I've been thinking about bullies a lot lately. I wasn't ever bullied as a kid, I was teased a bit by my friends but never bullied. It seems that the older I've gotten the more I've encountered bullies in my life. I believe that 9 times out of 10 it's easier to ignore and move on than to fight back. Perhaps it's that attitude that has drawn the bullies to me, somehow making them think that I'm a pushover and an easy target. The bullies in my life (and those thinking about becoming part of my life) should realize that just because I avoid conflict it doesn't mean I won't defend myself when push comes to shove. And honey, I know how to shove.
I've realized that bullies are just jealous - I know to some of you that's not news but to me it is. You have something they want. When you were a kid it was something tangible like a toy or your lunch money but the older you get the less defined the thing becomes. The bully now wants your job, your pretty hair or your easy spirit.
The Modern Day Bully (for lack of a better name) will sneak into your life with the subtlety of a Trojan Horse. You'll know something big has just walked into the room but you won't know what it holds until it's too late.
At first the MDB will be just like anyone else and you will genuinely believe that they want to be your friend and there's a good chance that they do but there's a better chance that they're just looking for kinks in your armor.
The MDB will use kindness to get from you what they want. They don't understand that what they are trying to steal is not something that can be taken (and yet had they asked, MDB would realize it was something you were willing to give away freely) so they will feel like kindness has failed them. It is at this point that they may decide to destroy what they can't have.
Chances are at this point the MDB is a part of your day-to-day life (having bullied their way in and all) so you may not feel comfortable abruptly cutting them out of your life. This is when they move on to Stage 2: Mean Face.
Mean Face involves being mean to your face but sweet as pie to your friends. This is not them being overly mean but just throwing little clumps of emotional dirt at you. Sometimes you will notice and sometimes you may not but either way, it's been ground into the fabric of your self. This sets up a divide and conquer tactic for the MDB. You are now slowly being isolated, you can't complain to your friends about MDB because "What?! Are you kidding me? Mean? I just don't see it! They're just so sweet!" is most likely the reaction you will get. This sets them up to move into Stage 3: Stabby Mc EgoPop.
Stabby McEgoPop involves MDB bringing Mean Face into public view. You'll start to get jabs from MDB when you're out with friends. Some jabs might slide by, some of your friends may even laugh along. Be warned, if you retaliate you will most likely be met with "What?! I was just joking! Can't you take a joke? Sheesh!". MDB is now setting up your friends to see that you are weak, spineless, worthless and can't laugh at yourself while slowly chipping away at your ego. MDB knows timing better than the best Swiss watchmaker. They know when you've been dumped, had a bad day at work - remember they are technically still your friend at this point - so their jabs will come when your defenses are down.
MDB is now in a position where they feel they have the upper hand. A good friend once asked me "Do you want to be right or be happy?" Most times it's nicer to be happy, even when you know you're right. I've found that being happy tends to deflect a lot of the negative effects caused by MDB and will thwart some of their plans to dominate and destroy your life.
At this point you have realized that you have a full blown MDB and are trying to figure out how to rid yourself it. One easy way is the phase out. Stop returning every call, take your time responding to their emails, have plans more often than not when they want to go out. There may be some backlash and MDB may even try to steal your friends. Sometimes they will succeed. Don't be too sad about the loss, 7 times out of 10 the friends they steal will take on your role as The Bullied and will see the err of their ways and come back. The other 3 friends? Meh, you're better off without them.
An easier way to get rid of them is the MDB Self-Destruct. This takes no effort on your part whatsoever. MDB will see your passive, happy behaviour as an open door to your life for them to take and take and take some more. At some point they will believe that they are All Powerful and Indestructible, which, most of us know, is the ego equivalent of washing down a handful of Pop Rocks with a bottle of Coke. KABOOM! Eventually they get too big for their britches and everyone around them sees that the MDB wears no clothes.
If you're lucky you'll see the early signs of MDB when you meet them. I have a tendency to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and while it hasn't always worked out best for me, I'm not going to stop any time soon. But I now know what to look for so I'm walking a little less blindly through life.