets and confidentiality. They also have to know they are trusted. That makes a difference. These friends say, ‘I’ll go with you, whatever you have to do”, and they mean it. They know that sometimes you need to be on your own and not to call it “isolating”.  If I am isolating in my grief I WILL SAY SO and nobody else. Fair-weather friends do not mean to be cruel. They feel they have to say something when really, they don’t. I’ll be writing about some incredibly courageous women, who never wanted to be, with the price they paid to achieve that.

What can we do about bullying?

We can listen, volunteer at shelters, women’s places where they seek safety from violence, and become a champion in this ghastly atmosphere of bullying. There doesn’t seem to be places for abused men. Our culture creates such shame when men are hurt. So many people have been accused of making up stories for attention. Look into the situation. Encourage children to speak. Protect them. My son was bullied in grade school. One day, his brother and sisters met the school bus and boarded it to let the bullies know what he had for support. He was mortified. We have to be careful. He had a teacher, Honey Clyman was her name at that time. She was miraculous. She did a class on bullying, while not mentioning my son. What transpired was that the activity stopped and my son suddenly had a spurt of growth which made him be like a big, strong cuddly bear. It also warned the bullies that they would be stopped by him. He is still doing it to this day.

Some wonderful unexpected things happen in life because there are some good people. When I was asked not to attend the group, some people heard about it and there was an uproar. This is the first time people fought for me.  I have always fought my own and others’ battles. What a concept – people who will defend you.  There are a lot of them out there.

When I got rid of the people who didn’t get it, so many others who do appeared.

Magic.

One Comment

  • Robyn Pennay

    I’ll never forget that grief workshop at Caron and will always be grateful for it bringing you into my life. As one of your biggest fans, it astounds me that anyone could see you as less than you are – kind, wise, compassionate, accepting, loving – so many people need to chill out and improve their sense of humor. It’s so wrong that just 1 negative, true or false, can have such a devastating impact. I hope for people to grow in humor, awareness of connection, and perspective.

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