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Saturday, August 13, 2011

To an anonymous bully

So, you're a bully. My condolences.

I'm guessing you have a good reason, though. Most likely a gaping hole in your heart. Some people paint pictures, some start families, some volunteer at hospitals. Some try to bring others down.

Maybe, like the Grinch, your heart is two sizes too small.

Maybe something else is two sizes too small.

Whatever the case, Mr. Bully, I'm onto you. You're a theater man, it seems, having constructed the sets, costumes, and storyline of your power. You surround yourself with eager spectators, the quiet supplicants, who suspend all disbelief. "This," they say, "is a Man with Power. This is an Important Man. This is a Man Who Can Squash Me with His Thumb."

But, you're just a man, Mr. Bully. With a lowercase m.

On the other side of the proscenium, after the curtain falls, you're of below average height and have normal-sized thumbs. I suppose you have money, to keep these theatrics going. But I've seen you perform, and I find it tiring. I'd like to meet you instead in the stark light of day, where vague threats have no power. Where the overhang of your wrath and doom has no currency. Where you see me for me, and I see you for you.

Are you scared? I'll bet you are. After all, behind every bully is a coward.

What are you afraid of, I wonder? That I'll someday have power over you? In case you haven't heard, power is nothing. It's nowhere, except in the imagination of the people you try to control.

You can't control me. So? Poof! Power is gone.

What now?

I, myself, recommend strength. Strength you can't fake. Strength you can't use to manipulate others. Strength is here. Strength is enduring.

Strength stands up against bullies.



  1. Wow. I hope, no I know, I can someday *really* believe this in the moments when it matters, instead of building an emotional nuclear shelter (not exaggerating) around my heart with an false air of disinterest and ignorance around me when bullies come near. You just made me re-realise it :) Thanks! I needed that.

    Though I have to disagree, you can fake strength. You can even trick yourself into believing you are strong. You just can't keep it up, and somewhere along the road, you find out you weren't really strong at all. And then need to find the strength to crawl out of that hole.
    - But maybe that only works in slightly traumatized ten-year olds who live in a land of denial and facades to cover up facades. I know I couldn't fake strength now, let alone make ME believe it, so...

    All in all - more than amazing blog. Really! I'll remember this. And I know this will bring me one step further on the road to actually being able to be *completely* who I am, not being who I (let myself) seem to be. Eventually. :)

    Thank you. Your "off my chest" helps me, will probably have helped me more, way down (or up, as I prefer to see it) the road, than I realise now :)

    Though of course I would have prefered you would never have had to get it off your chest. Because (very, very deep down) I wouldn't even wish being bullied to the bullies who made my life a living hell. Even though I might say differently when I'm emotional.

  2. Is the theatre a metaphor? or did someone like, insult your performing skills in some way? where did you bully you?

  3. Anonymous 1, thank you for your heartfelt comment.

    A word on faking strength: I believe wholeheartedly in the idea of acting "as if." Even if you haven't found the strength yet, act as if you have. Which I suppose is a risk. One that requires you go out on a limb.

    All in all, it's a process. Some days I feel stronger than others. In my experience, acting "as if" is a great way to jumpstart actual change. You act "as if" you have the strength to stand up to a bully, and soon you will find that you're really standing up to them. The action begets the quality: in acting like a strong person, you become the strong person you originally imagined.

    And, Anonymous 2, as for metaphor/reality about my particular case -- let's just say this column speaks for bullies the world over. My particular situation has resolved itself, so I'd prefer to leave it pretty vague if that's okay.

    But thank you, both, as always, for reading and commenting!

  4. "Maybe something else is two sizes too small."

    LMAO! You're as hilarious as ever, Felicia. Your fans miss you here in San Francisco. Looking forward to reading your book in October :-)

  5. Thank you so much for this post! I had a lot of trouble with bullies in school and, although that's over now, people like this are always around. This is a really helpful, powerful image. I just wish someone had put it to me like this before!

    I can't wait for your book, Felicia, you're amazing! <3

  6. Whenever I encounter someone delusional enough to believe his/her superiority and entitlement, a quote from Glinda liberates me completely.
    I dimiss them with: "Be gone; you have NO POWER here!!!"
    It's a pretty consistent finding that those with the least amount of worth take themselves the most seriously (AND they usually do have tiny genitalia!!!).