Today I decided to take the conversation to something that is of real importance to me , adult bullying. The reason why I am writing about this , is because of some small recent incidents where I was excluded and very discretely “bullied”.
It was easy for us to identify bullying as kids, as we would face situations like someone mocking our hair, teeth,clothes or anything tangible. You probably faced situations when your friend in kindergarten or the neighborhood decides not to let you play with their new toy and at worst, invites everyone to play except for you.
I remember at the age of 4 how I was reactive to these actions who were unfortunately practiced by close relatives and neighbors. At that age, my defense mechanism was crying and going back to my father who of course, was always there for me. There were many moments I was mocked for my curly hair, for the way I choose to dress, as my parents gave me complete responsibility to choose my outfit at very young age, tell you the truth I was no Elie Saab so the styles differed each time 😉
I was also mocked for my teeth, which were not looking good for few years for medical condition..
I grew up in a home where mostly my dad was always complimenting my curly hair and my beautiful face and yet I grew up and turned into somehow insecure adult.
Im 28 now , and I don’t really like how I look in my curls, and I try to straighten my hair 90% of the time, and to tell the truth, eventhough I laugh a lot ,I am not confident with my smile which makes taking photos sometimes a sadness.
So in short, a few words another kid said to me when I was 4, have shaped my self view 24 years later..
What I can say is that I recall very well the struggle to fit in at very young age.
With all that ,I grew up to be an inclusive person and of course this comes with pros and cons. I made sure minorities are always included whether they are accepted by others in my group or not which has caused me to hear many phrases like : not everyone can be your friend, where do you find these people, we dont like this person, or at worst some gossip behind my back about how “crazy” I am.
Dealing with bullies as a kid was easier as I was able to go back crying to my dad, but as a grown up, this becomes more toxic and more difficult to handle , keeping in mind that I still cry and call my dad for advice on how to deal with toxic people😄
Stepping into adulthood does not mean that childish games are over, it even gets worse as we expect people around us to deal in emotionally mature ways, which is not always the case.
I am guessing many of you have dealt with situations where you were socially excluded from events, mocked, belittled, or somehow received subtle passive aggressive comments that managed to ruin your day and even shadowed you before your sleep.
What we are not aware of, is that we are constantly surrounded by people who we are not aware of their intentions and inner scripts.
The problem is when dealing with adults is that they are in denial. Toxic people and bullies usually find a way to tell you how wrong you perceived them and as we say back home “they hide behind the shadow of their finger”. In case you are wondering what this saying means, its basically hiding behind something that wont cover you and is so obvious.
I’m guessing many have heard answers like, oh you are so sensitive, or no I never meant that you misunderstood me, you are too dramatic, it’s all in your head and the manipulative list goes on.
Eventhough I love Lebanon, but unfortunately one of the sad things we have in our social interactions is passive aggressive bullying which has rooted its way all into our phrases to a point these things are no longer considered as bullying and have become a communication norm.
The reason I decided to write a bit about adult bullying is because I have been in recent situations where I was outcasted for no communicated reason, as well as many lovely people I know around me, and when I addressed this topic with complete honesty and maturity, I was told you are sensitive , and no it didn’t happen and you misunderstood this…
I would like you to reflect on situations you are finding yourself being hurt while someone is saying that “it’s all in your head”… and now please, tell yourself this : “yup its in my head but you my dear have put it there, Im not crazy🤨” and invite yourself for some nice cup of coffee or gift as an appology that you actually blamed yourself at some point.
For one thing, these people know for sure what they are doing and are fully aware of the social exclusion or bullying they are targeting towards you, yet they have developed much walk arounds in their head because they want to make themselves feel better that they are not bad people. It doesnt mean these people are bad, it only means they have many self esteem issues and insecurities they are unaware of and still in denial of any underlying psychological issues.
The problem is that these people are usually very confident and if you are a naive person like me , you would believe what they say 😉
I was able to identify in many compatriot friends’ behaviors, colleagues , managers and random acquaintances I have here , patterns of underlying bullying and manipulation which of course when addressed were totally put under umbrella of ” you are emotional and sensitive”. This has caused an endless loop of self blame and contributed to my depression episodes. After several therapy sessions, lots of reading, thorough examination of all situations and people around, I understood, there are toxic people around which I was not aware of. Whenever someone belittles your feelings and doesn’t owe up to their mistake, I learned to walk away and forgive, and at least put a shield between what they are doing and who I am in reality. Important thing is not to allow these occurances get inside of your head and let you believe that other people’s misbehavior is actually any of your own mistake.
People have different ways of expressing themselves, different homes, fears and traumas, it is important to be able to identify a toxic bully from someone who is actually validating your feelings while still being honest and constructive in cases of any misunderstanding.
I will be writing for a while about some of the techniques I am learning along the way to overcome childhood pains of bullying and behaviors which hurt me as an adult in daily life. In the meantime I wanted to encourage everyone who reads this to read about some topics I found interesting like social exclusion and adult bullying. It is important we get educated on topics we could be facing daily and are directly affecting our well-being.
A last word I would like to say, self love is not easy, but knowing how to draw the line between someone bullying you and you bullying yourself is really important. Sending lots of hugs and love to you my readers.💜
Leaving you with a picture of my young self with curls which I started learning to love recently.