I hate bullies.
But to me, a bully is someone who will dish it out to me.
I’ve always been a ‘fraidy cat. Never terribly good at confrontation, or at standing up for myself. Not that it ever stopped me trying, mind you, but I always felt very self-conscious at how flustered I got, at how emotional and distraught — and the mean nasty bully was cool as a cucumber and packed a verbal punch that would lay me out for a week.
And then there were the after-effects.
The sick, sunken feeling in the pit of my stomach that I could have said this, should have said that, could have done it better, should have done it better. That I sounded shrill, weak and ineffectual. Pathetic and stupid.
Today, I stood up for myself to a mean nasty bully. Actually, I stood up for myself twice, but one of the people wasn’t a mean nasty bully. She’s a friend, who was thoughtless is all. She didn’t show up at my evening in-birthday-coffee-with-friends (because I’m so damn sedate)… and she didn’t even call. The reason why she didn’t show up was completely valid (she’s self-employed and she was on a fucker of a deadline) and she sent a message by way of her husband. (Husband is one of my closest friends, and no, I have never fucked him. And I never would, despite him being a sex god of Adonis-like proportions. Much like Al.)
But I was seriously pissed that she didn’t’ even bother to make direct contact to wish me a happy fucking birthday, for pity’s sake.
So I was planning on emailing her. I am, after all, self-admittedly scared — nay, TERRIFIED — of verbal confrontation. I had the email written in a variety of ways and nuances in my head, with a choice of colors to boot. But I hadn’t quite gotten around to committing the thoughts to paper.
And then she called. Voluntarily.
And I told her, quietly, calmly and in perfect control, how upset I’d been. How hurt that she obviously thought so little of me that she wouldn’t bother to even pick up a godforsaken phone to a friend to apologize. How I understood that work had to be her priority — but that not arriving and not communicating were two very different sins of disproportional weight.
Being the good friend she is, she was absolutely aghast at how she’d acted, and took full responsibility. She apologized profusely and reassured me that I had done nothing wrong, that it was all her and that she was tremendously sorry.
“I’m so sorry I was such a crappy friend!” she cried.
“It’s OK. You weren’t a crappy friend, you were a good friend who did a thoughtless and crappy thing. For which you apologized and took responsibility — and that, in my opinion, ends the matter.”
The other event, as I described to my pal Madeline, was less smoothly executed, but effective, more or less.
A woman — the mother of a friend of the young Manx at school, took it upon herself to phone me, and berate me for something that my son did. Not to her, or her kid (or any other kid, for that matter). Incidentally, this woman is someone for whom I have done not a few favors, entirely altruistically, and out of the goodness of my heart, including running her fucking ill-mannered offspring back home when she decides that her fucking period pain is too, too much for her. Oh, and hey kids? Learn how to say thank you when someone does you a favor, you little shits. There’s a life lesson for free, from me. You certainly aren’t going to learn it from your primitive cunt of a mother.
So she just decided that she had the right to call me and say “Hey, Minxie. What the fuck is wrong with you? Why did you do that? How could you? You deserve a smack upside the head.”
(Seriously. Words to that effect.)
At first, I was gobsmacked so badly that beyond a few stuttered defensive retorts which sounded hollow even to my own ears, I was bereft of the power of speech.
Here is where the story gets interesting. I was absolutely furious at the sheer unadulterated chutzpah of this camel-driver’s second whore, and I marched around the grounds of the school, fuming and breathing fire.
Then, instead of shrinking from the confrontation, as is my wont, and allowing the rage and pain inside me to subside into self-loathing and shame, I called her back.
I had decided what I wanted to say to her, and I planned to do it in a cool, calm and collected manner. However, this asshole of a Neanderthal woman was not prepared to listen to me, so I shouted my message, making sure she could hear me, and then I hung up.
“hey, bitch, deal with your own fucking kid and leave mine to me. oh and next time you want a favor? bite me.”
I still got terribly upset after the whole thing, and I cried. But that ineffectual feeling was absent from the cramp in my solar plexus, and in an odd way, despite having hated having to go through the experience, oddly I felt triumphant.
As a wise woman said to me: “I’m so glad you’re sticking up for yourself. Nobody else will, and even if they did, you’d still not feel as strong as you do right now.”
Amen to that, sister.