Adult Bullying and Toxicity.. Learning to Identify “Bullshitters”..

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 πŸ˜‰

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 peopleπŸ˜„

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 πŸ˜‰

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.πŸ’œ

Leaving you with a picture of my young self with curls which I started learning to love recently.

from Old to New…a Home Away from Home…

I know my blog is more patriotic by title,but today I decided to skip to a topic that touches the heart too but in different ways.

Talking about Prague and its magic, I do believe that this place with all its gothic beauty, it has sworn to bring out all possible sparks a place can bring to my heart.

Eventhough the dearest people to heart remain the ones we grew up with, but I would like to point out to everyone reading, allow yourself to love the new people in your life even if they are different.

The love we carry for childhood friends and family is different because they remind us of parts of us which we don’t want to lose, the part of ourself which was once innocent and carefree, and if not carefree, its burdens were limited to games and new toys we would like to have. That part of us which had naive yet so honest dreams. We hold on to those people as if they are our identity, and once you feel disconnected you feel lost and in denial of accepting any new face.

That’s ok! It’s ok because somehow yes they are part of your older identity the one you were most familiar with growing up.

I was feeling homesick to my best friends in Lebanon. Homesick to everything but the most part that hurt and felt real was to my best friends.

My home in Lebanon was empty as my father was living outside the country for long. Why he has been living outside it’s another topic we would get into later on, but for now its enough to know that this is completely normal in every Lebanese household. Our fathers leave to provide us a “better life”. This topic in very controversial however , yes that’s how it is.

So as I was mentioning, my home was empty, and I never felt this to be weird because all I was thinking of is with all it’s emptiness but it would be full once my friends are there… and with that I was blocking out any new person I meet with the fear that I would forget my friends. Or even actually enjoy my time with new people instead of my lovely ties back home.

I never shared these feelings with anyone, but everytime I was going out, I felt this inner voice guilting me for having good time away from my best friends who were struggling in day to day life back home. I would call them nonstop to know how their day went, how driving was, we open video calls for hours, from the car to the kitchen to the office to the way back home to the time they gather to sit around. I felt torn between 2 places. A place where I am present physically, and another where I was present emotionally. And this struggle kept on for 3 years continuously..

Most of you family birds, would realize how difficult it is to have this struggle between managing a day to day life in a new place and still trying to be involved in the life of everyone back in your home.

But I have to admit, after this time, I will confess that I met some of the most extraordinary people in this magical city.

People from different cultures and nationalities. Jordanians, Georgians, Turkish,Romanians, Azeri and the list goes on. I am mentioning these in particular because somehow eventhough some speak different languages however they are so much similar to what I knew back home. These people made this city a little bit less strange and cold and a bit more warm and familiar

They gave it a new perspective and spark. I learned how giving room to new people can give a new kind of love and acceptance.

It is so nice to meet people who are so different and somehow so similar. People who have no sense of the child in you but somehow manage to connect to that child and bring you back home. I then started learning how love can take different forms, and how guilt transforms into pleasure.

I realized the love I carry for my friends back in Lebanon was a strong connection that can never be replaced and yet how much care one can still take and provide for new people who connect to you not on basis on where u are from, or the language you speak, or your environment, but on basis of who you really are and the current version they see in you, eventhough this version is the least perfect version of you. The homesick Version, the tired version, the sad and negative one. They carry this part and take you with it without any question.

Of all these people I knew here , one stood out in particular. One who was home itself, the home I never even had back home. A person with so much capacity to love that I even started loving the parts of myself which I never knew how to love. So Prague, with all the pains you got to me, and the things that you weren’t able to provide like Lebanon did, but you have overachieved with this one thing, the people, and that particular “home” person.

I realize now that, no matter how old we get, there is always room for people who remind us of our inner child without even being part of our childhood. People who could connect to that part of ourselves we are trying so much to protect.

With that being said, only thing I could say to everyone who reads this, I hope you allow youself the privilege of letting new people into your life , eventhough it might hurt in the beginning, but those who come out of the blue in the middle of a strange city, these are unknown possibilities of “more home than home itself” πŸ’œ

Leaving you with a painting I got for my birthday from my Georgian friend, who was able to feel my inner child and adult all at once, and decided that the best gift for me would be, a spiritual journey “Back Home”.

The Bermuda of everything & nothing… Senses of a numb Soul..

I could not write for a while, eventhough I have much to write yet nothing at the same time. Here we go again to continue about the nothing and the everything all at once.

At the moment, Lebanon has an oath to hurt me and probably every other Lebanese living abroad, so I am not able to tell much about it… just like after a break up, you avoid talking about it and just act as if nothing happened. A bit of denial is good enough to make you survive at least the beginning.

When you move outside a familiar place, you get in a place where you expect so much and yet nothing at all. Well at least, that was my condition. I somehow managed to expect a normal transition, yet I knew I was going to a new place with new faces and a fresh start.

Lebanon, and no matter how loving it was, it knew also how to leave some unhealed scars. We have something I prefer to call, collective misery. I mentioned in previous posts how you can not plan your day, well same applies to life. You can’t have a plan because sadly this exciting change also comes to affect your entire path.

Because of that instability, the calmness once much needed mental necessity, became a total stranger.

And with the word stranger, I bring you to the feeling I have in this New city. A stranger. I don’t feel stranger to them..Only… I feel stranger. Is stranger a feeling? Well I discovered here that it is. It is a feeling like no other. You can group emotions into categories more or less similar, happiness and love, sadness and misery , anger and anxiety. But the feeling of being a stranger, is a classification of its own. You feel the nothing and the everything in one zone which I would like to call, zero zone.

This place feels like a life after death, and a long waiting time before birth. That 0 zone, launge,waiting list, where you are stuck in time and place and these 2 dimensions no longer work. You are moving to completely new dimension where you don’t quiet feel yet, but somehow feel something and trying to figure out what it is. This place where your soul waits before heaven and hell.

I am not sure how to describe this, but I know it comes with some very strange numbness and intensity all at same time. Complete confusion of the soul and heart, where both don’t know what to expect and somehow still expect.

Back home we say ” hope God never confuses anyone”, as if confusion is the most hurtful curse of all time. As if we realize that certainty is a blessing and uncertainty in one’s own mind and decision and mental state is the worst hell of all. Careful though, it is not the external uncertainty we talk about, it is the one that comes within you, it seems our old ancestors have given us lots of wisdom when it comes to knowing what is most important, and what is the compass for happiness, it is ur own certainty.

At this point, I am for sure certain about my uncertainty. Prague is known to be a magical place built with the mystic beliefs of king charles the 4th, who himself believed in numerology alchemy astronomy and sacred geometry. Maybe that is the reason why Prague puts you in a mental bermuda triangle, where all thoughts and feelings are lost and somehow yet absorbed. The place where your soul undergoes enormous transformation and yet somehow sits still in void.

Sometimes I wish, I can understand what this city wants, what this city does, and where will it take me?

The thing about Lebanon’s uncertainty, is that it is intense enough to wake up all of your senses. You are more alert. Of course, because you need to survive. And this alertness, gives you a sense of direction even in middle of lost times. At least you are able to feel something, so intense, intense happiness and intense sadness. But with Prague?

This city puts you in the middle of “I am here but where am I”?

This text has lots of pages to be written as I get my brain and heart aligned to at least, be able to write about it..

Leaving you with few pictures I take during my daily activities, of a Lost yet Found Prague vibe…

To be continued…

The Nature of Nest & the Big “Hit”… Moments of deep Realizations.

Lebanon, is just a very tiny country on the map. And within this little country, Big things are manifested.

I have to say, I always feel the bias when it comes to my home. I’ve known and seen all of its shortcomings, the failures and the greatest pains, and with all that, I started realizing, how truly unique this tiny spot is.

What people experience there, even when they have never thought of it or visited before, I started to think of it as, the Heart Chakra opening experience. The love a person can learn to feel there, is a different kind of love. It is intensity and raging flames of not understanding, altogether mixed with kindness and the art of giving.

The Lebanese people, have one extra instinct given to them, it is called the Art of Giving. It is by no mistake that you hear the word Habibi wherever you go there.

Habibi, initially meaning my Love, has grown to become a word of 101 Lebanese fundamentals of communication. Would you like something to drink sir? No thank u Habibi , can easily be a term used for a waiter, a friend, a lover, the grocer, the lady at the supermarket cashier, the man pumping Gasoline into your car, the man selling coffee at the express on the highway, a colleague, a banker calling to remind of a missing loan payment, 2 old men to each other, and the list can go on and on and on….

It is surprising, that this is just another way of knowing that love, is in the creation of these people.

To use such a term, for someone you do not know, one would say will make it lose meaning and value, actually it doesn’t, it didn’t, and never will I believe. Habibi used randomly everyday has a soothing way of lowering down a person’s defenses and establishing connectedness with everyone concerned in your daily life, from your hairdresser, to your work, all the way back to your home.

Giving this much value of wording, into daily activities, is an act of generosity.

Yes! Hats down to you Lebanese Habibis, for being able to add to stupid dull daily conversations and struggles, a little bit of love and emotion into it, just like that, instinctively!

You say Marhaba (meaning hello),they reply Marhabtayn ( double time the hello) and same applies for many many terms, where it is obvious how, generosity is running in the veins of an entire dialect and thus the nation. 100 times hello, 100 times you are welcome, 1000 times good health, are terms used, on daily basis in the country…

Giving thought into things to find very resourceful and creative solutions, giving hospitality to even the strangest of strangers, giving awesome food and nice service in all kinds of service sectors.

And, of course giving ourselves hard time too πŸ˜† we are generous in dark ways obviously and well unfortunately! no harm in some dark humor,right? its a survival mode after all πŸ˜‰

I feel I have written too much and yet somehow not enough 😊

My therapy during the day was basically going grocery shopping, filling car at gas station, going to hairdresser, buying coffee from the small kiosk on the highway, getting flowers from the “begger” in the streets of beirut,

the random visits of employees to my office just to say hi, smile and invite for coffee and tell me all about their day at home and plans for future and complain about anything that would come up to their mind.

My therapy was the conversations with waiters changing the charcoal of some customer’s shisha, and then coming to serve my dish. My therapy was the laughter I had everytime I have some kind of car accident and me and the other driver go out of the car looking at each other like oh hey, we are alive in this bad experience, however, together and life is short so lets just laugh and chat and complain until insurance experts come to sort this out…

my therapy was waking up and just stepping outside the house and thinking what new “adventure” is hidden that day, because with the people in Lebanon, every single day, is a new day. And every single day, brings its own good and bad. And every single day, is so different from the day before, and somehow still the same…

And with this being said, there is no way you can ever plan your day!

Doing daily routine activities, with this amount of Habibis, smiles, and checkup questions on you and your family, is enough to give you the healing you need and to open up the darkest of hearts.

And I havent started talking about family and friends yet…:)

With all that image of a daily social encounter at random place in Lebanon to do some very random task, I bring myself back to Prague where if a waiter smiles at me, I feel its an achievement. if I go to do some grocery shopping, or get some service, or some paper, I hope and pray before I step outside the house, that nobody would be mean, or frown in my face, or yell at me that I forgot something, or throw some random word in an angry irritated tone.

The highlight of my day here, is when i make it through without having to fight back to anyone, and have nobody be rude to me.

I feel very achieved when someone replies my hello every few weeks and sometimes even months. I feel very achieved when my doctor is actually nice and didn’t send me home saying nothing is wrong with me. Or even when they take me in the ER without making me wait for hours with my pain. I feel achieved when drunk people don’t pass by my street and harass me at my own window. I feel achieved when, I can transfer money to Lebanon without having a woman throw paper and pen at me and then ask rudely for my passport. The achievements list shall continue in future posts. For now, this is more than enough to realize that,

Lebanon has raised the bar high for me when it comes to how people treat each other and at least, you know, deliver the services they are supposed to deliver, that I felt was the Hit.

The Hit of having my therapy from doing a car crash and finding the people who saw the accident inviting me for coffee to relax and , “we will handle it for u”, to finding achievement if I manage to survive the day without someone being complete @%^& to me.

This my dears, is where all emotional disturbances, and depression, abandonment and loneliness begins. This is where unhappiness likes to grow in, and this is the right recipe of how to lose taste of life in 40 days…

I did realize that, my posts got quickly intense, from not adapting to weather, to suddenly the entire social culture. This is not what what flying outside a nest looks like. This is what flying outside of specifically my nest, looks like…

Daily small encounters of doses of happiness, can never be replaced or exchanged with any job opportunity, or metro, or infrastructure, or 24 hour electricity and water.

Yes! We dont have these back home, but, we do have a grocer who gives you a cup of coffee until your fruits and veggies are packed for u, which gives you time to talk and chat and exchange burdens and joys and if you are young, to receive the older people advice on life…

We might lack lots of pleasures and fundamentals of living at home, but we do have the pleasure of time…

And thus, this Hit my Habibis, is not just any Hit, it is THE Hit. The Hit of realizing, no place will ever fill in the void of Lebanon, nor would it be ready to offer and give what Lebanon has mastered of Giving for centuries and ages…

Leaving you with a picture, of a flower given to my tourist friend, by my friend’s grandmother as a ‘welcome to our home for the first time’ gesture…

To be continued…

Fly Attempt Failed!

In my previous post, I was mentioning how the first try outside the nest was like.

My inner conversation was like this : hey!! I thought travelling was all about exploring new place and enjoying the adventure…. what is this now you’re saying??I even miss the sun back home? Wait a minute? Are you serious? You miss the sun?

First Attempt Outside the nest? it failed.

If you are expecting a bird to fly like a pro at first time, well just dont πŸ˜€

It is however funny when you think of it this way. From my own experience, I have been putting so much pressure on myself, feeling that I “failed” in my adaptation in Prague even in the slightest of things, such as ‘weather’. But when I compare this to the bird attempt, it is normal to have a mental image of a bird , falling out of nest , then walking, then attempting to fly, this time maybe small distance then fall again and again until flying skill is well mastered.

I wonder why we humans like to put these high expectations that we are supposed to master things at once, and when we don’t we consider this as failure, and after that comes an endless loop of feeling of inadequacy, disappointment and eventually frustration. These things that lead us to have depression and low self esteem and confidence.

Have you ever wondered if a bird fails to fly first time, what would it be thinking?

Nothing…..

Nothing is the answer, because its instinct is realizing that it was created to fly and it keeps on practicing without losing itself in the process which we as humans are much more fragile and lack this basic skill.

Ok, I failed in adapting. Even to the weather? Yes , even to the weather in Prague πŸ™‚

But as the bird, I keep trying. And at one point, I will actually, if not enjoy, then make use of the gray skies and the cool weather..

I’ve been talking to my friends, almost everyday we share the same struggles here. The weather, the food, the change in even just scenery, affect your transition from place to place and by default your sense of security and well being, as what was once your habit and comfort zone for 20+ years, is gone to the wind and replaced by other unfamiliar alternatives which normally for you to adapt to at home, took you those 20+ years :)…

Yes, we are unfair to ourselves.

We tend to feel the failures of adaptation so much more intensly and vividly, instead of celebrating the courage it took to move. The mental and emotional strength you had when you decided to leave everything dear behind, everything that helped define who you are today, everyone that is your sense of safety and happiness, all behind, and go into the unknown..

Did you hear this now? Did you think well of it? What you did you brave soldier? Combats and wars have lots of sacrifice and look at you…

Sadly, our fragile nature, takes us to the thoughts of failure, that even a slightest thing as weather, was able to change how we feel, how we plan our day, what we decide to do with our time and thus the memories we decide to make, or in this case, not make…

And at the end of the day, one of the nice things I want to celebrate today with you all, known and unknown to me, is the fact that I, sacrificed the lovely weather I used to adore, and came to a place that left me feeling cold not only on the outside, but also on the inside, and this, was not a failure to adapt.

It was attempt number 1, out of the nest and yet many many more to come πŸ™‚

Leaving you with a picture of a one time visitor at my window here in Prague:)

To be continued…

The first attempt outside the nest…

I moved to Prague 3 years ago. And the person I used to know to be myself , stopped being with me. That still yet to be defined identity, decided to stay home…

I used to think that I am capable to adapt as any other human being can. but to my surprise, as I thought i am very flexible and curious person, I figured,we cannot adapt to things we find contradicting to our soul, to our belief and to who we are in our true version.

In January 2018, I came to visit Prague for tourism, and I was fascinated with the old soul it had, and I remember saying, I wish I can work here.. you know what they say, “be careful what you wish for”! That exact same year,I got a job opportunity and I moved to Prague in November.

The Slovak part of me, thought that the move would be easy as I speak the language. When I came here, the preparations for Christmas were incredible. The city is full of shimmering lights and wonderful spirit. People are out in the coldest of cold, which is not a luxury we got to have back home, as our winters are very rainy and Lebanon is not prepared for this kind of weather, schools close if its slightly colder than usual, roads are drowning in rain water, and well, this causes lots of traffic. Your life becomes more of sitting at home and visiting family members, and hey, some indoor restaurant outings from time to time.

Long story short, we just prefer to hibernate during the winter the whole 2 or 3 months until the rain calms down in March when the sun appears and early signs of spring begin.

Prague was different, it can snow and you get to ‘not be stuck at home’. You just need warmer clothes and voila!

Naturally, the first month here felt like vacation. The Christmas markets and colors just bring warmth to your heart even in the coldest of weather.

Then January happened,it was the longest month of all time for me here. The shades of gray, are not something we are used to even during winter.Lebanese winters eventhough tough, windy, rainy, and gloomy, sitll have abundant rays of sun that are enough to lift your mood.

Driving through the streets of Beirut in January, you will have days that you just see the colors more vivid and blue shades of the Mediterranean getting darker.

If you are wondering what lebanese kids are taughts in school, 101 Geography lessons always had this one phrase we used to laugh at as kids (ask any Lebanese, they should be able to recall it ) : “Lebanon is know for its unique moderate climate and is characterized with having 4 seasons”. I regret every laugh I had on this sentence πŸ˜‚.

With that, the first lesson I learned about moving outside of Lebanon, was that weather,defines how you feel, and indeed, Lebanese climate was one hell of special intense moderate piece of emotion!

Leaving you with the last picture taken from home in November 2018, and the first taken in Prague few days after arrival.

To be continued…