Inauguration

I have been wrestling with myself as to whether or not to write this post. It’s a very difficult topic for me and involves memories that are shameful. I don’t like to talk about this, because part of me never wanted to let them know they got to me… that they hurt me… but they did.

Every woman wants to have been the cheerleader, homecoming queen, the popular girl with lots of boyfriends. Nobody wants to admit to being the goat – the one targeted and bullied, who spent their school years isolated and ostracized. Yet, if I’m telling my story truthfully, I was the later. Smart, introverted, overweight, and from a family thought of as a bunch of goody-two-shoes, I was the perfect target, and even those who didn’t actively participate, did nothing to defend me, because as long as the bullies were pointed at me, they were safe.  At a time when a child is trying to understand who they are and how they fit into the world, I got a very clear message. The answer to those questions were, 1) you are unlikable and 2) you fit in nowhere. That was the concrete that got poured into my foundation.

In the midst of all those years of utter hell and the destruction of my self worth, there was one bully that stood out. He had issues with my older brother, but obviously found me to be a far easier target. He went out of his way to make my life miserable on a regular basis. One day he grabbed me by the collar and shoved me up against the bleachers, accusing me of snitching to my parents. This was a 17 year old boy, shoving a 14 year old girl up against the bleachers. I had no idea what he was talking about and eventually he believed me, but he threatened me with violence if he found out differently. Despite the gym being full of people on lunch hour, not one person stepped in to help.

These bullying experiences had a lasting effect. I may look like everyone else. I go through life doing most of the same things as everyone else, but that’s just a projected image on the outside of the thick and high walls that protect me. Inside, past my defences, there are broken gaping holes of insecurity and anxiety, and a sense of never belonging. That is the damage of bullying. Damage that never heals.

It’s what makes me so aware of bullies when I see them. When Celebrity Apprentice first started I found it amusing. Then I saw a documentary called “You’ve Been Trumped” and watched Trump use his power and money to destroy the livelihood of a farmer, not unlike my father, simply because he wanted that man’s family farm and wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. It was sickening. Trump was a bully through and through. I never watched Celebrity Apprentice again, but I did watch him bully people in twitter feuds. I saw him reduce women’s worth, even his daughters, to a set of physical attributes he found pleasing. We’ve listened to him brag about how his power allows him to assault women. During the election he engaged in typical bullying behavior of assigning a nickname and then repeating it so often that eventually so does everyone else. It didn’t matter if it was accurate, it stuck. Anyone who praises him, he loves. Anyone who criticizes him, is attacked. And anyone who can’t see that this man is a bully has their eyes willfully shut. Yet once again, I watched people close their eyes and line up behind him, because at least his bullying is pointed elsewhere, and he’ll leave them alone. It’s hard not to take it personally when friends and family choose to support the bully.

So, at this point you may be wondering, “What does all this have to do with the Inauguration? You know, your title.” For that I have to go back again to my high school bully. When my bully was leaving school, all the students were called to the gymnasium for a mandatory assembly to watch him be inducted into the military. I sat on the bleachers, the very ones he had shoved me up against, and listened as military officers and school administrators gave speeches about what a good man and patriot he was for enlisting. I wanted to vomit. I wanted to scream. He wasn’t any of the things they were saying. He was abusive, he was a bully, and he was being rewarded for it.

I was forced to watch back then, but I will not watch this time. I will not watch a bully be praised. I will not watch a bully win. So, call me unpatriotic if you want, but I will NOT watch the inauguration.You go right ahead and watch a truly awful human being take over the reins of this country, but I will not.

For me, and hopefully for others who have been wounded by bullies, I would like us to make 1/20 about our own inauguration. Let’s inaugurate in a new era. An era where we reclaim our self worth. One where bullies from the past lose their power over us, because we finally choose to stand up to this bully and fight for those he would harm, even though no one did that for us.

So the day of the inauguration, my TV will be off, and the day after, I’ll be marching with hundreds of other women in my city and millions across this nation. We will not let this bully, who now is the most powerful man in the world, do the kind of damage to others that has been done to us.

Because my bully did teach me one valuable lesson. During one confrontation he had his fist back ready to strike because I refused to get out of his sight. I don’t know where I found the courage, but I stood, unmoving, and stared him down. After a few tense moment, he turned, walked away, and never really bothered me again.

If we stand up to Trump, he will back down. Bullies always do.

 

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Filled with Hate

Lately I’ve been noticing a trend. Here’s how it goes.

Alice: I like pizza.
Bob: I don’t like pizza, the cheese is too greasy, and they never get the crust right.
Alice: Why are you so filled with hate?

I’m sure you’ve noticed it too. Lately, when anyone disagrees with anyone else online, the response usually takes some form of telling them they are filled with hate. It’s the new way to shut someone down, and paint yourself as a loving, wonderful human being because you recognized their hate.

I read liberal sites and commenters all say, “Just like a Republican, full of hate.” Then I’ll read a conservative site and the commenters all say, “Just like a Democrat, full of hate.”

Here’s the definition of hate: strong or intense dislike

That’s it.

Guess what folks, people are allowed to like or dislike anything they want, even intensely. It’s America and there nothing wrong with liking or disliking something, at least for a few more months. It’s not surprising that Democrats and Republicans strongly dislike the other party’s ideas, otherwise we’d just have one party.

A friend hates the taste of onions. I LOVE onions. Still, not once have I accused her of being filled with hate.

I have friends who support Donald Trump. I don’t understand how. I don’t understand why. I simply don’t understand how they can’t see the racist, bigoted, thin-skinned, misogynistic, sociopathic, narcissistic bully that I and so many others see. I don’t understand how they can’t see him using the same playbook that Hitler and other authoritarian leaders have used. However, having said all that, I know them. They are not filled with hate. Misled, yes, in my opinion. Filled with hate, no.

I know women who are strong, independent women who are sick and tired of living under men’s rules, so they live by their own. They have been called man-haters, but they are not filled with hate towards men. Distrust, maybe. Hate, no. They love themselves enough to want the best for themselves. Nothing hateful about that.

Now, if you hate all men, or all women, or all blacks, or all whites, or all Mexicans, or all cops, or all Jews, or all Muslims, or all Christians, or all liberals, or all conservatives, or all gays, or all of anything, then yes, you are filled with hate. If you only know what you don’t like, and never talk about what you do like, then you are filled with hate.

It’s not just a harmless online trend. Accusing others of hate is a tactic that is creating an even bigger divide in the country. The person making the accusation stops listening, because why should they listen to someone so filled with hate. The other person not knowing how to deal with the irrationality of being called hateful, doesn’t want to continue the conversation either, or it devolves into really nasty name-calling. Nobody learns anything.

It’s like the political post where someone goes on a rant, calling people of the other party disgusting names like Libtard or Rethuglican. When I see a rant like that, I want to respond, “Oh thank you. Now that you’ve called me an offensive name, assumed I’m uneducated, uninformed, stupid, and lazy, NOW I’m on your side. Oh, what a relief.” The sad truth is, if we sat down face to face to have a meal together, we would probably have a lovely time. Online, it’s so much easier to hurt others when you don’t have to deal with the consequences.

Until we start talking and listening to each other, instead of trying to find new ways to shut each other down with the ultimate slam, this country is headed for a cliff. Frankly, I think we’re already there and sliding off the edge.

I hate that.

But I’m not filled with hate.

 

 

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